The first thing most people say when talking about their dream is “I want to travel the world!” However, most people don’t realize that traveling the world for an extended period of time (which I consider more than two weeks) is very different from a regular vacation. With vacation, the whole purpose is to have a nice getaway, preferably in a luxury resort or a nice, secluded beach so that you can forget about all your troubles at least for the moment. You rely on pleasurable things such as the nice beach, lounging in a chair, sipping a nice piña colada and watching the day pass you by (and even spending obscene amounts of money for the hell of it for some people). “Wasting your day” is actually intentional by design during a vacation.
However, there’s a subtle but important distinction between “vacationer” and “wanderer.” Being a wanderer requires considerably more effort and it’s an actual lifestyle. Being a “wanderer” is typically an un-glamourous lifestyle where you never rely on luxury, but at the same time, you’ll be able to see so much from the world. There’s pros and cons to each side of the coin, as well as a middle ground that may actually be the hardest to achieve because in reality, it’s a sliding scale with “vacationer” and “wanderer” being two polar opposites of the same scale, and “traveler” being smack in the middle. Don’t understand? Let me start explaining:
This is the first thing you think about becoming when you say “I want to travel the world.” This is the person who works 40-hour workweeks (but a lot of times, more), saves and scrounges up whatever money he/she has, and travels to an exotic locale when the stars align, meaning that the boss gives you time off, you have to money to travel, and your grandparents/close friends are taking care of your kids, or dog, or house-sitting just to make sure nothing happens to your precious investment (obviously, all of this may not apply to you, but you get the idea).
- You can establish a typical career, typical house, typical family, etc. While a job and a career isn’t necessarily the only way to make a life for yourself, it’s the most common way of achieving it. Basically, this road is the road that almost everyone takes because it’s a predictable path that leads to predictable results.
- While traveling to a different locale is nice, you want to go back to your life to make something out of it (while I feel this way, I know that many people do not). This allows you to have a momentary escape while having your life waiting for you when you get back.
- While I necessarily wouldn’t recommend it, there are some people who enjoy doing this, but hey, who am I to judge? You can show off to your friends on Facebook/Instagram and make your friends jealous of your “sweet life. ” However, sometimes the “baller” life isn’t as good as what it seems to be.
- It’s a lot of money spent on expensive things like hotels and flights (the two things that will eat up most of your money), sight-seeing and entertainment (especially if it’s the typical “tourist” sites), food, and other things that may come up. This is especially true if you’re booking an all-inclusive resort/cruise as opposed to just booking a hotel and doing everything on your own.
- While traveling to a different locale is nice, you eventually have to go back to your life. It doesn’t necessarily fix what’s broken in your life, and all the “problems” will be waiting for you when you get back (hey, life is what you make of it).
- While you may see a lot of “tourist trap” type places, such as the Eiffel Tower in Paris, Oktoberfest in Munich, or the Trevi Fountain in Rome, you miss out on a lot of culture and history of the foreign places you visit. While these attractions are very good in their own right (from experience), they gloss over the the real way of living in the city/country. Part of the joy of traveling is experiencing the unique point of view that each culture brings, further enlightening you and making you think different. For example, I learned from Europe to slow down eating so that you actually enjoy it and not stuff yourself (as opposed to stuffing myself and finishing my meal in a New York minute). The benefits? You eat a lot less (preventing unneeded weight gain), you digest your food better and you feel more energetic. Once I saw this concept, I decided to take this back with me to New York.
On the opposite side of the traveling spectrum lies the “wanderer.” The “wanderer” basically is always on the move. He or she can’t stay in one place for too long, which also makes it very hard to establish a permanent life anywhere. Just like with the wanderer’s possessions, they come and go to a new city/country every day or at least every other day. You may need to work jobs for money, but as soon as you have “enough,” you quit and continue your sojourn into the unknown. Wanderers basically live off the excitement of going somewhere new.
- You never have a solid “9 to 5” job. Instead, you work temporary jobs and quit when you have money to travel or to survive. Not only does this allow for a very mobile life, but you never have any obligations to tie you down.
- You get to see the world a LOT more than you would be able to if you had a steady job.
- You learn how to live on a minimal budget and without many possessions, since doing that is key to a world-wandering lifestyle where you’re never still for long.
- Sometimes, it can be hard to find a job or some other way to hustle up money or necessities needed to survive. The fact that you don’t have a stable job makes this a pretty big question mark. It’s not uncommon for wanderers leading this type of lifestyle to sleep in the park or hitchhike due to lack of money.
- You get to see the world, and then more and more. Believe it or not, it can get pretty boring, especially if you don’t have enough money to see some attractions.
- You’re never able to establish a real career, business or other hustle since you’re always spending your time and money traveling the world. While that may provide for an awesome story, you can’t really enhance your personal being with a challenging job, creating your own business or so many other personal projects too many to list that can enrich your life.
As I showed with my handy-dandy diagram, there’s also a middle ground. I call it the “traveler.” This is basically the balance point between “wanderer” and “vacationer.” This is the person who is able to see and do a lot of what the world has to offer (and probably the whole world if the traveler wishes to do so) while building a career or even business for him/herself, as well as a career he/she can take with him/her wherever the traveler goes. I always strongly believe in having a balance in all aspects of life for the best results. This is one that will allow you to travel the world AND be able to have a real career you can rely on. However, it’s a lot of thankless work to get there, and you may have to grin and bear through some rough patches, which may mean no travel.
Like many things in life, there’s no one correct path to take to achieve this. You have to figure out the best path for yourself and then start walking. Sometimes, you won’t be able to see the light at the end of the tunnel, but once you reach the end, you can enjoy your final destination. There are many ideas you can make your own, and even some that I’m doing right now. In spite of not being able to live off my work (yet), I still continue to grind and press onward because I know my effort will pay off, even if I don’t get any results (and you never will when you start at first).
Like when doing meditation, you too should seek the balance in order to find the harmony that will enrich your life.