The Formula

So how did you do it?

Here is my answer…My How To…My Recipe…My Formula.

Decide what you want. What is your dream? There are infillions (this is my made up word for lots). Pick one. Does it seem too scary? Its true that change can seem difficult but to me it was much worse to sit in one place knowing that I wasn’t fulfilling my potential. I was becoming a robot and living life as a routine. To me, the scariest thing is to stop growing. One of the millions of excuses you can tell yourself or dying knowing that you did not try to fulfil your dream? So it becomes a matter of what is most important to you. Choose.

Make yourself a clear picture of what it is that you want most. Write it down. Draw it. Talk about it. Develop it into something you can taste touch feel smell and feel.

When I realized that I wasn`t happy where I was, I sat around for a long while thinking what I should do. I wanted to grow. I wanted to learn. Way back when after high school, I began working to save for my education. I know this is not the conventional way but I hated the idea of student loans and I really wasn’t sure what I wanted to study anyway. I certainly wasn’t going to waste money on a degree I didn’t really want.

So years later I realized I had saved this money…and I thought long and hard about what I wanted to study. I realized I wanted to learn about life. Well, I am not the greatest at sitting in a classroom. I learn better by doing. And it occurred to me that I could learn everything in the classroom called Earth. History, geography, finance, arts, sciences, philosophy, economics, languages, communications, physical education, sociology….you name it.

Research. Get as much info as you can. Become an expert. Its really not hard. In fact, if you want to travel, you are doing it right now. By reading these very words you are taking steps towards your dream. By taking this time, you are telling yourself that your priority at this moment is to gather information. For me, I used the internet then I went to travel stores and agencies, gear and equipment shops, bookstores, and I tried to find people who had already done what I wanted to do. The more I learned, the less daunting it was. I realized that these people were no different than me. They were more than happy to help me out.

Start Small. Start slowly but don’t just wonder. Try it on for size. So for me one of the first things to do was buy something. I am a very practical person, you see, and I would hate to waste money. So I went out and bought a Hostel International Card. Then I bought a mosquito net. Then I bought a Lonely Planet travel guide. Truth is I didn’t even end up using these things very much but at the time, they were part of my insurance policy. Confirmation that I believed in what I was doing. A small investment. I had begun a little collection of what I thought travellers would have. And I liked how it felt.

Believe it. Get support. Next I should tell people because no one likes to look like a fool, right? Insurance policy number two. I started telling just my safest people. People who didn`t really know me and so I really didn’t have much to loose.

`Yes, I am going to travel around the world for a year and I wonder if you have any books on the subject.`
`I am travelling around the world for a year and I wonder if you could help me find the best pair of shoes to take with me.`
`I am going to (name of country) and would like to know if there is an embassy I can visit to learn more about the entry requirements.`

I remember at first when I heard myself say it out loud I felt silly and self conscious. Who would believe such a thing? Well guess what? Everyone did! People were so interested and excited for me. Not once did anyone say, `Yah right` or `I`ll believe it when I see it`, like I had feared. Strangers were suddenly now some of my strongest support.

Unfortunately, some people who perhaps seem like they should be your strongest support, may not be. When I told my old-fashioned-work-hard-for-your-life-security dad, he asked me why I was throwing away everything I had ever worked for. Infact, the very morning I was leaving, he was getting into his car to go visit his friends and I had to ask him to stick around for a few minutes to at least say goodbye.

`What for?` he asked slightly annoyed that I was keeping him.
`Um, well Dad, I am leaving in 10 minutes to go travel around the world for a year,` I reminded him slowly and carefully.
`What!?! No one told me that!?` he exclaimed in a surprised and hurt tone of voice.

Some people will react in strange ways and some will not even believe you. For me this is ok because I just consider it a challenge. If someone would say `You can`t do that` I just say, `Watch me.` Everyone is entitled to their opinion but it is just that. An opinion. Like how I think helado is the best dessert. Someone who is lactose intolerant may not agree.

By the way, my dad is really happy for me now. He loves antique cars and I visited a museum full of them in New Zealand taking pictures of what he could see if he would go there. `Really?` he said excitedly when I told him all about it. Yes. Really, Dad.

Make a schedule. There are things to consider like vaccinations, passports and visas which take time. You must pick your date of departure (D-Day) and plan backwards. For me, I made medical and dental appointments, passport stuff, and all the showstoppers first. I did all these things before actually purchasing my ticket just in case. If for some medical or legal reason you cannot go, well then that is a big deal. There seemed to be so many little speedbumps. But I sailed past them all with no problem. I couldn’t believe how easy it all was actually. Sure it took time and patience and filling out of alot of forms but I just kept getting green light after green light.

Test run. So in the few months before I left I took many small `trips`. They were nothing big and not to anywhere new but it got me moving and into the travel mentality. It seemed to build momentum. In fact the first hostel I ever stayed in was in a city just two hours away. I met other travellers and really got a taste of what I was in for.

Make it happen. The big commitment. The point of no return.
For me, the biggest thing was buying the air ticket. Up to that point, I could always change my mind. I could always go back with only minimal financial loss and a slightly bruised ego. Before that I could somehow justify the whole thing as an experiment if I wanted and not feel bad at all. But I remember the day I bought the ticket. Whoa, that was a big day and I remember my sister taking a picture of me doing it. In fact, that was the day in my head that it all became real.

So the next month seemed to fly by. Really. I decided I didn’t want to store my stuff. I thought that it was a better idea for me to sell as much as I could. I could use the money for the trip and I also figured that I would probably want different stuff when I came back as perhaps my tastes would change. And it also made easier the option….IF to come back. So I had accumulated alot of stuff in 7 years of working so I thought that I would start slowly.

I put one ad in the newspaper advertising my brand new bedroom set that I had just bought. I had always wanted a sleigh bed and I finally got one…for 5 months. The first guy who came to look at it bought it straightoff. Then the weirdest thing happened. A couple families came to inquire about the furniture while he was moving the stuff out the door. I told them that I had just sold it and that I was sorry but well, I was selling everything else in the house if they wanted to look around. Well, as luck would have it, they were just moving into a new house and had to furnish it. They called some of their friends as well and within one day, my whole house was empty. I remember the sense of crazed disbelief as I scrambled around making up prices. How much? How much?
The funniest was when they began pulling dishes out of the dishwasher.

`Um, those are still dirty` I said as I wrinkled my nose.

`Thats ok, we can wash them when we get home` as they continued piling them into a box..

Uh…ok. My concerned neighbours came over to check what was going on as the people proceeded to carry out furniture, pictures, ironing board, microwave, ect…. My neighbours just sat there watching with their mouths hanging open wondering out loud if I had completely lost it. Then they joined in on the fun and bought all my clothes then they took me out for a going away dinner. I sat in my empty house staring at my phone. I had to chase them down for that promising to sell it to them at the end of the week when I was done with it. I was still in shock from the whole thing when I got a call about someone inquiring about my car for sale. The next day they came and drove it away. Ok. If I ever had a doubt in my mind that I was doing the right thing, well it was gone now.

I read somewhere that every month you travel is equivalent to 1 year in university. I don’t know how true that is and I wont have a piece of paper at the end of this. But I will have experienced it. Not just read about it. Not just listened to some stuffy professor speak about a place they´ve never been. And I have never felt like it was work. I have never felt bored. I have pushed my limits and created my own program. My degree is unique to me…no one else will have it. I can tell you how the rain smells in Kenya and how the how fine the sand feels in Australia. Maybe the taste of fresh coconut water from Brazil and how the waves sound when they crash against the shores of South Africa will never make it onto an exam. But these are my interests.

I have touched Roman ruins thousands of years old and swum in Scotlands Loch Ness. I know where you can still buy coke in glass bottles and I have experienced the difference between an asado and a braai. Now when I see a movie or documentary, I think, hey I know that place, I’ve been there! I dont know how much wiser I am but I am sure that I am richer. I have made friends all over the world. And each one represents precious jewels and gold overflowing the treasure chest in my heart.

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One Response to The Formula

  1. Stan says:

    Wow that is really inspiring! going to travel around europe in the summer for 3 weeks but that sounds like… a dream. maybe i make it true as well someday

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