You're lucky you can travel - Antoine Heber-Suffrin on 09/03/2013
Every traveller has heard his friends at home say this: "You're lucky you can travel" as if you were blessed with some kind of divine gift and they were not. don't let them get away with it!
Well at backpackmojo we believe it's time to uncover the truth, to finally give the traveller the credit of taking a leap of faith, and to tell people back home to join the party if they really want to, instead of hiding behind your supposed "luck". Travellers, you're awesome, and this has nothing to do with luck.
Looking at it from an external point of view, who really took the easy path in life ? Who made the bold move ?The guy who decides to leave his life, firends and family behind to pursue a scary lifelong dream of discovering other cultures while he knows he has little money, no place to crash and he doesn't speak half of the languages he's going to come across? Or the guy who chooses a full time job, a career that will pay for the mortgage, the dog's food, the kids' dance classes and space camps, and the once-a-year trips abroad while still longing for lost paradises and adventure ? Let me get things straight : I'm not for or against one or the other, I'm not saying one is lame and the other's cool; I'm saying that if you are under the impression that you're leaving your life based on someone else's expectations for it, you shouldn't go back to sleep until you've changed that. If you're traveling the world because it looks cool on Facebook but you really want to try and get that high-paying job you think you can have, head this way. If you're bored at your desk, working on stuff you don't get to pay for your rent and food and you really want to travel the world for a while, don't call other's "lucky", get out of your comfort zone and take the road. Go out there, you'll come back when you're ready for this type of life.
What people call "luck" should really be called "bravery" because you and your friends all have the same cultural background, the social stigma that you need to be at this place in your life when you're 20,30,40. A stigma often perpetrated by older generations who really think you'd be screwing up your life if you don't go ahead and work for a world-renowned bank. Well, if you can say "no thank you" to a peer pressure of this magnitude, you're bold. Not lucky. Or, at best, you're lucky to be bold.
Benjamin Franklin had a great quote that I like to say to people who think they can't leave, that they're somehow chained to another person's destiny : "People willing to trade their freedom for temporary security deserve neither and will lose both." You're not chained, you're often hiding behind excuses. You're trading YOUR dreams for others'. You can't blame your parents for wanting your security, that's a biological postulate. You can't blame your kids for stepping on your dreams, you're the one who should show them the path.
You don't have money ? I travelled through Europe for 2 months with 200 euros in my pocket and never missed a meal. You underestimate the hospitality of the new people you'll meet. Not to mention the thousands of fellow travellers who have developed an incredible ecosystem of mutual aid, trust and tips. Be a couchsurfer, share your tips on backpackmojo or any other travel website, get the help you need from the contributions of thousands of other like-minded people. Money is your first excuse.
You have kids ? Bring them. I'm not suggesting you travel with an infant, but kids are never too young to develop an open mind. What will forge them into better persons ? 2 years in a classroom learning stuff that you could have taught them on the way? Or 2 years across the world, making friends with kids from other cultures, learning new languages, seeing the landscapes from their Tintin albums. Making memories. Real memories with their parents. Do you really think they're going to come back screwed up as human beings? You can read, in this very blog, stories of a family traveling the world. Kids, friends, family; they're your second excuse.
20 years from now, you won't regret the things you did but the things you didn't do. As far as I'm concerned, I'd rather have a life of "oh well"s than a life of "what if"s (and this can apply to any part of your life). It's the only way to look back at your life and actually be able to say "I've made thousands of mistakes, but I honestly have 0 regret".
If you choose not to travel in spite of your own aspirations to take the first plane out of here, then you understand the difficulty of actually taking the decision to leave. In that case, out of sheer respect for the boldness of his move, the next time you see a friend leaving indefinitely with a backpack and a smile, please don't send him off believing he's just lucky. Congratulate him on the decision you still have trouble making. He'd be lucky to have you as a friend.