Why I failed to start travellingBefore making the jump to being able to call myself a “long term traveller”, I already considered myself well travelled. I had been through many countries in Asia and explored parts of the Pacific. I also knew Australia better than most people I know. For tha main part, these had all been individual trips. They hadn’t been in succession and I would have been hard pressed to rationalise that they weren’t just holidays. I had long been dreaming of making it to more leusive places and staying indefinitely. I had somehow been puttingit off without realising. Looking back now, the book Vagabonding by Rolf Potts had been sitting on my shelf for 4 years before I left. That means almost half a decade of inaction. If I’d ever had to intellectualise my thought process or had a conversation with someone, I would have realised what I was doing to myself. Myself and most people never do this, hence it being over 4 years before I got started. I meet plenty of strong willed people and action takers who don’t achieve some of the things they want to. It all comes down to a lack of definition, because if you don’t define exactly what you want, how can you plan to achieve it? Lack of crystallised thought is one of the biggest travel deferrers. Those who already know what it is they want, will succeed regardless of what I write here.
If you have a burning desire to travel, here’s what to do:
- Step number one is pretty obvious and just involves writing down where you want to travel. Once I defined what I wanted and realised that I had been putting it off, it took me a grand total of two days to have the fundamentals sorted out. Enough to start my trip. I know that sounds a bit preposterous, but the ball was well and truly rolling after only 48 hours. From your list of places where you would like to go, choose the one that will be easiest to work in. Choose the country based on how fast and easy it is for someone of your nationality to get a working visa. It might not be on the top of your list, but it will get you started.The UK is a fantastic place, though the culture is as similar to Australia’s as you can get. For that reason, it wasn’t at the top of my list. Because I have dual nationality with the UK though, that was my first place to go because I can work there. I was able to go there with no money and be alright because I lined up a job.I had a fantastic time living and working in the UK and it place Europe on my doorstep. Suddenly I had money and cheap access to a very long list of countries that I had always been desperate to travel to.Thailand is another example of a country where you can do this. While it’s quite hard to get work permits in Thailand, the exception is for English teachers. I was able to line-up a job before I got to Thailand though I soon realised it was even easier on the ground.Most companies say you need a bachelor’s degree and TEFL certificate, due to work permit requirements. It seems as though once you’re there, they’re in desperate need for native English speakers. The paperwork magically appears.If you’re not too choosy about which area you want to live in and you’re a native English speaker, you’ll be a shoo-in for the job. English teachers in Thailand get paid around 40,000thb per month which isn’t a lot to send home, but makes you rich while you’re there.
- Buy your ticket NOW.I spent every last cent I had to get my ticket and then only had a few months to get my act together, pay down some debt, sell my stuff and get moving.
You could do it as easily on a few weeks notice. Impending deadlines always seem to increase productivity and obliterate procrastination. I had £80 to my name when I landed in London and it saw me through until my first pay day.
Don’t have enough money for a ticket? Pick up a shitty manual labouring job and work your ass off for only one short week. You’ll have enough to go almost anywhere on a budget airline if you’re flexible with dates. (which you are, because you’re now a vagabond).Enjoy being broke and earn a bit of cash while you wait for your impending departure.
3. Research jobs available in your location. What I’m about to share is the most valuable nugget in this whole article:
There is truth in cliches. I always thought that teaching English in Asia was a bit of a scam designed to sell overpriced TEFL courses. To my pre-traveller mind, it seemed too easy that you could set off into the distance without heaps of money. I assumed they were preying on the dreams of those who want to work their way around the world.
I was also rather skeptical of the cliched notion of being an Aussie bar worker in the UK.
As it turns out, these are cliches for a good reason, (because they’re true). Follow the trail of stereotypes and see where it will lead you.
I would have no issue returning to London with only enough money for a train ticket. I’m comfortable with the knowledge that I would land a pub job with accommodation by the end of the day.
4. Sell off your useless baggage *ahem* I mean all your valuable possessions.
All your precious items weigh you down when trying to move through life and around the world. They sit in the back of your mind, making you worry about them when they’re on the other side of the world.
It’s downright rude for my inanimate objects to be consuming my attention while I’m trying to soak in the awe of Stonehenge. Condense your life into a backpack, finish any ongoing projects and start practicing living with only what you’ll take with you.
This will provide you with the comfort of knowing that you’ve packed enough. When you get to your destination there will be a sense of comfort from using the same stuff you usually do.
5. Catch that plane and don’t look back.
It really is this simple. Execution of the above 6 steps will incur their own unique difficulties.
Your family and friends might kick up a stink at the news. Tough luck.
Long term travel is still a simple enough concept and doesn’t require tonnes of time, preparation or money.