I receive emails all the time from potential, current and future travelers but occasionally one of them stands out above the rest. Leading up to my departure I had a difficult time summing up my thoughts. I was saving my money up for something, something… bigger. I didn’t have all the details worked out but I knew I was going to take off and those details would take care of themselves.
Back to the email I received. Marissa initially emailed me describing her situation and asking for advice, but she so perfectly captured the combination of wanderlust and angst I felt pre-trip that I just had to share it with you guys. That anxious feeling before one’s able to travel the world is so familiar to so many. I know many of my readers are sitting in the same boat, trying to be patient until you can break free for an adventure, and I just want to let you know that you’re not alone. So with her permission here is her email along with my follow up response.
The idea of quitting my job and traveling the world has been fluttering around in my head for some time. But I did not know how, or when this could happen. Peace Corps? International employment? What should I do? I’ve been beating a dead horse for months, telling my friends the same thing over and over, “As soon as I graduate, I’m out of here. Packing my car up and hitting the road.” By now most of my friends just smile and nod, figuring that I’ll just stay at my job once I get a raise (because to them, money does equal happiness – at least some sad form of it).
But now, I have a plan. A solid plan, only the various details need ironed out. I am set to graduate Spring 2014 with a Bachelors of Integrative Studies degree in English, Geology, and Technology. As much as I would love to quit school and high-tail it out of here, I know that the responsible thing to do is to complete my degree. I’ve come so far, gone through too much shit just to throw it all away. During my time working, I have already saved up about $4000. My rent each month is $475 which includes utilities. No car payment. No cable. My cell phone is on a friend’s family plan which will be up this November, which I will not renew and I will get a phone that doesn’t involve a contract. I’ve put off getting a pet because I know that if I were to leave for a while, I couldn’t take it with me. I’ve been planning for my escape all along, I just didn’t know exactly what I was planning for. Once I graduate, I will leave. I’ll make sure that I have my passport, my vaccinations, funds, etc. My two best friends are already talking about getting engaged and planning their weddings. For years, and I mean years, I always felt so distant to them in that respect. Getting married in your early twenties? Are you serious? There is so much WORLD out there, so much to experience, to see. Is it that some people just do not have that quintessential taste for life? No inkling? It begs the question, are people like us just irrationally idealistic? All I know is that life is short, and the fuse of life can blow at any minute. Why sit where it is comfortable when you can experience the eternal beauty in this world – it is all there for us!
Do you have any advice for someone like me? Someone who still has about a year before they can jump on the plane? Is there anything you would have done differently if you could go back? Any advice would be amazing and greatly appreciated.
Wow, that was quite the email, but I loved reading it. You’ve so perfectly captured the combination of wanderlust and angst I felt pre-trip that I feel like it needs to be published.
As far as advice, it sounds like you’re well on your way to saving up the funds needed, but I’ve thought of a few pointers in no specific order.
First off, this trip is going to be awesome and worth every penny. Don’t let anything derail your plans or cause you to lose focus on your goal. However, don’t forget to enjoy the year you have left in school either. College is great in its own way and life is more about the journey than any sort of destination, at least until you’re 70. Then you can look back and reminisce about good times.
Don’t put too much weight in the trip answering all of life’s questions. Just go out and have a f**king great time. Do exactly what you want to do, whatever that may be. “Finding yourself” is too cliche. Traveling does and does not provide a sense of clarity. I’m more confident in who I am, but that doesn’t necessarily mean I know exactly what I want to do with my life.
Upon returning from my trip and giving myself ample time to readjust to life back home, I have to say I’m more satisfied in the person I am and what I have accomplished and done with my life up to this point. What if I could drop it all for an adventure? What if I had quite my job and traveled Asia? The “what ifs” are gone. I know the answer cause I went out and lived it and landed on my feet. I found work upon return, no problem, which makes me so glad that I didn’t use work and money as a reason to stay.
I completely agree that getting married early seems like missing out on a portion of life, but then again, everyone takes their own path and finds fulfillment in their own way. Seeing other cultures blatantly shows us this fact, so I have no qualms with those that choose this path if its what makes them happy. They look at us the same way in which we look at them, dumbfounded. I always try to keep that in mind.
You may come home early or not at all. Just don’t have the course of your trip predetermined in your mind cause it surely won’t play out like that. Who knows what you’ll find or get yourself into and accordingly what sort of emotions will follow. Keep yourself open.
What do you guys think? Anyone else out there in Marissa’s shoes? I’d love to hear from you. Just know you’re not alone. You may or may not have all the details worked out in your head but your still planning, saving, scheming… It’s an exciting feeling so embrace it. You can follow Marissa’s blog over at tinypilgrim.com