Why Now is the Time to Dream of Travel

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Why Now is the Time to Dream of Travel

Getting laid off from my first job after college was the best thing that ever happened to me. 

I didn’t recognize it at the time. Hindsight is 20/20, after all. But those four months of unexpected unemployment gave me time and space to dream big. 

Specifically, I dreamt of making up for the lack of travel in my early 20s with a backpacking trip around the world that would last no less than 12 months. I wrote my goal on a piece of notebook paper, taped it to my bathroom mirror, and spent the next five and a half years working to make it a reality. 

That was 18 years ago. By late 2007, I’d paid off my debts, met my savings goal, resigned from my job as a call center manager, and flown to Tahiti. My trip was a dream come true, and it led to a dream job as a travel blogger, author, and entrepreneur that continues to this day. 

As the world hits pause, and we come to terms with the new normal, I believe now is an opportune time for dreaming. Here’s why.

 

It’s Easier to Concentrate

As we’ve been increasingly distracted by technology, social media, and the 24/7 news cycle, you’d be forgiven for not noticing how much of a challenge it can be to find time and space to think. Deeply. 

Now that many of us are spending so much time at home, we may feel a slight discomfort with this newfound free time in our day. Rather than loading up the newest Netflix series, how about setting aside some time to journal in a quiet space? Take out a piece of paper and write your biggest dream on it. 

Don’t hold back. What’s it look like? More importantly, what do you imagine it would feel like to live your dream?

In 2002, I imagined the feeling of freedom and independence I’d experience island hopping in French Polynesia, New Zealand, Indonesia, and beyond. I’d had just enough experience backpacking in Europe to know how it might feel to do it elsewhere in the world. 

Don’t worry about how you’re going to make it happen or how long that might take. There will be plenty of time to brainstorm a path forward. For now, your only job is to write down what you want on a piece of paper and put it somewhere you’ll see it every day. I recommend a mirror. I find it a more powerful experience to see myself versus using a whiteboard or wall.

 

It’s Easier to Avoid Comparison

In addition to serving as a readily available distraction, social media also plays into our human nature and the desire to compare ourselves to others. Unfortunately, this can make it super easy to feel down on yourself.

In 2002, there were far fewer potential distractions when I was at home unemployed. I had a television, Playstation, and roommate. I didn’t have to contend with the comparison culture that has developed around Instagram, Facebook, and other social media in the last 10 years.

Now that people aren’t traveling as freely as they were before, you may find it easier to let go of checking out other people and focus on what YOU want for your future. Where do you want to go most? 

Start a list in a journal or a Google Sheet so it’s easily accessible any time you want to look at it for a dose of motivation. The wonderful thing about travel is that your list of dream destinations will be never ending. 

In 2002, I thought a year of travel would satisfy me, but I was wrong. After 12 months, the only thing I wanted was to keep going. I’ve now been to 65 countries, and there are still so many places I dream of going.

 

We Could All Use a Psychological Boost

The last few months have been unlike anything humanity has experienced in the last 100 years. The stress is affecting us all in one way or another. Taking time to daydream about the future you want to create for yourself is a healthy habit. Visualization is a powerful way to train your mind. 

I didn’t think of visualization in this way in 2002. I just liked daydreaming about the faraway places I wanted to visit. Looking back, I credit that freedom of mind with helping me to make my travel dreams a reality. 

Frustrated with my job search, I’d envision myself trekking in the Himalayas in Nepal one day. The struggle to find work and save money would be worth it once I was walking amongst the tallest mountains in the world. Difficult day at work? It’d be a distant memory once I was relaxing on a beach in Thailand

If sitting with your eyes closed and letting your mind run wild with possibilities proves hard, try reading books about travel instead. A little armchair adventure may get your imagination going.

 

The Sky’s the Limit

I know some (or all) of this may sound counterintuitive, however, I speak from experience. Find ways to use your downtime to imagine a brighter, more fulfilling future. Once you’ve got a goal in mind, then it’s just a matter of working backward to break it up into smaller, more easily achievable short-term goals. With a little dedication and commitment, you’ll be taking your dream trip before you know it.

About the Author

Dave Lee is the founder of Go Backpacking, an adventure travel blog covering destinations around the world. He’s visited 65 countries, lived as an expat in Medellin, Colombia, and has found a new home in Austin, Texas. Follow him on Instagram: @rtwdave

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