1. Daydream like a kid again
As adults we are trained to give up our dreams and fantasies for the sake of so-called practicality. Any wild dream is deemed silly and immediately dismissed, so often we are embarrassed to even voice what we really want in life. This step is completed in the safety and privacy of your own brain. Allow yourself to daydream. Picture yourself in your ideal lifestyle, and really soak in how amazing it feels to be there. At this point in my own journey, my mental script was saying “wow, wouldn't it be amazing if I could travel the world? I wish!” Wishing something into existence is the very first step- you have to see it in your minds eye to let it manifest.
2. Find inspiration
While I was sewing for my most recent runway show, I listened to a travel podcast almost every single day. I was super booked (as always) and was drafting patterns, cutting fabric, and sewing one garment every day (I don't recommend this, it's tiring!!) I'm a very social person, and like to be outside of the house for the majority of the day, so having to be stuck inside all those hours was very draining. What saved me was that podcast. I found it by accident on Spotify while looking for music. That inspired me to do more research. I read as many articles, blog posts, and books as I could written by people who did what I wanted to do. Just from listening to the podcast and reading material I was able to learn so much that it made my dream of world travel seem way more achievable. If you are the type of person to over-think things, or can't go into things blindly, I highly recommend reading real-life stories from world travelers to ease your worries.
3. Get un-stuck
After I graduated, I made a conscious choice not to find a full-time art teacher job, because I knew I could get comfortable and stay stuck. So for Fall-Spring 2016 I worked odd jobs that I couldn't get attached to as I worked up the courage to travel. I mostly worked as a substitute teacher, which is incredibly flexible (just accept jobs on the daily as needed). Because I could make my own schedule, I was able to dip my toes into solo travel with my trip to Arizona. Read about my unconventional trip here. I told myself I would take that year to figure things out, and the next Fall I would apply for jobs. Well, summer came and I decided that I hadn't yet satisfied my thirst for travel, so I decided not to apply for a teaching job in the Fall. With the big, empty year looming ahead of me with no job to fill it up, I forced myself to act. That's when I started researching different jobs one could find abroad. Through my research I read so many stories of people who built or enhanced their career through their travels- it wasn't just a vacation to them. This really spurred me on, and I decided to look into TEFL certifications. I am getting certified through the International TEFL Academy
4. Talk about it
It's time now to take the inner workings of your brain from step #1 and spill it out into the world! This may be the scariest step for some people. Personally what I feared most was the reaction from my parents- no one wants their kid to move away! I slowly introduced the idea to them, and I mean slowly, like for years. They didn't take me seriously at first, but it got to them eventually. As for everyone else, I told people a few at a time to gradually get the idea out there. This cuts out the drama of “HEY! I'M LEAVING!!” Speaking things out loud makes you more likely to follow through with action, because you feel held accountable by everyone you told. Don't worry, its a good kind of pressure. Since people started to know I was going to travel, I have been approached a few times by fellow travelers with their tips and stories. Being open about what you want will ensure that people with your interests see you and want to connect!
5. Make yourself as light as a feather
The first thought that ran through my head when I thought about travel was “Crap! How am I gonna bring all my stuff??” I remember traveling as a kid and packing up our stuff to get shipped internationally, its a lot of work and money. Do away with that concern by getting rid of everything but the necessities. I personally got rid of almost 2/3 of everything I own, see how I did it here. Most likely there will be awesome stuff during your travels that you will want to buy anyway! Might as well leave room in your suitcase for it, am I right? Anyway, the essence of travel is about experience- the food, the views, and the people- and less about material objects. Let this be a chance to reconnect to the things that really matter in life. Before I even left for my trip to Istanbul, I was starting to reap the benefits of living a less materialistic life. Read how my life changed.
6. Take bold, decisive actions
This is probably my favorite step, because its when things actually start falling into place. The biggest thing to figure out of course is finances, and you need to think about it at least a year before you plan to leave. This year I bought very little expensive items, sold a ton of my stuff, and was thoughtful with my spending. It's all about sacrifices. I was working odd minimum wage jobs in addition to my design work- not making six figures here people! I came to the realization that if I am a broke college grad, I'd rather be broke doing cool shit. Anyone can afford to travel, you just have to prioritize that over anything else. The next thing I figured out was a source of income. Most of us can't afford to just 'hang out' in a country without a job. For me, the TEFL certification seemed like the best fit, since I was already a certified art teacher. The last step was setting a departure date and buying a plane ticket. This is the final push to really get your butt out the door! Unless you are willing to throw away a ton of money, most people won't back down from their flight plans.
As I type this I'm sitting by the window watching the sun rise over the beautiful city of Istanbul, and I feel a sense of peace in my heart, because I made it here after all the hard work. It will pay off, if you just believe it is possible you can do anything!
What are your tips for travel? If I should drop all my plans for next year and travel somewhere, where would it be?
I observe & write about society & culture.