The idea of traveling long-term around the world is still new to American culture. My family and friends didn’t understand why I would ever want to sell everything I owned and travel around the world. I’ve given up a well paying job and the opportunity to climb up the ladder in the never ending rat race. It might be okay for some but it’s not what I wanted in my life. It was hard for many to understand.
It wasn’t easy to convince my family that I wasn’t just running away from my problems. In reality I was fixing my problems and then traveling. I remember getting phone calls from concerned friends at the time. “Are you sure you want to do this? What are you going to do when you come back? What about your family?” My family was doing very well and I had already been living on my own. Everyone was in school, working, and healthy. I didn’t see any reason to have to stick around. It was the perfect time to go.
So what do you do when you’re called crazy and/or stupid for leaving everything to travel the world?
I think it’s important to listen to what others have to say. They’re your friends and family and I think their advice should be taken into some consideration. Just because they don’t have the same ideas as you do, doesn’t mean you shouldn’t listen to what they have to say about it. Don’t get angry that they don’t understand you. Instead help them understand what you’re about to do. Perhaps that what you’re about to do is not as unusual as they think it is.
I actually started Art of Backpacking to help everyone at home understand what I was doing. None of my family and friends had ever heard of backpacking.
Share your enthusiasm.
I was incredibly excited about leaving that it was the only thing I talked about for months. Eventually people figured out it was what I wanted and nothing was going to stop me. My enthusiasm made them happy because it made me happy.
Listen to what others are saying. Are you sure you’re doing the right thing? I think it’s important to weigh out the pros and cons before setting a date to travel long-term. What are you leaving behind? Do you have debt? Children? Family? Your health? Why is this important to you? Ask yourself as many questions as possible.
Connect with a likeminded community.
If you can’t relate to your family and friends, why not make new friends that have the same views as you do? You’ll find long-term travelers and backpackers all over the world. It’ll help motivate you in preparing for your travels.
At the end of the day, it’s YOUR decision.
Do what you think is right for you. Whether it’d be three weeks or three years of traveling, you’re doing it because it’s what you want to do.
Were your family and friends accepting of your decision to travel around the world?