I’ll tell you right up front the point of this blog post if you haven’t extrapolated an inkling of a notion from the title – for those who approach me with yearnings to hit the road and recite a litany of reasons they can’t do so: figure out the solution, it exists.
A common refrain I hear when I tell people I travel the world is “wow, I wish I could too.” And of course I tell them they can. And I talk about traveling is cheaper than most people assume. It opens your mind to new cultures, new languages, changes your perspective…the benefits are there.
But there’s always some retort. If it’s not money problems, it’s health. Age. Kids. Something.
Isn’t that life though? For the record, I faced obstacles too but I purposely choose which hurdles had a worthwhile payoff – and that payoff isn’t travel for all people. For some though, travel really is the Holy Grail and in that case it’s worth really assessing what’s holding you back from realizing your dream.
Two of the circumstances I face are a bit different than some travelers: I’m a vegetarian and hypoglycemic. The vegetarianism is really not a huge issue per se though it’s one of the first questions people ask me – I get a “Really?! Aren’t you hungry all the time?”
The hypoglycemia is a little more difficult, it means I have lower than normal blood sugar levels…my blood sugar yo-yos a lot. It has worsened in the past three years and the effects of having hypoglycemia means I have to ensure I eat very, very regularly, which can be hard to keep consistent on the road. I was once left an emotional wreck at a food court in Thailand because I passed my “healthy” hunger point – I was teary, moderately incoherent, and minutes from passing out because the woman kept handing me pork and rice when all I wanted was rice.
Those are the two obstacles I personally face that could seem insurmountable and yet each one has a solution – I adapted my travel style by traveling slowly so I don’t encounter 20 hour food-less bus rides, and I stay flexible so that I could leave Bosnia after a mere week of meat-tastic foodie culture and one hungry Shannon.
To be fair, there are people with way harder obstacles. And some with easier obstacles. But I figured I would be the first to put two of my biggies out there into the world (and trust me, those are just two of the myriad I can scrounge up) so that others can take heart: everyone has obstacles but the payoff on the other side is shiny-and-nice. I travel because I couldn’t imagine living without it; I love what travel brings to my life.
I feel like it’s easy to put obstacles in front of any goal as a way of covering up the fear under it all; “I can’t travel because I have student loans” – I call bull on that. Most obstacles are solvable you just have to want to find the solution. Nobody’s travel style is more “right” than another so the real opportunity is to find whatever works for you to realize your dream.
Oh, and my secret tip and brilliant solution for other vegetarians, hypoglycemics, and really all other travelers: keep food on you. A granola bar, apple, nuts – keep them in your day pack. You never know when a short bus ride turns epic. Maybe it’s Ramadan. Or you’re on a hike and you get lost (so been there). Crap crops up when you travel, so do any travelers in your vicinity a favor by having snacks – everyone’s blood sugar can drop and simple snacks help prevent that. :)
What sort of obstacles are holding you back from traveling, or what obstacles did you overcome before hitting the road?