You dream of travel. Long for it. Yearn for that feeling you get when embarking on an exciting adventure to somewhere new, or somewhere well-trodden and loved. But what happens when you can’t travel?
We talk about turning our dreams into reality, and if we believe in something enough, it will come to be.
That can and does happen. But what you need to be aware of when making your dream a reality is to be consistently working towards that end goal, even if that goal is currently unattainable.
Reality can be harsh. I am a realist and understand that travel is not always possible no matter how much you want it to be. Even for someone like me who works in travel.
At times, I get incredibly frustrated that I cannot just up and jump on a plane anytime I want. There are many reasons for that – some personal; some are choices, some reasons I am working on.
But I choose, as I always do, to move forward. Always toward my end goal. To find ways to feed my wanderlust, to discover new places and enjoy new experiences.
In fact, I realised that by not travelling I had turned my focus in a direction I may not have otherwise gone and I am tremendously grateful that I did and for the experiences, I have enjoyed.
My new direction has not changed my goal to travel more but divided my attention to encompass the wonders that exist both at home and away.
Why I Want to Travel
Travel adds to your life in a way that is hard to describe. Not only does it make you more open-minded, culturally aware and educated, it also teaches you about yourself.
Travel can be exhausting, exhilarating, exciting, frightening, a constant sensory overload and an emotional rollercoaster.
Above all travel is liberating and builds your confidence.
People travel every day to a multitude of destinations. Travel is not a unique experience. But when I am walking down the street in a foreign country excited by the day ahead, intrigued by my new surroundings and fascinated with local life, I feel like nothing can stop me.
Travel makes you more of who you are, brings out the best in you.
“To travel is to take a journey into yourself” – Danny Kaye
Reasons People Don’t (or can’t) Travel
There are many reasons people can’t or don’t travel. Maybe the desire is there, but other factors win out.
The following reasons are from my experiences, those of my readers and others shared by friends and family. I understand there are more reasons – personal ones and possibly health reasons.
If that’s the case for you, hopefully, some of what I cover in this article will be useful.
1. Fear and Anxiety
Travel can be terrifying. For people who suffer severe anxiety and fear the unknown can be too frightening even to consider and therefore, puts travel in the too hard, too scary basket.
I suffer from anxiety. Most of the time I am good, but then most of the time I am in my comfort zone. I have to push very hard when I am out of it. It is always like I am second guessing everything I am doing, what I am saying, how I am behaving. It can be exhausting.
But because I have made travel a priority, I had to work out how to do that despite my anxiety.
Planning around your Anxiety
For those with anxiety, you will understand that you never get rid of it, but you can learn to deal with it. And things that once seemed frightening can become easy.
If it is fear of the unknown that exasperates your anxiety, then plan.
Here are some things you can do to help:
- Plan your trips to the point of over planning. Don’t worry about wasting time. By over planning you educate yourself throughout the process which allows you to build knowledge about your destination. Knowledge is power. Power builds confidence.
- Look at photos and maps of your destination. Get yourself orientated. I love Google Maps for this reason. Knowing your way around before you arrive can make a huge difference. I get very anxious about using public transport. So, I try and walk most places. Google Maps is used to map out your routes and find the walking distance between locations.
- Talk to people who have travelled. Ask questions. Build a mental file (or keep all the information in a notebook) about your dream destination.
- Join Facebook Groups where you can ask questions, express your fears, get advice, support and encouragement. Just reading other people’s posts and comments can make a difference if you are not confident enough to ask your own.
- Don’t rush. There is no time frame. You can start planning now for years later. It doesn’t matter how long it takes.
- Group Tours. These are not for everyone. But if it is the only way that you can travel confidently then go for it. Maybe try it a couple of times, and when you build your confidence, you can become more independent. Maybe find a small hosted trip, with like-minded people to start. I currently am planning one for creative people, if you like you can see the details here.
It goes without saying that if you find your fears and anxiety affecting your life, then you should seek professional help. I have found counselling helpful over the years, and so too has learning as much as I can about my personality type, building my confidence and self-esteem and becoming more self-aware. Please don’t hesitate to find the assistance you need.
2. Lack of a Travelling Companion
A lot of people cannot imagine travelling alone. But many people travel solo, including women.
I hear a lot of people say they don’t have anyone to travel with. Or they had plans, but their friend pulled out, so that was the end of that.
Finding the right travelling companion that has a similar travel style to you can be difficult. But when you find the right companion, it can make travel amazing. Someone to share moments with, to take photos and someone to share the cost.
There is an element of fear when talking to people about solo travel. I have only made short solo road trips and have set myself the challenge of doing a solo overseas trip in the next couple of years.
I get it. Going by yourself can be too daunting. Most people I know wouldn’t even consider going alone.
So where does that leave you?
Finding a Suitable Travelling Companion
Here are a few ways to find a compatible travelling companion:
- Join a Meetup group. These groups can include people who are interested in food, photography, painting, walking. The list could go on and on. Find one you enjoy and get to know people.
- Facebook Groups. I belong to travel Facebook Groups where you can get to know people with similar interests. Remember to stay within the group guidelines, but you may have the opportunity to join another member on a trip or even a group trip planned by the group’s organisers.
- Find a Group Tour that suits you. Different companies attract different travellers; maybe you’re interested in a company’s itineraries, age group of their travellers or their travel style. Whatever it is that appeals to you, do your research, read the reviews and go for it. You won’t know unless you try.
It can be hard finding someone that travels the way you do, with a similar budget and at times that suit you.
If you find one, hold on to them!
3. Time and Commitments
- I can’t get time off work.
- I don’t get a lot of holiday time.
- The kids need me.
- I can’t travel without my family.
- The kids are too young to travel.
- It would be a waste of money taking the kids travelling now; they wouldn’t appreciate it.
Do any of these questions sound familiar?
Our lives are full of many things that can pull us in all directions making it feel like travel is a luxury we don’t have time for or would be a selfish endeavour.
But is that really how it is?
Don’t you hate it when work gets in the way of life?
If you work for someone else we talk about limited vacation days further on, but if you work for yourself taking time off can be harder than you think.
Yes, you choose when you work, but if you are passionate about what you do, or have a lot of work on it can be difficult to switch off. And a lot of small business owners do it all, with no support.
So, apart from hiring someone to manage your business while you are away or making your business completely destination independent, time can be limited.
But, giving yourself a break is important to avoid burnout.
Early this year Dan and I were in desperate need of a break but couldn’t manage any significant time off due to the work projects we had going. But at the last minute, we decided we needed a few days away, organised a friend to house and dog sit, and took off.
At most, we were only 2 and half hours from home visiting Jenolan Caves and Mudgee, but we had a fantastic time and arrived home refreshed. It was the road trip we needed. And all we had to take was three days away from our businesses.
Dan is a web developer and is hands-on with the support that he offers his clients. He is in the process of finding a suitable way to handle this support, one that he feels comfortable with. Until then, long periods of time away from his desk are a problem. But one I am confident he will resolve soon, as he is also eager to get on a plane and take the road trip around Scotland that I have planned.
Limited Vacation Days
Where you live in the world and who you work for, will determine your entitled annual leave.
You can add weekends and public holidays to your annual leave and extend your time.
But if taking more extended periods of time off work is not an option then using your weekends may be your only choice. If you are adding public holidays to extend the time be aware, these are busy times to travel, and you should plan and book as far in advance as possible.
You could make the most of day trips and overnight stays. Join local tours. Most towns and cities have walking tours (some free), food tours, Segway tours and more.
Try staying in different accommodation close to home and include luxury hotels, farm stays, guesthouses and glamping.
I know, I get it.
I’m a mother myself, and for many years the thought of travelling without my family seemed selfish. It’s not, by the way, you deserve your own time as well, and to enjoy luxuries in life.
I did go travelling with my kids, extensively. And that satisfied my wanderlust for many years. Travelling with kids was so much more than I could have imagined, and I am grateful that I had that experience with them and didn’t put it off.
Eventually, I started taking a weekend here and there for myself. As a mother, and a partner you give so much of yourself, and I finally realised I deserved my time too.
I talk about this later, but it does become a matter of priorities. What are yours?
I wanted to travel. So I decided to travel with my kids. The extra money was worth it, and the memories we created were priceless.
Travel with your kids! My daughter and me in Dubai.
4. Money, money, money. Oh wait, you don’t have any!
Lack of Money.
Perhaps the most significant reason people don’t travel is that they don’t have the money.
Or like a lot of people you think travel is too expensive and only for the wealthy. Which cannot be true, because the world is full of people travelling for extended periods of time and not all of them are rich.
There are many ways to save money while travelling and it might just mean you need to look at all the options out there and change your travel style a little. And there are many articles on Travel Hacking that can save you a lot of money.
Travel doesn’t have to be expensive. It may just be a matter of changing your mindset and learning about the options that are available.
Change your Travel Mindset
If money is holding you back, it might be as simple as looking at your budget and mindset. I’m not saying it’s easy, but there may be possibilities where you thought there were none.
At the very least create a plan. Step it out. It doesn’t matter how many steps or how long it takes as long as it keeps you moving forward.
If you can’t afford it, work out how to make it cheaper. Work out a budget plan. It doesn’t matter how long it takes, just keep moving forward!
If it means you could finally travel, would you be happy to compromise? I certainly would.
But if there is no way that you can get the money together at this point, no matter how little it would cost, then there are still plenty of things you can do to experience those awe-inspiring, bring tears to the eyes, kind of moments.
Become a tourist in your own town
If you don’t have the money, or the time, to travel then become a tourist in your own town.
I know you have heard this before, and frankly, it always sounded boring to me. Saving money by staying home and exploring where you live. Yawn!
But how wrong I was.
It is something we love doing here in the Blue Mountains, and after only nine months there is a lot that is still new to us.
We had discovered so many places we had forgotten or didn’t know existed in our old town, simply by making it a priority every weekend to go somewhere different.
Host visitors to your area
If the idea of traipsing around your hometown on your own sounds boring, then host visitors.
You can invite friends for the weekend, rent a room to travellers through Airbnb, or offer an overseas guest your couch via Couchsurfing.
Offer to show them around and see your local area through their eyes.
We recently hosted a young German girl nearing the end of her year-long stay in Australia. I took Viktoria to watch the sunrise at Govetts Leap here in the Blue Mountains, something I have done before. The look on her face was priceless.
My friend Kathy came to stay not long ago, and we did the same thing. This time we added a walk after the sun rose and Kathy, an artist sees the world as colours and textures and light.
Same place, very different experiences.
Watching the sunrise with Viktoria
And with Kathy
Same place for sunrise, different views and perspectives
By hosting guests from overseas you invite the world into your home. Listening to the stories your guests share about their lives, homes and travels are exciting.
And you never know you, maybe your guests would be happy to host you one day.
Change your Routine
Recently, Dan and I decided we needed to go on a date night once a fortnight. Yes, it seems strange that two people who live together, work from home together, and socialise together need even more time together. But like anyone, our lives get routine and we seemed to be having the same conversations over and over, usually based around work, and not enough time on us as a couple.
So, we decided to keep things simple and buy fish and chips, a naughty treat we rarely allow ourselves, and take it somewhere to eat. A picnic of sorts but in the evening. I took Dan to Boar’s Head and Cahill’s Lookout in Katoomba, where he hadn’t been before to watch the sunset.
But we were late. And I was upset that I thought we had lost the light. We had bought our food, and wine for me, and drove like maniacs to get to the lookout, screamed into the carpark, got out of the car and ran.
We did miss the sunset, but I think you might agree with the photo below that we witnessed something spectacular. Date night was fantastic. We talked about the beautiful view on one side and the huge moon rising on the other. The night was cold, and we laughed as we ate our fish and chips in the car with the windows fogging up, as I balanced my plastic wine glass on my knee.
Just by changing our normal routine we discovered something new. And we were only 15 minutes from home.
Best Date Night ever!
5. Is Travel Your Priority?
And last but not least, is travel high on your priority list?
Because you may find that those people you see travelling all the time and wonder how they do it, have travel as their number one priority.
Find what is important to you and make it your priority.
My father-in-law passed away at the age of 59, one year before he was due to retire. One year before travelling and the freedom to enjoy life the way he wanted to.
My father passed away at 77 without having been to the places he longed to visit because my parent’s priority was to have money in their funeral fund.
Can you believe it? They prioritised their funerals above living their lives?!?
I vowed that life was too short and re-evaluated my priorities.
Reprioritise and make your own luck
When I was planning our big trip for two months to the USA and Europe, I had a big world map laminated, and I stuck it to the wall in our kitchen so at meal times the kids and I could look at it and talk about our plans. They could see where we would be going, and it created a lot of excitement and discussion.
Around that time, we hosted a barbeque for families from my son’s cricket team, and one of the mums commented on the map. She said how lucky we were to be doing the trip and said her family could not afford to do something like that because they had a mortgage.
So, did we.
But that was her priority.
Mine was to travel.
Different mindset, different priorities – no right or wrong.
So, what’s your priority?
Never Give Up Your Dream
If you find yourself stuck, for whatever reason, and not able to pursue your travel dreams exploring your local area, becoming a host or organising local trips can be enough.
If you want more, work towards that.
I waited over 20 years to travel again. Have faith that if you want it badly enough, you will be able to take steps to make it happen.
Whatever the reason you cannot travel at the moment, don’t give up hope.
You will get there.
Travel is a prize worthy of the fight to attain it.