Nomadic Matt in Madagascar looking out at the sweeping view

Posted: 11/04/19 | November 4th, 2019

As travel blogging, remote operate, and social media “influencing” have turn into extra mainstream, extra and extra individuals have began to travel the planet (and turn into semi-permanent nomads). There are far extra individuals going off on extended trips now than when I began traveling only a tiny more than a decade ago. There’s significantly less pushback now than in yesteryear when you say, “I’m going to travel for a while” rather of going appropriate to college or an workplace job.

But for all the gains that have been produced in terms of producing extended-term travel extra acceptable, it is nonetheless pretty uncommon.

Yes, extra individuals are performing it, but it is nonetheless not substantial numbers. A 2017 study from Expedia shows that a single-week or two-week trips are the typical lengths of time that individuals commit overseas every single year.

Why do not extra individuals travel extended-term?

Not the “ten years a nomad” type. (Couple of individuals are going to do that.) I’m referring to the “just for a couple of months on the road” type.

Yes, lack of totally free time has one thing to do with it (specifically for us Americans!).

So does dollars.

In the United States, our “vacation culture” also plays a huge function in this. (See this post for extra on that.)

But I consider these are straightforward go-to excuses individuals use to hide the actual, deeper purpose they do not travel.*

Immediately after all, there are lots of strategies to travel low-priced if you know exactly where to appear for assistance, and there are lots of individuals who have the time to travel but do not. Funds and time cannot clarify it all.

So what are the actual factors that retain individuals from traveling?

Worry and self-doubt.

Worry of operating out of dollars, becoming alone, feasible danger, receiving off the profession trek, sick, getting no security net — there’s an endless list of fears individuals have about travel. It is scary jumping headfirst into the unknown and leaving your complete life behind, with absolutely nothing but a backpack and a dream.

Our comfort zones could make us unhappy or bored at occasions, but extra frequently than not, they retain us just satisfied sufficient to resist modify. We could hate our routine, we could complain, we could daydream — but we do not frequently modify. It is the devil we know. It is exactly where we really feel protected.

Plus, our DNA tells us to favor security more than threat. Why leave the cave to venture exactly where the monsters reside, when we can remain protected inside our shelter and reside one more day? To go out into the evening is to court danger and death. Our primitive brain screams to us: Remain right here! This is security! This is life!

So, although individuals everywhere may possibly dream of traveling the planet, it is only these whose want is robust sufficient who head out — and remain out — on the road.

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But robust sufficient to do what?

Robust sufficient to overcome the instincts — and societal norms — that inform you not to leave your protected harbor.

Robust sufficient to overcome the fears of individuals who appreciate you — like my parents, who nonetheless to this day e mail me travel warnings and news of terrorist attacks.

Robust sufficient to overcome the negativity of these who share your dream — but not your intestinal fortitude.

But most importantly, robust sufficient to overcome your self-doubt.

The inquiries individuals ask me (following “Is it protected?”) are often the exact same, no matter if by e mail or on my book tours:

“Do you meet travelers like myself out there?”

“Do you get lonely?”

“How do you deal with language challenges?”

All of these inquiries share an underlying theme: “I’m worried I do not have the capabilities to survive.”

I know this self-doubt all as well nicely.

As I faced the daunting process of turning my travel dreams into a reality back in 2006, I as well worried about this. Although trudging by means of the seemingly endless preparations, I found a new each day mantra: “Fuck, what am I receiving myself into?”

I didn’t so considerably care about shirking my responsibilities. Bills disappear when you cancel the solutions that produce them. Automobiles payments go away when you sell your car or truck. And I knew my job at the hospital wasn’t going to be my profession, so I had no worries about walking away from it.

What worried me have been the individual capabilities I believed I required to have to travel — the courage, the capability to go with the flow, the capability to speak to strangers, the self-confidence, the maturity — and no matter if or not I had sufficient of any of them following just two two-week trips more than two years to two nations that have been complete of English-speaking travelers like me.

Yes, I knew that a lot of individuals travel the planet. I had noticed hundreds of them in Thailand following all. But in contrast to these individuals, I wasn’t “hardened” or “experienced.” Heck, I got scammed 3 occasions in a single day in Thailand, and in Costa Rica I got lost in a jungle!

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I was a sheltered kid who had never ever ventured far beyond his protected harbor. Did I seriously have what it took?

Worry and self-doubt whispered consistently in my ear.

But, becoming stubborn and getting currently committed to performing this trip, I couldn’t turn back.

I daydreamed about the crazy points that would come about to me on the road. I’d make mates from about the planet. I’d attempt adventure activities. I’d hike mountains and sail down exotic rivers. Locals would invite me out for drinks. I’d sip a latte, strike up a conversation with my gorgeous waitress, and then the subsequent issue I’d know, we’d be at a wine bar, staring into every single other’s eyes.

It was going to be just like these travel articles I’d study, or motion pictures I’d noticed and romanticized.

Elsewhere was out there — and it was calling me.

And then, when I was ultimately out the road, I realized one thing:

I was not Magellan.

I wasn’t setting sail into the unknown horizon, asking yourself if I was going to fall off a flat earth.

No, I was walking on nicely-trod tourist trails. I had guidebooks. If all these backpackers in Thailand could do it, why couldn’t I? If 18-year-olds fresh out of higher college could handle a year about the planet, so could I. In truth, I had produced it by means of Costa Rica and Thailand. I had produced mates there. I had talked to strangers.

And that is one thing I inform travelers now.

We are not Magellan. We are not setting off into the blankness of history to chart new worlds. The subsequent Magellans will colonize the moon. We’re basically receiving on an airplane and going exactly where other individuals have gone prior to.

That is the distinction amongst the early explorers and what we do: we’re attempting to have new experiences and find out about ourselves — but we are not uncovering blanks spots on a map. We’re walking in others’ footsteps, and we can be grateful to them even as we blaze new individual trails.

That does not make our journey significantly less particular. The planet is complete of new stories and adventures that are particular to us. I didn’t need to have to uncover Thailand to delight in Thailand — the journey and encounter have been what mattered.


The hardest component of the journey is the mental preparation. When you are out of protected harbor, you will really feel the wind in your sails. Action begets action. As the shoreline drifts additional away, the wind picks up and carries you like Gulliver to unknown lands. And as soon as you are out there, your fears fade away as excitement and a sense of adventure take more than.

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You are as well busy getting exciting to be concerned about worrying any longer.

If you are worried about getting the capabilities to travel extended-term, do not. We’re all just figuring it out anyways. No a single knows what to do when they step out the door the initial time.

And don’t forget: millions have come prior to you. They produced it. They as well have been strangers in a strange land, without having mates, family members, or a help technique.

There have been individuals and systems out there that helped them along the way.

These travelers produced it.

I produced it.

And, I guarantee, you will make it as well.

*Note: I get that not absolutely everyone can travel (for other really genuine factors), and I do not imply to imply that travel is for absolutely everyone. For extra on that, see this post.

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