“To be yourself in a world that is constantly trying to make you something else is the greatest accomplishment.”
-Ralph Waldo Emerson
Today I’m bringing you the first in a new series called Travelosophy that I’ll be publishing at least once a month in the Zero To Travel Podcast.
In this series, I share thoughtful questions around long-term travel and/or travel as a lifestyle choice for any period of time.
These questions I pose in this series have no right or wrong answer and my thoughts are my travelosophy or travel philosophy.
I’m curious what you think so if you want to add to this discussion you can email me, send me a message on twitter, or leave a comment here.
In the next Travelosophy episode, I’ll share some of those comments with the community – the zero to travel worldwide caravan of listeners.
Now, let’s get into today’s question
What if your calling is to travel?
Well, what is a calling?
For the purpose of this show, I’m defining it as something you feel compelled to do.
The word ‘calling’ has a lot of implications and potential pressures around it.
If someone asks you what your ‘true calling’ is you might not like that question because you don’t have an answer and you wouldn’t be alone.
Some would argue that there is such a thing as one true calling; something you were meant to do …and others would disagree.
That’s not what this is about so I’ll define ‘calling’ further as something you feel you need to do for a period of time.
Meaning, it does NOT have to be something you do for the rest of your life…we never know how long that will be anyway.
Now I want to ask you, what if you feel, right now, that your calling is to travel for some extended period?
Travel is something your gut and your heart tells you to do repeatedly.
The urge to travel is a knowing that pops up in your mind, your heart and your soul on a regular basis.
It’s something that hangs around so long you can’t ignore it any longer.
What does that mean?
Is travel an acceptable calling to have?
What happens when you begin to think that ‘travel’ is the path you need to choose right now?
Do you judge that thought?
Do you scoff at or dismiss it?
Does it seem ridiculous?
If so, why?
Because oftentimes many or at least some friends and family around you won’t get it, and that’s fine, they can have their opinions.
And society as a whole sees travel as a hobby, or activity – not a calling that is understood as something one must do.
Our minds can be harsher judges then society.
If you feel travel may be your calling right now and dismiss that thought it’s no different than unsupportive external influences and people.
In fact, it’s worse.
Isn’t it reasonable to consider travel as a calling?
Through my personal experience, I know that I felt exploring the world was something I needed to do. I wasn’t sure how initially but those details got figured out.
The important thing is if you feel compelled to travel for an extended period of time now or in the near future it’s imperative to support yourself internally, without judgment.
Now, let’s go external for a moment…
Have you noticed that it’s acceptable for someone to make a statement of knowing, a statement of conviction when that statement falls in line with what our culture and society deem acceptable or to be at a certain imagined level of status?
For example, if someone feels in their heart they want to work in the medical profession and states “I want to become a doctor” that person will have the vast majority of support from everyone.
Society, culture, friends, family.
Doctors universally received a high level of respect, admiration, and status. Even the bad ones get it.
I do believe being a doctor a noble profession.
It’s a wonderful and necessary role that helps people every day.
As you know, when someone wants to become doctor they can only do so after extensive education.
They then must go through 6-10 or more years of school and training. It’s a journey and a process that leads to gaining the status of a doctor.
Because of the level of dedication needed, becoming a doctor will attract people who either feel it’s there calling, are fascinated by it, enjoy being focused on working towards one ultimate goal, want to gain status, are pressured into it, or most likely some mix of all of the above.
Becoming a doctor is a concrete thing to work towards.
Go to university.
Get a degree.
Go to medical school.
Pass various tests and spend time practicing under experienced doctors.
Eventually, get certified and practice as a medical professional.
Now, let’s consider the path of the traveler.
If you have a strong feeling within to get out and see the world it’s loose and hard to define.
It’s the opposite of a concrete path. It is meandering.
There is no exact time commitment to ‘becoming a traveler’.
There is no identifiable end result like a prestigious degree in traveling – what would that get you anyway?
And there isn’t much cultural or societal support for spending years or even some months traveling – at least in the USA.
Yet, is it any less of an educational experience than going to university?
Many would argue it’s a better education – I think that depends on how you approach it.
Either way, there is no predictable outcome when you opt to travel for an extended period of time.
Which means you can create the outcome.
We are all wired differently – which is why comparing myself to someone who knows exactly what they want and what path to take doesn’t work.
Maybe you can relate.
And because travel does not have a predictable outcome you can take what you get from it, and what you give to others along the way and make your own path.
Pencils of Promise is an organization whose founding principle is that everyone on the planet should have access to quality education.
I interviewed Adam Braun, the founder of POP on this podcast and have done multiple fundraisers for this organization.
Adam is a traveler. He spent a semester at sea in college and spent time backpacking through over 50 countries before landing a ‘real job’ in finance.
But those travel experiences stuck with Adam and ultimately lead to starting POP and they have now built over 300+ schools in countries around the world.
Adam didn’t know where traveling would take him?
What if Adam never traveled?
You could say the same for other travelers like Tony Wheeler (founder of Lonely Planet) and Tim Ferriss whose mini-retirement and extensive travels lead to the 4 Hour Work Week.
This isn’t to say that the only way to justify travel is by starting something huge and earth-shattering.
You don’t have to justify it.
You can’t put a value on travel. It’s a journey we all get something out of.
Like all journey’s, it leads somewhere.
And just because we don’t know where it will lead doesn’t mean it’s a journey not worth taking.
If you feel that you have a calling to travel long term, for any period of time for some unknown reason then don’t ignore it…it’s there for a reason.
That reason will become clear later.
That reason is none of your business right now.
Chuang Tzu said:
If you persist in reasoning about what cannot be understood, you will be destroyed by the very thing you seek.
Reasoning is a game the mind plays, not one that your true self needs to partake in.
Watch the mental chess match from a distance and you’ll see trying to rationalize an intuitive feeling sparks a heated internal debate but never a real right answer, except the one you put just enough reasoning behind to tip the scales.
You can think through intuition but you can’t win it.
We can choose to make heart forward decisions based on how we feel in the present.
If you’re calling is to travel – it will take you many places, including somewhere you want to go.
For more podcasts on the long term travel lifestyle dig into the archives.