How to Live a Life of Travel

Wednesday, April 23, 2014

"How do you it?"

If I got a dollar for every time I got asked this question, I'd be wandering through the world nonstop right now. I've gotten a lot of emails asking how can one just leave their regular job, pack their entire life into a suitcase and explore the world. 

It's not as easy as it seems, and it's not as hard as it seems either. Because it all depends on how you make it. The point of travel is to embrace the ambiguity. To lunge into uncertainty and find comfort in teetering the unknown.

Lao Tzu said, a journey of a thousand miles begins with one step. I say here, take five.

1. Save

Save as much as you possibly can. Stop consuming. Stop eating out at restaurants. Stop going to the movies, stop going to clubs every weekend, stop smoking, stop constantly spending money on alcohol, stop shopping, stop wasting your money on things you don't need and save it to buy experiences that will benefit you and your growth. Travel.

If you set a budget for yourself every month and stick to it, you will be able to save up enough money for travel. Think of all the things you mindlessly spend on a daily basis. That five dollar coffee at Starbucks. That pack of cigarettes from the gas station. The top from Anthropologie that you just "had to have". If you take a look at your bank account and calculate all of the things that you have spent, you will see that it does make a dent. Weigh your priorities out, would you rather spend your money on instant gratifications or incredible experiences all over the world? If you choose the latter, set a bar before you decide to splurge on something lesser than that. Once you get into this habit, it's much easier to say no to random purchases.

Next thing you know, you'll be on a plane, on your way to your dream destination feeling proud of yourself for making it happen.


2. Buy a Ticket

"There's a story that comes from the tradition of the Desert Father, an order of Christian monks who lived in the wastelands of the Egypt about seventeen hundred years ago. In the tale, a couple of monks named Theodore and Lucius shared the acute desire to go out and see the world. Since they'd made vows of contemplation, however, this was not something they were allowed to do. So, to satiate their wanderlust, Theodore and Lucius learned to "mock their temptations" by relegating their travels to the future. When the summertime came, they said to each, "We will leave in the winter." When the winter came, they said, "We will leave in the summer." They went on like this over fifty years, never once leaving the monastery or breaking their vows. Most of us, of course, have never taken such vows but we choose to live like monks anyway, rooting ourselves to a home or career and using the future as a kind of phony ritual that justifies the present. In this way, we end up spending 'the best part of one's life earning money in order to enjoy a questionable liberty during the least valuable part of it. '" 
- Rolf Potts, Vagabonding
Doesn't that story sound familiar? Perhaps a bit too familiar? If you keep delaying your dream travels, you will only waste more of your precious life.

Pick a place. If you could be anywhere in the world, where would you be? Dream about it, think about it, delve into it.

Set a date. Give yourself a goal. A time that fuels you, a time that you can dream about, think about while you are working hard to get there. This will motivate you, it is your impetus, that thing that fuels you until you are up in the air and on your way to your dream destination.

Buy the ticket. Work. Save. Go.


3. Live Simply

"As you simplify your life, the laws of the universe will be simpler; solitude will not be solitude, poverty will not be poverty, nor weakness weakness."

-Henry David Thoreau

Minimalism. Embrace it. If you wear a lot of makeup, have a closet of heels or sneakers, if you're into labels and brands, and can't go a week without buying things you don't need, then my dear, you are in for it. When you start packing your life into a backpack and start selecting the very few things you will gradually strip away all old and unnecessary materialistic things and habits.

We have been wired to consume and spend since the cradle. We don't need to buy new clothes and accessories all the time. We don't need to wear that much makeup. We don't need expensive sneaker collections that costs a couple hundred a pair. We don't need to live in a big house with nice expensive furniture, we don't need to drop thousands of dollars for a shiny 5-inch emblem on a car. It's all just stuff. Material stuff that we think we need, to impress people we think we like, to live a life we think we want.

Travel will strip you down to your very core. To the real you.

It will wake you up. Then you won't feel the need to go back to that materialistic lifestyle again. The more you travel, the more you will learn how to live with very little. It will humble you. You will learn that the simpler you live, the happier you will be. When you are out there on the road, you will be content with your belongings in your backpack, the world in front of you, and the enlightening realization that there is nothing else you really need.


4. Follow your fears

"What gives value to travel is fear. It is the fact that, at a certain moment, when we are so far from our own country we are seized by a vague fear, and an instinctive desire to go back to the protection of old habits. This is why we should not say that we travel for pleasure. There is no pleasure in traveling, I look upon it more as an occasion for spiritual testing. This is the most obvious benefit of travel. At that moment we are feverish but also porous, so that the slightest touch makes us quiver to the depths of our being. We come across a cascade of light, and there is eternity. Travel, which is like a greater and graver science, brings us back to ourselves."
-Albert Camus

Diving into the unknown is scary at first, especially when you're used to being in your comfort zone. It's like adjusting your eyesight to darkness. It all seems dark and scary in the beginning, but once your eyes have adjusted it will pick up light from somewhere and it gets easier to see. It's not as frightening as you think it is. People will spill their fears, doubts, and opinions about the world and why you shouldn't even try to get yourself out there. But 99% of the time these are people who have never truly traveled outside of their homeland. So don't listen to them, listen to what your insides are telling you. And if it's telling you to go travel the world, even if it terrifies you, do it.

The other end of every fear is freedom. This is the truth. 

Fear paralyzes us, hinders us from doing what we want to do, from become who we're meant to become. It is an emotion that feels very real, but it is an illusion. That doesn't mean that to become brave & courageous we don't have fear, it means having fears and following them anyway. That is what true courage is. Because deep down we know that we would much rather be free than be paralyzed by the confines of fear. Would you rather stay in your space of comfort and live the rest of your life that way, wondering how it would have been to trek the Himalayas, swim with the elephants in the Andaman islands, or watch the sunrise over Myanmar? In order to life a life of travel we must pursue wherever our feet and hearts takes us, despite the fears. Once you follow and face them, you're free.


5. Let Go

"Travel can be a kind of monasticism on the move: On the road, we often live more simply, with no more possessions than we can carry, and surrendering ourselves to chance. This is what Camus meant when he said that "what gives value to travel is fear" -- disruption, in other words (or emancipation) from circumstance, and all the habits behind which we hide."
-Pico Tyler

You will learn how to detach. You will learn how to let things flow as opposed to constantly needing to have everything planned and control. You will find the true meaning of serendipity and the law of attraction. Let go and let you days flow. Go with the currents of the universe and the paths it opens up to you.

We come from all walks of life. People have priorities that could hold them back from traveling, may it be a relationship, family, job, car, etc. But think about this:

What do you desire the most?

Traveling the world doesn't mean riding through a rainbow on a unicorn with a pot of gold at the end, although a lot of times you'll love it so much it will feel that way. Living a life of travel is about courage, sacrifices, and priorities. People have kids but they sacrifice houses with white picket fences so they can be a vagabonding family, with the world as the school for their children. People have boyfriends/girlfriends but they travel together anyway. Traveling with someone you love is one of the greatest tests that can truly show how strong a relationship really is. If you make it, wonderful. If you don't, at least you know that you're not meant for each other, life goes on. People have jobs but they quit it to find one more suitable for the nomadic life that enables them to be location independent. People have cars but they either sell it to travel, or live in it to travel. Easier said than done, but it's most definitely doable. It's up to you to make travel your life. You choose.

What will you give up for it? What will you risk? What will you let go?

Whatever it is. For the sake of travel, for the sake of truly living and experiencing this unfathomably beautiful world, it's worth it. Always.

To travel-filled lives,
Sole Sister Stephanie

All images by Stephanie Dandan

Stephanie is a nomadic photographer, wanderer, adventurer, dreamer. She lives for capturing moments of bliss, wanderlust, inspiring hearts, reigniting spirits, and infinite moments of Satori. Follow her journey at Infinite Satori.

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2 sole trails

  1. Ohh Stephanie! You are the very reason why I am very driven and why I'm dreaming big. Thanks for the inspiration :)

  2. Point #3 is an eye opener.

    Live simply to others may simple live.


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