The Truth Behind Travel Guilt

This was written ten months ago, a couple days before I left Colorado. But time is funny and I needed this now and maybe you do to.

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While many people are afraid of stepping outside of their comfort zone, some people have a different approach to convincing themselves why they cannot do the things they really want to do.

For example, traveling feels like an “expense” or something that can only be done by people who have excessive paid vacation time or a trust fund.

When did our reality become so messed up, and society start to tell us that only people who have a pile of money begging them to fly first class get to go on trips and enjoy themselves?

Traveling is a freedom. It is a whole lot easier than you think. And most importantly it is not something you should ever feel guilty about doing.

Seeing a new place, experiencing a new culture, meeting new people, eating new foods, learning a new language, teaching yourself history, being vulnerable, feeling nervous, getting lost and missing home.

These are all parts of traveling that make you grow as a person. These are all important parts of living.

When your life becomes a routine, you begin making life easier for yourself.

When you break that routine, you create a challenge for yourself.

When you create a challenge for yourself, you realize how much more you are capable of.

When you realize how much more you are capable of, you gain confidence.

When you gain confidence, you respect yourself more.

When you respect yourself more, you learn to love yourself in a new way.

When you truly fall in love with yourself, you open yourself up to the opportunity of really valuing and loving others.

When you truly open yourself up to loving others, you realize that you were neglecting the rest of the world.

You realize how selfish you may have been living your life. And not selfish for the right reasons. You were living your life selfishly for the person on the outside. Your shell. You were being selfish because you were ignoring the person inside of you, the ambitions inside of you.

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Routine allows you safety and balance, but it creates ignorance.

Your current routine is safe because you know it well, you know your expenses, you have a plan for your time management, you have friends, family and a job that you believe rely on you.

This brings me back to guilt.

When you want to travel, you convince yourself that you don’t deserve to go somewhere. You convince yourself that you must sustain your shell, your image. You must make more money, do better at your job. You convince yourself that you will let other people down, because they will think you are being selfish. You convince yourself that other people need you.

Of course, they do. Your boss, your friends, your co-workers or that bartender at the pub you go to every Friday night. All of these people rely on you to make THEIR life function more smoothly.

Are you living each week with monotony because you truly believe you never want to leave where you are, or are you where you are right now because you are afraid of letting other people down.

When you finally allow yourself to realize that you are absolutely not being selfish, you let go of guilt, you let go of fear, and you allow yourself to reconcile with the truth. And the truth is that doing something that allows you to grow, learn and experience life a little differently than your routine was allowing, is definitely not something to feel guilty about. Rather, it is something that will make you feel alive, and in due time the important people in your life will understand.

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Yesterday was my last day of work in Colorado. I had been at this job for almost a year. That is the longest I have held a job in a while. Not because I am a bad employee and not because I dislike the jobs that I have had. Rather because routine and feeling content is not something I am okay with. At least not yet. 

Many of us feel like we need to “pull our lives together” and create a foundation before we can travel or do the things we want to do. I think that is backwards. For a couple of reasons. When you are young, you can do more. i.e.) An Australian work and travel visa is for 18-30 years olds only. Once you are over 30, it is VERY difficult to get a work visa for that country. 

The last table that I served yesterday, was a couple. They told me that their children were in their thirties. The last thirty years of their lives have never been the same and those days before having kids are something they can never really get back. Because having kids changes your life. You become a parent forever. You lose certain parts of yourself. You lose the ability to be as free as you once were, because when you have kids your life becomes focused on the safety of your children, and the constant worry of being a parent takes up more energy than you ever anticipated.

At first they said “never have kids”, which after a little more conversation turned into “Okay, get married and have kids when you are thirty five years old”. Family is important, and a powerful part of your life. However, so is doing what you love.

Traveling is not something you should feel guilty about. Traveling is something that you should see as a challenge and an eye opening experience that will seriously change your life every time you go somewhere new.

So seriously think about “the foundation” you are creating right now and if you still think traveling is something to feel guilty about, well, I say feel guilty now rather than fifty years from now, when that guilt is not for letting down your boss at twenty five years old, but that guilt will be for letting down yourself because you passed up the opportunities to do what you truly wanted to do.

 

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