One fateful day, in April of 2014, I realized something. My plan to become debt-free was coming to fruition – and the fact that I had no mortgage, no car payment, and was single opened my eyes to the plethora of possibilities for my future. Without debt or anything of the like holding me back in any way, I could leave. I could actually do it. I could save up some money, quit my job, sell my car, get rid of my clothes, pack a backpack, buy a ticket, and leave.
So I did.
That October will be burned into my history forever. With nothing to my name but (literally) the clothes on my back, I boarded a plane to Thailand and haven’t looked back once. Since that fateful day I’ve been fortunate to explore not only Thailand but Australia, New Zealand, Vietnam, Laos, Cambodia, Germany, Italy, Spain, and France. Through jungle treks, elephant encounters, scuba diving in the Great Barrier Reef, following sharks, visiting Mordor, being attacked by mountain parrots (yes, they’re a thing), going caving, skydiving, bungee jumping, road tripping, hostel hopping, swimming with snakes, camping in dunes, living by the beach, experiencing so many cultures, … I need to stop. The list could go on until my fingers bleed from typing it.
The world is more accessible now than it has ever been before. We have flights that cost the same as bus tickets, computerized everything (you can plan your entire trip from an app), not to mention any Google search about travel at our fingertips. The world is in our hands in many ways, and this is one of them.
Have you ever said to yourself, while sitting in horrible traffic on the way to the same job you’ve had for years, “I should just leave,”? And I’m not talking about that job. I absolutely adored my job. I miss it! My coworkers were like my second family. My job was wonderful. So this isn’t about that. It’s about opportunity. It’s about your dreams. It’s about life being short and you recognizing it, seizing the moment, and just doing what many people talk about but seldom do – leave.
It’s a scary verb, “to leave.” It implies loss, instability, yearning. It’s that inclination to do more and to get out when your instincts tell you to sit down and stay put. But where did that instinct come from? Your soul? Unlikely. My best guess is that society has bored it into your brain with their media-tipped drills: WORK. EAT. SLEEP. REPEAT. This is how society is run! If everyone were leaving all the time, nothing would get done. Or would it? With the advances in technology that we see everyday, more and more people (myself included) are finding remote jobs AKA working from a computer or any other mobile device. Is it far-fetched to say that someday the majority of jobs will be like this? I’m not clairvoyant but I could fathom a guess.
“But I’m not you. I have a spouse, children, pets, a mortgage… You had _____ going for you, but I don’t have that. So I can’t just get up and leave.” Nobody’s situation is exactly identical. Everyone has their own battles they’re fighting and their own – well, everything. Okay, that’s fair. But what if I told you that someone who was in your situation has already done it? I’m going to be honest with you – anything is possible. Whether or not you want something so badly out of life that you’ll dedicate your entire being to achieving it, well, that’s up to you. If your goal is to take three more vacations a year to different countries, then do that. If your goal is to simply leave the city at least once a month, then do that! If you want to get rid of everything you own and throw caution to the wind in exchange for the most exhilarating life you could have – then do that! I can promise you only two things: it won’t be easy, but you won’t regret it.
So… Will I come back? Sure, I would certainly love to visit the States. I want to see my friends, family, my home state. Seeing familiar faces will surely ignite some nostalgia. But will I actually come back, to stay? Well, that’s hard to say. Now that I’ve seen what I can do out here – in the general world, that is, away from home – I don’t really feel an urge to return. There are so many places to see, so many things to do, so many people to meet and I don’t want to miss a thing. The richness of what I’m gaining out here away from it all, getting to know the world deeper than books and articles, is too big of a sacrifice than I’m willing to make. My travels have taught me through first-hand experience that I can make a beautiful life for myself pretty much anywhere, and that it’s completely up to me. That freedom enlivens me. It’s nothing like I’ve ever felt before. I can choose where I want to exist on this earth, so I might as well see as much of it as I can to facilitate that decision, right?