Welcome to my new series that will walk you through how to travel the world over the long term and tremendously grow your human capital! Last week I introduced this huge subject and started talking about time and money. This week, we’ll get started thinking about what your journey could look like by finding the inspiration to set off into the unknown. A trip could take place over several months in a far off place or in a few weeks closer to home.
I alluded to this topic last week in the introductory post because I think it’s very important. One of the keys to figuring out what you want to do on a long and potentially life changing journey is to know thyself. This seems like such a simple concept but rarely do we give it more than a passing thought.
As we get older we learn more about ourselves, our spouses and those around us. We discover what we like or don’t like by living through certain experiences. The more events or situations we experience the more we learn what we like or dislike. This all must seem very abstract right now so just ask yourself a simple question and write down your answers. What do I like to do?
For people in their 20′s and 30′s, their responses might look like this:
- Visit with friends
- Dine out
- Drink / Party
- Watch TV / Movies
- Surf the internet / Use Facebook
- Play soccer/basketball/tennis/baseball/hockey
- Go on vacation (1 week, someplace warm)
These are the obvious things that basically everyone likes doing. To know yourself, you need to dig deeper. Here are some other answers which might not have immediately come to mind.
As you can see, there are some big differences in these lists. The first list is comprised of the easy answers that come to mind right away. The second involves some though and reflection. In today’s action oriented go go go lifestyle we might forget about the less tangible, less media influenced activities.
By knowing yourself, you are better able to think about the many different things that excite you or make you happy. Having this knowledge can then lead you to thinking about what activities you might like to do on a long trip where, for once, time is on your side.
Sources of Inspiration
Even knowing a lot about yourself will only unlock so many potential experiences, sometimes you need a little inspiration! A friend might have climbed a mountain in Africa or you might have read about far flung pacific islands in a book. Use these ideas to help you form an outline of what you’d like to do on your trip. Don’t rule anything out until you’ve done some research no matter how crazy your idea may seem.
Friends & Family
You know them and trust them. Friends and family are excellent sources of inspiration for your extended trip. Harness the power of your social network (not just the electronic kind!) and start asking questions about what they’ve done that was different, exciting or eye opening. Keep in mind they will be giving you answers based on their own perspective and taste.
In my opinion, TV for the most part is garbage. It’s filled with mind numbing sitcoms, offensive “reality” shows, sensationalized news, trashy celebrity gossip and horrific crime dramas. Having said all that, I still watch it from time to time, it can be a good way to unwind. If you can filter out all the junk there are some great programs / channels that can give you some inspiration on where to go or what to do.
Personally, I love the Discovery Channel and National Geographic Channel. Both have interesting programming that may give you some inspiration. You could browse their websites or pickup a magazine for a physical piece of inspiration. Reality real estate shows can also be interesting since they give you a view into homes in far off places. They talk about why and how a person or family is moving internationally and their stories can be quite interesting! House Hunters International and Home or Away are examples of these shows.
Yes, the old fashioned book. Is it just me or does it seem like fewer and fewer people read them these days? If you can find the time to watch back to back episodes of The Real Housewives of wherever, you have time to read a book and actually use your imagination!
Even just browsing for books on Amazon can be interesting, here is a search for travel books.
Now that you’ve done a little soul searching and inspirational research it’s time to start putting together a framework for what a potential trip could involve. Let’s say for example you’ve come to realize that gardening, different cultures and rural life excite you. Great! Now you can incorporate these things into your plan. As part of your travels you could work on a farm in some far off place, learn a new language, experience a new way of life, etc.
In just two minutes of searching, I came across WWOOF – World Wide Opportunities On Organic Farms. They have opportunities all over the world, you could work for a guy named Dr Mokbul Hossain in Bangladesh who grows “very sweet mangoes” and “…wood apple, jackfruits and tamarind…”. Sounds like an adventure to me!
For something a little closer to home, the Vancouver Aquarium has all sorts of opportunities for volunteering for those with a passion for wildlife. For something more short term, you could participate in the Great Canadian Shoreline Cleanup.
The possibilities are endless, you just need to know what you like and get inspired! Don’t forget that families can also undertake an experiential trip, it just requires more planning and resources. While it may seem impossible to undertake a big change just remember to take things one step at a time, everything will work itself out.
In the next installment of the series we’ll discuss planning the trip and figuring out timelines. Stay tuned!
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