How to prepare for traveling

You’re lying in bed, staring at the ceiling in the middle of the night when it hits you: you want to travel. I’m not just talking about a week-long vacation to Wally World or going on yet another all-inclusive resort trip, I’m talking REAL travel. The kind of travel that forces you to change EVERYTHING. Literally everything.

When I had my epiphany, I started writing things down that I wanted to change. By writing them down, they become tangible. It’s no longer just a pipe dream in your head. This is where things begin to manifest and actually happen. Here’s what my list looked like:

  1. Get rid of as many bills as possible (to free up funds to travel and decrease monthly amount needed to survive)
  2. Get rid of as much “stuff” as possible* (to lighten the load and minimize moving and/or storage fees while traveling)
  3. Increase alternate sources of income (to allow for freedom from 9-5 daily rat race)
  4. Write down wish list of places to visit (this serves as a starting point… it will grow VERY fast)

* There’s a great article about simplifying on Zen Habits (click here) that I found SUPER helpful.

In my personal situation, I was blowing through $2,500 in bills every month. At the end of it all, I didn’t have much to show for it really. Housing, utilities and other home expenses, food – both at home and out, transportation, debt repayment, saving, entertainment, insurance – health, home, auto, life, etc. This all needed to change. For me, it started by picking 4-5 things that I wanted more time to devote to. We all have different priorities in life; mine required me to literally get rid of everything. And I do mean everything.

Next, the time had come to let go of all the “things” I’d spent the last 15+ years accumulating. (“Stuff” mainly, but once the stuff is gone, it’s time to really take things to the next level and purge the most difficult piece of the whole equation – ego.)¬†I took 5 car loads of stuff down to the salvation army, picked a random weekend for a huge yard sale, and went through every nook and cranny in my house to decide what I could realistically sell for some quick cash. During that 2-day yard sale, I made $4,500. Not bad for quick and easy – especially when I wasn’t really using any of the stuff I sold. It was just taking up space, losing value, clouding my world with anchors… preventing change. I had become a prisoner to all my stuff and the false sense of security it instilled. In fact, my house had transformed me into a slave of society. I was locked into the jobs available within the daily commuting distance. I was locked into the social circles of those around me (the digital age of Facebook, twitter, meetup, etc. helps, but you get the point. Example – it’s tough to grow organic food outside all year round in midwest Ohio without having a hot-house so perhaps someplace more tropical and temperate is what’s needed.

Alternate sources of income actually started for me 3 years prior to this whole process. I was laid off unexpected from the IT industry and started a graphic design studio in my home. This allowed me the freedom to be creative, be of service to others, and make money while doing it – all from my home on my own time and schedule. No more 9-5 rat race. While owning your own LLC/business is HARD work; the autonomy is second to none, the freedom it allows is wonderful, and the potential to make money doing something you enjoy is extremely fulfilling. A job is when what you do doesn’t match your likes/dislikes/strongest skill set. A calling is when all of those things align.

Writing down a list of places you’d like to see was the most fun part of these 4 steps for me. I let my mind wander, checked out other travel bloggers, looked at magazines at the local bookstore or coffee shop, and allowed whatever was in my head to become a part of the list. Here are just a few of the places I came up with:

  • Bali – Bukit Peninsula
  • Thailand – Chiang Mai, Bangkok, Ko Samui
  • Cambodia – Siem Reap (Angkor Wat)
  • Indonesia – Borobudar, Java
  • France – Bayonne (the starting point of the Camino de Santiago)
  • Spain – Camino de Santiago de Compostela
  • Italy – Turin, Milan, Rome, Venice, Naples
  • Malaysia – Kuala Lampur

…as you will see, the list will grow VERY fast. Do you best to write EVERYTHING down. Don’t eliminate anything at this stage. Just get it down on paper so it becomes tangible. Manifest it out of your thoughts and bring it into reality. The rest will happen at its own pace.

Life is not a someday thing, or a one day thing. It’s a right now, every day thing.

That’s all for now, time to get back to my huge to-do list. My goal is to leave mid December 2012.

Be well. And namaste.

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