Many people ask me how I do the things I do and go the places I go. I commonly hear things like, “how can you afford to travel so much?” and “You must be nuts climbing that high” and my personal favorite: “I want your job.” In reality everything I do is accessible to everyone. With a little prioritizing and some extra cash, travel is really not out of reach. First, let me give you a little background on my past few months.
My real thirst for adventure began last October when I got to spend a week on a remote stretch of the Appalachian Trail in northern Georgia. Then in January I summited Mount Washington in New Hampshire. A few month later I made a career change that afforded a more flexible schedule, and my thirst for adventure kicked into high gear. The past few months have really been a whirlwind of travel and experiences. I’ve spent several weekends climbing and exploring in the New England states, I spent over a week climbing in Boulder, Colorado, as well as a successful climb of the famous rock formation Devils Tower in Northern Wyoming. In less than two weeks I will be flying out to southern California to spend the better part of a week in Joshua Tree National Park climbing some of the mostÂ popularÂ rock in the world. I can honestly tell you it won’t stop there. I am already starting toÂ formulateÂ new adventures in my head as I write this. My ultimate goal is long term world travel.
You probably think I’m nuts, right? A hopeless visionary with a whacky sense of perspective. Maybe so, but it’s a lot of fun at the very least. Living this life is much easier than one would imagine. I to admit I.m a single twenty-something male with very little in the form of obligations, but that does not have to prevent the family of four from picking up and traveling. It happens all the time. There are plenty of ways to do and see what you want, all it takes is a little creativity and ambition.
Building A Network
If you would have told me five years ago that I would be traveling thousands of miles, rooming with near strangers, and sleeping in the desert for several days, I probably would have laughed at you. A lot. You can’t trust anyone you meet on the internet right? These days, meeting someone on the internet is probably safer than meeting a stranger in a bar.
Creating a national, or better yet, global network of people you can reach out to during travel has endless benefits, not to mention you will form new and exciting friendships. I know I certainly have. There are really so many great ways to build this network. Some of the better ways include Couchsurfing.org, Globetrooper, andÂ Twitter. Personally I created a lot of wonderful friendships all over the country via Twitter. During my trip to Colorado I got to spend lots of time with many of the great people I met through Twitter as well as some I have neverÂ interactedÂ with at all. Next month I expect to do more of the same in Joshua Tree.
Instead of continually saying your going to go somewhere, then never following through, make an unbreakable commitment. Plan to visit a place where you have a friend and tell them your coming. Chances are you will follow through if you don’t want to let your friend down. Another thing that I found works well is to buy a plane ticket almost as soon as you have a trip idea planned out. I did something like this for my trip to Joshua Tree. I had some reservations about the trip at first, but within 6 hours of looking at affordable flights I was booked and committed. This is really effective for two reasons. The obvious reason is that generally the earlier you book, the cheaper the flight is. The second reason is the longer you wait and think about it, the more likely you are to make up excuses for why you can’t go. I was guilty of this one for years.
What About Work?
This is a case by case scenario. If I were still an IT manager working a nine to five like I once did, it would be much more difficult to slip away for days at a time undetected. When I took my current job I made a point to negotiate more time off, and my daily schedule is extremely flexible. This scenario has made it easier for me to do the things I love while still pulling in a paycheck. Eventually my goal is to free myself completely from the confines of working from a set location, but that is another post I have yet to write.
If you aren’t able to adjust you schedule at will, take days in a row off, or even work from the road for that matter, there is still hope. Many enjoyable weekend trips can be had on the cheap and be every bit as fulfilling. Actually a good bit of my adventures in the past few months were weekend adventures or could have easily been. Prime example was my June trip to climb Mount Katahdin in Maine. We left Thursday night at 6 pm and drove the twelve hours straight through the night arriving at Baxter State Park just in time for a 6 am start. If we would have left Friday night, work would not have been affected at all. Sure driving twenty-four hours in a fifty hour time period is not everyone’s idea of a good time, but the point is that it can be done. One good way to find fun that fits into a weekend schedule is to consult that network you built, most people will be glad to help.
Other things to consider when trying to get more time away from the office and extra money is things such as comp time or over time. It doesn’t hurt to ask your employer if an extra Saturday here or there can net you some comp time for your next adventure. if you ever wind up working over time, try and stick the extra money away specifically for your next adventure. Chances are you won’t even miss it and you will be thankful for it when you need to book a hotel or plane ticket.
Get out and Go!
Though the prospect of pulling the trigger and booking a flight on a whim may scare some, it is the kind of things you need to start practicing if you would like to get out there more. Especially if you are a second guesser as I once was. Don’t tell yourself that right now is not the time to do something about your restlessness because of hard economical times. In fact, that is probably all the more reason to get out and do it. Travel, if done right, can be a great way to free your mind and relieve stress as well as re-energize the economy. I encourage everyone one to get out there and give it a go. I would also like to hear your thoughts on the topic, experiences, and so forth. Don’t be afraid to share your travel horror stories as well as sharing the great ones.