More and more people are starting to travel the world (and become semi-permanent nomads) as travel blogging, remote work, and social media “influencing” become more common. Compared to when I first started traveling, which was a little over a decade ago, today, there are significantly more people taking extended trips. When you say, “I’m going to travel for a while” as opposed to immediately enrolling in college or working in an office, there is less resistance today than there was in the past.
However, despite the progress that has been made toward increasing the acceptance of long-distance travel, it is still relatively uncommon.
More people are indeed doing it, but not a lot. According to a 2017 Expedia study, the typical amount of time people spend abroad annually is one or two weeks.
For what reason don’t more individuals travel long haul?
Not the “a decade a traveler” kind. ( That won’t be done by many.) The “just for a few months on the road” variety is what I’m referring to.
Yes, a lack of free time is a factor (particularly for Americans!).
Money is another.
Our “vacation culture” in the United States also contributes significantly to this. See this post for more on that.)
Yet, I think those are simple go-to pardons individuals use to conceal the genuine, more profound explanation they don’t travel.*
After all, there are numerous opportunities to travel at a low cost if you know where to look for guidance, and numerous individuals lack the time to travel. Time and money can’t explain everything.
What exactly prevents people from traveling, then?
Insecurity and self-doubt.
There is an endless list of people’s travel-related fears, including running out of money, being alone, being in danger, quitting their careers, getting sick, and not having a safety net. It’s scary to plunge headfirst into the unknown and leave behind everything you’ve ever known, save for a backpack and a dream.
Our usual ranges of familiarity might make us troubled or exhausted on occasion, however, as a rule, they keep us sufficiently glad to oppose change. We may detest our routine, whine about it, or daydream, but we rarely alter it. We know who the devil is. We feel secure there.
Additionally, our DNA instructs us to prioritize safety over risk. When we can stay safe inside our shelter and live another day, why leave the cave to go where the monsters live? To go out into the night is to court risk and demise. Our primitive mind yells out to us: Remain here! This is an assurance! This is reality!
Therefore, while everyone has the desire to travel the world, only those with a strong enough desire set out on the road and remain there.
However, strong enough for what?
Sufficiently able to conquer the senses — and cultural standards — that tell you not to leave your protected harbor.
capable of overcoming the anxieties of loved ones, such as your parents, who continue to email me travel warnings and information about terrorist attacks to this day.
able to withstand the criticism of those who share your dream, but lacking in intestinal fortitude.
But most importantly, capable of overcoming your doubts about yourself.
The questions that people ask me (in addition to “Is it safe?”) are the same whether I send them via email or on my book tours:
“Do you meet voyagers such as myself out there?”
Do you ever feel alone?
“How do you deal with language issues?”
A common thread runs through each of these inquiries: I’m worried that I won’t be able to survive.
I realize this self-question quite well.
I also worried about this when I had to make my travel dreams a reality in 2006 when it was a daunting task. I learned a new daily adage as I struggled through the seemingly endless preparations: What the hell am I doing here?
I had less concern about abdicating my duties. When you cancel the services that generate the bills, they disappear. When you sell your car, you stop making car payments. Additionally, I had no concerns about quitting my position at the hospital because I was aware that it would not be my career.
After just two two-week trips over two years to two countries that were full of English-speaking travelers like me, the personal skills I thought I needed to travel were courage, the ability to go with the flow, the ability to talk to strangers, confidence, and maturity. What worried me was whether or not I had enough of any of these skills.
Yes, I was aware that many people travel the globe. I had seen many of them in Thailand all things considered. But I wasn’t “hardened” or “experienced” like those people. In fact, in Thailand, I was conned three times in one day, and in Costa Rica, I got lost in a jungle!
I was a shielded youngster who had never wandered a long way past his protected harbor. Was I really up to the task?
I heard constant whispers of self-doubt and fear.
But I couldn’t go back because I was stubborn and had already decided to go on this trip.
I imagined the crazy things that would happen to me while I was traveling in my head. I would meet people from all over the world. I would try adventure sports. I would sail down exotic rivers and hike mountains. I would be invited out for drinks by locals. I’d taste a latte, initiate a discussion with my wonderful server, and afterward before I’d know it, we’d be at a wine bar, gazing into one another’s eyes.
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