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Becoming Unstuck To Travel The World

Want to travel perpetually? Just go do it. Waiting for the right time is to wait forever.

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It is my impression that people who are successful in their pursuits, who actualize their dreams, who meet their goals tend to have one thing in common: they had the guts, the confidence, or sheer downright self-delusion to start out for a destination without having any clue how they were going to get there. There are few endeavors in life that can be fully planned, there are few big projects that can be taken any more than one step at a time, there are few dreams that can be had without going after them with full on reckless abandon.

All too often I talk with people who say that they want to travel and live the PT lifestyle but, for some reason, think they need to satisfy of a myriad of prerequisites before the time will be right. They tend to put off traveling for another day when everything seems taken care of, appears perfect, and the road ahead is clear cut and wide open. To these people I speak bluntly: the day you’re waiting for is never going to come.

When I say this I’m often told I’m wrong. “It will come.” They seem to have faith that the universe just works out the way they want it too without any leg work on their behalf. They say things like, “I will travel when I sell my house,” or “I have to wait until I have X amount of money in the bank,” or “I have to pay off my student loans off first,” or the always eminent “I’ll go when I tie up all of these loose ends.”

Some people seem to think that they need to have everything planned out in advance, that they need a complete start to finish itinerary of when, where, and how they are going to hit the road. Maybe some people do? I don’t know. But what I do know is that waiting for that magical day when the stars are perfectly aligned and everything is all set rarely ever happens.

I have to stress here that few things in travel are ever clear, that plans are so often broken that they become useless to even make to begin with, that few big prizes in life are ever won without the potential of losing big.

People who’ve become successful in their pursuits often give the impression that they had it all figured out from the start. This is more often than not the furthest thing from the truth. So many of the people who have accomplished great things knew where they wanted to be but had no idea how they were going to get there. But this did not stop them from walking blind, running into dead ends, going back two spaces, learning, adjusting, and continuing on until they’ve arrived at their destination.

There is one phrase that many business gurus, performers, and yes, perpetual travelers tend to say to those who wish to follow in their footsteps:

Just go do it.

These four simple words mean everything. Life is learned as you go, not before hand.

Success in a pursuit is like climbing a ladder with a blindfold on: you can’t see the rungs up above you but you just have to believe that they’re there. You reach up, feel around, and close your fingers around the next rung, on and on up to the top. If you miss and fall, that’s just a part of the game. Learn better and try again. Only one thing is for certain here:

If you’re waiting for the day where you can remove your blindfold and see where you’re climbing all the way to the top, you’re living in a fantasy world.  You will never see the way to the top from where you’re standing at the bottom. The clouds will never clear, the time will never seem right. If you want to travel, live abroad, accomplish a big dream, become successful in a pursuit, stop pondering the bottom rung and start climbing, conquer obstacles as they come,  tackle problems when you get to them, have no fear of falling, and then you just may stand a chance of getting to the top.

This is the same for everyone who endeavors to walk their own path. Even though it may seem that you’re the only one who is lost and without direction, keep in mind that nobody really knows where they are going, we’re all climbing blindfolded out here right along with you.

Just. Go. Do. It.

Filed under: Adventure, Travel Inspiration, Travel Philosophy

About the Author:

I am the founder and editor of Vagabond Journey. I’ve been traveling the world since 1999, through 91 countries. I am the author of the book, Ghost Cities of China and have written for The Guardian, Forbes, Bloomberg, The Diplomat, the South China Morning Post, and other publications. has written 3703 posts on Vagabond Journey. Contact the author.

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VBJ is currently in: New York City

13 comments… add one

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  • Mike November 5, 2012, 6:46 am

    Thank you Wade. I needed that morale booster as I lay here in central Sulawesi sick and shivering with flu (Christ I hope its just the flu and not dengue) wondering what the f*ck I’ve done with my life. Majestic heights also come with abject abysses. It’s all part of the wonder.

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    • Wade Shepard November 5, 2012, 8:19 am

      For sure, man, we all fall down flat once in a while. Sorry to hear that you’ve been ill. There are few things worse that being sick all by yourself far from home. I know that feeling of being laid up and thinking holes through your life. Like you put it though, it’s all part of the experience.

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  • André Vieira November 5, 2012, 2:23 pm

    I think it is not a good idea to generalize. Since I was 17/18 I had the same goal in mind. To travel the world for 1 or 2 years without anything to worry about, concerning my future. I face my life as if travelling will be the ending of it. After that, there is nothing! The experience I will get when I do it will dictate my future.
    It’s been 6 years saving money in order to fulfill my vision and I never lost sight of it. The passion has always been here and is getting stronger each day that passes.

    Yes, it is one of the excuses that you mention in your text, but I don’t use it as an excuse but as a fact. I don’t want to travel and work for money at the same time. I want to save a reasonable amount of money in order to travel for 1 ou 2 years. I could quit my job (actually I’m looking for a job) right now and start travelling for some months, but that would not do it. That would not be enough!

    Nevertheless, I understand what you mean with your post. I know a lot of people who use the very same excuses and I can spot right on that they will never travel long-term. There is no passion.

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    • Wade Shepard November 5, 2012, 8:00 pm

      Hello Andre,

      You’re right, if you don’t want to make money as you go then you’re going to have to have it all saved up in advance. This article is more about people who are looking to make a major lifestyle shift or go for a big long term goal, not really saving up cash for an extended trip. But, I have to ask, why don’t you want to work on the road? In my experience, working is one of the best ways to really get into a place, meet people, make friends, and get out of the tourist bubble. Working gives you a view into a place that just visiting never could.

      “I face my life as if travelling will be the ending of it. After that, there is nothing! The experience I will get when I do it will dictate my future.”

      No way, man, traveling is just the beginning.

      I don’t mean to sound harsh here, man, but 6 years of saving money to travel? You could have been traveling AND saving money for those 6 years. This is probably going to piss you off, but it seems to me as if you’re either making travel out to be something WAY bigger than what it is or you’re just a little scared of uncertainty. Both of which are alright. Once you start traveling you will figure out real quick that travel is all about uncertainty, and you may even learn to revel in it. But you say that you have enough cash to travel for “some months,” so I have to ask why you haven’t left yet. Believe me here, during those months you will figure out a way to keep going if you really want to.

      Traveling is really pretty simple.

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      • André Vieira November 6, 2012, 4:11 am

        Hey Wade, let me start by stating the fact that you answer your readers is really cool and it is one of the reasons I love this website so much. It transmits the idea that you really do care.

        Concerning the topic, I understand the point of view you present because it has been in my mind a lot of times.
        I do travel once in a while but not long-term (around 2 weeks each travel, 1 or 2 times a year, mostly in European countries) in order to “satiate my thirst” for a while. I’ve been studying computer engineering for 6 years which makes it extremely hard for me to find a lot of time to travel, work and study at the same time.

        “No way, man, traveling is just the beginning.”

        That is what I read in almost every travelling blog/book and I somehow agree with it, although I don’t want to take it for granted. I don’t know what will happen when the time comes. There is a possibility that I can’t stand it. There is a possibility that I find someone (or someplace) special and decide to create roots. There are so many possibilities that I just don’t even dare to think about my future. Why should I? Let’s just say that the travelling is the end of my sight when I look to the horizon, but it doesn’t mean it is the real end.

        “This is probably going to piss you off, but it seems to me as if you’re either making travel out to be something WAY bigger than what it is or you’re just a little scared of uncertainty. ”

        I’ve also thought about it and it’s probably true (the first part). Maybe I kind of romanticize long-term travelling, which is completely normal for a person that has been dreaming of doing it for so long. Still, I think I will not get disappointed because, for instance, in 2011 I spent 6 months in Poland while studying (not that much studying actually) and I can honestly say those were the best 6 months of my life due to all the extremely interesting people and places I met and saw. That experience reinforced my motivation.

        I understand your point of view towards my situation because I believe we have very different backgrounds which is probably why my situation looks kind of strange in your eyes.

        Cheers, and keep updating this fantastic website! 🙂

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        • Wade Shepard November 6, 2012, 4:45 am

          This is excellent to hear. It seems as if you have a good take on this. I’m not worried about you 🙂 If a year from now you’re still telling me the same thing I may give you a good kick in the ass haha.

          I’ve always found blending travel and “real life” together is usually the best recipe for long term travel. I’ve met too many people (I myself was once one of them) who thought that travel was going to be one endless adventure and then became real disillusioned by going through the same “get on a bus, get a room, eat, repeat” routine across the planet. It may sound odd, but after a few months of backpacking it is common for many people to become board, say traveling was not all it was cracked up to be, and then go home. These people (including younger me) missed most of the show. Truly man, unless you’re really into various vices that are often more readily available in certain countries (which I don’t think you are), cultivate something that stimulates your mind continuously when traveling. Find some kind of work that you can do on the road, an interest to investigate, an art to build. If anyone takes just one thing from the “travel information” portion of this site, I hope that it’s this: after six months just visiting places isn’t enough, you have to DO something when traveling.

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          • André Vieira November 6, 2012, 3:31 pm

            Hopefully in a couple of months I will move to another country and work for 1 or 2 years because the portuguese economy is pure shit right now and there aren’t any decent jobs.

            Concerning the occupation while travelling I totally agree with you. After a while probably I will involuntarily establish a routine which is totally not what I am looking for. When I said I did not want to work while travelling I meant that I don’t want to work for the pure necessity of saving money. There’s much more into “work” than just money. For instance, I’d love to try harvesting or working in a hostel someday. They seem like very cool experiences. Boredom is not one of my names eheh.

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            • Wade Shepard November 7, 2012, 7:15 am


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  • Andy Graham November 5, 2012, 8:54 pm

    This was classic Wade wisdom, a good post, thank you.
    But as normal,
    “The one and a half wit is often considered a half-wit because we only understand one-third his wit ”
    – Henry David Thoreau

    On the other hand,
    “Don’t tell the silly folks they are stuck, and the world will always ours to enjoy.”

    Thanks, Andy Graham of HoboTraOKler.com ok Koh Phangan Beach in Thailand, before I go see Bah in Ivory Coast.

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    • Wade Shepard November 6, 2012, 2:56 am

      For sure.

      It’s interesting the degree to which many people think their situation in life is different and unique from everybody else. We are all taking shots in the dark here, it’s normal 🙂

      I would love to hear you telling me that you’re climbing a new ladder in Ivory Coast.

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  • Andy Graham November 6, 2012, 3:24 am

    I think Bah is going to become unstuck! A new PT enters the field of play…
    I talked with her on Skype today, she said,
    “You come and meet my parents in Ivory Coast,” (Cote d’Ivoire.)
    “And, I am free to travel anywhere on the planet with you.”

    I am hoping to climb a new ladder, and travel from Ivory Coast to South Africa by land, that should wrap up a couple of years of my life.
    Andy Graham of HoboTraveler.com

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    • Wade Shepard November 6, 2012, 4:35 am

      Excellent. This is truly great to hear.

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  • Lillian Pierson November 6, 2012, 10:16 am

    Wade – I am very excited to have found this post. I am all too familiar with the phenomenon of hesitation that you speak of here. It kept me from pursuing my world travel dreams for a long time, until I realized the truth that you speak of in this post. Once I realized that the hesitancy reasoning leads to never going at all, I just went… And I have not looked back 🙂 It appears that our missions are very much aligned and I am excited to learn more about you and your travels!

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