The #1 Thing that Kills Travel Ambition

Written by Hank Martin in Personal Development

Allons! the road is before us! It is safe—I have tried it—my own feet have tried it well—be not detain’d! Let the paper remain on the desk unwritten, and the book on the shelf unopen’d! Let the tools remain in the workshop! let the money remain unearn’d! Let the school stand! mind not the cry of the teacher! Let the preacher preach in his pulpit! let the lawyer plead in the court, and the judge expound the law.Walt Whitman
I am full of excuses. So are you. We all are. Excuses are a self-justifying way to compensate for our inadequacies. Am I inadequate? You bet. Are you? Yes. The hardest part is admitting our limitations, even though we all have them. Why is that? Why can't we just admit when we are wrong, or know that we suck at baseball or routinely mix up the words "there, they're and their?" Instead we carry on like we're perfect, like we have no flaws.

This is a universal problem. The worst part is that this problem is keeping us from accomplishing more. Instead of just admitting our flaws and either A) not doing such and such activity B) taking the time to improve or C) hiring someone to compensate for our weaknesses we pretend to know what the hell we are doing and then crash and burn. We end up wasting time, resources and dignity. This is also the reason most people are unhappy in at least one part of their life. We do not know what special gifts we possess, what we dislike, and what we enjoy. In answering these questions we are not only more able to serve our own needs but provide value to others, as well.

No where is this problem more visible than in the world of travel, where people claim to want to travel to exotic and exciting locations but never actually do so. My evidence? Year after year Americans routinely leave paid vacation days on the table. On average Americans still have 8 days of unused vacation at the end of the year. Over 55% of Americans do not hold a passport, translating into hundreds of millions of people who have never left the country nor have any desire to do so anytime soon. On top of that, only 12% have traveled abroad in the past year! Qualify that statement with only people who have traveled overseas and that number is below 10%.

Grand Plans For Travel

Why do so many people talk about wanting to travel abroad, but only 12% do it? Grand designs. Imagine dusk in Venice, a gondolier paddles you silently through the waterways. Or envisions the beer halls and festivals of Germany. What about visiting Buckingham Palace in the UK and watching the changing of the guard? The notion of traveling overseas sounds romantic thanks to television and media.

But, when you get past the idealistic notion of backpacking through South America for a year you find that the logistics of making it happen get in the way. Slowly your dream dissipates and even in a society where people average 45 hour work weeks we still have more time than we know what to do with (on average 8 days more time in any given year). (You people need to get a hobby.) Details bog us down, they overwhelm us with their magnitude even though they are probably not that enormous once we get down to business and act. But, to maintain our dignity we make excuses for why we can't take this once in a lifetime trip to Belize or visit coffee plantations in Colombia.

The Value of our Lives

"My grandma/ grandpa is getting old" "I am up for a promotion at my job now" "I have a family" "Travel isn't an investment" "My mom is having surgery." "My friend needs help coping with a breakup"

These are just a few of the excuses I hear all the time. They come in all shapes and variations, but the core issue is the same: I'm too valuable. We all think our lives are so valuable that the world will stop spinning if we go out and have some fun.

But, the truth is that we aren't as valuable to the world as we think we are. Life will go on with or without us. Acceptance of this fact of reality is essential to finally going on that big adventure you have always dreamed of.

Realizing that your life isn't as important as you think it is doesn't have to be depressing. In fact, it should be liberating. Once you throw off the expectations, false beliefs about your superiority in comparison to other humans and your general arrogance you can learn to not give a damn about things.

Life isn't meant to be a reactionary activity but an action. Don't spend your time and energy reacting to the requests and desires of others. Do only what you want to do. I mean this in every asshole sort of way. I repeat, everybody else is living according to their own search for happiness so why shouldn't you?

Psychological Warfare

We are at war. Not with any physical enemy, but with our minds. Despite having the highest standard of living in the world we still do not take the time to kick back and see the world. Instead, we create excuses of every kind to prevent action. But, the heart wants what the heart wants. We compensate by buying a new car or all manner of modern state of the art material goods. Internally we have a rift, similar but slight different to the rift that appears during life-changing events.

So the thing for us to do is top making excuses and start accepting responsibility. I need to do this just as much as the next guy. What we need to do is use the paradigm described above and either A) refrain from traveling or committing to travel all together or B) make the time to travel. These are our only two options. Continuing to pretend that we will travel overseas and then never following through only makes us miserable. It's akin to having a very important life goal and then never actually following through with making it happen. We lose self-confidence in ourselves and erode our self-trust.

I want to help you recognize that if you make excuses for why you can't travel you really don't want to travel. This is the heart of the issue. Just like playing ping-pong, being a race car driver or eating a 7 pound burger...if you do not have any ambition to do these things then don't. This is fine. Travel isn't for everyone.

On the flip side, if you do have a deep seeded desire to travel, but can't seem to make it work...try harder. Maybe you aren't placing travel as a high enough priority to make it a reality, maybe it's down there on your list of things to do like become a french chef. Or maybe you just need to realign your priorities to better fit the person you are. Either way, reflection will help you better understand yourself and your priorities.

I'm in the top 10%, are you?

The only question left now is: are you going to be part of that elite 10% of the country that pushes oneself out of his/her comfort zone and travels overseas?

About the Author

Hank Martin

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Traveling for a world education and writing about the life lessons learned.


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