How to motivate yourself to travel long term

When you’re on the verge of booking your own round-the-world trip the decision making can be pretty difficult. Sometimes you just need that extra push. My own choice was not a quick or easy one and I spent months debating the pros and cons. Eventually it was a combination of methods that pushed me to quit my job and book my flights, and I would recommend every one of them to keep yourself motivated.

I’m writing this one mainly for myself when I’m having phases where I doubt my decision. Unfortunately they’re a frequent occurrence at the moment, leading to sleepless nights and an over analysis of the year ahead. I realise that it would be unnatural to enforce any big change in life without doubting it, but at the moment I really need to remind myself of my reasons for the decision in the first place.

1. Remind yourself that there must be more to life.

I think that feeling is something that most people have felt. Of course it’s rare that anyone is 100% happy with their life and the majority will always be looking for something that little bit better than what they already have. It’s when that feeling starts to become an obsession that it’s really worth doing something about. That something doesn’t always have to be as dramatic as my solution. Some people find meaning and satisfaction out of their lives in other ways – maybe with their career, a hobby, relationships or children. There are plenty of other ways to enrich your life that have nothing to do with travelling. But for me, I know it’s right. Since my 3-month trip earlier in the year my mind has been consumed with thoughts of travel, so I know that at this point in my life it’s all about seeing as much of the world as possible. If you feel the same and you think it will help you shake that feeling then you really have to make it happen.

2. If you’ve been given an opportunity, make the most out of it.

For me, that opportunity was financial. I was given some inheritance money at a time in my life where I was giving serious thought to working abroad. I believe that things in life happen for a reason and I struggle to see that as just a coincidence. Your opportunity might not come in the same form. Maybe you’ve just been made redundant, a relationship has ended or a good friend (our partner) is looking for a travel buddy – if you think that you want to travel and you’re given the freedom to do it for whatever reason then take it as a sign and go for it. You might not ever have the chance again.

3. Remember that you won’t always be commitment free.

At some point in my life I would like to have kids and I also expect my close friends and family to have them. I realise that when that happens I won’t have the freedom that I do now and I will have other people to think about. There will also be pivotal moments in my life that I won’t want to miss out on. I’m 27 soon those things, such as weddings and babies, will start to become a regular occurrence. I need to do this now before I have any commitments. I’m also single, which gives me the freedom to think about what I want and what I want only. Admittedly there are plenty of couples that travel together and many of them wouldn’t have gone if it wasn’t for their support for each other, but when I tell people they could do this too the number one reason for them not doing it is because their partner. So I’m not saying being in a relationship necessarily holds you back, but just that if you are single, take advantage of the fact you don’t have to consider anyone else in your decisions.

4. Fantasize

I wake up every morning in the winter dreading the moment where I have to step outside the comfort of my duvet into the cold. As I’m scraping the ice off the outside of my windscreen (and inside – my car is OLD) and layering up with 3 pairs of socks, I picture myself on a beach in Thailand, sipping on a cocktail and soaking up the sun. Okay so I won’t always fly to warm places and I realise that travelling comes with both highs and lows, but there’s no harm in fantasizing about the days that could be perfect.

5. Listen to the right music

Music is a big part of what motivates me – be it for when I just want to feel sorry for myself or for when I want to get in the mood to dance, there is a song for every occasion. Choose your favourite, most relevant songs, pay attention to the lyrics and use them to push you to travel. I have been playing Frank Turner’s ‘Photosynthesis‘ constantly since I returned to the UK in May. It’s about reaching the stage in life where everyone starts to get mortgages and debating why growing up means that life has to become mediocre. The lyrics pretty much sum up exactly how I’ve been feeling the past few months and I listen to it to remind myself of that. I also listened to Ben Howard’s ‘Keep Your Head Up‘ constantly in the first week of my last trip when I was finding it difficult to be away from home. Never underestimate the power of music therapy.

6. Surround yourself with inspiration

Every morning I wake up to my scratch off map and this artwork:

A print I designed myself. I love looking at this every morning, it helps me out even when I wake up in the worst mood.

A print I designed myself. I love looking at this every morning, it helps me out even when I wake up in the worst mood. It sits next to the map and reminds me that travelling can bring me ‘the best’.

A painting of Khao San road I picked up in Bangkok

A painting of Khao San road I picked up in Bangkok

I also have a lonely planet guide book by my bed and the backgrounds of both my macbook and my work iMac are a rotation of my favourite travelling photos. Surrounding yourself with reminders of happy times, or times that could be, are a brilliant way to keep the idea of travelling constantly in your mind.

7. Predict your life for the next few years if you don’t make any changes – do you like what you see?

For the past few years I have become stuck in the same sleep/work/gym/drink at the weekend routine. It’s not a bad life and I’m not unhappy, but I feel that it has become very predictable. There are certain areas in my life where I almost feel like I’m going round in circles and to change that I think I need to break out of that routine, if only for a short time. I don’t think anyone should see travelling as a solution to all their problems or use it to run away from them, but if you’re like me and don’t like the idea of living the next 5 years exactly as you’ve lived the last, and then reaching that stage and wondering where your life has disappeared to, then act sooner rather than later to make a change. I know it’s a cliche but time goes faster the older you get and life is just way too short.

8. Try and find one person who has done any long term travel and regretted it.

I’ve asked around and I’ve searched google excessively but I have yet to find anyone who looks back on their trip with regret. I know that you can have bad days when you’re travelling, just like you do at home, but despite those days I can’t find anyone who doesn’t see travelling as a positive experience. What isn’t difficult to find are people who regret never going. If you try it and you don’t like it, at least you will know that it’s not for you instead of always wondering ‘what if?’.

9. Research, plan and read travel blogs.

There’s no better way to get yourself excited about travelling than to read about other people’s positive experiences. By reading travel blogs you will learn about where you want to go and where you don’t, and you’ll pick up on ideas and places you’d never even thought about before. Whenever I’m doubting my decision I always spend a few hours reading over blogs for inspiration – if anything you’ll feel so jealous of the authors that you’ll just have to book the next flight out! Planning and researching your destination will also make you feel more ready for your potential trip and make the whole thing seem a lot less intimidating. Think about your dream trip and then work your way towards something that’s realistic for your situation. After all, you never know when an unexpected opportunity might arise and you can make the dream a reality (I’m still waiting on that lottery win!).

10. Write about it.

When I started my blog earlier in the year it began a month before my flight. I started it as a way of recording my experiences so I would have something to look over and remember when I returned. I never thought that it would become so therapeutic or that I would enjoy writing so much. I also never expected anyone else to read it! It became an outlet for my worries and fears, and I found that by just typing them out I felt better. I also got so much positive feedback that I was motivated to plan another trip and write another blog, and that’s part of what bought me to this point. So even if you have no training and you’re not the best writer in the world (I know I’m not), start writing for yourself and see how it makes you feel. I know that I already feel a lot better at the end of writing this than I did at the beginning!

If you’re reading and you haven’t got in touch then please do, I would be interested to hear from you! You can leave me a comment below or follow me on twitter.

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Categories: Uncategorized | Tags: , , , , | 3 Comments

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3 thoughts on “How to motivate yourself to travel long term

  1. We’re on Month 10 of our year long RTW and we don’t regret the decision one bit. Long term travel isn’t always easy, but it’s definitely worth it! Enjoy your journey!

  2. Pingback: The one-month countdown panic «

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