And we are finally at the end of the year. This is the time that some people refocus their lives, and analyse of what they have done and what they hope to do in the near future. What I like about this time of the year is that some people finally realize that we live in a community and that we are all responsible for what happens around us. But enough with the cheap philosophy and let’s talk about what some people often say to us: your trip! WOW! I would love to do that! I think it is everyone’s dream!
Well, this past year was a year to remember for the rest of our lives. It was a unique opportunity, and we learned way more than staying home. So, trying to persuade other people to do the same, we decided to list 10 reasons why all of us should try to leave work at some point and do what we did. You don’t need to go away for a year. Believe us, a few months will do just fine. But consider doing it at some point; you will be happier and a different person when you come back.
1. The world is bigger than you think – Globalization is a word from the 90’s that we don’t hear that often anymore. It is so easy to talk, communicate and even work and study from a distance that we believe these distances have been shortened. But a mile is still a mile and our world is gigantic. There is so much to explore, to absorb, and feel all the different places and cultures that we sincerely needed more time. Yes, the world is slowly creating a unique way of living, but we can still find the exotic and the unusual in smaller towns, especially in poorer countries.
2. You are constantly reflecting about your life – Traveling does that to most of us. Everything that is different catches our attention and we immediately correlate to our reality back home. What we see what is good is an example of what we could eventually have at home. What is bad it’s a realization that we have accomplished a lot and that this community could in fact have a better life.
3. There are more good people in the world than bad people – Yes, sometimes we focus too much on the bad experiences. Everyone who tried to scam us, the violence and the bad service. But this is a really tiny minority. Most of the locals are really good people, who are as much interested on you as we were on them. They usually nice and gentle, they want to help out and they want to make you feel home as well. They want you to come back and tell your friends that their country/city is a place to visit.
4. There is more to life than just work – I know this sounds like a self-help book, but we live in a society completely obssessed about work. We spend more of our awaking time at work than with family and friends. And this is primarily because we are always trying to buy more (even things we don’t need) and we end up as slaves to our debt. Staying away from everything and having only a backpack for a year, was one of the most liberating experiences we have ever had.
5. You realize that people are just people no matter where they live – To observe locals in their communities made me think about the concerns of families in Laos and Manhattan (especially after the Hurricane). People want to make sure they have food, shelter, clothes, some sort of power and security. In NYC though, you have to have another bazillion things in order to live. In Laos, life has a different pace as long as the basic goals are fulfilled.
6. You could spend less money than you think – If you go to the right places and make a few compromises you can spend around $30/day in some countries. But if you go to Europe, North America, Japan and Singapore you can add another zero to the number very easily. By the way, you can include Brazil in that row of countries.
7. When you go back to reality you are re-energized – Different from your co-workers who are tired and unmotivated. Your boss will be happy when you come back to see you so fresh. Now you are ready to go back to start working and saving some money to travel again in the near future.
8. People who travel more tend to be more valued in their workplace – Only stupid people will not like the fact you spent a long time abroad. In a world where we can easily speak to people from the 4 corners of the planet, knowing a little about other cultures is the best way to relate to someone you are getting to know. This empowers you! Makes your relationships stronger. You become more open-minded too.
9. Your taste buds you never be the same – International food as we know in America most of the time has a very different taste than when you eat in the country of origin. This might be because of the ingredients, the chef, maybe is the whole atmosphere. The fact is we know exactly how a dish of Chilaquilles, Tom Yum soup or Dal Bhat should taste like now.
10. Everything will be the same when you come back – Even though we were away for a while, very little has changed. We were often wondering how was life back home. This past year for us was way more than 12 months, it gave us more perspective and realization about the important things in life.
11. Extended travel is possible – In the US or in Brazil, this might be a joke. But in Europe, Israel, Australia and New Zealand it is almost like a ritual that you should travel for several months before you get settled. And even after that, people have sabbaticals at work and can go away for several months. We met people of all ages doing what we did and that was inspirational.
So, if you plan to go away one day, prepare in advance. We saved money for 3 years and organized our lives in a way that it could work out. It was a little complex, but worth every penny. This is an investment that nobody could take away from us. After all: Travel is the only thing you buy that makes us richer.