minimizing regretsLife,” as Jack Donaghy of NBC’s 30 Rock put it, “is about minimizing regrets.”

This is quite true, though it comes from a comedic source. As we live our lives, there are many forks in the path where we sometimes wish we had went left, instead of right. And in this philosophically-leaning day and age, where every 12-year old on Facebook posts profound quotes that they can’t possibly understand, we easily find truth in such phrases as “carpe diem.” It is one thing to reference a quote like that as part of your online bio, but it is a completely different thing to live it. We relate to many of these statements immediately, because of their eloquence and potential impact on our lives, yet most of us do the exact opposite. We end up regretting not doing something, living a certain way, or going somewhere. While there are many decisions that are faced every day that can lead to regret in the future, I would like to discuss that greatest of them relating to travel, for obvious reasons.

Travel Can Wait

This is absolutely ridiculous and wrong, and most certainly something that you will regret in the future. Though almost everyone in the world would love to travel, we all come up with different excuses to avoid it. There are some legitimate circumstances that may hinder a few people from recognizing their dreams, but these folks are a select few, and the rest of us are fortunate not to have these hindrances in our lives. Some of the excuses include:

  • I don’t have anyone to go with
  • I don’t have time/I’m too busy
  • I don’t have money
  • I have a spouse and/or kids
  • I will go when I’m older/after I retire

There are many other responses that people give, and only when one is old and frail will they recognize how akin to “the dog ate my homework” their excuse really was, usually. I’d like to lay some of these absurd defenses to rest:

  • I don’t have anyone to go with – True, it is more comfortable to go with another person, and especially with a group of people. It’s like what I learned growing up in New York: Someone might “talk shit” when surrounded with “their boys”, but they tend to keep their mouth shut when they are alone. Similarly, traveling with your peers may make it easier for you to become acclimated with a foreign setting, whereas going alone is not usually requested. However, the scary part of travel is also the beauty of it; traveling, especially alone, takes you out of your comfort zone. This feels terrifying for many of us starting out, but it strengthens us if we stay focused. When we leave our comfort zone, we are forced to come to terms with what we are experiencing. Traveling with a friend or two is fun, but it most often leaves you in denial of what really happens. Traveling alone pushes us to make up for the common social interaction which was lost by reaching out to total strangers; if you are in a country that doesn’t speak your language, this is even better, as it forces you to put your language skills to work. Traveling with someone else is usually what I like to consider a vacation, unless that other person shares a desire to delve into the culture with you. Whether you go with family or friends, often times you miss out on true experiences as you concern yourself with the well-being of the other.
  • I don’t have time/I’m too busy – We are all busy, and it would be strange and insulting if we weren’t. However, you need to make time for yourself. If you consider traveling as an educational and cultural experience, as opposed to simply a beach getaway, then you owe it to yourself to do it. Take a look at my last post, The 48 Hour Jaunt, where I talk about how I travel alone, and with no extra time off. I do not want to be some sort of role model, but rather show you that little time does not need to be an issue. Instead of setting aside a week or two for one glamorous vacation, short, inexpensive mini-adventures are a great way to see the world, learn about another culture, try different food, and maintain a healthy and positive outlook.
  • I don’t have money – Many of us, especially my peers, use this excuse. It is true that the economy is still pretty shitty, and it is again quite scary to spring for a journey for a weekend. However, if you are fortunate enough to have a job, set aside a little bit for yourself to see the world, even if it is slowly. Traveling is not an expensive hobby, or at least it doesn’t have to be. In that post which I mentioned in the last paragraph, The 48 Hour Jaunt, I give an example on how I do these mini-trips over weekends, all the while travel hacking to make it as inexpensive as possible. Another hint to see the world slowly is not to find deals by locations, but rather find locations by the deals. This means that instead of having a predetermined destination in mind, and searching every day for low fares there, search instead for the cheapest places that you can fly to, by finding weekend deals via Kayak or ITA Matrix.
  • I have a spouse and/or kids – I remember growing up, the oldest of four boys. When I was younger, before all my siblings were born, my parents took me on all kinds of trips. They were younger, of course, and they had the travel bug, which I seem to have inherited. Anyway, I learned so much from these experiences, and it equipped me with an understanding and appreciation for the world that I live in from an early age. As my brothers started popping out, the trips dwindled, due to expense and difficulty. I was the lucky oldest child with these experiences, but I felt sorry for my younger brothers who weren’t able to have the same experiences. Those trips, though they were just glorified vacations, to places all over Europe and Asia, gave me a love for other cultures that nothing else could, except from being raised in New York. The trips became we took became fewer and farther between, and to places much closer, like Disney Land. Yes, Disney is fun and all kinds of wonderful when you are that age, but thinking about it now, I can’t remember anything about those trips; I remember the foreign excursions clearly. So, if you have a significant other, spouse, and/or kids, don’t let them hold you back; rather, use the time with them to learn about the world together. If there are kids in the picture, the things they will learn from these travels will stay with them for the rest of their lives, so even more reason to go!
  • I will go when I’m older/after I retire – This one is the worst of them all, and I really hate it. If there is no other excuse to pair it with, then it means that there just isn’t any passion for travel to begin with. I am the biggest procrastinator, yet I regard traveling with an importance that does not allow me to do so in this area. I procrastinate with many other aspects of traveling, like arriving at the airport for an international flight with only 45 minutes until the plane leaves the gate, but that is because I am just slightly irresponsible. However, putting off travel and the experiences that are the result is similar to putting off elementary school education. The lessons we learn, the friends we make, and the understanding we acquire, as a result of travel done right, is something that lasts for a lifetime. Let’s say that you can take a gap year when you are 20 or when you are 60, traveling to several different countries in Europe. Let’s also say that we will make four lifelong friends on this adventure, no matter which time we decide to go. If you go on this trip when you are 60, great; I can’t know this in any way. However, if you have the option to go earlier, like in our example, why not? Those four lifelong friends can be friends for 40 more years of your life, and you will have 40 years longer to share these fond memories with others. Get it?

My goal when I started this site was to travel and document my travel to as many places as I could get into, but also to promote the love and importance of travel in others. I hope that these points will make you think twice before putting off any of your travel dreams any longer!

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