Staying up all night the previous day had made me tired. Very tired. So tired, in fact, that for hours I had been in some weird lucid state between exhausted and excited. Every time I settled into a good sleeping position, I found something new to focus on. For example, the included meals on this flight were surprisingly delicious – who knew! The movies on the screen in the headrest were not only current, but free! And the bathrooms in this airplane were big enough to comfortably, and finally, join the ranks of the mile-high club!
Of course, these things were only small joys, thoughts that popped up every now and then between the feelings of unbridled excitement. I was finally accomplishing what I had been claiming since high school – moving abroad. And today… today was the day that I boarded my first transatlantic flight to start the rest of my life living outside of the States. Armed with only what could fit in a common school backpack, my iPhone and my international debit card, the last vestiges of my (un)common American life were the only things that kept me convinced that this moment was real! Sitting in my cramped American Airlines seat, all I could do was smile as I reflected on how my life came to be what it was.
With family vacations to the Caribbean and Mexico starting in my teenage years, the travel bug bit me early in life bit. The tipping point was my high school class trip to Costa Rica, the dream trip I couldn’t go on because I had an internship. That’s when I made my
To truly travel, as a lifestyle, and embrace all the world has for you, you can’t plan, you can’t control and you can’t predict, but you can choose how you will respond.
first public declaration: “When I graduate, I’m going to Costa Rica and I’m living in the jungle!” That declaration was met with scorn from some, laughter from most, and stern, furrowbrowed rejection from my parents. With both parents having graduated from prestigious universities with high honors, they felt so passionately about my education that they literally bribed me to go to school. So, I put my dreams on hold. Then I graduated with $60,000 in debt, so of course I had to stay to pay it off, along with my car and my credit cards. My dream was slipping farther away. When I matured in my career and finances stopped being a concern, other worries popped up that prevented me from traveling. What would I now do with my car and motorcycle and mountain of possessions? What about my grandparents, who were getting older, and the business I wanted to start? I’m athletic, attractive and have hazel eyes; what if I went abroad and got kidnapped and forced into sex slavery? Nope, I had too many reasons to stay here. My dream started to become more like a New Year’s resolution – “I’ll do it next year, I promise!”
Then one day everything changed when I suddenly got let go from my job. I wish I could say that I confidently sold everything and high-tailed it outta here, but I didn’t. The same fears resurfaced and brought with them some friends. What if this crazy move violates the purpose God has for my life? What if I leave and something happens to a loved one? What if I’m as crazy as everyone says and I just need to sit still and live a “traditional life?” Most importantly, what if I go abroad, squander my savings, and come back in a few years in my mid-thirties with no money, no job, and nothing of “value” to show for my years gallivanting across the globe? If anything, the fear of not getting any further than a right-swipe on Tinder scared me the most. Many of my friends, who were in their mid-thirties and forties, joined the battle cry of my grandchild-less parents in asserting that if I made this decision,
If anything, the fear of not getting any further than a right-swipe on Tinder
scared me the most.
I’d basically be throwing away any chance at love and relationships until I became “stable” again. For me, a man that craves family and community, these fears stung like a hot knife. So how did I assuage my fears? I didn’t. Actually, I’m still scared. I still have no idea of where my life is headed. All the questions I once had are still there; but, I found myself still on the plane and looking forward to the road ahead because of advice from great friends and a few hard talks I had to have with myself. First, I admitted my fears and then responded to them with a logical answer.
Taking the unknown out of things usually helps control emotions and when I did that, I found myself laughing at how unnecessarily distressed I was. For example, one of the most common questions asked was about money and not having a job. The answer is startlingly simple – I’ll work and I’ll survive like most other capable people that desire employment. The second key to my success was adding an affirmation that directly addressed the fear. Was I still scared that I would run out of money, yes.
However I, in concert with a few good friends, had to remind myself repeatedly that I would find a job and that I am capable and resourceful. Ultimately I, like most other humans on the planet, will adapt to the circumstances that life throws my way. With this attitude,
First, I admitted my fears and
then responded to them with a
I found myself joyously reselling bottles of water to hot travelers as they got off the ferry in Koh Phangan or teaching dance classes at a club in Singapore. These were all new experiences and they were all ways that I was able to fulfill the affirmation and confront my fears. Although we all have fears, the key to still moving forward lies in accepting that you can and will overcome those fears should they arise. To truly travel, as a lifestyle, and embrace all the world has for you, you can’t plan, you can’t control and you can’t predict, but you can choose how you will respond.
Honestly, what could prepare you to get pulled over by the police in Bali and bribed for 1 million Rupiah for not having an international drivers license? Or getting into a fight with club bouncers in Thailand because your friend insisted on sneaking in outside alcohol? Or meeting a beautiful soul on the dance floor of a club in Malaysia who turned out to actually be a princess and who you now consider a close friend? The obvious answer is: nothing. So go forth and explore. Explore the world. Explore yourself. Be prepared to say “sure, why not” way more than “no” and live the unique journey that can only be started when you confront your fears and excuses and just… GO.
Juleon has been traveling the world for months at a time for the past two years. From Mexico to Chile to Indonesia and other parts in SE Asia, traveling is a passion that Juleon embraces. As he begins his transition to full-time travel, he’s decided to start a blog and share his adventures with you. Follow his adventures on his blog where he shared travel and packing tips, best places to go, and all the ups and downs of embracing this lifestyle.
Follow Juleon at ww.travelhustlerintl.com.