At some point, we've all imagined dropping everything, leaving it all behind and going somewhere far, far away. Maybe you've been thinking there's more to life than your nine-to-fiver, or you're feeling the urge to check off some travel-related items on the bucket list before you get "too old" or too tied down. Well, there's no time like the present.
Here are five reasons you should seriously consider packing a bag and hitting the road for a long-term trip abroad. Right now. Consider it an early, temporary retirement. Two months into a year-long trip around the world, I can attest, it's one of the best decisions you can make. Plus, it really beats working.
It's fun: First of all, the main reason to take a long term trip is that it's ridiculously fun. There's no other way to say it. You're going to be doing things you always dreamed about, seeing places you've only imagined. This is your trip of a lifetime, and the possibilities are endless.
For my first month, for example, I swam with whale sharks (scary), hiked an active volcano (ill-advised) and helped sail a boat in the Pacific Ocean. (So. Very. Hot.) And I still have close to 10 months and 15 countries to go. Get out a world map and start planning. Just thinking about this will be the most fun you'll have at work today. Seriously.
Enough with politics: Fed up with election-year politics? Bad news: You've got at least six more months before the election. That means you have hundreds more commercials to watch and headlines to read professing why one politician is only slightly worse than the other... unless, of course, you're on a beach, boat or boulevard where the pandering can't reach you. Request your absentee ballot, book a ticket and get packing.
Technology: It's never been easier to stay in touch with family and friends when you travel. Between social networking sites, Skype and ubiquitous high-speed internet access abroad, sometimes I feel I'm more connected now than I ever was in the States. And with all the travel tales and photos, my friends actually read my status updates. At least, that's what they tell me.
Economy: Most people may see the questionable economy as a hindrance. What if I can't get a job when I get back? Well, that could be a challenge. But, then again, maybe the economy will be back on track next year and you'll find a better job than before. Or maybe you'll discover a different career while away. That's another great thing about a trip like this: It opens as many doors as it closes. It certainly has for me and many others who've taken the long-term travel plunge over the years.
Next year may be too late: There are probably countless, perfectly good reasons to maintain the status quo: money, health, family, just to name a few. And maybe, in the end, long-term travel isn't right for you at the moment. But then, maybe instead of thinking of reasons not to travel, you consider what could prevent you from taking the plunge down the road. The possibilities are endless, and not all of them are positive.
Perhaps now is the time to start listening to those well-meaning folks who say such frivolous things like, "There's no time like the present," "Carpe diem" and other expressions meant to move you in another direction.
Retire while you can, while you're fit enough to climb that volcano, sail that boat or do something else you may not deem practical or intelligent in 10 or 20 or 30 years. Go see the world and have some fun... lest you end up sorry you never did.
Follow Kip Patrick on Twitter: www.twitter.com/kippat