“I love my life!” I declared as I stepped out into Barcelona for the first time. I had just disembarked from a mammoth cruise ship that had taken me on a 12 day transatlantic journey from Fort Lauderdale, Florida to Barcelona, Spain. This cruise was just the beginning of a 10 week adventure that would eventually find me in Southern Spain enjoying the Mediterranean Sea and laid back Spanish culture.
With my luggage in tow, I was ready for adventure and excitement. My fiancé and I had boarded the cruise ship with no plans of what we would be doing after our ship arrived in Barcelona. We had no hotel for our 2 nights in Barcelona, no transportation to our destination in Southern Spain, and we didn’t even know what city we would be staying in in Southern Spain, let alone did we have an apartment lined up for our 2 months in Southern Spain. Our Spanish was only minimal and most of it we learned during two Spanish classes onboard the cruise ship. Adventure was certainly on our horizon.
My life wasn’t always this exciting and adventurous. In fact, two years ago I had a budding career as a financial adviser – the least exciting and adventurous career a young grad could choose. I wore three piece suits and went to morning meetings with my managers. I studied rates of return and how to calculate the rate of risk a client’s portfolio should have. I took five hour tests to get my license and I attended seminars on whether gold was a good investment. If you’re thinking that all of this sounds beyond boring, you’re right!
So how did I go from investment meetings to standing in Barcelona wondering where I would be sleeping that night? You’re probably thinking, “This woman’s got money, that’s how she could afford to quit her job and travel the world.” I hate to let you down, but that thought couldn’t be further from the truth. I guess I forgot to mention that my “budding” career as a financial adviser was, in fact, a complete failure.
I have no stock piles of cash, no trust fund and no six-figure business, in fact, there’s nothing special about me, and yet I’m still able to travel the world and live life on my terms. I’m simply an ordinary gal who figured out how to escape the ordinary, boring routine of everyday life and follow my dreams of traveling the world. And trust me, if I can do it, so can you!
The humble beginnings of a big dream
Six months into my “budding” financial adviser career, I started to realize that I was not cut out for the mediocrity of filing client portfolios for the next forty years of my career. No, I wanted to do something more meaningful, more exciting, more glamorous. So I started my own personal budgeting business to help families fight the recession and take control of their financial future. (Ok, so it wasn’t very exciting or glamorous either.)
After months of figuring out how to set up a business, network, do online marketing and create brochures, I had a whopping ONE client. I was a 24 year old kid, 2 years out of college who had big dreams, but I was quickly going nowhere. I was devastated, defeated, and downright tired.
One night, as I laid in bed sobbing and wallowing in my failure, the most random thought popped into my head. I shot up from my tear-soaked pillow, turned to my fiancé and declared, “We’re going to be living on a sunny beach by my 25th birthday!”
Let’s take a moment to put this statement into perspective. My fiancé and I were living in Seattle at the time, my birthday was only 6 months away, I was making no money in my business, we were barely scrapping by on my fiancé’s salary as a car salesman, we had no savings, and we were stuck in a lease for a very expensive apartment until the month after my birthday. In reality, there was NO WAY we could possibly be living on the beach by November 12.
I didn’t know how I was going to make it happen, but I knew that I was going to do everything in my power to get us on the beach by my birthday! This declaration was the first step in how I went from an ordinary life, to living the extraordinary life of my dreams.
If you’re thinking about making a major leap in your life to start traveling more, the first step is to set your intention – out loud. Don’t just keep your goal to yourself, tell a close friend or your partner, then make a vision board to remind yourself about your goal every single day.
And don’t forget to set a time limit on your goal. If you simply say, “I’m going to travel the world someday” then someday will never come, but if you say “I’m going to travel the world and I’m going to start with a three week vacation in Paris by June 31, 2014” then you’ve set an achievable goal with a deadline so you can always know how close you are to making your goal a reality.
The journey to the beach
As I said earlier, there was really no way that my goal of living on the beach by November 12, 2012 could possibly be a reality based on our circumstances at the time. But I was determined to do whatever it took to make my dream a reality. I knew I needed to make money…and fast! So I stopped throwing good money after bad and wasting my time trying to continue to build my budget business. Instead, I reverted back to how I made money in college – nannying. I nannied forty plus hours a week and we set aside most of the money I made into a savings fund for our new life on the beach. It wasn’t a glamorous job, but the money was good and I could set my own hours; not too shabby.
Remember that long-term lease we were trapped in for our expensive, luxury apartment? As luck would have it, the leasing office made an error in our favor and we were able to get out of our lease 4 months early. So we took the opportunity to find a cheaper apartment so we could save almost $800 per month, plus we were able to find a short-term 3 month rental so we could leave Seattle by October 1, 2012.
We started selling off our material possessions until we were down to the basics plus our deep fryer. (Hey, a girl’s gotta have her fried chicken.) By July, it looked like this crazy dream was actually going to become a reality.
To make a big dream, like living a travel-lifestyle, come true, you have to take big steps to make it happen. And you need to be willing to do anything possible to start living your dream. We knew that in order to live on the beach for a few months, we would need to take drastic action and that’s just what we did.
Right now, take a few moments to write down what BIG actions you need to take in your life in order to make your monster travel goals a reality.
Beach or bust!
By the end of September, all of our plans had been laid out and we were ready to head for the beaches of Belize on October 15, one month before the deadline of my birthday. We spent 6 beautiful weeks in the village of Placencia, Belize and it was an experience that changed my life forever. During our stay, my fiancé and I made the decision that we wanted to start living a travel lifestyle where we would spend 2 to 3 months living abroad and then we would return back to the states for a few months until we were ready to head out of the country again.
Which brings us back to me and my luggage in the middle of Barcelona with no idea what’s going to happen next. As I stand here on my latest travel adventure, I’m again overcome with excitement and the thrill of being in a new city for the first time. For me, it’s a feeling that makes every day worth living; that feeling makes all of the struggles and challenges that come with living a travel lifestyle worth it.
My final word of advice that I want to share with you to help you start traveling the world is to forget about all of the reasons for why you SHOULDN’T travel – these are just excuses – and focus on all the reasons for why you need to travel. Focus on the joy and excitement, the thrill of trying something new. And stop focusing on why you can’t travel: no time, no money, no knowledge of the local language. If you focus on the negatives they will come true and you won’t travel. But if you focus on your desire to travel and you do everything in your power to make your dream come true you WILL travel.
Whether you want to make a dramatic change in your life and start living the travel lifestyle, like me, or if you want to take a less drastic approach by taking a two week vacation once a year, now is the time to start making the changes necessary to make your travel dreams come true. No more waiting, no more excuses, no more wishing…it’s time to take action!
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