The reality of “following your dream” is not always as easy or pretty as many people make it seem.
I like to keep things real: I have no money falling from sponsors, rich background, I have to work on getting things I want. The same goes for the traveling itself. It’s not sponsored. It’s not a part of my job. It’s nothing I “have to” do. But it’s something I’ve chosen to strive for.
All of this has taken my time. A LOT of my time.
I’ve been learning, working, improving from day one. I’ve been through tough times, through waiting WHEN I’ll be able to finally hit the road. Through hitting the road and being left with no money. Through being confident in myself and failing. Through growing, improving and reaching what seems impossible – unless you work for it.
So let’s take a look at how the reality of “following your dream” can actually look like!
The reality of “following your dream” (if it’s traveling related)
REALITY #1 You’ll have to work for it
Only a very few people get to travel because they’re lucky. Lucky to be born in “the right family”. Lucky to be Insta-famous. Lucky to… whatever.
Most of the frequent travelers have made that dream happen because they’ve worked their arses off for it.
And it’s usually not a matter of “I’ll sell fries for a month and travel for a year” kind of a deal.
If you’re serious about making your dreams happen and travel LONG-TERM, it’s important to establish an income that supports it through times.
A while ago I wrote a post on 10 ways to earn income as a digital nomad but the options aren’t as limited.
Overall, building a consistent income is about making a business that works. And these days, anyone CAN make a business.
Building a business – of any kind – requests learning skills. And the interest to immerse into what you’re doing. It’s not a matter of “setting it up in a night”. It’s a matter of working for months and years, just to work more afterward (this time, on the road).
No fool can do it. But there are no restrictions of the experience, age or nationality to make it happen. The only requirement is the ability to work hard.
Yes, you can hitchhike for a month or two, get back home, work more, get on the road again. But it’s running in circles and rarely anything long-term comes out of this.
So if you really want to make that dream of long-term traveling happen, start with finding consistent and working ways to earn money.
No “get rich quick” schemes. Nothing easy. But something you’re truly passionate about. Immerse in making a full-time living on the road and be ready to work hard for it.
REALITY #2 Traveling is HARD
Where do I even begin?
Most of the travel-related things are pretty cool. New foods, new places. Beautiful sights. New friends. Breathtaking moments. Different cultures. There are SO many reasons to travel!
But, in a nutshell, traveling is damn hard.
Let’s start with the whole ticket purchasing business. Researching the best deals and making all flights, buses and ferries work for you. Checking the timing, the budget, the arrival and destinations. Comparing prices, understanding the best routes. I mean, I love doing this. But it can be very devastating just as well.
Next up, packing. Packing and traveling with all you’ve packed. Even if you’re traveling with a hand-luggage only, it can be heavy and annoying to keep your eye out for. Fitting everything in. Taking all things out and getting them back together in each new place. Dealing with broken bags. Traveling with more and bigger bags – even a bigger deal. Additional costs, waiting for bags to arrive, carrying them around.
Okay, but then there’s actual TRAVELING. Going from place to place. Spending hours, days or nights in buses, airports, stations. Running for flights.
Dealing with each new place you’re staying. Each new kitchen. Each new “hack”. Sometimes, you’re left without things you’re absolutely used to and, instead, you get a bonus like a squeaky bed or cold room.
Then there’s budgeting and time planning. If you manage to work while being on the road, it will take a lot of your time management skills to combine sightseeing with running your business.
REALITY #3 It’s not always as pretty
And I mean it in so many ways!
Sometimes even your preferred destination turns out to be… not so worth it.
For example, you’ve arrived in a place you don’t feel comfortable in. Or the so-called “tourist hotspots” leave you wondering, what better could you be doing right this second…
But the reality of “following your dream” also includes things like always finding a place to clean your laundry since sometimes your accommodation won’t offer a washing machine.
It’s about getting sweaty, stinky and uncomfortable on a long road or after a somewhat neverending day. I
It includes finding bed bugs and other nasty shit in places you stay. Even if you’re able to afford top-notch travel experiences, “the not so pretty” can surprise you at any time.
There are many safety issues to be aware of. You can be surprised by the rudeness of people or the poverty.
While traveling seems all like Insta-worthy moments, it’s not always like that. Especially, if you travel for long-term!
REALITY #4 It costs shitloads of money
A long-term traveling costs A LOT. Even if you find tons of great ways to save on the road, book the most affordable accommodations, do homecooked meals instead of eating out, it’ll still cost you a good money.
And traveling with a neverending saving in mind is not really worth it. There are so many temptations! Many new foods to try, places to visit.
For sure, you can always choose the cheapest option. But if you’re getting on the road with a thought of not spending any additional money whatsoever – you might leave a bit disappointed.
I’m not saying that buying useless souvenirs or eating in central restaurants is something you should do. No, it’s just a way to get money out of those who really couldn’t care less. But there are several pleasures you should enjoy while on the road.
For example, local street foods, local sweets, must-see spots or a train ride or two to the nearest town for a day-long excursion.
When I just started traveling, this reality of “following your dream” hit me really hard. I had no additional money to afford even as much as a gelato. I was, first, living in Naples and then in Rome, Italy. Both known as food capitals of Europe. And I barely could afford to immerse into this food culture.
It broke my heart so, once I could really afford that, I came back (writing this while in Naples, after re-visiting Rome recently as well) and I enjoy myself as much as I can. Without being wasteful and “just spending” – I still have many other expenses ahead of me. But with being a bit careless and really – happy.
That’s why I do believe that working on the road is an amazing way to travel long-term since you always keep the money coming back into your account.
REALITY #5 It can get lonely
I absolutely support solo traveling! But if you’ve got on your adventure all alone, it can get lonely.
Sure, meeting new friends is possible anywhere! For some, it’s also nothing special to spend a longer while without close friends or any new people, really.
These days, it’s also possible to meet someone who might join you on a trip or two. Or even establish long-term friendships or relationships.
Anyhow, I still stand by fact that traveling CAN get really lonely, really quick.
It’s not only about missing the people but also about missing the familiarity. Aching for things you used to do, places you used to visit, your own language, foods.
Sometimes it comes unexpectedly. When you seem to be having a good time and then there’s this sudden emptiness…
You realize how you might never meet these new friends of yours again… You start counting days until getting back home… You really miss meeting your best friend eye to eye.
Good news are – there’s always a remedy! And usually, traveling actually heals all the lonelines itself. But if you’re especially used to being around your people and things, be aware that loneliness can come between you and your love for being abroad.
There is no way to prepare of the reality of following your dream because life is unexpected either you stay at home or get on the road.
But it’s important to keep your mind open and be ready to face all kinds of difficulties. Not always everything is as cool as it seems to be. Sometimes it’s even cooler!