Before leaving the United States for my 11-month journey around the world, I figured I would ultimately work in corporate sales when I returned. For nearly seven years leading up to my journey, I’d worked as a recruiter and communicator, and I have some connections in the field, so it made sense to me.
After six years of planning, I turned 30, left my job, packed up my house and left the country. It’s a decision that’s shaped my life indelibly, just as any traveler will tell you. But the truth is, it was tough for me. For all the incredible experiences, there were also challenges, frustrations and hard times.
Discomfort, Uncertainty, and Responsibility
With long-term travel comes discomfort, uncertainty and ultimate responsibility for everything that goes on in your life, which is always the case of course, but when you’re at home you might have people who help you out – make you dinner, give you a ride, or buy you a ticket to the game. Plenty of people are willing to help you out while you’re traveling – an incredible amount actually – but it’s not something you can count on like close friends or family. It’s different. And being truly on your own, in a strange country without hotel reservations or signs in English, can be uncomfortable.
Being disconnected may have its merits, but it wore me down over the months. Granted, I was connected to the Internet more days than not. I could email, Skype, Facebook, and connect to my friends and family most of the time. But everyone is still back home, and you’re still out there.
You miss the things you love doing the most. For me it was playing and watching sports. I was able to watch a fair amount of sports truthfully, but watching the NFL in Portuguese is not exactly sitting on the couch with your bros drinking beer. And outside of skiing, playing football, softball, volleyball, basketball, and golf – each once over the 11 months, plus one tragic international cricket debut – there were not a lot of sports for me (that might sound like a lot, but in reality, it’s less than one sport every six weeks for a guy who normally plays some type of sport two to five days a week, at a minimum).
Mostly, it was about always having to figure it out – where am I going next, how am I getting there, who am I meeting, where am I going to sleep, how am I going to eat, and what am I going to do when I get there. What am I going to do right NOW? It’s all on you. On top of that, you always have to be cautious about your money, as there are always people grinding you down – asking you for money, trying to hustle and sell you crap, you name it. Many of these people you end up being friends with after all, but it becomes tiresome.
These and other challenges made it tough sometimes, but they made me stronger. Traveling is almost as much about working on yourself as it is seeing the world. You figure it all out. You learn the ropes and toughen up. And you learn some things in the process, about the world and about yourself.
Is it Worth It?
After all that it sounds like traveling sucks! That’s not true at all. The challenges are easy in comparison to what you get out of traveling. There is no greater education or experience, and you might never really discover the real you until you travel.
So was it worth it?
Absolutely. I would do it a thousand out of a thousand times, 100%. It was my life’s great adventure. No matter what happens, I’ll always have that, and I’ll absolutely never regret it.
I returned to the US in December of 2012. Somewhere along the way I decided against climbing the corporate ladder. Instead, I’ve started a company with my best friend and business partner while writing a book about my trip around the world. It’s interesting; most travelers I know or read about tend to go their own way after their adventures. It must be something about freedom.
If you’ve ever thought about traveling, do yourself a great favor and just go. Anywhere. Make immediate plans and set a firm date. Be resolute. If you think about the reasons not to go you’ll find plenty, but they’re all meaningless once you make the decision to do it.
Chris Healy Biography
In a series of planned moves, Chris left his job of seven years in December of 2011, embarking on his 11-month, 6-continent, 28-country adventure around the world. His journey focused on Growth, Connection, Service and Fitness.
Chris returned to the United States in December of 2012, moving to San Diego, CA where he’s started a creative/design/marketing studio with his friend and business partner. Chris writes about fitness and the road to personal success, while also working on a book about his world adventure.
Visit Chris’ blog at www.followchris.me.