International travel is entering a new era, one where disappearing for long periods of time isn’t an occupation set aside only for the wealthy elite or the hardened loner. Not by a long shot. I consider this as I look out over Union Square in San Francisco and think about my own travel bug and how it just won’t go away, especially after the wedding and a vision focused soundly upon the future. Life after marriage makes me wonder if I’ll get to all those places before responsibilities force my hands away from a series of expensive airline tickets.
I look to my desire to travel with a conflict of interest. Is it possible to have the homespun domestic American life I could’ve sworn I wanted when I was younger and still be true to my aspirations to see the world?
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I ask myself this question, in public no less, to you, the reader, not because my ideals have changed, but because everyone else’s have. To accommodate this new capital E- Extended Travel motif, one we at AirTreks so wantonly promote, two-week jaunts are no longer enough to sate the bug. At least for me. No longer can the sensation of “It wasn’t long enough” be brushed off as a mere consequence of the traditional American work ethic, the one where we come back to work to labor for the eleven-and-a-half months it takes to start the next one.
It’s heartening to think that despite the amount of attention they receive, adventure travelers are a fairly rare breed, adventure travel of course being defined as that which brings you out of your comfort zone – exploring geographic backwaters, mingling with foreigners who may or may not have ever seen your skin color before, engaging in activities that would normally scare the crap out of you and generally living at the edges of your experience. These are what makes life interesting. But when I was growing up, I didn’t know I wanted to live this way. I wanted a family, a house, a car and a crock pot.
The question boils down to this: How can we travel like we want and still maintain the nested, domestic life we spent most of our early days expecting, preparing for and nurturing.
Upon reflection, I’ve come up with a 6 ways for you to do it. And guess what, I’m gonna share them with you!
Get a job in another country
This may be your best bet. International jobs place you where you’d otherwise be traveling, allowing full-immersion cultural experiences to happen every day and to feel as though you’re on the road without actually going anywhere. Weekend trips can be exotic excursions and a night dining out can be Cahill-worthy. Perhaps don’t even leave your company but work remotely. Many companies are now allowing this to save money. Find out if your employer allows for this and if so, jump on it.
Lots of companies allow for sabbaticals at least once in their career, especially if they think it’ll help the person become a more productive employee. Ask your boss if your company allows it and what the restrictions are. You may be surprised at how generous they are, you may be surprised that they even have one. If you’re worried about not having a job when you get back, look at it this way – by the time you return you may not even want it.
I talked about this before but a career break may be just thing you needed, a sort of transitional awakening to show you what’s important in your life. You may discover that it wasn’t actually the crock pot you wanted all along. Plus, as we’ve been told, a career break doesn’t have to equal career suicide.
Be a teacher
Teachers really do get it all: a great satisfying career that allows you to shape young minds and kick-start the next generation, one that gives back to the community and allows summers off to travel to your heart’s content. Sure it doesn’t pay, but you get summers off. And don’t forget, travel doesn’t need to be expensive.
Do it when you’re young
This may immediately rule out a large number of you (perhaps tell your kids?), but the best way to skirt the above dilemma is to get involved with traveling when your responsibilities are few. Although beware, this may lead to the more difficult dilemma of needing to do increasingly extensive traveling as your life progresses. The travel bug is a compounding condition that gets worse as you get older. The upshot is this will make you a veteran traveler before most people have burned through their first two post-degree jobs.
Just. Let. Go.
Then there’s the other route – to open your mind and accept alternatives to the traditional. Of course this would be the more difficult option since it challenges long-standing belief systems forged over decades. Fortunately, the white-picket-fence lifestyle is getting pretty tired in the new age. The general attitude of the 2010s is choose for yourself what to do with your life not what tradition tells you. Especially in America.
The irony is, after much hemming and hawing, you can have it both ways, at least to an extent. You may have to compromise but it’s possible to be stable and mobile at the same time. You’ll have to have courage to break away from old ideas but if you want it bad enough you’ll make it happen.