What to do after college? Part 2

Sculpture outside Denver Museum of Art

In part one of my series, what to do after college, I addressed my 2 biggest challenges when I graduated back in 2001, Fear and Money. Let’s tackle some other obstacles that have long tormented me in my pursuit of hitting the road and most likely are at odds with you.

When you are the nail that sticks up in life, people want to hammer you back down. For a variety of reasons you are told that your particular idea is flawed, silly or in some cases stupid. Willy Wonka is not going to give you the golden ticket on this one so you need to do anything in your powers to see the big fat world of oompa loompas.

[box type=”info” style=”rounded”]Tip #1 Don’t ask for permission. Most simply won’t give it. They will FUD (fear, uncertainty & doubt) you until you are a helpless pawn in their evil suburbia plot to relegate you to a life of 45 minute commutes and lunch in a cube farm. Find some kindred souls who will pump you up and make you feel awesome about your decision and meet with them a lot. I suggest Couchsurfing meetups for this. [/box]

Bad things will not happen to you if do this. I quit a very successful job in 2010 to live out of a bag for a year. Took me 18 months to be ok with this decision. I thought I would file for bankruptcy or some other ominous event would occur. I came away unscathed and with a clearer vision of what I wanted for myself.  I also took one of the best trips of my life in the process. I packed up my car, my dachshund (Bella) and drove 6k miles across the US.  My favorite part of the trip were the almighty Redwoods in N. California, Yellowstone, where Bella went psychotic for the buffalo, and South Dakota where across the flat terrain I saw my 1st end to end rainbow.

[box type=”info” style=”rounded” border=”full”]Tip #2 Take a chance. Dip your toe in the travel puddle, say a month and see how you feel. You may find a freedom you never experienced before or you may be entirely bored. Personally, while I loved my 12 months traveling, I hated the backpack lifestyle and grew some roots in Turkey for 5 months.[/box]

Don’t let your current finances kill your dream. I thought I could never travel cause I owed too much money on a car and credit cards and saving was a foreign concept to me. I sat down and planned out how much I would need to have in my bank to pay off my monthly expenses. Then when I hit that goal, I started to save up for what I thought my trip would cost using various info I found in my research and lots of guesswork (most of us overestimate). While I worked I bought all my big ticket items like plane tickets, backpacks, electronics, etc. and then I gave my job the heave hoe.

[box type=”info” style=”rounded” border=”full”]Tip #4 Money isn’t everything. I have heard of some people saving $20k for a 4 month trip and others leaving with less than $400. There is no exact amount of money needed to take a true RTW journey but give yourself a goal, something attainable like $5k or $10k.  Do the math, if you want to live it up, plan for that in your pocketbook, if you have high tolerance for grime and love hostel living, you’ll find your dollar stretches pretty far. Asia is cheaper than Europe. Did you know you can spend $1k on a ticket to SE Asia but live there for a booze free month for $300 or less?[/box]

In June of 2010 against the advice of almost everyone I knew, I rented out my house, pre-paid my bills for a year and left for Istanbul and didn’t look back for 12 months. In the next year, I would see 8 countries, meet a boy, rent a Turkish apartment, teach at an English school, get scammed in Saigon, dump a boy, blog about the random, and get lost in Riga.  I made tons of mistakes and if you are following a rockier path, these mistakes are unavoidable and worth it. My life lesson as a result: I can do this again and again if I want. That clarity at 33 was a game changer as silly as it sounds. I think we go through most of our life not knowing what we want and when we finally figure it out, our world becomes more saturated in meaning. Now at 35, I have laser focus on what I want and have taken back control of my life and the only question I ask myself, where shall I go today?

This post was brought to you by Wimdu: Travel like a Local


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