Saturday, June 11, 2016

A Birthday and a Deadline, Revisited

Two years ago on my birthday, I wrote about a travel goal.
Thailand  |  United Arab Emirates  |  Vietnam  |  Cambodia  |  Egypt  |  Laos

My goal to visit thirty countries by my thirtieth birthday has, amazingly, been crossed off my list. With two whole years to spare.
My backpacking trip through Southeast Asia last year, combined with a once-in-a-lifetime trip to Peru and Bolivia this past spring (with a short jaunt to Colombia on the way home), I've been to thirty countries. I'm turning twenty-eight in less than a month.

Peru  |  Bolivia  |  Colombia

I can't believe I made it!

Like I said two years ago, I've questioned this goal. A lot.

The numbers-game kind of travelling has never really appealed to me, and I'd hate to think that I've only been somewhere to check it off of a list.

I guess the reason that I haven't scrapped this goal is because
        a) honestly, I was just so damn close, and
        b) it has reminded me (especially this year) to keep travelling.
This reminder has not been a problem for me in years past. I have travelled and moved from country to country with fervour and reckless abandon. But this year, I've been finding my priorities shifting away from this kind of constant movement -- I have a permanent job, I have a cat, I have a lease. All of this is still quite new to me.
Don't get me wrong, I'm so happy with this new life... but I can feel myself slipping away from my old priorities a little bit, and I don't want to do that.
Not entirely, anyway.

I've been so lucky to have been able to travel as much as I have these last few years -- to have the time, money, and support in my life that it requires.
That being said, I also think that for a lot of people, travel is a choice. 

There are many who would rather spend their money elsewhere -- on their hobbies, their daily lifestyle, their home, or their closet.
And there's absolutely nothing wrong with that!
However, it rankles me a bit when (certain) people emphasize how lucky I've been to be able to travel. These people are almost always in a similar situation to mine -- the same opportunities, the same education, the same financial freedoms. These people call me 'blessed' and lament their being chained to a desk.

When these (certain) people say these (certain) things, I want to very lovingly, very politely, shake them.

How each of us spends our money, and our time, is a decision that we make on a daily basis. Just like those who've spent their money making a home, or building their corporate career, or becoming better at a dedicated hobby, I've had to work hard to be able to travel.
It took planning and sacrifice, just like every other life choice does.

If you want to travel, do it. I think that is what this goal has made me remember this year -- that it's not always easy and it's not without its sacrifices, but neither is anything else. It's just a matter of priorities. Can you travel the world and live in a swanky two-bedroom downtown? Maybe not.

That being said, I'm happy to live in a suburban basement bachelor and continue to see the world. 

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