Editor’s note: Originally published Jun 3, 2016. Podcast added August 2, 2017 with the first 16 minutes of the Face Fears and Travel talk at Hostelling International. The camera stopped recording at that point!
Book Your Ticket. Shed Your stuff. Experience Life.
In January, 2013, God showed up for me.
As the Fiji Airways representative placed me on hold to check availability on a flight to New Zealand, Master Fear cried out one last plea for me to be sane and stay in Ohio:
“Your life is good, Timo. The money is good. You’ve got the clothes, the car, the girl, the friends, the office, the title. Everything you want is right here.”
Then from another room I heard God’s divinely clear voice call to me:
“Either get busy living, or get busy dying. That’s Goddamn right.” -God
Morgan Freeman. Clear and perfect delivery. Thank you, you sonofabitch.
With self-doubt defeated by divinity, I booked my one-way ticket for New Zealand, including a stop-over in Fiji. Departure date: April 27, 2013. Peace.
With the ticket booked, all that was left to do was, well, everything. To uproot and fly away, and not knowing if I was ever going to return, required shedding relationships, habits, dependencies and lot’s more.
Before, during and after the uprooting part, is Master Fear stroking his mustache.
Fear. Face It.
Inevitably, if you are planning to quit your current life — your job, relationships, sports teams, restaurant habits — you will face resistance. You will face a thing called Fear. How do you defeat Fear and Resistance? Action.
Action is the Enemy of Fear.
Tattoo it backwards on your forehead.
As a reminder, these are the steps that I took to make the jump, face my fears and travel the world. Your journey will look different. My steps might lead you to fail. You might also gain excessive weight, burn all your bridges, and lose so much of your comfortable life that all that remains on this planet for you is the spiritual satisfaction of Oprah reruns.
I love Oprah, but to develop the travel mentality the journey must start today.
1. Book Your Ticket
As demonstrated above, God approved of this first step. Importantly, I booked the one-way ticket without flight insurance so that missing the flight would be extra painful. (Note: booking a one way flight to New Zealand requires a visa, or proof of onward travel).
Scared to commit to the purchase? Good. That’s a sign you must book it. I think people get the idea of commitment wrong. Commitment is often treated as a form of selling your soul, or slavery. Conversely, I’ve found that commitment is liberating.
Buy the ticket and commit. No insurance. Tell your Mom and your Dad and your girlfriend and your squad of hedonist friends that it’s happening.
And if you’re still living the life that they, especially your parents, are expecting you to live, then that’s an even more compelling reason to leave your hometown.
Independence is calling for you.
2. Shed Your Stuff
Sell all the things: The car, the TV, scarves, cats, vintage v-necks, your big box of japanese condoms. No mercy. Do it Immediately. Craigslist, Goodwill and selling or giving to friends worked best for me (Check the links for straightforward how-to guides for both).
If you’re attached to your mortgage, check out airbnb. Or, sell your house. I’ve never owned a house so use Google for better advice.
What does it look like if you wait until the last minute?
I waited until April 23rd to sell and giveaway the majority of my belongings — 4 days from departure. Just imagine how thrilled my soon-to-be-exgirlfriend was when I asked her to rid of anything remaining after I left.
If you see a charred effigy of me in Akron, Ohio, send pics.
Work to consolidate your life into a 70L backpack. This is the one I used and still use for long-term travel, mountaineering, backpacking, etc.
For ideas on what exactly to take with you, check out How to Travel the World with 10 Pounds or Less by Tim Ferriss.
3. Give Up The Habit
“Bad habits are easier to abandon today than tomorrow.” -Yiddish Proverb
Drinking is expensive. So are those $20 meals of meat, vegetables and starches dressed with fancy words.
To cut your spending while eating out, if eating out is your thing, try limiting the cost of your meal to $8. Burritos will become your friend.
Remember: The length of your journey will be inversely proportional to how you eat and drink. There’s nothing quite like breathing in fresh New Zealand air while nursing a consistent hangover.
Go to any party hostel around the world and you’re likely to find a downtrodden backpacker scrubbing toilets in exchange for accommodation.
Yes, working for accommodation is an effective way to extend travel, but it’s often the result of indulging in the drinky drank.
Along with food and alcohol, make a list of the other areas you are indulging. Popular items include:
- Recreational drugs (they affect your memory)
- Sports teams (injury before travelling would be crippling)
- Spa Appointments (Thai massages in Thailand are inexpensive)
- Going out for meals, movies, drinks, dating. Stay in. Save up.
- Recreational drugs (You might forget to leave)
Embrace the Travel Mentality Today
What you’re doing today you will do there, wherever there might be. If you’re going alone, start treating your home like you any place where you’d travel. Talk to strangers, make eye contact with people who are walking down the street, go sample what the farmers market has to offer. Walk, or use public transportation. Go hike the trail down the street. Get your ass moving, and start connecting with your hometown.
The sooner you book your ticket, shed your stuff, and give up the habit(s), you will be prepared for light speed travel. Remember in Star Wars the Empire Strikes back when the Star Destroyers had to empty the trash before light speed travel? You’re following the same principles here.
And once you’re lighter, you will be better equipped to be where you are.
And no matter where you are, that place will always be home.