The internet is an endless exploration; a journey into the unknown. And while most of the time, we end up watching hours of videos of cats falling into toilets, we have this fond emotional connection to finding something great online. It’s how “viral” evolved into a social phenomena, one that anyone and everyone with wifi connectivity in the early 2000’s knew all about. For early adopters, it’s about finding the application or website before it’s gone mainstream; likely when its still in the garage of family basement season of its life. I think the reason we fall in lust with the internet is the endless discovery. It means something to us when we find something worth talking about; we Pin to keep track of pretty photos or desired ‘necessities’. Does this all sound seemingly familiar? I’m quite guilty. And I suggest a shift:
I wonder what would happen if we took that same time, energy, and emotional high found in that experience and pointed it to the adventures around us: to the places we can go and the things we can see around us. This thought evolved in a small yurt along the Oregon Coast. It was my first time visiting the coast, spending every morning making coffee over a fire an hand grinding my favorite coffee. A few hundred yards away, waves crashed into the beach, the best sound in the world to wake up too. It was an experience that I’ve never had before, and I became obsessed with this place, just 18 hours in. While this type of journey isn’t the most feasible for Midwesterners working an 8-5, there’s a message I wish I could send to anyone and everyone out there that cries out, “I wish I could do that!” The message is extremely simple, but comes with a whole list of tips to support it.
A lot of people come to me in amazement of the places I’ve gone and the things that I try to do every year. I admit, it’s been quite the ride with some uncommon job descriptions and opportunities to go with it. But the most anti-climatic part of my story is when people ask how I got a job that required me to move to a new major city every few months and spend a month in Cannes, France. The real answer? I just applied for it online and interviewed much like any other job out there. Boring, right? Finding your next adventure is as simple of an action as it is going on a search for great YouTube videos or a Pinterest recipe. Where we fail to connect the dots is calculating the risks. Spending a months salary and booking a flight 4-6 months ahead of time is a scary risk.
“What if I get sick? Or if I lose my job? Will I have the money then? I could be a different person by then!”
These questions are equally as valuable as the day-to-day risks that we likely shrug off:
“If I lay in bed watching Vine videos for another hour, can I still get to work on time?
“Eat in or go out?
“Ice cream now? Later? Both?”
I know it seems like these scenarios are completely different ballgames (We’re talking about practice?!”) But I think the most common mistake we’re all making is fearing the big risks when they’re just as complex or scary as the risks we take every time we drive down the street or swipe our credit card. The question we have to ask ourselves every day is “what small thing can I do right now that’s going to impact my story?”
If your dream is to go out on a new adventure, here are a few tips to get you started.
Tips For Your Next Adventure
1. Choose a Destination
You’ve made the decision that you’re going somewhere; now you get to decide which place you choose. It’s unlikely that there’s only one place in the world that you want to be, so pick a few and begin the search. Hop on forums, blogs, and travel sites. My personal favorite is simply opening up a map and looking around at what each area may have to offer. Fodors list of “Best things to see in ______” is rarely my adventure of choice.
2. Choose Your Priorities
What matters most to you? Is it the charming views, the winding trails, or the diversity of food and culture? Contrary to popular belief, it is possible to create a trip experience that includes a taste of everything; just don’t go into a trip with the “I’m going to do everything” mindset, unless you’re really up for that challenge. You may be heading out on a trip to pick up that camera that’s gathering dust in your closet, or maybe you want to see a world famous museum or statue that you grew up reading about. Perhaps you’re ready to unplug? Whatever it is, know the reason why you are going; you’re going to thank yourself for putting that effort in as you begin to create an agenda.
Recommended Resource: EATER, Self-Reflection
3. Mark your Calendar
I should put this on the list twice. Set your goals up, aligned to the end prize of being on the trip. Write down a few dates ($500 saved by ___, flight booked on ______, etc). Put them on a paper calendar that you can hang on your bathroom mirror or next to your desk, then add them to your phone. You need to remind yourself that you’ve got a plan or it’ll slip away in the weekly madness. Every few weeks, I look ahead to the coming year and begin placing new adventures where I see gaps. The best long-distance dating advice I ever received was to always have your next visit planned, and I’ve learned how true this is even for our relationships with self. Having your next experience on your mind is destined to keep you excited, motivated, and encouraged.
Recommended Resources: Post-It Notes in your favorite color, iCal
4. Budget wisely
This one is tough, as I’ve come to learn that many people struggle to maintain a budget of day-to-day expenses. But I challenge that this is a great first start, as it’s less holistic and more experience-related. Make some estimates on the cost of your trip, focusing on travel, lodging, and food as your primary three costs. I tend to save my money on lodging, grabbing a couch at a friends house, meeting someone new via AirBNB, or using a site like Couchsurfing to find a crash pad. But whatever you do, be realistic about your habits. And show true appreciation when you find a friend willing to let you crash their couch. You’d often spend $80-$150/night for a room, so the least you can do is send a thank you card or leave a nice bottle of wine.
Recommended Resources: Google Sheets & Mint
5. Make a Sacrifice
All good things come with a sacrifice. It’s not absolute truth, but certainly a term of validity. To afford your trip, you’re likely going to need to give something up, unless you’ve got a trust fund waiting for you in Goonies’ fashion. Decide what is worth the sacrifice. Maybe cutting down your ‘eating out’ habits to once a week, or cooking meals that last 3-4 days like a bomb-ass chili or huge plate of enchiladas. Giving up something you are used too is way more fun when there’s an oceanside view or a mountain to conquer on the other end. Get a few other people involved; when your whole group of friends gives up craft beers and $5+ drinks, a Friday night game of Scrabble and popcorn can hit the spot.
Recommended Resources: great friends and self-control
6. Check-In Weekly
Consistency. Accountability. Checking in. It’s a necessity; and ultimately, it’s a revisit to the calendar piece above. Put time on your calendar to be thinking about your trip. Analyze your savings, add to a Google Doc of locations and details, and ask yourself, “How can I get one step closer to this trip this week?”
Recommended Resources: Wunderlist App (Desktop and Mobile)
7. Document your experience
One of the biggest mistakes I’ve made while traveling was not taking the time to document the experience. Some of my fondest memories from trips to Europe were the countless hours spent at the local coffee shop trying to find a hostel under $50 with just ten days to go. Or trying to learn basic French words so that I wouldn’t look like an ignorant American. If I hadn’t written about these encounters, it is likely that the minor details would have left my mind; which goes into this final point.
8. Know your story matters
You’ve only got to convince yourself of this; what you do, what you think, and where you go matters. You were created to be you and to do it well. And the adventures that sit atop of a bed of fluffy clouds in your imagination are there for proper reason.
Recommended Resource: Storyline Blog