Today I read an article about how we should stop pretending that travel is accessible to all. You can see it here: http://bit.ly/2jeSgsz. The article touched on the idea that the sentiments so widely expressed by travel and adventure enthusiasts (including this author), may imply that the “Just do it” mentality isn’t effective for everyone. Challenges caused by upbringing, finances, and even personal identity, can hold some people back. For the record, I dislike excuses, and I try not to use them myself. But I do like shared perspectives that help to increase understanding. So I’d like to consider the idea that some wannabe adventurers may have difficulty overcoming their challenges.
As a child of divorced middle-class parents, I was mainly raised with a financial survival mentality. Travel was a ridiculous idea reserved from those elusive “rich” people who weren’t us, and our adventure excursions consisted of fishing trips, and a trip to an amusement park once a year if it was a good year. During my marriage, finances were much more secure, but travel was still restricted to family visits only, and “adventure” consisted of an occasional local fair or city activity geared toward our kids. When I was 37, I decided I would wait for permission no longer, and I started my own savings stash to become a skydiver. I accomplished that goal, which gave me enough belief in myself, that post-divorce, I started changing my thoughts from “that’s a ridiculous idea” to “why the hell not?”
At first, my ideas were fairly narrow, consisting of local trips related to skydiving. I visited every skydive drop zone that was within driving distance. Along the way, I met individuals who were world travelers and the greatest of adventurers. They were not only skydivers, but they were scuba divers, pilots, and participators in every kind of exciting activity you could imagine. They were not the elite “rich”, however, and they came from widely varied backgrounds and ethnicities. Many of them chose a path without material luxuries, so they could remain flexible and mobile. These wonderful influencers showed me there are many ways of achieving a particular path or goal. They were inspirational. They simply believed they could. And so they did. They epitomized the “just do it” idea.
I had always wanted to travel. Excuses filled my head with why that was impossible. I was a single mom, my job paid pennies, I couldn’t leave my kids, I was selfish for wanting to travel, and on and on. I made the decision to simply ignore those excuses, and instead, focus on solving the puzzle of how to get from point A to point B. I started with smaller trips. I found great airfare comparison sites https://www.airfarewatchdog.com/ like and scoured the internet for tips and tricks for cheap travel. I also remained flexible with an adventurous, positive spirit, and realized that traveling alone would be necessary – and fun. I flew home to Kansas and stayed in a hotel one night, then dragged my step-dad to skydive with me to fill my mini trip with adventure. I went to Colorado for a last-minute December skydive trip, only to be grounded by snow and extreme cold. I ended up staying all by myself in the haunted and breathtakingly gorgeous Stanley Hotel. These mini trips were only a couple of nights, very inexpensive, and the confidence they gave me, was immeasurable. After that, I did two solo Alaska trips, one in the summer and one in the winter, and then I took my kids.
For those of us who have a lust for adventure and travel, but also have challenges to overcome, it’s important to understand that a mental change has to happen before we can accomplish our goals. It must come first, so that the improved finances, a flexible schedule, and ability to prioritize adventure, can come after. The intent of travel/adventure blogs, websites, articles, and enthusiasts, isn’t to shame or belittle those who “can’t” travel or accomplish everything on their bucket list. Instead, I believe these moments of advice are just a gentle reminder that yes. Yes, you can. And I believe they’re also there to encourage us to ask ourselves, ”Why the hell not?”
You can read more of Michelle Barrett’s blogs at https://www.tumblr.com/blog/bucketlistfunllc