Pensively overlooking Cork, Ireland [Credit: Lindsay Steinmann]
No one has come out and told me I was crazy out loud, but I know someone has to be thinking it. So I’m ready to answer any questions you may have about my upcoming trip and why I’m leaving everything behind to travel. I hope that if you were on the fence about leaving your life to travel and start one elsewhere, these reasons may push you over the edge. [P.S. These pictures are irrelevant in every way possible, but I picked ones that made me laugh.]
1. There’s nothing holding me back.
I’m not saying I don’t like my life here. I have a great family, all within a few hours’ drive, and amazing friends who support me. I live in a city where I can find the best margaritas, museums and unique neighborhoods. But as a recent college graduate with no “real” job, I can’t stay here just because I’m scared of going elsewhere. Most of my friends who are in the same shoes as me are working a job they don’t like, just trying to survive until they figure out what they want to do. I know what I want. I want to be a full-time freelance writer. I want to be able to write articles on my laptop on the beach in Sydney or from a coffee shop in London or even in my room in Atlanta. So it’s time for me to start doing it.
Jumping for joy [Credit: Caroline King]
2. There’s no time like the present.
The most common response I got from telling people I was going to Australia is, “Now is the time to do it.” And they’re right. I’m young (and stupid) and there aren’t quite as many consequences if it all turns out to be a big mistake. At the end of the day, if I hate it, I can jump on a plane and be home the next day. I don’t have a career, a husband or kids. I have the flexibility to just take off. And let’s be honest: the job market and economy as a whole here in the United States pretty much sucks. I’m not naive enough to believe that Australia is the promised land, full of opportunities for broke backpackers and aspiring writers like myself, but it’s a good place to start over. I’ve heard a lot of concerns about traveling alone, but I’ve proven that I can handle it, having gone solo to Washington DC, New York and Croatia thus far. It’s not the being alone part that’s hard. It’s the reactions you get from it.
Birthday girl, NBD
3. I don’t want to be a career breaker.
Before you freak out, allow me to explain. For the last couple of years, I’ve been reading the blogs of people who found themselves hating their jobs at 30, longing to leave their high-paying careers, relationships, townhouses and friends to travel. The Lost Girls, Legal Nomads, Nomadic Matt, Ottsworld. The list could go on and on. I sat there at 19, thinking, “Why didn’t these people realize their dreams sooner? I’ve known since I was in middle school.” I didn’t want to quit my life to travel. I wanted to live the life I always wanted, whether it followed what was expected of me or not. As I listened to the stories of the career breakers at Meet Plan Go Atlanta, I didn’t know what to think. Did this event even apply to me since I don’t exactly have a career to take a break from? Then I realized: it’s a life break. I’m breaking away from expectations and towards my fears.
Who doesn’t love a random waterslide?
4. I don’t want to fall into a rut.
Lately, I’ve gotten so fed up with things here. Writing is a very discouraging career and is definitely not for those with thin skin. I get frustrated when I see people landing dream jobs when I feel like I’ve worked hard for a similar opportunity. I want to make a life change while I still like writing. Sometimes I wish I had gone to journalism school, moved to New York City and into a pathetic studio, and become an editorial assistant for a magazine, where I was essentially an intern with a better title. It’s the path a lot of people take, but I’m not ready to settle down. I prefer real-world experience to long days in a cubicle. And yes, I’m not sure how I feel about all my possessions fitting into a 60 L backpack (which is only partially true, since I still have stuff in storage and at my parents’ house), but if there’s one thing I’ve learned, it’s to get rid of the clutter, the baggage, the crap that fills up my room and my head.
5. I want to see Australia.
This statement should be the most obvious, especially if you’ve read my State of the Oz post. Ever since my grandparents went there almost a decade ago, I’ve wanted to see what made it so special. There are animals and plants on this big island that you can’t find anywhere else in the world. Some of the old mining towns remind me of America’s Wild West. Did I mention it’s summer there right now? This fact is especially important as I’m snowed into my house in Georgia, typing this post. I want to see everything, from the Sydney Opera House to Uluru to every funny-named town across the country. It’s difficult to explain to my friends and family here in the South what’s so great about Australia, but it’s like obscenity: I know it when I see it.