Last week in the Pico Bonito forest reserve of Honduras, I met Juan and Roberto of the indigenous Garifuna community. I was fascinated by their affection for the dense rainforest and the diverse life it harbored, but even more by their culture, an integral part of which involves celebrating death as a new beginning. When one of their own dies, there is no mourning at the funeral; instead the community gets together to play the upbeat Punta music, dance and make merry – One last celebration!
When I heard this, my mind immediately darted back to Shawshank Redemption: It comes down to a simple choice, really. Get busy livin’ or get busy dyin’.
And so it is with travel.
There are no secrets
A few years ago, a (dream) trip to Central America seemed really far fetched for me, as it might for you as you read this. But on a remote island in the Caribbean where I sit writing this, surrounded by the pristine blue Atlantic Ocean, I realize that I didn’t have to become a millionaire to get here; what got me here was an appetite for risk, working smart and hard, and a bit of luck. And if I can do it, you can too.
It took me a while to become financially independent on the road, but before that, I juggled my wanderlust with a full time job, saved up all my annual leave and the majority of my paycheck, waited for long weekends, kept a keen eye out for flight deals, and took every chance to experience far-flung parts of Southeast Asia.
What’s stopping you?
Read: The Story of How I Quit My Job to Travel.
Don’t let someone else pick your path
I recently read a book on the forks we face in our lives, and how most of us wonder if we had chosen a different path. There are many things that society tries to impose on us, but it’s up to you to figure out what you truly enjoy or believe in, and have the courage to build your life around it. You’ll have plenty of time to live ‘seriously’, save for a house and settle down, but before you get there, atleast know that’s the path you really want to take.
Read: 10 Things You Didn’t Know About Me
Don’t just see; experience it
It’s been about 4 years since I quit my corporate job for a nomadic life, and my expectations of where I stay have risen exponentially, while my budget hasn’t. Years of travel research has made me realize that you don’t have to be rich to stay in spectacular places; you only have to be friends with google. On my recent trip to Guatemala, I stayed in a bohemian solar-powered studio with an incredible view of Lake Atitlan and the volcanoes beyond, that made my friends think I must have spent a fortune. It cost me INR 1500 ($25) a night on Airbnb.
On your next trip, think about ditching a drab hotel room or even a hostel that only facilitates interaction with other travellers. Do your research to find experiential places, interact with locals to discover hidden gems, volunteer your time and skills, give your taste buds a chance to appreciate the local cuisine, and you’ll come back with a deeper appreciation of what the world has to offer.
Read: Saving Money for Travel: 9 Practical Tips
It’s not too late
It doesn’t matter if you are 40-something or still in college; don’t hold off on your dream. Save or borrow money. Get your family’s support or make an excuse. Take time off and GO. Stretch your comfort zone a little, test your boundaries, open up your mind, read, write, photograph, think, catch up with yourself. Chances are, you won’t come back the same person, and even if you do, your old life will be waiting just as you left it.
When I quit my steady job in Singapore, I used a (random) fellowship as an excuse to move back to India; I was 99% sure that it wouldn’t work out (it didn’t), but it was somewhat reassuring for my family that I had something concrete in mind (I didn’t). I gave it up in under a week, but didn’t tell anyone till I had figured things out a little more.
Point is, do what you have to do to inch towards the life you’ve always dreamed of.
Read: 10 Life Lessons from 2 Years of Travelling
It doesn’t have to be travel
I know that as a travel blogger, I’m forever urging you to give the road a chance to change and fulfill you. But you can very well apply my way of thinking to anything that you feel passionate about.
Write, cook, climb mountains, run a bar, but don’t let anyone tell you,
This is just shitty pipedreams.
It comes down to a simple choice, really. Get busy livin’ or get busy dyin’.
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What’s stopping you from living the life you want?
How to Earn Money While Travelling?
One Year of Travelling Without a Home
Things I Wish I Knew Before I Quit My Job to Travel
Welcome to my blog, The Shooting Star. I’ve been called a storyteller, writer, photographer, digital nomad, “sustainability influencer,” social entrepreneur, solo traveller, vegan, sustainable tourism consultant and environmentalist. But in my heart, I’m just a girl who believes that travel – if done right – has the power to change us and the world we live in.
This is what I tell people all the time as well..Awesomely inspiring post again !!!! 🙂
Thanks! Let’s keep sharing the message 🙂
wonderfully written ! and makes one to reflect upon their lives.
I have downloaded the movie and was about to watch it just before that you come up with this post … 🙂 Thank you for such an inspiring post and the tips.
Ah, I haven’t seen the movie in a long time now, but I’m sure you’ll love it. Be prepared for an intense couple of hours.
Lovely post and it reassures “live life in the way you want to.” But my responsibllities, family commitments, entanglements and attachments holding me back always. Nice to someone close to me living life in a way that I would love to live. So keep living my dreams. All the best
And yet you travel every chance you get. That’s really the spirit I’m talking about 🙂
You’re definitely wiser than your age, Shivya! It’s a great inspiration for many out there… I got so excited to read – ‘be friends with google’, as I have written something similar just yesterday! I agree, each person should follow their heart instead of society’s stupid norms.
Haha, I definitely feel older than my age 😉 Proud of you for following your heart too, Renuka. We should catch up sometime!
Most of us (including me???) hardly make ourselves busy in living. We can blame society, but that’s not work.
And the first step is to realize that. I’m glad we are both there!
my grandma passed away last week and I had to go to Kerala. Although we were all too sad to celebrate it on the day of the funeral, I wish we could. Because it’s actually the celebration of a life. Later the cousin brothers took us out to the surrounding places and things felt better, we started to celebrate her, how loving she was and started sharing pictures of our childhood. Life is truly to be rejoiced. I loved your post and the writing. beautiful.
Also I really lean to towards people who follow their dream. It’s not worth following someone else’s or living your life in any way other than how you feel it should be. FREEDOM <3
Sorry to hear that, but I’m glad you found a way to celebrate her life (and maybe the beginning of another one for her). Take care 🙂
Wow, thank you for this post. 🙂 It’s very inspiring and really made me think long and hard about what matters.
http://www.carriesim.com | Instagram: @carriesim
Glad it made you think, Carrie. I needed to remind myself in some ways too, and writing it down helped!
Beautiful and inspiring post … love the lines – Get busy livin’ or get busy dyin’.
Thanks, and me too.
Another heart warming read. All the best for more such travels in future.
There’s simply no point trying to tell you in words how much I loved reading this post.
You’re amazing, Shivya! Keep travelling to your heart’s content, and take us along. 🙂
I’m glad you did anyway 🙂 I shall, lots more stories to come!
Wow so inspiring post dear…:)
Glad you enjoyed it!
Your post just pushed me at bit to the next level, to start beliving our (me and my other half’s) dream. You’ll have a free invite when it’s ready – in Goa 🙂 Would love to meet you in person. Until then, happy travelling and keep inspiring!
See you soon,
Excellent advice…. your posts really make the readers question the life they have built for themselves.
Excellent post ! Differently wonderful direction of living.
Your posts, photos are always amazing !
but what made me write here is ‘Blog title’, it has some message with intentionally ignored fact of life, sorrows & can make one realize what we loose while we ‘only’ earn !
Shivya, no doubt I am disturbed since i ready your blogs, mind is thinking a lot but day goes 12-14 hrs in office and what is left at the end of day, is think while driving back, cook, eat, go to bed and dream of ‘freedom’ !
Your blog really has some ‘message’, am still finding and shall take opportunity to say thanks once I get somewhat nearer to it.
Thank you for sharing. Seeing others do things that seem hard to do without a set idea makes the whole idea easier to visualise…
What an inspiring article…. And that too coming from a fellow Josephus
Way to go Shivya!
Shivay, I so enjoyed reading your article. Very inspiring and thought provoking. Reminded me of all the choices I made in my life and Robert Frost’s poem “The road not taken.”