No More Excuses! Why it’s Time For You to Travel – An Excerpt from You Can Keep Your Adventure. Just Leave Me the Toilet Paper

pr-planeIn anticipation of the upcoming release of my travel guide You Can Keep Your Adventure, Just Leave Me the Toilet Paper, I have modified the penultimate chapter to give you a taste of the kind of insight (and humor) you can expect.

Just a brief word of caution, I’m going to be blunt: Get out of your chair!!!

“But, wait!” you might say, followed by any number of excuses with varying degrees of legitimacy. I don’t want to hear it. If you’ve been following this blog that means you’re fully informed and therefore no longer unaware of all that you’re missing. Hear me out as I break down your excuses with both how and why it’s time for you to start traveling.

I Don’t Have Enough Money to Travel

Do you honestly think anything so lame as money would stop a real traveler from traveling? Granted, how and in what style you travel is dictated by your finances; but it should never be the determining factor to go or not go. So you don’t have much money; big deal! Most of my adult life I was just above the financial waterline myself. The key is in setting priorities. For example, which will mean more to you in another ten years – a new TV or that cruise you booked for a steal? By keeping your burdens as light as possible and setting aside a little at a time, most people this side of the poverty line can at least do something.

If money is really tight – and believe me; I know what that feels like – why not try something of short duration and close to home? Can’t afford an air ticket? Take the train or do a road trip. Maybe it’s not as exotic as you would like, but it can still encapsulate all that is good about the act of traveling; and the deposit in your memory bank will be greater than the withdrawal from your real one.

I Don’t Have Time to Travel

I’ve got one word for you – lame! Nobody has enough time to do everything they want to do, so it again comes down to priorities. Just as you would drop your loose change into a jar, scrounge up as many vacation days as you can. Budget your time so that you can steal away – even if it’s just for a weekend. No one says you have to spend half a year backpacking through Asia. I myself have never been away longer than three and a half weeks at a clip. It’s not the quantity but the quality the counts, just as it does in every other aspect of life. If traveling is really something you want to do, you will find the time to do it. I know you’re busy; I am too, but that still doesn’t count as a valid excuse. Nice try, though.

I Don’t Know How to Plan a Trip

I believe you. With so many options and variables, even those who work in the industry sometimes feel like their head is about to explode. But no one is saying you have to do it all yourself. Find yourself a knowledgeable travel agent or talk to someone who knows the drill. For example, this blog is full of ideas and advice. If you lack confidence, start with something small; a cruise, a road trip, an all-inclusive. Once you recognize that you’re a reasonably intelligent human being and that this isn’t advanced Quantum Physics, your confidence and sense of adventure can only grow.

I’m Scared

I’m not going to patronize you and say that there’s nothing to be worried about. The world is a scary, unstable place. But you know what? The same is true where you live. To overcome your fears you have to first learn why you have them. I realize this might be unpleasant. Finding the root of your fears is like giving a prostate exam – uncomfortable even if you do manage to put your finger on it. Still, all it takes is to realize that the benefits far outweigh the risk, and much like that exam, it will leave you with greater peace of mind.

Traveling is a Hassle. I’d Rather Just Read About It

OK, it’s time for me to pull out the big guns. Let me tell you about the best meal I’ve ever eaten. It was in the restaurant of a tiny hotel overlooking a valley on the Italian island of Ponza. First came the antipasto – a delicious medley of fresh olives and cheese bathed in a light drizzle of olive oil. Next came the rice balls and potato croquettes. After that the waiter brought out a heaping dish of linguini with shrimp topped by a dusting of fresh-ground parmesan cheese. Finally, after well over an hour of eating, came the main course – baked swordfish that was caught just that morning. I’d describe it further but it’s hard to see through all the tears welling up in my eyes at the memory alone. Suffice to say it was fabulous, especially when washed down by salad, dessert and a potent bottle of the local wine.

Now why would I torture you (and myself) by describing in great detail this delicious feast? To illustrate the downside of living solely through description. Maybe with lots of effort I can convey the crispiness of the rice balls; the soft texture of the pasta; the heady flavor of the wine that was likely bottled right there in the basement – but I can tell you truthfully; it doesn’t compare to actually experiencing it firsthand.

Have I made my point? Travel is the same thing. You can read about the Taj Mahal, but witnessing it in person is a whole different animal. I can tell you about how charming the Brazilian town of Parati can be, but until you’ve walked those uneven cobblestone streets bathed in half-light to the sound of a street musician, it’s all just theoretical. I know traveling can be a hassle – nobody likes being on a plane for long stretches of time – but it still doesn’t replace making the scenes you’ve heard described here your own.

I’m a Quadriplegic with Anxiety Disorders Chained to a Radiator in the Basement

I can’t tell you how many times I’ve heard this exact same excuse (actually, I can) but if this is you, I will readily concede that your excuse is valid. In fact I really hope that you’ve enjoyed this post. From the sound of things, it doesn’t seem like you’ve got much else going for you.

Though I’m sure there are many more excuses you can come up with, I don’t have time to address them all. I think that in all things, anyone actively looking for an excuse can find one. I don’t feel any particular rancor toward those that do. I just feel kind of sad. Along with relationships, experiences are among the most valuable things a person can ever have. Missing out on that great adventure is akin to never meeting a person that would one day be one of your dearest friends. So don’t let that happen to you. I know your chair is comfy. I know you might already be in your PJ’s. Just start making your travel plans and leave the excuses for someone else – because I’m not buying them.

If you haven’t already done so, check out the preview of You Can Keep Your Adventure, Just Leave Me the Toilet Paper by clicking here and stay tuned to this blog for more release details.

The Best Things In Life Are For Sale

All this can be yours!
All this can be yours!

For Sale: Priceless memories for right-minded person. Must be willing to travel, try new things, and be ready to see what comes around the bend. Sharing with family or partner is preferred. The ideal buyer would have a sense of adventure, love for nature, and appreciation of culture and history. Price is negotiable but will always have a greater value than what you paid for it.

 

In essence, the above is what travel agents (& consultants like myself) sell: experiences. That’s our real product. It’s not a tangible thing like an heirloom that can be handed down from generation to generation, but its value is certainly on par. And the opportunities, stories and curiosity those experiences may inspire have far-greater potential to change a life than a dusty old brooch.

 

From personal experience I can say that selling something that cannot be seen can be a real challenge. Web sites and brochures can only do so much to impart to the client that those pictures and those places will become part of their life history. An agent’s job isn’t just to book flights and reserve hotel rooms. To make the clients truly happy, they need to convey what’s really for sale: wistful memories that will pop into your head every third Tuesday, crowd-pleasing stories to share at dinner parties, poignant moments that will mark your life’s path, chance encounters that lead to lifelong friendships, and newly-opened doorways to worlds you’ve yet to experience. When presented in those terms, irregardless of the price tag, any trip can look like a steal.

 

My portrait in front of the Great Wall of China--many years before the invention of selfies.
My portrait in front of the Great Wall of China–many years before the invention of selfies.

That is why I’ve chosen to focus my business interests on destination expertise. Any agent with a phone or internet connection can book a trip. Only those whose passion is travel can really sell one. And what gets people excited? It’s knowing that they too will have pictures of that far-off place that you showed them on your iPhone. It’s them imagining themselves taking a selfie in front of the Pyramids, Taj Mahal, or Great Wall of China. It’s helping them to envision the stories they will tell about how close the elephant was while they were on safari in Zimbabwe, or how colorful the fish were when they snorkeled on the Great Barrier Reef. This is what travel is all about; hotels, airlines, cruise ships–that’s just details.

 

This is not to say that how you get there and where you stay doesn’t matter. On the contrary, such ‘details’ can profoundly affect the quality of ‘good’ memories, etc on a trip. But regardless of whether you are the seller or buyer always remember what the real product is—experiences. At the end of the day—and extending a bit further—our days (yeah, like until death), what we’ll value most isn’t what we have, but rather what we’ve done. It’s up to us to direct our resources into what counts. Travel is unique in that even though it costs money, you always come home richer. So if you’re in the market for some travel memories of lasting value, I just happen to know a guy…;)

 

To all you real or would-be travelers out there, is this something you agree with? Share your thoughts with the rest of us.