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Follow your dreams

March 26, 2010

Tiny plane, big sky, big world

‘I want to be like you when I grow up’ is written on a backgammon set given to me by a young American woman when I was in Greece. I have heard them so often as I travel and I agree – and I too want  to be like me when I grow up. Maybe that’s the secret, maybe I haven’t grown up. Just another baby-boomer who wants it all; now. However I believe I have a better life than anyone I know. Beyond my wildest dreams actually.

I am not the only person to hear such words. Over lunch with Rita Golden Gelman (The Female Nomad.  Vintage.2001) she tells me she too has had the same experiences. We agreed that rarely do our adventures and writings inspire older travellers to throw caution to the wind and join us – but many young people see us as a wonderful role model. A compliment indeed.

We offer an alternative to being captured by societal norms – life on the road. As Rita said, “there is more than one way, to do life. ( read how I have done life in Naked In Budapest: travels with a passionate nomad – see link at top of this page)

Crazy, courageous or downright selfish are the viewpoints people take when judging our lifestyle. Another one that Rita seems to have had more than me is the assumption that you are “running away”. Not so.

Although I often use the term “ I’m running away to. . .” I am not running from anything but towards something new, exciting, different. That does involve leaving the society and expectations that we have grown up with – but it’s not running from. Its making different choices.

There are countless ways to live life and more and more we have both the choices,  money and transport to indulge those dreams. Rita had always dreamt of canoeing down the Amazon; for me it was the Zambezi. How fantastic to be able to live your dreams!

As Rick Steves’ says in his book Europe through the Backdoor, “affording travel is a matter of priorities – keep your old car”  That’s how we, and you can too, live our dreams – sort out the priorities in life and then work towards it. Unfortunately it seems many people want to choose, or at least negatively comment on, others lifestyle choices. We nomads may make a different bed, but like everyone else,  we too have to lie in it, taking the consequences of those choices just as all do. I sold a car in 1995 and have never bought another!

Are you ready to spend the kids inheritance?  (SKIing) Are you willing to ignore the negative comments and run towards life and following your dreams? If so here is how I do it.

Saving. I thought saving was something you did with what was left over after the rent/mortgage, power, phone and food was paid for. Trouble was there was rarely any left over. A change of tactics was called for. Save first and live on what was left over, never touch the travel fund,  and before long I had a trip in front of me. I too have been in the fortunate position of joining three frequent flyer schemes at no cost some years ago and as a result have a ‘free’ trip every couple of years.

As a traveller who writes my journeys are special and hard-earned – and so will yours when you set your goals then achieve them. You will have to make some hard choices at times, living more frugally than your wishing and dreaming friends (wishers and dreamers never get to go): then, when your ticket is in your hand they’ll say ‘you’re so lucky’. Yeah right  – as an advert on TV says – luck has nothing to do with it.

So, grab your courage and dreams in both hands and go for it. Don’t run away: run to life, embrace all the differences in the world: don’t look for yourself, you are you wherever you are constantly changing. You find yourself every day whether canoeing down the Amazon or tied to a boring (or exciting) job. Life is for living and only you can live your life – others live theirs. Go and enjoy yours then maybe grandchildren, or young people you meet on the road, will say to you ‘ I want to be like you when I grow up’.

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