the wonderful world of veena.

03 February 2014

learning to take the leap.

For two days last week, I watched Nomadic Matt, one of my favourite travel bloggers, give an online workshop about stress-free budget travel through CreativeLIVE. He spoke to a small audience in San Francisco, but the entire thing was available to stream live for free on both Wednesday and Thursday, so I enrolled. I figured at worst I would just hear repeats of stuff I've read on his website or his newsletters, and at best I would decide where my itchy feet want to travel to next [because you know I am forever planning getaways in my mind]. I certainly did not expect it to have quite the impact on me that it did, but I will get to that in a minute. First, the workshop itself...

For one thing, I really liked that the workshop felt intimate, like he was just having a chat with friends about taking a trip. There were only about 10 people in the studio for the workshop, but there were probably thousands watching online from various places. It was very casual, very informal, and while I don't know Matt personally, from following his website for a while that seems like his style. I also liked that the online viewers could comment and ask questions, and a few of the questions - including one of my own - were asked and answered on the broadcast.

Secondly, I like how he broke the two days down into smaller modules to then go over everything it takes to plan a trip: finances and travel hacking; staying safe while traveling; making friends on the road; gear and technology; travel insurance; getting affordable flights and accommodation; saving money while on the road; finding work and living overseas; and finally putting it all together to make an awesome trip for yourself. While I've never taken a trip longer than a few months, it was great information on how to plan and execute a longer, more intensive journey.

Each module included guest appearances from friends of his, fellow travel bloggers - including the lovely Candace - from around the world who shared their experiences of life on the road. From the elderly Canadian couple who are now in Peru to Lauren, the British girl who had never ridden a bus before leaving England, who is currently based in Mexico, it was great to hear firsthand accounts of how travel has changed their lives, to hear about the fears and anxieties they had before they left on their travels and to find out how they overcame those fears over the course of their adventures.

One of the good things about the workshop was that while it definitely was geared more toward people looking to take long-term trips, all of the information is useful for those going on one- or two-week holidays as well. It's universal information, and it's good information. Everything Matt - and his friends - discussed are things they have learned during their years of traveling the world. Yes, they discussed things I already knew or had heard about, but there were also some little tidbits that I learned, and I got a whole new list of travel bloggers to follow.

I knew going into the workshop that it would probably set my feet itching to visit somewhere new. Whenever I'm in one place for too long, I start to get restless and begin dreaming of places to go and people to visit and things to do and see. It's a never-ending cycle, and there is no cure for my wanderlust.

And yes, it did set my feet itching [hoping for a trip to DC in the spring to see some of my favourite people], but it also did something else: while Matt was giving some background on himself and how he got into the traveling lifestyle, it struck me over and over that he had the courage to go into the unknown and see what would happen. That sink or swim mentality, if you will; he swam, and now he's a successful travel writer and blogger who lives life on his own terms. He listened to his own advice and took the leap he needed to.

I'm not looking to be a lifelong traveler necessarily - I love traveling and am always looking for new places to visit, but I don't think my home will ever be "on the road". I was more influenced by the genuine passion that Matt clearly has for traveling, and I began thinking about my own passions, for work, for people, for places. And I began to do some deep thinking about where I am in life and where I want to be, mentally, professionally, and geographically.

I am slowly beginning to explore these thoughts and see where they lead me, and I hope to make some bigger decisions in the next few months. As those materialize, I will share them on here, but I don't want to jump the gun or jinx myself by speaking about them too soon.

So for now, here's to taking the leap...

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