You might be a travel procrastinator if:
- You’ve ever said “When I retire, I’m going to travel to [my dream destination].”
- You’ve ever said “I really want to go to [my dream destination] as soon as I can find someone to go with.”
- You keep saying “Next year, I’m not staying home on my vacation, I’m going to travel”–but then you don’t do anything about it.
- You put off a trip to your dream destination until airfare prices are so high you can’t afford it any more.
- You travel, but you go everywhere except the one place you most want to visit.
Do any of those sound familiar to you? They do to me! Yes, I am a travel procrastinator. Even though I have traveled to places I wanted to see, I have also fallen into more than one of the above traps. I wrote recently about how I’ve put off a trip to Egypt and regret it. I also put off traveling to Europe until this past year, when airfares from Burlington to pretty much anywhere in Europe are so high it’s like getting mugged in the sky.
Why do we procrastinate?
It’s easy to understand when people procrastinate about tasks they don’t want to do or don’t like to do–household chores, projects at work, family obligations, etc. It’s like pushing your vegetables around your plate for an hour when you’re a kid. At least that makes sense. But why do we procrastinate about things we do want to do? Is it because it seems too difficult or overwhelming? Are we afraid of the unknown or of failure? Are we just cheap or lazy? (Okay, I’ll cop to the cheap one. That’s definitely held me back a few times.)
Or are we procrastinating at all? Maybe there really are legitimate obstacles in our way when it comes to certain kinds of travel. For instance, there are places I want to visit that I know I won’t be able to while I work in my current job. Though I have the time available and could save the money if I really buckled down, getting two weeks or more off in one fell swoop is very, very difficult because we’re short-staffed in my office. So places like Australia and New Zealand are just going to have to wait awhile longer. Because a week isn’t long enough to get there, get back and see everything in between. How long I put it off depends on how badly I want to go to Australia and New Zealand, I guess. So far, I haven’t wanted to go badly enough to quit my job. But I don’t want to put it off for too long, either.
One of the tasks I used to have as part of my job was scanning the obituaries every day for news of dead alumni. (Yeah, it’s a sexy job.) Reading through obituaries every single day is both depressing and eye-opening. You quickly realize not everyone lives to see retirement. So if you’re putting off things you want to do (like travel) until retirement, you might be very disappointed at the end of your life.
If you say you want to travel, but you haven’t pulled the trigger yet, maybe you should do some soul-searching to figure out why you haven’t. What is causing you to procrastinate? What is your obstacle?
Seriously, do it right now: Ask yourself “What is my obstacle?”
Know what it is? Okay, now ask yourself: “How do I overcome this?” (Not “Can I overcome this?” but “How do I overcome this?”)
If it makes it easier for you, ask yourself “How might someone else in a similar situation overcome this?” (That takes the pressure off you.) Now brainstorm a list of ways how that fictional someone else might overcome the obstacle to taking their dream trip. If the obstacle is financial, brainstorm ways to earn more money or save more money by cutting expenses. If the obstacle is health, talk to a doctor about ways someone might hypothetically take that trip even with a particular health issue. If the obstacle is time, brainstorm ways to find the time. Be as creative as you need to be to make that trip happen. Remember, you’re not doing this for you (wink, wink), you’re doing this for a fictitious other person that you’re trying to help.
But when you’re done with that list, you might want to consider how it might–just maybe–apply to your life, too. And ask yourself: Do you want to take these trips badly enough to implement some of these ideas? Maybe you do, maybe you don’t. Either way is okay, as long as you’re happy with the outcome.
Are you a travel procrastinator? If so, what’s keeping you from doing what you need to do to travel?
Photo: Jeff McNeil