Are You a Travel Procrastinator?

by Gray Cargill on March 4, 2011

cat photo

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.

My point?

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?”  (NotCan 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

Gray July 9, 2011 at 10:59 am

Hmm…CommentLuv seems to be doing something funky.

Anyway, @anonymous, if you’re only 11, you’ve got plenty of time to make your travel dream come true. Don’t count on someone else to do it for you, though. As soon as you can work, do so. Start saving your money, and when you’re old enough to be on your own and you’ve saved some money, you can do whatever you want with it, including travel. And you have nothing to be ashamed about. Hold onto your dreams and good luck!

anonymous (because i am ashamed) July 9, 2011 at 10:17 am

i am 11 years old and it has always been my dream to go to australia …. i have a family with 11 people in it! and we can’t afford to go on holiday anymore .. oh .. i wish someone could help me fulfill my dream.. hopefully when i’m older and when th e prices go down a bit i can go 🙁

GRRRL TRAVELER March 18, 2011 at 3:40 am

I can relate to everything on that procrastinator list!

The “HOW (vs Can) you do it”? question is a perfect question to ask, Gray. It’s very proactive and puts you in the place of creating steps to bridge your dream.

Great article!

Gray March 18, 2011 at 10:54 am

Thank you very much, Christine.

Y.S. March 12, 2011 at 1:14 am

Love the cat photo — it’s just asking for a belly rub 😛

Gray March 12, 2011 at 10:27 pm

I don’t know….that might disturb its sleep. 🙂

Dan March 9, 2011 at 10:19 am

It’s not really a case of procrastinating with me (at least I don’t think it is). I just don’t the money or the technology to go to Mars yet!

Gray March 9, 2011 at 12:10 pm

LOL! With what they’re charging for space flights, I think it’ll be awhile before any of us mere mortals can afford it.

Kirk at BlueGreen Corp March 7, 2011 at 8:39 pm

Oh I must confess I get specials on traveling and I still procrastinate. No really reason just too many excuses. This posts really hit home for me enough excuses will just have to DO it!

Gray March 8, 2011 at 12:54 am

We all have too many excuses, Kirk. It’s just a matter of how badly we want to travel, I guess.

Hometoitaly March 7, 2011 at 1:17 am

after 22 yrs of 24/7 selling real estate I took a sabatical and it has led me to a new career. why not get all the solo travelers to go to egypt at the same time, not necessarily a tour, but it helps to know someone whenyou go that far off the grid.

i am approaching a china trip in the save way.

Gray March 7, 2011 at 1:47 am

Oh a sabbatical sounds like heaven right now. I’ve always thought when I go to Egypt I’ll join a tour. So you’re pulling together a group of solo travelers for a trip to China? Sounds like fun!

Sabina March 7, 2011 at 1:13 am

That’s a great observation and true, too – we do often put off even those things that we really want to do. I think some people save overseas travel for their retirement years, which makes great sense. They’ll probably have the money and the time. But you never know what will happen in your life. Due to a catastrophically stupid episode of severe medical malpractice, my mom suffered a massive stroke when she was 56, from which she never recovered and has continued to deteriorate throughout the years. Taking care of her full time while working a full time job killed my dad when he was 61. They had planned to travel the world when they retired. I don’t consider their plans travel procrastination per se, since they were only putting it off so they could really, really enjoy it later. But then they didn’t get to enjoy it at all. This is a small part of what motivates me to travel.

Gray March 7, 2011 at 1:45 am

Thank you for sharing this personal story, Sabina. Your parents’ situation is exactly the kind of thing I’m alluding to in this post. If we’re all realistic about it, we know anything can happen. I could get hit by a bus tomorrow, thus ending my travel dreams. Planning our lives around the assumption that we’re going to live to be a heatlhy, active 90-year-old and have plenty of time “later” to do all the things we want to do is a helluva crapshoot.

Ramona March 5, 2011 at 12:11 pm

As a kid, my folks couldn’t afford too much traveling, so they’d say “you’ll travel when you grow up”. The good news is that now I do. And haven’t passed out the chance to do so, no matter what. There’s time to have a career and family, but it’s also good to try see the world as much as you can. It really opens you eyes.

Gray March 5, 2011 at 3:03 pm

I agree, Ramona. It’s good that you do travel now, though. So many people probably hear “you’ll travel when you grow up” but then still don’t. Thanks for your comment.

Anonymous March 5, 2011 at 12:07 am

Great piece! I have a list of my top 10 destinations, and luckily, Australia was on it! But I still really want to go to Croatia and Greece–and figuring out when I’m going to get back to Europe, and have the budget to explore there is rough. I think the worst thing is that I’ve put off exploring my own country–I still haven’t been to Washington DC! I think of it as “always being there” but if I never do it, I never will!

Gray March 5, 2011 at 3:06 pm

Europe is tough, because it’s SO expensive–especially flying there from another continent. I really wish I’d taken advantage of flight deals years ago. I remember there were times when it would be cheaper to fly to Europe than Las Vegas from Vermont. WHY didn’t I do that ??? You’re not the only one who has put off exploring your own country. I think travelers have a tendency to do that. They seek further afield to the “exotic” destinations.

Becs March 4, 2011 at 8:18 pm

I used to procrastinate way more but as my 30th birthday approaches (oh the horrors!) I am trying to seize the day more and JUST SAY YES! And deal with the fallout (if any) later. Whatevs, you only live once.

Gray March 5, 2011 at 3:06 pm

Good attitude to have, Becs.

Alouise March 4, 2011 at 6:39 pm

I’m bad at procrastinating, in life and in travel. For example, right now I should be studying for an exam.

Sometimes I almost convince myself I’m about to go somewhere. Like I’ve really been wanting to go to New Orleans. The other day I was looking at airfare and I saw a pretty good deal from Edmonton ($487 roundtrip with taxes). The ‘book it’ button was there and soon my mind started to wander. I began to think “yeah I’m going to New Orleans, and I’ll fly out on this date and I’ll see this and that…” Later when I was about to fall asleep I realized I didn’t actually book anything. Now the price has gone up, and I don’t know if I can afford a ticket.

I think for me I have to make a promise. As soon as I can find a flight for under $500 I’m going to book it. It’s not an ideal price, but it’s doable. I know I won’t find a $39 one way price like they had from Toronto yesterday. Lucky bastards.

Gray March 5, 2011 at 3:09 pm

LOL, oh the wandering mind! I’m similar in that I don’t want to book the flight until I have researched all the other pieces that cost money (hotel, food, etc.) and then by the time I realize I can afford it, the flight prices have gone up. I think there’s something to be said for being more spontaneous. You raise a good point too: If you’ve done some initial searching and know the base price point of flights to a particular destination, it’s a good idea to make that deal with yourself that as soon as you see a price under X amoung, you’ll jump on it,no matter what.

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