Originally posted to An Aimless Walk, reprinted here with permission.
“We would love to have you as part of our team! Are you eligible for a working holiday visa?” This is the single sentence that might haunt my travel/ski season career for all of my days.
So as you are here, I am guessing you have been considering long-term travel, but there are a few things making you pump the brakes. You are scared of the unknown. Scared of reaching outside of your comfort zone. Scared of the horror stories, and media coverage you witness from the safety of your own home. “Backpacking is dangerous”. “Asia is dangerous”. “South America is dangerous”. But isn’t the place you live also dangerous? In this article, I’m going to try my hardest to explain to you why you shouldn’t put off travelling.
IS TRAVELLING DANGEROUS?
Yes, of course, when you are travelling, you have to be careful and become street smart. But don’t you have to do that in the cities at home? I was born and raised on the Isle of Man, a very small, very safe Island. An Island, that feels like you have stepped back in time at least 20 years. No joke. The Island only saw its first (and still only) Starbucks in 2016. And you know what they say; “the world will end when there is a Starbucks on every street corner.” So on that basis, it looks like the Isle of Man will forever be safe from the zombie apocalypse.
Growing up on a small, safe Island, there were plenty of occasions where I would head to England to go shopping and sightseeing in cities like Liverpool, Manchester or London. These cities are far more dangerous than many of the places I have visited on my travels. Just like when visiting a nearby city, travelling to any part of the world just requires a little bit of research on where to go, and where to avoid.
CATCHING THE BUG
Your main concern should be, don’t leave it until it’s too late. Once you go on your first trip, you risk catching the travel bug. The travel bug isn’t always just a desire to see more places. It’s how experiences can change you. They can change how you see things and start to mould the person you are going to become. That person may not feel at home in the place you grew up. That person may need more time on the road, and more experiences to really understand where they belong.
The older you get, the more opportunities you could be missing. Now I’m not saying go and travel while you are young, because there is some sort of age limit. No, not at all. I’m advising you to start young, just in case. For instance, just in case you wait until you are 30+, catch the bug, and then realise, that you are no longer eligible for many working holiday visas.
You also have to consider that as you get older, your likes and dislikes can change too. If you had told me when I set off on my first solo round the world trip, as a young, naïve, 20-year-old. That my priorities would shift from big cities and white sandy beaches to snow covered mountains. I would have never believed you. I didn’t step foot in a ski resort until I was 21, I did my first ski season as a beginner snowboarder at 22. Then learnt to ski at 25. Now I’m in my 30’s and my list of where in the world I want to visit is predominately made up of ski resorts, or winter destinations. Don’t worry, I haven’t abandoned big cities and white sandy beaches altogether, they get a look in occasionally.
YOU SHOULDN’T PUT OFF TRAVELLING
The reason I am urging you to not leave it too long is because I have been stung. I have been travelling on and off for over 10 years, and I still wasn’t impervious to the risk of missing out. Becoming a lover of snow has made me more intrigued about resorts around the world. For me, the draw isn’t always just to ski or snowboard. It’s to work, live, and immerse myself in the local culture.
So imagine how I felt when an incredible opportunity came my way to work with a great company in Niseko, Japan. I was so excited, the job was right up my street. The role also required a variety of my skills, which I was super stoked to use for one diverse position. Not only that, but I would have received lots of training in off-piste skiing (yes, off-piste skiing, in the crazy pow of Japan) and Photography. Who wouldn’t be beside themselves? Not to mention that a ski season in Japan is so short, that I could have been back in the Swiss Alps for spring skiing. 100% dream come true! But guess what? The role required you to be eligible for a working holiday visa, something I was 1 year too old for.
But, this also reinforces my point. Don’t leave it too late. The professional position I am in now is only within my reach because of years of hard work, training, learning, and travelling. Some positions actually require you to have had some travel or living away from home experience, others will favour certain situations you have been in or the way you deal with people. These are skills that you can learn and perfect on the road, almost anywhere.
WHAT’S STOPPING YOU?
It used to be the case that a gap in your CV due to travelling could be damaging for your future career. Now with the way things are shifting in the workplace environment, the opposite is now true. I have been moving around every 6-18 months since I left my first career to travel, (a long, long time ago) I never have any issues nailing my next position, seasonal or “permanent”. Now my only obstacle seems to be age vs visas. Anyone got a DeLorean tucked away in the garage? Anyone? No?
Whatever it is that is stopping you, you need to find a way to alter that mindset. I appreciate that there are of course some cases where there are real things holding people back. Not to mention how fortunate it is to hold certain passports.
For some people, it’s likely that a bulk of the things holding you back are probably just that, “things”. Let me guess, culprit number one, two and three. Rent, bills, and car payments? What happens if you move out and sell your stuff? No more “things” to pay for. Most people have fears when they are travelling, even people who travel regularly. People who travel solo also have the risk of getting lonely, and I’m also talking about those loud outgoing types. Don’t think for one second that someone who can walk into a bar alone, and make friends, can’t become lonely.
But this is a small risk to take. Your current life will still be waiting for you at home if it turns out travelling is really not for you. I have been home many times over the last decade and at any point, I could just slip back into my old routine like I had never been away. This knowledge is comforting even for someone like me who has been on the road for many years.
Need some inspiration for your first destination? Take a look at 10 Reasons Why You Should Visit Zermatt This Winter
Thank you to Teri-Anne at An Aimless Walk for permission to repost this. Please check out her blog for more of her travels.