For as long as I can remember, I’ve been looking for an excuse to travel. I considered it selfish of me to want to travel purely for the sake of travelling and so I was often trying to come up with legitimate reasons to get away. I know there are others out there looking for reasons to embark on a trip so here are 10 excuses to help convince those of you that need convincing.
Looking back, each excuse ended up being an incredible experience and all eventually led to where I am today: travelling from one adventure to the next.
The Semester Abroad
Maybe your school days are behind you and the notion of spending 6 months ‘studying’ abroad isn’t ideal but you’re never too old to keep learning! If you’re looking to continue your education or pick up an added skill, there are some really great programs that combine learning with leisure. For those that can get by in Spanish, Mente Argentina offers photography courses in Buenos Aires (tango lessons included). The Institute of Code helps you to learn to code poolside in Bali. There are cooking schools in Italy, graphic design programs in India and even archaeology courses in Mexico. The point being, if you can invest in furthering your education and have that insatiable urge to travel, studying abroad can be your solution to both.
I lived at home while in university because I knew I wanted to go on an exchange in my 3rd year. I put up with the hour long commute to Ryerson and hoped that the exchange would make it all worth it. And it did. 100 times over. I was offered 1 of 2 spots available for a semester of business studies in Adelaide, Australia and so I set of for a 6 month adventure. This was the year that I caught the travel bug and, as with most foreign exchange programs, there was more drinking than studying. After spending my spring break traveling through Australia, I even remember telling my parents, “I think I just had the best week of my entire life.” In the end, I learned more from my experiences in Australia than I did from my classroom tutorials and after the semester abroad I knew that I’d be looking for an excuse to travel again soon.
The Career Move
If you find yourself at a crossroads in your career, then now may be the perfect time to expand your horizons and look for a new and exciting position in an equally new and exciting city. I’ve been there before, where you feel like you’re just stuck in a rut and need a change. This is when it doesn’t hurt to take a peak at the possibilities that are out there. For that added inspiration Overseas Jobs and Anywork Anywhere are just two sites that are always posting cools jobs in far away places.
Three years ago I was in the middle of a long interview process for a great opportunity that would jump start my finance career in the hospitality industry. It was exactly what I wanted at the time: to work as an accountant in a hotel. The catch? The position was about 27,000 kms away in Edmonton, Alberta. Now, at that point I’d never travelled any further west in Canada than Kitchener and, though my bucket list was long, Edmonton wasn’t anywhere on it. Even after applying I figured, what were the chances I’ll even get it? And then the day came. The call that I was being offered a job as the first Finance Management Trainee in Canada with Starwood Hotels. So I went for it. And guess what? If I hadn’t taken this excuse to travel, I wouldn’t have met Wes when I did.
The Family Visit
There are obvious downsides to having family scattered far and wide across the globe. But on the flip side, the distances between loved ones make for a great excuse to take a trip and spend quality time with family. There’s really no need to wait for the next wedding, birthday or baby shower in the family. Just go. You’ll get the chance to reconnect, create new memories and even spend time playing the tourist.
I’m used to the family visits because there hasn’t been a time where my whole family even lived in the same country. I’ve got relatives scattered all over North America and it sucks not being able to see them all the time but I know we’re all just a plane ride away!
The House Sit
House sitting is real. There are homeowners all over the world looking for house sitters to take care of their pets and homes while they’re away. If you’re looking for an excuse to travel, this one is perfect for animal lovers and house sitting is something Wes and I definitely hope to do in the future. Do you like the idea of cat sitting in a charming French city? Or how about looking after a dog and six sheep in Hawaii? The options are endless and there are opportunities that stretch from Latvia to Peru.
Aside from your flight and a membership to a house sitting site, the costs are very minimal since your accommodation is free. There’s some competition for the most popular house sitting destinations but, if you keep applying , your persistence is sure to pay off.
The Friend Visit
Once you start travelling, you realize how easy it is to make friends from all over the world. You’re either bonding with strangers at a hostel or striking up conversations with travellers on a long bus ride. However you meet, keep those connections! You never know when you might need a couch to crash on. And often times these end up being the type of friendships where years will pass without seeing each other but, once you’re in the same city again, it’s as if no time has passed at all!
Not long ago, I found myself itching to get away and I had planned a spontaneous trip to visit a friend in California. I spent a great weekend with her in Santa Barbara before driving to San Francisco where I met up with another friend of mine. I had planned the whole week in California on a whim and it wouldn’t have been the same without getting the chance to connect with friends there.
Wes and I also felt so welcomed by friends that we stayed with in Germany on two separate occasions last year. It was great to see the town through the eyes of a local and even better to reconnect with old friends and create new memories.
The Friend of a Friend of a Friend Visit
How many times have you told someone about your travel plans only to hear them say, “Hey, my cousin lives there” or “Oh, I know someone that can show you around there.” It’s through conversations like this that we really get to expand our network and connect with new people in different countries. I’ve met up with some of the most welcoming people in Brazil, Germany and Mexico all thanks to recommendations from people back home. They start off as complete strangers, evolve into the best tour guides and potentially become your new best friend.
So why not plan a trip around these strangers-turned-friends? Your immediate network might not know anyone in an exotic place but someone you know knows someone somewhere in the world! If Italy is on your bucket list, maybe your Italian coworker’s sister is ready to welcome you with open arms (as if the case with most Italians). Or didn’t your hairdresser mention she has a cousin in Argentina who is trying to learn English?
The Volunteer Program
If you’re looking for an excuse to travel while making a difference in the world, a volunteer program may be right for you. All over the world, there are medical volunteering opportunities, environmental programs and community development groups working towards making the world a better place. I would love to volunteer abroad one day and I’ve met people who have had life-changing experiences after spending time helping those in need.
The Too-Good-To-Pass-Up Flight
Have you ever browsed on Skyscanner and searched ‘Everywhere’? Try it just for fun and you’ll see that flights to faraway places are within your budget when your dates are flexible. So if someone questions why you’re randomly venturing off to Panama one day, you can confidently say, “I found a flight that was too good to pass up!”
This has actually happened to Wes and I a couple of times recently and, because of some great deals, we’ve already made travel plans for 6 months from now. We’ll be sharing loads of money-saving tips for flights on here next week so stay tuned!
If you’re not able to stray too far for too long, a retreat might be your ideal excuse. They range from 1 to 14+ days and you just might find one not more than a couple hours drive from where you’re living. And even though I love the idea of a 10 day off-grid silent meditation retreat, I realize that isn’t for everyone. But these days you’ll find so much more than the typical yoga/meditation reunion. There are retreats out there for couples, artists, writers, nature lovers and even gym enthusiasts!
The Real Deal
And then there’s the travel of all travels: the one-way ticket. The trip you take when you’re done with excuses and ready to commit to traveling for real. You don’t need to justify this one because you’ve reached the point where you know you’re ready to hit the road and see what the world has in store for you. And let me tell you, there are some pretty amazing things out here waiting for the brave to discover.
And so, my fellow wanderlusters, if you’re really looking for an excuse to travel, chances are you’ll find one. It starts with an inkling to explore far away places and builds until your immune system can’t combat the travel bug anymore. You may never really feel ready to pack up and leave for an adventure with so many unknowns but as Lemony Snicket famously says, “If we wait until we’re ready, we’ll be waiting for the rest of our lives.” So make up an excuse if you must, but make sure you satisfy that craving to keep exploring. You may end up falling in love with a place (or person) you never knew existed.