It was only five years ago that we were plugged in, completely oblivious to the real world that was all around us. We were kept hypnotized by the temptations of material items, and deafened by the relentless drone of the working class machine.
We had purchased homes, cars, big screen TVs, and surround sound stereo systems. We kept ourselves preoccupied with weekends away and nights out. We weren’t unhappy, but we could have been happier. Our entire year would amount to a quick two-week vacation in Mexico.
It was on one of these trips, however, that we were suddenly given clues as to what we were meant to do. We were able to escape the movie set of the Mexican resort and set out into a world unscripted. We only got a taste of this other world – a small drop of true adventure and culture – but that was all it took.
Upon our return home, we felt awakened and recharged.
A profound moment came one night while browsing the internet for the definition of backpacking. We were researching long trips and perpetual travel.
Suddenly we were offered a choice between the red pill and the blue pill. The blue pill would mean forgetting what we had felt in Mexico and continuing down a path that felt comfortable, normal and secure. The red pill would be a dangerous dose of reckless spontaneity and unbridled freedom. It would be going against everything that was ingrained in our minds and releasing ourselves from the institution of Western Life.
It would mean leaving behind our friends and family, forgetting about RRSPs, TFSAs, T4s and GSTs and paying off our leases, loans and lines of credit. We would need to sever all of the ties that bound us to our home country. This was it, this was the most important decision we would ever make in our lives … and we’ve never looked back.
This all seems so wild and foreign to people who have never dropped everything to pursue their own true happiness, but it’s absolutely doable! At first it’s a huge stress. You’ll receive all sorts of tentative feedback from your friends, family and co-workers:
“People should save for retirement.”
“You should invest in some property at your age.”
“It’s not safe to just travel around everywhere.”
“What about your future?”
These concerns are of great importance to those who are happy in the system, but if you want to break free you have to trust that what happens in your life will always be positive.
After nearly four years on the road, we often wonder what we were thinking wasting so many years working jobs we didn’t like, braving winters we didn’t care for, and waking up when we were still tired! We all claim to have freedom, but you’re only free if you’re doing what makes you happy.
There are people at home who love their jobs and wake up everyday excited for what their life has in store for them, and if you feel this way then you’re already unplugged.
You don’t have to travel to be free, you just have to do what you love.
We should all learn from our elders, from those who’ve been there and done that. Has a man ever laid on his deathbed and said: “I wish I had worked more and accrued more possessions”?
Everyone whose life is nearing its close wishes they had seen more, done more, and spent more time with loved ones. Keep this in mind while you’re spending time in a cubicle when you could be swimming in waterfalls, relaxing on beaches, or climbing mountains.
The world is out there and you have an entire lifetime to explore it!
You don’t need to wait for those two weeks at a resort every year. And why should retirement always be a light at the end of the tunnel? Break free of the tunnel and live the life you want to now! You may enjoy your life and your job, but just want some more time for yourself. If that’s the case then just make some adjustments and tweak your lifestyle to fit your perspective of happiness.
If you want to quit everything and explore our miraculous planet, then you just have to make the choice to pack up and go!
So How Do You Do It?
#1: Start Saving Some Money
You’re going to need to sacrifice a bit more time to be able to pay for your wings of freedom. Start an automatic saving plan that deposits money into a dedicated account every time you get paid. If you don’t see the money, it just magically builds itself up. Remember, you don’t need a lot of money to travel, there are plenty of ways to travel for cheap or even for free!
#2: Sell Your Crap!
This is important … if you want to be free, then you need to get rid of things you don’t need. These things are far from essential and you’ll eventually wonder why you ever had them in the first place.
The more you own, the more it owns you.
#3: Plan Your Trip
This is the fun part! Get a map and some post-it notes and figure out an itinerary. There are plenty of places you can go that are fun, exotic and affordable!
#4: Quit Your Job
The real big step. This is severing a major tie to the matrix of home life and it can be surprisingly emotional. Once you’ve done this, you’ve taken an enormous plunge into a life of freedom.
#5: Just Go!
Say goodbye to your loved ones (you’ll be back to see them soon enough) and just take off. As the wheels of the plane leave the tarmac, you’ll feel a wave of emotions and stress being torn from your soul and left behind. This feeling is indescribable and absolutely priceless.
You’ve done it!
The matrix and the illusion of freedom is completely subject to what makes an individual happy. We should all look at our lives from a utopic perspective and think … “am I happy enough?”
Do we do what we want to do every day? Are we living our own dream? If not, we should all consider making big changes in our lives. Travel has been the key to our personal freedom and the catalyst to our happiness. But people find joy from many different resources.
What makes you happy? What do you dream of? Leave a comment below and share your experiences of liberation or trepidation!
For more inspiration on travelling and how to plan for your trip, check out our Getting Started Backpacking section. If you’ve already planned your trip and you need some info on your favorite destinations, we’re here to help! Use our Travel Guides for everything you need to know about your next trip!