My Secret: I’ve been too afraid to travel

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I have a secret confession to make. Since we started this blog in 2010, I’ve often written on here feeling a little bit like a phony.

We tell people all the time that it is easy to travel and you can find the way. We share our advice on saving and smart spending choices on the road.

We hear your fears about not having enough money and we tell you that if you desire it enough you’ll find the way and to just start.

We encourage you to get over your fears and embrace this travel lifestyle because we believe you can do it and we know how much it will positively influence your life.

We know this because we have lived it for 15 years. So in that respect, our authenticity and authority with our advice shines through.

BUT, I have to let you in on my little secret.

I’ve actually been afraid, and my fear has kept us from living our travel dream for a couple of years now.

too afraid to travel

While we have been believing in and supporting your ability to do it, we have been tremendously doubting our own.

I know many of you by now have read our post called I want to know your secret. It was a raw and honest post about our journey into travel blogging and how it began from our financial disaster in which we lost everything we had worked hard for – a total of $500,000.

Before that, I had so much faith in my ability to make the right decisions. I had so much faith in the Universe to support my dream and bring to me everything I needed to make it a reality.

I lived by that faith and as a reward I had a life of constant travel. And that is why I continue to encourage your dreams because I know you can do it and I know how you can.

But, for myself, losing that amount of money wiped out my confidence and faith. It drove me straight down into a tunnel of despair and fear.

When the bills are piling up and you have negative dollars and no idea how you can turn it around, you can no longer see the path to your dreams and you lose all hope.

It’s a shitty place to live from.

If you read that post, you know we’ve slowly climbed out of the black hole, but the fear has remained, crippling me from moving toward the travel life I truly desire.

I had plenty of valid reasons:

“Once we get X amount of dollars in the bank, we’ll go… Once we have consistent income we’ll go…. Once we have a back up plan we’ll go…. We’ll just wait until we get our first sponsor…. We have to make sure we have lots of money in the bank for a security net…. We can’t come home to nothing and start from scratch again…. We’ve got two children now, it’s different”.

These were supported by my wishful thoughts:

Life will be so much better when we are… I’ll be happier when… If I could just spend my days doing this then I’ll be happy.

I was fooling myself into believing the wishes would bring the fairy godmother and soon all would be solved. I wouldn’t have to make a decision and take action, the magic wand would do it all.

It was sort of. Travel didn’t stop coming for us, but it was never in the way we wanted. We continued to feel like phonies.

When you stray from your path, the Universe kicks your arse

The Universe does not like it when you do not live your true heart’s calling. It does not like it when you don’t contribute in the best way you can.

Let me tell you one other little secret before we move forward. And it’s one that fills me with immense anguish, guilt and regret.

You know those decisions you relive over and over again, kicking yourself over and over again for not making the other choice.

I didn’t make the other choice that time because of fear and doubt as well.

I sat in my living room in 2007 (the one I owned free and clear) with my grand plan mapped out in front of me. These were my thoughts:

“Are you kidding Caroline? Who is going to want to read your travel stories? You are a CRAP writer.” and then “How could you compete with Lonely Planet anyway?”

And so I took that road map and threw it in the bin. You know what was in it right?

My idea for a travel blog, where I’d share all our travel stories and tips and build a community of travel addicts around it.

I threw the plans out!!!!

And carried on with my comfy, complacent couch life.


So the Universe stepped in and kicked my arse so hard for 3 years until I paid attention and got back on the track to creating that damn travel blog.

You know how hard it kicked right? $500,000 worth of lessons. Could I possibly drop a whole sentence of f-bombs here right now?

I wonder if the tears over that choice I made will ever stop. The only thing that pulls me out of that darkness is my belief that everything happens at the perfect time and perhaps the Universe wanted me to live through those years of pain in order to become a better person and so contribute in a better way.

I hope.

Leaving a better legacy than that is what drives me most.

So that brings me back now to our current fear and how the Universe has helped me act despite of it. In other words, arse kicking number 2 coming up.

Travel on our terms

We haven’t been living the travel life that we really want for the past 3 years.

There’s been lots of travel for sure, BUT It’s not really enjoyable because we have been travelling more in a style that doesn’t often feel very real. It is, but it isn’t.

A lot of it has been for business so it is orchestrated, rushed and inflexible, and it’s certainly not relaxing. It’s travel that doesn’t open itself to a lot of deep lessons, spiritual truths or connections. And I love to travel for these reasons.

There has been so much missing. Travel on our terms.

Travel that involves us seeking what speaks to our heart the most. Travel that involves flexibility and randomness and days where we answer to no one,and, more importantly, our possessions.

The owning of stuff and the pressure to maintain them overwhelms and panics me. So much of our time is spent maintaining the stuff when it should be spent creating the memories and embracing each beautiful moment.

I just want my suitcase, my family, the open road, and a life over-brimming with joyful memories.

The ultimate time and travel freedom. We know exactly how that looks, but we just did not have enough faith in our ability to create it. We were scared to take the leap of faith so we kept telling ourselves we weren’t ready yet.

I used to be the type of person who would pack my bags on a whim and hit the road. I’d turn up in a new country with barely a cent to my name, and that is no exaggeration—well I think I had $70 when I arrived in Dublin.

I never really felt afraid; I felt supported and I trusted in myself to figure it out.

I lost that trust when we lost $500,000.

It’s been so difficult to believe in my ability to make the right choice again. To listen to my heart and follow my gut. To believe that I can create what I really want.

Even when the shit hits the fan and you don’t believe there is something greater than you holding you up, it’s there holding you up.

And it will make you pay attention eventually.

Arse kicking number 2

For the last few months I’ve been pretty miserable. The heavy travel / workload has taken its toll.

I have been struggling with exhaustion, low immunity, emotional swings, and a ton of food allergies and digestive issues. It’s only recently become apparent how the travel — the love of my life — has in fact hurt me.

It’s been a battle: a scary one at times, but I’ve been working with some fantastic healers: those who help you find the causes and heal on a whole person level, not the ones who just want to cure the symptoms.

I tried those ones and their pills, pain-killers, and surgeries did nothing. It’s my holistic healers who have helped bring my health back.

And maybe it has been the lessons that I’ve finally learned too.

My body and soul is craving for me to return to slooooow travel (like our travel manifesto says), to do it on my terms, and to reconnect with nature.

Do you ever sometimes feel that if you just lived out of a tent beside the gum trees you’d be in an eternal state of bliss?

That’s the bliss I am re-inviting back into my life.

I’ve also been overburdened by the lack of family time. The truth is we get way more than most working families. We are fortunate that we can work our schedule most of the time around the girls and they are a part of our business.

But, it’s the smaller moments I miss. Losing time to them in order to clean, sending them off to school and missing the lessons, tears, laughter and joy. I feel like we’ve been stuck living a life centered around the motions, when it should be around the joy that is in each moment—those that offer spontaneity, discovery, fun and relaxation.

I get more of that when I travel and when I travel on my terms.

I think we all do

The Universe will finally hit you in a place that forces you to pay attention. It did that when it hit my health.

I realized some very important truths:

  1. Health is everything.
  2. Love and family is everything.
  3. I’m not doing what I really want to do and contributing in the best way.
  4. These three things are all that matter.
  5. Living your best life is everything. Living a life without regret is everything. Making the best of every moment is everything.
  6. Staying put on a comfy couch because you are frightened is ridiculous. Before you know it the years have slipped by and you are left wondering what life has been for. You’ve not contributed, you’ve not loved enough, you’ve not lived enough and all because you were afraid.
  7. Kill the fear and live. What’s the worst that can happen?

If that sounds like you right now then I understand why you are afraid.

It’s because you don’t believe in yourself. You don’t believe that you will be supported.

Let me tell you you are.

When our buts were kicked and we finally got back onto the path we were meant to be on, the Universe brought us everything we needed.

It said, “Okay you said yes. You’re following your true path, you’re committed. I am going to help you out.”

We turned it around and made this blog a success in a very short time.

Before our disaster, I have always travelled on little money. I just packed my bags, following my intense desire and trusting myself to figure it out. Every single time the Universe supported me and brought to me what I needed to make it work.

Every. Single. Time.

Knocking down the brick walls

Randy Pausch said,

Randy Pausch quote

I know what it’s like to constantly be met by brick walls. I know how hard it makes your head and heart hurt.

I don’t really have any logical advice as to how you can blast through the walls. I only have woo woo metaphysical advice. But, trust me when I say this, it is what I have followed all my life to travel.

I’ve craved it with every cell in my body, I dreamed it, I followed the advice of those who did it, and then I just went. I trusted with every cell of my body that I would find a way and the Universe will support me, and it did. I really can’t tell you anything else but this—that is the secret.

The only time this has not happened was when I stopped trusting myself and as a result the Universe. So I remained stagnant and once again the Universe kicked my arse until I finally said enough.

My health issues gave me a completely new perspective—they allowed me to see the brevity of life.

It is too bloody short to wait around for the fairy godmother, to live in complacency, to be a victim, and to live anything less than your dreams.

You are in control, you just have to smash down those brick walls and say

“Fuck it I am going to do it. What’s the worst that can happen?”

Take the chance.

I know how terrifying taking a chance feels. I feel it every day, but the difference is that now I am going to act in spite of it. I refuse to let fear control my life any longer.

And so with heart pounding I’ll keep on moving through those bricks and believe we can make this work.

I said to Craig:

“Fuck it. We’ve been dying to re-embrace this slow travel life. One where we just go and travel on our terms and live every day in complete joy with our two beautiful children. The years are slipping by. Savannah is almost 2 and Kalyra is half way through her first year in school.

We’ve tried to make this a reality for 2 years now, but the brick walls have been there. The brick walls have been there because we built them with bricks of fear.

I’m tired of waiting. I’m tired of accepting less than our dream. I’m tired of allowing sickness and unfulfillment to dominate my days. I’m setting a date and we’re making plans and we are doing it. I don’t know how to make this work, but we will. Because we can.”

Just like the old days when I lived by my heart and was guided by my soul.

“This is what I want, so get those goddam brick walls out of my way.”

We brought the Lonely Planet and sat down to make the plans.

Within a week the brick walls parted. Just like platform 9 and 3/4, the doors appeared the minute we began to believe.

The Universe began to deliver in ways we never expected. We were once again supported.

Now we believe in it so much that we are announcing it here on this blog. It’s massive. We are so goddam excited. My inner being is vibrating again and my health is finally taking a turn in the right direction.

Thank you for the giant liberating kick up the arse Universe. I now understand what we have to do.

We’re still not completely sure how it’s all going to work out, but we totally trust that we are covered. We know we can make it work because we are smart, we have skills, we have expertise, we have back-up plans.

We’ve got a savings buffer, plus monthly income from our online work that will sustain us. We also have 15 years of world travel under our belt—we know all the tricks for cheap and free travel.

We know that you don’t need millions to create life-long memories. All you need you have within yourself.

What fears are stopping you from travelling or doing what you really want?

Do you think you could act in spite of them and blast through those brick walls?


UPDATE: Here is the post that announced our exciting plans: 1 Year Road Trip Around Australia


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