My Travel Philosophy


Editor’s Note: I apologize in advance for the length of this post.  You may need a large cup of coffee to get you through this, otherwise feel free to read this page in sections over multiple days (or weeks, or months, or . . .)  Unless of course you feel I’m so fascinating that you find yourself hanging on my every word . . . in that case, you’re going to love this! 😉

I originally planned to title this page “Goals,” but I soon realized that this word doesn’t quite capture the spirit of what I hope to accomplish in the upcoming year.  A goal seems to be something that you achieve & then cross off your to-do list; a philosophy is a way of life.

I’ve always lived my life with a great deal of structure & order, but goals just seem to be too rigid & finite for my current purpose.  This is my chance to live a little more openly & spontaneously.  So while I honestly don’t have an end goal in mind for this journey, I do have some philosophical tenets by which I hope to abide as I strive to embody the “no worries” attitude of my adopted home in Oz.

I have no misconceptions that I’m going to be capable of living this way all the time (or even most of the time!), but my intent is for this page to serve as a personal reminder of how I’d like to live my life.  I’m sure I’ll return here often for a source of inspiration, reflection & perhaps some revisions as I continue to develop my personal travel (& life!) philosophy.


Live in the Moment

In my daily life I tend to spend so much time looking ahead to the future & planning for what’s to come, I often forget that life is happening right here, right now – at this very moment!!  Don’t get me wrong, I’m still a born planner, but none of us has complete control over events that are yet to happen & sometimes it’s a little ridiculous how far into the future my mind can jump.  Case in point: I’ve been doing a lot of thinking about my upcoming trip to Oz lately – where I want to live, what I want to experience.  Not a bad thing in & of itself, but I keep fearing I won’t have enough time to see & do everything I’d like to, which causes my mind to freefall into an abyss of worry & stress.  My inner monologue usually goes something like this . . .

“If I want to live in both Melbourne & Sydney for a while – if I even DO want to live in both Melbourne & Sydney for a while (have I mentioned that I’m also incredibly indecisive?) – I’ll need to get jobs in both cities otherwise I’ll run out of money pretty quickly.  OK, so employers probably won’t hire me unless I can work for maybe 4-5 months (just a guess on my part; I’m not really sure about the timeframe & it probably varies depending on the type of job), so that’s 8-10 months of my time right there.  And of course I’ll also want to travel to other parts of the country.  I’m already planning to travel a bit in the beginning & I want to be able to do more traveling later on as well (after all, I have to set aside some time in the future to be spontaneous . . . yes, you read that correctly, I am literally planning to be spontaneous! ;)), but I’ll have to be careful about my timing because if I try to get a job when I only have a few months left on my visa I might not be able to find anything & then I’ll have to come home early & then . . . !!”

At this point feelings of nausea usually set in, along with the resulting panic that always seems to follow.  I start to feel that the end of my trip is already closing in on me, but, funny thing is, as of this writing I haven’t even left the States yet!!  Now if that isn’t neurotic, I don’t know what is!

I must also admit that I have similar issues dealing with the past.  I believe that our past experiences can often be our best teachers, but it becomes unproductive & even harmful when we harp on our regrets, making it difficult to move forward & take advantage of all that life has to offer.  One of my biggest regrets is not studying abroad while I was in college.  My dad made a good point recently when he explained that you can’t really regret something you didn’t actually want at the time . . . OK, OK, I guess that has some logic to it – but that doesn’t stop me from regretting it all the same!  While I can’t change the past, I feel I can avoid future regret by taking action NOW to fulfill a dream I’ve had for several years.

Welcome to the present, Niki, we’ve been expecting you! 😉

I already feel so empowered by my decision to live abroad.  Life only happens in the present & I finally feel I’m truly living in it . . . now let’s hope I can keep my attention focused on the here & now for at least a little a while . . . I’m very easily distracted!  I do have travel on my side, though – being in a new country always seems to have a way to pull me back into my present surroundings & make me appreciate what I’m experiencing in the moment.

Step Outside My Comfort Zone

This is going to be a tough one for me as I’m not the most adventurous person in the world – far from it!  In fact, sometimes I wonder why it is I want to travel at all.  Here are just a few of the reasons why I think of myself as an unlikely candidate for long-term travel:

  • I can’t say I’m entirely thrilled to leave the comforts of home – my family & friends (who better all come & visit me!), my house (with my queen-sized bed & lovely pillow-top mattress), my car (I won’t have one in Oz so I’ll be relying on public transportation & my legs to get me around) & of course the security that comes from having a good job with a steady paycheck & excellent benefits.
  • As an introvert I tend to be better at cultivating long-term relationships with a few close friends rather than meeting lots of acquaintances, so the fact that I am embarking on a journey that will largely consist of solo travel is only *slightly* intimidating.
  • I’m probably the pickiest eater in the world, earning me the nickname “Picky Niki” from a very young age.  Let’s just put it this way – I eat a LOT of chicken.
  • I have the absolute worst sense of direction of anyone, anywhere – even in my own hometown!  Those of you who have had to serve as living, breathing GPS systems while riding as a passenger in my car can surely attest to this!!
  • I avoid risk like the plague & I’m afraid of just about everything . . . spiders (let’s not even talk about the snakes, stingrays, crocs & all other manner of beasts lurking around Australia), basements (why don’t we just lump this in with a general fear of the dark), my own shadow . . .

. . . So yeah, moving to a foreign country for a year is pretty much right up my alley! 😉

Now if I was a social butterfly with a limitless budget, a sophisticated palate, excellent navigational skills & a bit more courage (maybe the Wizard would be so kind as to give me some?  After all, I am headed to Oz!) I would be much better equipped for this journey, but on the other hand my blog might not be nearly as entertaining for you to read.  *Sigh*

Well, while I don’t believe that stepping outside my comfort zone necessarily requires me to jump out of an airplane (don’t worry mom – I have absolutely no plans to do that in this lifetime!), I’ve noticed that I tend to stick to what I’m familiar & comfortable with even when I wish would find the courage to try something new.  That last part is key: I’m not trying to change who I am, but I would like to set out on a path to discover my best self.  That means taking some risks along the way & doing things that aren’t always easy or comfortable.


Let My Heart Lead & My Mind be the Accompanist

I’m all for balance, so this is not to say that you should always follow your heart no matter the consequences, but some decisions can only be made from the heart’s perspective.  What feels right often is right, but the mind, bully that he is, always finds a way to plant seeds of doubt – it’s too hard, it’s too scary, it’s too irresponsible.

If I had listened to my mind the last time I had to make a major life decision, well, you wouldn’t be reading this blog.  How exactly my heart won this tug of war deserves its own post, so be on the lookout for that soon.  Suffice it to say that once I finally realized what I truly wanted & gave myself permission to want it, the choice was simple.  And I haven’t looked back. 🙂

I can only hope this attitude will become a lifestyle change & not just a fluke.  I guess only time will tell . . .


Seek Passion in all its Forms

Often when we hear the word passion, we think of a particular thing or person we feel passionate about – a career, a lover, a hobby, a cause we can believe in.  For my purposes I’m referring to all these things & more: An overwhelming zest for life; a belief in something greater than ourselves; something that makes us smile, makes us feel energized, fills us with joy.

Problem is – how do we find it when we don’t even know what we’re searching for?  Where do we begin?  Is passion a state of mind?  Is it internal or external?  Is it even under our control?

Lately I feel like I’ve lost that sense of passion I used to have.  I’m tired.  I’m confused about what I want out of life.  I’m generally feeling stuck in a rut.  If this is a mid-life crisis then I’m in trouble because I’m waaaay too young for that.

There’s a quote I came across at an art show a couple of years ago that I’ve had hanging on my fridge ever since:

To live is the rarest thing in the world.  Most people exist, that is all.” ~Oscar Wilde

Above the quote is a picture of the inside of a concrete building.  In the distance you can see the brilliant sunlight streaming through a window caged by steel bars.  Sort of drives you to want to make a break for it . . .

Well, although I can’t say I know exactly where my life is headed now that I’ve broken free from the typical American approach to life, I do know one thing: Since deciding to embark on this journey, my smile’s been a little brighter, my heart’s been a little lighter & my mind – yes, my crazy, neurotic mind! – has actually been a little more at peace with itself.

So I’ve managed to bring a little passion back into my life & I’m following it – I’m following it all the way to Australia . . .


2 Comments (+add yours?)

  1. Linda
    Feb 08, 2011 @ 01:55:12

    Nicole, I so enjoyed reading your Travel Philosophy. You sound so much like me and look, I’m (well, much) older than you and have not had the courage to try anything like you are doing. I’m so very proud of you…. God Bless and have a blast!!!


    • nicoleinoz
      Feb 10, 2011 @ 02:09:13

      Thanks Linda! So glad you were able to come out & visit Heather recently. Maybe you can convince my parents that it’s worth the long flight! 🙂


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