I struggle to believe in luck. I have heard it so many times since my first trip away to South East Asia with my uni boys, ‘you’re so lucky’. Sent via text, commented on photos, slid into my DM’s on insta, on the phone, to my face, however you can imagine it I have heard it. It doesn’t annoy me in any way, of course, it reminds me of how great my life is, however it does often spark a conflict in me that makes me think every time. Am I lucky? I’m not sure, hear me out..
Now please don’t for a second think that I am so ignorant or naive as to be unable to recognise and appreciate the fact that I am a white male who grew up in a loving and comfortable household in a town outside of London, England and consequently am immediately, regardless of my societal wishes, amongst some of the most privileged humans on the planet. I am also not ignorant enough to be blind to the fact that it is this upbringing that allowed me to embark on this whole world exploring journey in the first place.
I suspect sometimes, that when people say ‘you’re so lucky’ what they actually mean is ‘I wish I could have done that’ and this is where we get to the nitty gritty of the piece. They can do it. You can do it. Everything I have done, you can do. There is nothing special or different about me, George, or anybody else who has done the things that we have done or seen the things that we have seen and so much more. I don’t believe the determination to reach the 6088m summit of Huayna Potosi, Bolivia, was luck. I fail to believe it is luck that got me through my PADI qualifications and subsequently gave me the opportunity to spend three days diving on the Great Barrier Reef seeing sea life I never thought I’d see. Nor do I believe it will be luck that will see me successfully complete my Skydiving qualification in the near future. I believe it is a desire to do and see new things, a subconscious searching for another experience and often a very conscious chase for adrenaline.
Funding My Adventures
Aside from my very first trip, my travels have been entirely self funded with money that I saved from working as much and as hard as I can. I live a life of extremes, with my career sapping the large majority of my social life for extended periods of time followed directly by as many journeys and experiences as I can get out of the money earned. I sacrifice my time and the chance to live the more common 9-5 life because of the career I work in and my inability to say no to work. The consequence of this is I miss almost every chance to meet with friends, grab a pint after work in London, go to the pop ups in Shoreditch or, now, go indoor climbing with the crew, camp out in the Blue Mountains or have a ‘Sunday Sesh’ on Bondi Beach. But, once the money is in the bank I leave again, I forget work exists and I jump off bridges or chill out on paradisiacal beaches for as long as I can. This is why I don’t feel ‘lucky’, I have grafted hard in a physically demanding job for months on end before I could have my margarita on the beach. Is that luck?
It is easy to turn down opportunities or revoke plans to travel. There are endless reasons that spring to mind whilst you’re sitting in the flat that you rent, paying the bills that you owe, with your girlfriend/boyfriend/special friend/best friend/family, that can be seen as a reason why you absolutely cannot move to [insert your desired country here] and see what happens. But the truth is, they aren’t real reasons. They are a list of sacrifices that only you can decide to make if you really want to travel. This sounds facetious and trashily hypothetical but this is exactly what happened to me. I was working a great job in my career field, living in London and therefore saving no money, renting with my one of my best friends and in a, somewhat unexpectedly serious, relationship when I left England for 2 years with a potential for more. I left my life at the departure gate, quite literally. My travel partner (for this trip) Josh and I painfully left our respective girlfriends at the airport and left for the world via Australia. It was hard, it was emotional and it hurt like hell. This, along with leaving my family, my two young niece and nephews; ‘I’ll see you when i’m 8’, still twangs a string, my closest friends of 15 to 22 years, my job, security, income, the list goes on, is not easy. It is stressful and exciting all at once and it is a choice I decided to make. I sit here now on the balcony of my own room in the centre of Sydney with money in the bank and future plans in the making and it all seems pretty alright.
You Can Make It Happen
If you have decided you want to make the jump then let me open your eyes to a few of the smaller sacrifices you might want to think about now. You know that night out, that one that will cost you £80? That’s one extra week in a beachfront hostel in Thailand. The new pair of trainers you want but probably won’t take away with you? That’s the day trip to Ankgor Wat. Have you thought about making yourself cheap breakfasts and snacks to take to work every day? Those daily trips to Pret or Starbucks are probably costing you the same amount as a flight between cities in Colombia! Watch your spending and tighten up where you can, every dollar saved at home equals more fun when you’re away! Which will you remember more?
The ability to travel lies more in your own confidence and willingness to attack the challenge head on than any other factor. A self belief that you are able to move to another country and start another life from scratch. That you are able to take the rough with the smooth and get through the weeks with no money in order to live the ones where you jump out of planes and drink goon on the best beaches in the world. The only thing truly stopping you from making the jump is you. Stop looking at the excuses as a reason not to go and start questioning if they are things other people have told you to worry about or things you are actually worrying about. Before you know it your DM’s will be full of the ‘you’re so lucky’ messages and you’ll be thinking, am I lucky or did I work hard for this?
I am a great believer in luck. The harder I work, the more of it I seem to have.’
Coleman Cox, 1922
N & G