How to Get from Here to There


As per the usual protocol, today’s essay is about travel — but it’s also about choices, because your choices will take you where you want to go.

Last week I asked about Your One Place. This site attracts a lot of diverse people, including some who don’t travel much at all. But my theory was that even the non-travelers have somewhere in the world they’d like to see before they die.

I think I was on to something. Here are some of the answers readers shared:

Matthew: Island hopping on a sailboat
Daniel: The moon (or Ladakh in northern India)
Dwight: Bicycle tour of North America for a year
Coral: Macchu Pichu, Peru
Reese: Tuscany
Mike: England, Tuscany and Sitges (Spain)
Justin: Tuva
Tee: Any of the northern fjords of Iceland
Kazari: Kenya
PizzaDream: Greece on a Mediterranean cruise
Kiri: somewhere in Asia, maybe southern China
Jen: South America, or maybe the Trans Siberian Railroad
Frugal Bachelor, Graham, and JKG: Antarctica
The Wyman: Australia
Jessica: Vegas
Jody: The moon
Kat: Patagonia
Kristian: Turkey
Michael: Japan
NewWorldYankee: Mauritius and France
Katherine: Lake Victoria
Gretchen: Ireland
Alan: Nepal
Mogs: Socotra, Yemen
Linnea: Florence, Italy
Robyn: Egypt, and after that, Pompeii and Herculaneum
Chris N.: Alaska
Crystal: Buddhist statue tour of Asia
Danny: Iceland
Guiness: Bhutan

Others sent emails: Chile, the train from Moscow to Beijing, “somewhere in Africa,” Lithuania, more votes for Alaska, etc.

My take: all good ideas. Nice job, everyone. I am not one to hold anyone back from heading off somewhere, and I heartily endorse anyone going out of their comfort zone at any time. Here’s wishing you good luck with the $2 savings funds and bon voyage.

BUT… before we all pack up, I have to rain on the parade a little.

Sorry about this, but it will be worth it in the end. The thing is, I learned a long time ago that everyone has a dream, but most people never take action on it.

This is true with travel, work, life – pretty much anything. Everyone has a long list of things they’d like to do or places they’d like to go, but for most of them, the list remains a list.

What’s wrong with dreaming? Nothing, at least by itself. If all you want to do is dream, then dream away.

If there’s a problem, it’s that many of us want more than the dream. We actually want to go to the one place on our list. Accomplishing this, or any goal, is not usually that difficult, but it won’t happen by itself.

At some point you’ll have to make some choices. The choice of giving up $2 a day doesn’t seem that much, but sooner or later, you’ll probably want the money for something else. You’ll get busy, like everyone does, and time will go by without any progress towards your goal.

sign-confusionThe Dream and the Realization

I started a limited consulting service recently. I only do two sessions a week, and I don’t schedule anyone who I don’t think is a good fit. This decision comes from my own healthy paranoia that I want to make sure I can really provide good value to someone who pays me.

As I was talking with Sike the other day (just like “Mike”, but with an ‘s’) I realized that my motivation for doing this was to help people avoid getting stuck between the dream and the realization. Sike is a very motivated young guy (just 23 years old) who is worried about doing what everyone expects him to do next year when he finishes college. His parents have one idea about his future and he has a completely different one. It sounds like he’ll be just fine.

After talking with Sike, I went out to have drinks with Dave and Breanne, AONC readers and new friends who happen to live in my Seattle neighborhood. They talked about their own choices and how their perspective had shifted over the past year. Dave was on track to be a CFO in corporate America when they decided to quit their jobs and travel through Latin America for six months. Coming back to the States recently for an indefinite time, Breanne said they felt conflicted over returning to “the American dream” after having learned so much more about the world.

I told them the same thing I told Sike: it’s probably a good sign that you’re concerned about that. When you feel no tension over living an unremarkably average life, that’s when you should worry.

As I said, turning your dream into a goal is not necessarily difficult, but you will have to make some hard choices at some point.

Back to Your One Place

If you played along and selected a place (it’s not too late), you’re going to need to make an effort to keep it in your mind over the next three years or however long it takes you to get there. Your goal doesn’t need to be constantly in focus, but it needs to at least be in your peripheral vision.

By the way, you don’t owe it to me or anyone else to do this. You do, however, owe it to yourself.


Many will dream. A few will go.

Which group are you in?


Image: TaberAndrew

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  • mac says:

    So Chris, are you going to mark your calendar for four years from now and (presuming you’re still blogging this blog) ask the faithful whether or not they’ve gone?

    Accountability changes everything. 🙂

  • PizzaForADream says:

    3 turtles sit on a fence post and one decides to jump off. How many are left on the fence post?

    ANSWER: 3, as the one only decided to jump off! Now that you’ve made the decision on that destination you’d love to go, begin following through IMMEDIATELY!

  • Matthew Moran says:

    I feel honored that my island hopping on a sailboat topped the list – if only because I was a later comment. 😉

    I recently pulled out a copy of a document I wrote many years ago – “an ideal working day” and re-posted it at my desk. I did this in part due to your blog, my daughter who is a fanatical fan of yours, a conversation with a friend, and a self-analysis of where I am and where I desire to be. All played a part.

    I have been fortunate to have been published via a traditional publisher and have other book publishing opportunities in front of me. I’ve been paid to produce content and sold my own as well.

    I have always used the term, “Geographically Untethered Income.” Over the past few years – both due to my own lack of diligence, I have gone far-afield of pursuing my dreams – being more mired in the moment only.

    As I took stock of my talents, my connections, and those who have expressed an interest in what I do and want to do (mentors and peers), I realized that there are many who would love to be sitting on such opportunity. Publishing – both self and traditional – affords a certain geographic “untethered-ness.”

    On my blog I decided to more publicly air some of my objectives – as both a topic of future blog entries, for readership accountability, and as a demarcation for future assessment.

    I have some time blocked out this weekend for a little solitude to more clearly identify goals and the plans to achieve them.

    Bon Voyage!

  • Chris says:


    Oh, I hope we’ll come back to it much sooner than 4 years. 🙂


    Great story, thanks.


    Those are some serious goals! Nice job. I look forward to hearing what happens.

  • Daniel Edlen says:

    My wife and I are actually shooting for moving to London someday. More than a 3-year goal, but it is serious and we do keep it an active thought. And, like with anything, the journey of how we get there, and then getting there will be, well, our live’s experience.


  • Coral says:

    Peru is on our dream board…we’re going! We might even see some UFO’s…

  • lain says:

    “feel no tension over living an unremarkably average life” – perhaps we should call that happiness? it sounds like the thing that every good Buddhist strives for.

    I’d like to visit 400 A.D. if a round trip is ever possible.

  • ALinRussia says:

    I’ve already made it to Russia (in my second year of living here), and am now working out the necessary details to be able to move to Central Asia next.

    But inertia is still a problem for me, and I find that I have to force myself to be very proactive to do short trips and “local” (doable as a day trip) traveling.

    That reminds me, I’d better go get to work on my trip to Germany over New Year’s break….

    Thanks for reminding us that we have to work for our dreams. They ARE possible, but we have to do something about it!

  • Audrey says:

    When my husband and I quit our jobs to travel around the world, a friend of ours told us, “Many people talking about traveling around the world, but not many actually go and do it. It’s not something I’d want to do for myself, but I’m glad I have friends who are doing it.”

    We talked about traveling around the world for over 18 months before we finally committed. We needed the time to dream and talk so that it sunk in that it could be a reality and that it really was the decision we wanted. Making the decision real and handing in our resignation letters has been the hardest part our our journey. After committing, everything fell into place somehow.

    The feeling right after quitting our jobs was the combination of immense happiness and freedom…and then, “holy cow (well, actually stronger language), what have we done?!”

    Two years later, no regrets. We’re still not immune to fearing uncertainty, but we’re more comfortable about not knowing what we want to be when we grow up. We realize it’s an ongoing journey of taking stock, evaluating and setting the next personal and professional goal.

  • kazari says:

    Planning for the Africa trip is well underway. I am going with all my immediate family, plus significant others. It will not be a small group (probably 9). My Dad grew up in Kenya – Africa looms large in our family mythology, and it’s important for us to see it in reality.
    SO, we are all saving like mad. The date is November, 2009. We have a rough itinerary, as well as a wish-list of possible optional extras.
    We are definitely in the group that will go.

  • Angell says:

    I’ve had a lot of dreams and achieved some of them, but what I always find most exciting is how things turn out in the way I least expect them too. For all the planning I do, I can never predict the outcome and am always surprised at the end result. One of my dreams was to own my own yacht. Fifteen years after that dream first came about, I now live on a houseboat on the River Thames in the heart of London. As I type this, I am looking across the river at the seagulls and ducks flying and floating by…

    my conclusion – have dreams, but don’t be sold on them, you never know exactly how things are going to turn out.

  • Henry says:

    I have already visited most of the beautiful and eye-catching places that are mentioned in this list because I am a tourist. Visit topics mill for controversial debate topics and prepare for it. Now I would like to see those places which I have not seen yet and are present in this list.

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  • Jessica Moune says:

    Your travel history is quite interesting and I would love to follow the same path so as to enjoy traveling around the world. Now students can best essay services reviews to submit their assignments on time. I hope I will be able to create some interesting memories of my life.

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