After five years living in my NYC office, I had to figure out a way to escape. I realized that I was living my life based on the expectations of others for too long.
So I hit escape and did what no one expected: quit my job, moved out of the city, and bought a one -way ticket to Ireland. It was the beginning of what would be a four month, 15 country tour… and I haven’t looked back since.
I get up every morning determined to both change the world and to have one hell of a good time. Sometimes, this makes planning the day difficult. EB White
So, what’s the deal with this website?
My website started off simply as a way to document my trip and experiences overseas after I quit my job to travel.
However, during the last few months I’ve been thinking about the direction of Escaping Expectations. I did quite a bit of brainstorming and talking to friends and developed a high-level framework.
The goals of Escaping Expectation are twofold:
– Encourage and inspire Americans to travel with the same zeal and enthusiasm as their international peers
– Facilitate access to the best travel-related content on the internet so that travelers can maximize their experiences abroad (and move beyond the top search results on Google)
A Challenge To My American Friends
During my time on the road, I’ve met people from all over the world, and through many conversations and interactions, I’ve learned that travel is a much greater priority outside the States.
Overseas, young adults are strongly encouraged to take a gap year or study abroad during college. Cultural norms in certain countries not only support travel, but are sometimes built to incorporate it (many companies in Australia have a minimum four weeks vacation each year, if not more). Holidays are frequently longer than (the typical) week-long vacation in the US. People travel at a younger age. Backpacking, solo travel, and hostels are the norm.
And the benefits of travel have been well documented.
American friends, I challenge you: let’s up our travel game. Step outside your comfort zone – I guarantee it’ll make for a much more memorable experience!
So, when planning your next trip outside the US, I challenge you to:
Leave the resort
Many friends have gone South to Mexico or the Caribbean to spend their vacation laying on a beach at an all-inclusive resort – and there is nothing wrong with that! It’s an affordable and relaxing escape. And there’s lots of booze.
But I don’t think enough people realize (or they forget) that there is so much more to see and do beyond the hotel property line. One of the best reasons to travel is to experience a new, different culture and lifestyle – something you’ll barely accomplish sitting under an umbrella all day.
I visited Cancun in 2013 and stayed at an all inclusive. When I think about Mexico, I remember the various restaurants we ate at the resort, drinking coronas in the pool, and… going to Señor Frogs. But that’s it.
So you can imagine how surprised I was when I saw and read about my friend Janet’s (from Journalist on the Run) experience traveling around Mexico. The pictures and videos were stunning! I didn’t realize that there was so much more to see and do; I had no idea! It was a really big missed opportunity.
Consider spending some time outside of the resort, or go for broke and only sleep there (just kidding… that might be a little extreme)! I challenge you to interact with the local people; explore those spots off the beaten track; rent a car and get lost. Those are the memories you’ll never forget.
Take more than a week off
I understand that this can be difficult, but if you can swing it… you should definitely take advantage of the opportunity.
When you plan an international trip, you want to get the most bang for your buck – it’s likely that you’ll visit more than one city or country.
The typical “one week” standard American vacation is just not enough time to really experience a new destination. It forces you to jam-pack your itinerary, trying to squeeze in as much as possible, and you’re constantly on the go. You end up spending a couple days in each location, with almost as much time on public transportation getting from one spot to another. It’s a whirlwind, and while you’ve seen all the sights, you really didn’t immerse yourself fully in the culture.
So… have that conversation with your staffer. It’s not going to ruin your career or your reputation. And it’s becoming much more common today than in the past, and it’ll only continue to get more accepted.
You’ll never know if you don’t ask!
Travel off the beaten path
This one is pretty self-explanatory, but some people have traveled all over the world and never made it beyond the first page of Google – whether it’s what to do, where to eat, or where to stay. Boring!
Think about your hometown. The way you perceive it is completely different than how a visitor would. I couldn’t imagine going to NYC and only seeing the popular tourist attractions – there is so much more to do! It’s a much different experience If you show someone around a local area that you know.
The best way to explore and really get to know a city is to make friends with locals and ask for their advice. I would take their suggestions over Google any day!
Yes, it will take more time and effort on your end – but the reward (or Instagram picture, at least) will well be worth it!
Experiment with a solo trip
I accidentally stumbled upon solo travel – it was something I NEVER would have considered on my own. But after I couldn’t convince any of my friends to go on vacation with me, I decided to do it on my own.
And it was one of the best decisions of my life.
It’s something everyone should experience at least once in a lifetime.
Why? It’s been written about extensively. But to me, most importantly, “you do you” – it’s no strings attached travel. You wake up everyday and do exactly what you want to do.
You’re forced to go outside your comfort zone and make friends. You have to deal with problems that unexpectedly pop on.
It’s a game changing experience. Start planning your trip now.
Do something you never would have done before. Get started on that bucket list.
Keep your wheeled suitcase in the closet and try backpacking.
Throw a thumb up and hitchhike with a friend.
Consider couch-surfing or house-sitting.
Jump out of a plane. Get your scuba certification. Go parasailing.
The possibilities are endless – and I guarantee, will make for great, unforgettable stories.
Hitchhiking across Albania was one of the most engaging experiences of my last trip, which was something I never thought I would do! I can’t stop telling people about bungee jumping off the highest commercial bridge in the world. Sunrise from a hot air balloon in Egypt? Check.
Go somewhere you never would have considered never been before
This is similar to the above. Ditch the hot spots and opt for a location less traveled.
On my last trip, it was the places that I never considered going, that totally blew me away: Ljubljana, Belgrade, Sarajevo, Luxor, Jeffrey’s Bay… How many of these places have you heard of?
Did you dream about seeing the Great Pyramids as a kid? Go to Egypt! Always wanted to go to Octoberfest in Germany? Do it!
There is something exciting about the unknown.
Get inspired! Do some research. Watch Planet Earth on Netflix. Go to that place you learned about in history class. Pick a place you never thought you’d ever go… and go!
I fell in love with South Africa – a place that I never thought I’d visit. Now, all I want to do is go back… And visit more countries in Africa!
There are so many amazing places to visit on this planet. But we, as Americans, have these preconceived notions about many parts of the world (especially regarding Africa and the Middle East). More on this to come, but we shouldn’t limit ourselves only to the international tourist hot spots.
Take a leap of faith.
I wish I had caught the travel bug sooner.
I wish I had taken a gap year between school. I wish I had prioritized studying abroad. I wish I had dared to ask for a 2-week holiday.
I would have saved my money to use for travel instead of buying unnecessary things. I would have left my job sooner.
“The timing is never right. ‘Someday’ is a disease that will take your dreams to the grave with you.” -Tim Ferriss, 4-Hour Work Week
Take that leap of faith.