Lately there have been too many messages telling me how lucky I am to be able to travel. I refrain from replying because every time I read a message such as that, it feels as though all the years of struggle and determination to travel was such a waste! I should have simply wished for something and it should have come to me – that would be luck indeed. But since that did not happen and perhaps never will to anyone, let’s face the fact that there is no such thing as “travel luck” – what you see as “luck” is perhaps years of hard work.
Able to take flying lessons in Spain? Many years of saving up
Diving in the Great Barrier Reef? Investment in diving lessons, flight tickets and self.
Standing on Mt Everest? Risk of life and limb, not to mention lot of money.
You get the drift
Now, I have no axe to grind with those who say so. I suppose it is one’s way of saying “I wish I could do it too…” So let’s focus on that…because everyone loves to travel but nearly always, not everyone can. By that logic, those who do travel are “lucky” because they made things happen.
When I see people who have been traveling around for five years at a stretch, my own trips seem inconsequential – I mean, five years! Are they lucky or what? But when talking to them a different reality emerges – they work while they travel. They cut corners. They often make their meals, share food, do their own laundry, work in return for a place to stay, teach a language, yoga, volunteer…the list is endless.
I’ll quote an example of our very own Atul Warrier, a friend and a huge inspiration to me, a Malayalee, who sold everything he had, quit his job and traveled the world on his bike. I met him when he was passing through Dubai on the way to Iran. At first, I didn’t understand the motive – but he was so happy with his decision you could see it on his face. It would have been terrible if I had called him “lucky” because that would mean his efforts and sacrifices and determination to follow his dream would amount to nothing! It was his sheer faith in the fact that he could pull it off that made him take the first step. He sowed the first seeds of my decision to quit my job to travel long term. Similarly, Vijayan and Mohana, the elderly couple whose livelihood depends on a small tea shop in Cochin, have traveled more than a few highly paid people I know. It wasn’t luck that took them places.
I tell people I am blessed instead. Blessed with 3Ds. But they insist otherwise. I’ll tell you why I think I am blessed with 3Ds. I agree it is humbling when they tell me they’d like to be me – luck or not, and be able to go just anywhere, backpack and enjoy being with myself in faraway lands.
But I tell you this again – luck has little to do with it all, especially when it comes to travel.
Without the 3Ds, me, the once- upon- a -time geographically-challenged girl (I still cannot read google maps, by the way) who had never spoken to strangers or packed a bag until she was seventeen, would never have stepped out to explore the world all alone- yes, that girl is me!
What came to my rescues were the following –
This changed everything for me.
What is luck?
I understand that no one intends to be disrespectful when they say I’m lucky, but I want to make it clear that luck has nothing to do with it.
Luck implies some sort of random chance.
Luck implies circumstances outside of my control.
Luck is when you are in the right place at the right time.
The only lucky people are game show contestants. Everyone else needs to make a choice.
Random Chance: Nothing happens by chance. Everything I’ve done, I have wanted to (or many other travelers like me) is the result of conscious decision and sincere effort. I will be the first to admit that I have been very fortunate to have done all the things I’ve done, and I’m grateful every day to live the life that I do, but it isn’t a matter of luck or a random chance that fell into my lap.
Outside circumstance: I ask you this – how am I lucky because I walked the Kokoda Track? Did someone walk in my shoes? Did someone choose my destination? Did someone train for me for months or did someone buy me an air ticket for the trip? Did someone else risk life in the merciless forests? I chose this trip myself. Luck had nothing to do with my choice. This wasn’t something that happened because I could not control it – in fact I did because I wanted to.
Luck is when you are in the right place at the right time- and this is something that never happens to me! I am on a mountain top and it’s snowing or I am on a long distance train and realise that airlines just went on sale! So, I see what I see and never think I am unlucky because I didn’t catch that sunrise over Bagan despite paying 350 dollars for the balloon ride because it was overcast. Where you are is the right place and the right time. Period. What could have been is never my concept of being in “luck”.
My principle is simple and straightforward: If you desire to see the world, you need to make it a priority in your life. You can’t just wish that “someday” you will get to travel because “someday never comes.”
Don’t rely on luck
Luck is on game shows and life is definitely not one. You cannot take random chances with life. It is an everyday reality made up of choices and commitments to those choices.
I do get fired up when someone suggests luck. Luck would be if I was given a free ticket around the world. Luck would be if publishers fought each other to publish my book. But nothing like that ever happened. So, I’d like to correct those who think I am lucky.
This comes from knowing what you want to do and what you actually do.