I’m a gigantic book nerd. If you’re here, you already know literature, right behind travel, is one of my major obsessions. (And if you had no idea about me being a “litnerd” of epic proportions, then you need to read biography immediately! Go, go, go!) Despite describing myself as a travel blogger, I scatter literary references throughout my posts, because a) I love books and b) I assume my audience loves books, too.
It was only natural for me to jot a quick post focusing on inspiring quotes. Not any ol’ inspiring quotes, mind you, but words penned by great authors. Aren’t you glad my MA degree came to good use?
“Twenty years from now you will be more disappointed by the things you didn’t do than by the ones you did do. So throw off the bowlines, sail away from the safe harbor. Catch the trade winds in your sails. Explore. Dream. Discover.” – Mark Twain
This quote runs rampant on pinterest, twitter, and instagram. I’ve seen it splashed across many major travel blogs and repinned on those ubiquitous “inspirational quotes” boards. Why is this quote so damn popular? Because Twain speaks the truth, people!
Think about your own life. Have you ever deeply regretted earning your scuba diving certificate? Driving cross-country with your best friends and camping under the stars? Hiking in the Dolomites? Uh, probably not. Sure, your bank account may feel a tad bitter and you may daydream too much about your next adventure, but as for bitter regret clawing inside your chest? Nah!
I regret not studying abroad. I regret not traveling immediately after graduating college, way back in ’09. I regret missing birthday parties and weddings for stupid reasons concerning money. I even regret not working for better grades in high school!
We all regret not doing something. Listen to Twain. Stop living cautiously. Do whatever makes your heart joyful.
“Not all those who wander are lost.” – J. R. R. Tolkien
Hahaha, it’s funny how much this quote yanks at my heartstrings. It’s another super popular, maybe even cliche, quote that makes rounds among the travel blogging community and ~inspirational pinterest crowd. Tolkien’s words nonetheless inspire me not only to travel, but reach beyond my comfort zone.
Not everyone has been supportive of my desire to explore foreign countries, all alone with a beaten up purple backpacker and a curious thirst to soak up cultures different than mine. Their comments are subtle, concerned, and oh-so wise: “oh, you’re lucky you can travel now, but watch out! it all changes when you have kids. it won’t last forever especially for a woman.”
Right now my life isn’t “traditional” in most people’s eyes. Unfortunately some people consider me a lost soul, wandering the planet because I don’t know what else to do with my time, and eventually reality will snatch away my travel dreams.
Their words are untrue. I wander, yes, but travel is one of my main purposes on this earth. If I have children, I’ll adapt my travel style and make sacrifices for them, but as for trashing my passport? Forget it.
“Do not follow where the path may lead. Go instead where there is no path and leave a trail.” – Ralph Waldo Emerson.
I constantly remind myself to follow this quote’s central message. Be a trail blazer. Be brave. Be original. Be your damn self.
For me, it’s difficult to not to fall into the trap of society’s expectations: get a perfect job, snag the perfect husband, have 2.5 perfect kids, and purchase the quintessential American home in an upper-middle class suburb.
I don’t resent The American Dream. However, I don’t like that our national dream limits itself to one narrow scenario. The American Dream needs to be versatile to suit the subjective wishes of my country’s diverse and beautiful population.
I want to take a road trip in Australia and New Zealand. I want to hike the Inca Trail. I want to give travel lectures to potential study abroad students. I want to sell an ebook about my travel adventures or write a fantasy novel.
All the above? Are my American Dreams.
You don’t need to follow the crowd.
“See the world. It’s more fantastic than any dream made or paid for in factories. Ask for no guarantees, ask for no security.” – Ray Bradbury
I have control issues. I blame my control freak tendencies for causing my anxiety, which is a constant challenge abroad. I like routine, I like expectations, I like knowing financial security is a guarantee in my life. I even read book spoilers because I like knowing the story’s ending so my heart doesn’t break too much.
Travel and control don’t work together. LIFE and control don’t work together, for that matter. I never truly knew myself until security was torn away from me, and I was completely alone in a foreign city.
Speaking of factories, I was totally a materialistic person prior to taking my first solo trip to Scotland. I’m not exaggerating either. Designer labels meant everything to my carefully constructed image. If I didn’t purchase a dress or pair of sunglasses from Saks Fifth Avenue, Neiman Marcus, or a quirky Avalon boutique, I didn’t want to wear it. I’m not proud of spending way too much money exclusively on labels with the intention of impressing wealthy strangers. My Jimmy Choo purse and Marc Jacobs dress haven’t impacted my quality of life whatsoever, and my true friends don’t particularly care if I wear haute couture or not.
Experiences may cost money (why can’t airfare be free); however, these adventures seep under your skin and transform you into the person who you envisioned you would always be.
“It does not do to dwell on dreams and forget to live, remember that.” – JK Rowling
Oh maaaaaaaaan. I need this reminder every day.
I’m not location independent. I don’t travel 24/7. I spend most of my time in the United States, residing in good ol’ New Jersey to be exact (no Jersey Shore jokes please). My worst habit is daydreaming. Instead of appreciating the present moment, my mind drifts to glorious trips of the past, like the Scottish Highlands and Vancouver’s Stanley Park, or potential trips of the future, to too many far flung destinations to list here.
The present is all we have in our chaotic lives. The past is gone. Not forgotten, but gone. and the future? As much as it scares me, we’re not promised a future at all. A crazy driver could kill me on the highway tomorrow.
So we need to cherish every single moment, not only the time spent exploring overseas.
“To live is the rarest thing in the world. Most people exist, that is all.” – Oscar Wilde
I have a crush on Oscar Wilde. He’s brilliant, hysterical, and socially observant. These particular words send my brain flying into a whirlwind, forcing me to analyze many decisions. Sadly I know far too many people who simply live, day-by-day, without pursuing their true passions. Why do some individuals refuse to reach for the stars? Their reasons are their own. I don’t judge anyone. It’s scary to push society’s limits. Believe me.
Sometimes my brain wants to frighten me into simply existing because existence is comfortable, expected, and normal. Although I never like admitting it, I care a heck of a lot about what others think of me, and I want to make my family and closest friends happy at all costs. On occasion, their visions of happiness differ from mine, and it’s a challenge to force myself to actually live rather than merely exist for their benefit and comfort.
What are some of your favorite inspiring quotes? How do these quotes influence your travels?