My kids and wife were asleep upstairs. Everyone in the Guatemala guesthouse was out for their late dinners. Downstairs I had the kitchen table all to myself, where I spread out my laptop, passports, and credit cards. After a couple of days of mapping out various scenarios, researching weather patterns, and comparing airplane ticket prices, I was now ready to book the next four months of our lives away for a trip to Asia.
The airplane tickets were nonrefundable, so by clicking “Submit,” I would be going all-in on my dream of family travel in the first half of 2014. This meant I would really be going on a sabbatical and leaving behind any chance of finding a job and continuing my life of a steady income. These thoughts of uncertainty made me hesitate and really ponder what I was getting myself into before I hit “Submit,” but I had thought this through and my wife was onboard with my decision. Finally, I clicked the “Submit” button and immediately got a “Credit Card Declined” message.
Because the transaction was unsuccessful, I needed to reenter all of our personal information and new credit card information again. Meanwhile the three cats and the dog of the guesthouse were starting to get restless and came nearby the kitchen table where I sat. Furthermore, a couple of the guests had just returned and because they were travelers from America, we were certain to start up a conversation. As expected, the husband of the couple peeked into kitchen area where I sat feverishly behind my laptop.
“Passports. Credit cards. This looks serious,” commented John, a traveler who had made his way through almost one hundred countries with his wife in the past ten years.
“Yup. I’m just in the middle of booking my tickets to Asia,” I replied.
“Where you off to?” he asked.
“Taiwan, China, Japan, Korea, and maybe some other countries. But I just need to book these roundtrip tickets to and from the States before anything else.”
“Oh, those are great countries. We had a great time in all of them…” I knew this was an opening for a long discussion about all of his travel experiences, however, I needed to stay focused on booking these tickets.
“I’d love to hear all about it. If you and your wife are up for it, I bought a bottle of red wine at the supermarket today. I just need to take care of these tickets first,” I said.
“Red wine sounds great. I’ll go upstairs to freshen up first and let you take care of your business.”
“Thanks, John. See you guys in a little bit.”
Back to the task at hand, I still needed to make the commitment to go on this trip by actually purchasing these tickets. With a different credit card’s information entered on the website, I had returned to the page of final confirmation and submission. Before clicking “Submit,” I became anxious that I was acting in too much haste and perhaps should wait a few more weeks before making this decision about our sabbatical to see how things actually worked out at home.
Doubt and hesitation took over and I started second-guessing myself and the situation. Suddenly many questions started running through my head:
Who would take care of our house and car while we were away for four months?
Where would we get the money to travel with no work income during those months?
How long would it take to find a job after returning back from our travels?
Would it be worth all the stress of taking our little kids along with us?
Honestly, I didn’t have any clear answers to these questions. I felt fearful of being an irresponsible husband and father. But what made me even more fearful was the thought of the regret I would have for not traveling with my family when I had the window of opportunity to do so.
I watched my cursor sit atop the “Submit” button, as if daring me to take a chance and commit. I held back. I waited. I kept thinking. Then I heard the footsteps of my housemates coming down the stairs to join me for the promised glasses of red wine.
If they can do it, so can we. I thought to myself. Let’s do it. And with that, I clicked the “Submit” button and within a few seconds, our international flight itinerary was confirmed. There was no turning back from that moment.
In hindsight, I’m relieved I committed to our travel plans that night rather than deferring the decision to a later date. I would have let fear creep back in and allow me to overthink things, which would have led me to inactivity. I needed to free myself of the burden of fear. By clicking “Submit,” I let go of the fear of the unknown and committed to living my dream.
Funny thing is once you commit to living a life you’re passionate about, the universe works in your favor to make it happen. All the things I initially had doubts about eventually took care of themselves. My house and car were rented within a couple of days of posting online to a couple who were visiting the States at almost the exact same time we would be away in Asia. We were able to enroll our kids short-term in preschools in both Taiwan and China. My wife and I were able to take our “kidsmoon” guilt-free in Japan and Korea. And I was able to travel on my own in Australia, Thailand, and Ethiopia.
Going on this trip set us free and opened up our world, strengthened our relationship with each other and with our relatives, and gave us many memories that we’ll be talking about when the kids are all grown-up. But it wouldn’t have happened if I hadn’t made that commitment to go on that mild January night in Guatemala.
Someday I’ll go there. Someday I’ll do that. Someday I’ll have enough money and time for that trip. This is the internal monologue we have with ourselves. We let fear speak louder and louder until we succumb to it by staying comfortable within the areas that we can control.
Let your fear go. Set yourself free. Your someday is today.