Hi, I'm Elza!
In some ways, I suppose I did have an advantage at an early age. My mother was Dutch and my father was American, so travel was just a normal part of having to visit family. By the time I was 7 years old, I was taking my 5-year-old sister with me to fly across the country to visit family by ourselves. When I was 17, I travelled with a girlfriend and a cousin by train through South Africa. I learned to be responsible and not fear the unknown. By the time I was an adult, travel was an integral part of my life. I knew there were such wonderful experiences out there to be had. And yes, each new trip did hold a bit of angst for me (as does practically every new experience we have), but I never let it stop me. Instead, I welcomed the growth that I knew it would provide.
In the 'old' days, traveling was indeed easier. There weren't the extensive security checks; you could board a plane with more than just a few ounces of liquids (which meant traveling with only a backpack was far easier); and things were cheaper... especially in Europe before the Euro. On the flip-side, there are many things we have today that have revolutionized travel... the internet being the main one.
I am not by any means what one would consider wealthy. For most of my life, I've held entry-level jobs. And yet still, I travelled. Why? Because it was important to me. It was a priority. This is important because it effects the choices you make in life. Instead of buying lunch every day with the rest of the office, I packed my own sandwiches. I didn't have expensive daily addictions such as cigarettes or coffee or even a jelly doughnut. I shopped at thrift stores and didn't need the latest and greatest gadgets. I drove an old car. People often pitied me for my lifestyle. But then, it would all be worth it... I would travel for 5 weeks to Asia or take a couple weeks to raft the Grand Canyon... and they would instantly forget how I had lived so frugally the rest of the year. Instead, they would see these trips, these amazing experiences, as being handed to me on a silver platter.
Anyway, I suppose my main point here is if you truly want to have a life that involves more than just the standard two-weeks of travel, it needs to be something you are always thinking about and working towards. I understand that people often have other circumstances that might limit them... a career, a family, a mortgage. These are all choices. For example, you can find a different career that allows for more vacation time or perhaps one that even pays for your travel. You can have your family be a part of it. Once while in South Africa, I met an Australian woman who had taken her two children (probably ages 7 and 10) out of school for an entire year. They were doing their homework via the internet, but for the rest, they were seeing the world and having amazing experiences. And the mortgage too is a choice. There are many different ways to live. I chose to buy a trailer in a charming little trailer park in the countryside. It is plenty for me and frees up finances for what I want to spend my time actually doing... travel.
I am not here to tell you that you are making the wrong choices or living life the wrong way. What is right for me may definitely may not be right for you. But my goal simply is to have you take a good look at your life. Are you making all the choices that make YOU happy? What would your ideal life look like? Write it down... and don't even once think of the reasons why you "can't." Once you have that, then start being creative, start brainstorming of ways that you CAN make that dream become a reality.
My dream is still a work in progress. I have some of the basics down of what works for me... low monthly expenses, flexibility, people who understand my dream and support it. I can travel fairly cheaply and am able to leave for several months at a time. But there is still room for improvement. I want to start earning a good income from my adventures and I would really enjoy a partner to travel with.
But in the meantime, I want to leave you with some ideas that might start your own creativity flowing. There are lots of resources out there, so let's look at a few...