The Danger of Someone Else’s Dream

by Brenna Holeman

Brenna in Nepal

I recently got an email from a reader; let’s call her Olivia. In her email, Olivia told me about her plans after college and of how she was excited to get a job in the field that she studied. She then asked me this question:

I love the idea of travelling; I love reading travel blogs and studying maps. The thing is, I don’t really know if I want to travel beyond a couple of weeks away at a time, and only with my boyfriend or my friends. I like my life here and I’m happy with what I’ve created. I feel like a fraud by saying that it’s not really my dream to travel long-term or even to travel very far from home. What do you think? Am I being crazy and close-minded?” 

When I was a little girl I really only dreamt of one thing: to travel. It’s what I wrote in all my journals, it’s what I told people I wanted to do, it’s what I thought about when I couldn’t sleep. I would make lists of all the places I’d go and all the things I’d see.

Fast forward a decade (OK, two decades) and I have to admit that I’ve really followed my dream.

Since graduating university nearly ten years ago, I’ve been to nearly ninety countries, most of them on my own. I did four months backpacking Europe. I did nine months backpacking Asia. I did another nine months backpacking Central and South America. I lived nomadically for over seven years. Now, as someone who lives and works in London, I travel frequently, recently coming back from an incredible month travelling in Thailand, Nepal, and Bhutan.

Basically, my dream has come true, and, while I have worked hard to make that dream a reality, I also realise how much luck and good fortune is in my life, too. I try to never take any of it for granted.

Recently, however, I’ve realised I have new dreams. It’s not that anything will ever replace that dream to travel; I believe it will be a lifelong affliction, this wanderlust. But now I’m dreaming of publishing a book, of starting my own business, of working hard enough to afford a nice lifestyle in London while still managing to travel monthly. As much as I relish the food markets and the beaches and the unmistakable rush of adventure when I travel, I’m also pretty happy to cook a big bowl of pasta, open a bottle of wine, and find a great show to watch on Netflix.

Book Launch

A dream come true – seeing one of my stories published in an anthology

To be honest, the thought of living nomadically exhausts me now. Does this mean I have travel fatigue? I would say no, not at all. It’s just that – by choice – my lifestyle has changed, and my dreams have changed accordingly.

My dreams now reflect the new life I’ve created for myself, one where I get up in the morning and work, one where I get to see the same amazing friends a few times a week, one where I’m totally happy and engaged and just as fulfilled (though perhaps in a different way) as I have been at other stages in my life when I was travelling.

And all of this got me thinking about those childhood dreams of mine. I realised that travelling wasn’t the only dream I had; I also dreamt of living abroad to teach English (which I did in Japan from 2008 to 2010), getting a master’s degree (which I just accomplished), writing a book (which I also just accomplished), living in Europe (currently doing), learning Spanish (I can understand the gist of most telenovas by now, though to be fair there’s usually just a lot of forlorn staring into the distance), and marrying Mark-Paul Gosselaar (still working on it).

There’s a sentiment I notice on a lot of travel blogs, Instagram accounts, and Pinterest boards. “Stop living a boring life!” they proclaim. “I quit my soul-sucking 9-5 and am now travelling the world… and you should, too!” “The world is a book, and those who don’t travel read only a page.” Some of these things are helpful, inspiring even. But a lot of them annoy me, too. Over the years – through age, perhaps, but also life and travel experience – I’ve found myself rolling my eyes at a lot of these kinds of statements. They just seem so elitist, so holier-than-thou.

The reality is that the majority of the developed world leads these so-called “boring lives” working their 9-5s (or, in many cases, much longer) and maybe saving up to take the family on holiday once a year. Because for every blogger sharing their success story online about following their dream to travel the world, there are thousands of others who will never do the same.

Brenna in Bhutan

But here’s the thing… is there anything wrong with that? Just because my dream was to travel, and I was able to make it happen, who’s to say that that dream is right for everyone? Why does Olivia feel like a fraud for not dreaming of the same?

The truth is, as I’ve often mentioned on this blog, a nomadic lifestyle or travelling long-term does not mean you are exempt from all of the hardships that life can throw at you: illness, money woes, heartache, you name it. Just because you’re on a beach doesn’t mean you’ll be happy. Maybe you like your 9-5 in an office because it means it affords you rent in a nice flat where you can live with your partner, it gives you health insurance, and it means you get to go on a holiday for a couple of weeks a year.

Maybe you’re pretty happy with your life as it is, even if it means you only travel a little bit, or – gasp – not at all. It seems we’re endlessly bogged down with stories of how terrible that lifestyle is, but the reality is that some of us must not mind it, some of us must even really enjoy it.

Don’t get me wrong – if you find yourself nodding along when reading things like, “I quit my soul-sucking 9-5 and am now travelling the world…” then yes, you should probably reconsider your lifestyle and see if you can make it happen. But if that dream isn’t your dream – if, like me, you’re happy to just eat pasta and watch Master of None tonight – that’s totally fine, too.

Or maybe, instead of a month in India, your idea of travel is a road trip to the next province over, or a week with the girls in Mexico. As I’ve said in my blog’s bio for a long time: “I hope to inspire you to travel, in whatever way you feel comfortable; whether it’s a luxury weekend away or a round-the-world budget adventure, I believe we all have the right to travel the way we’d like, so long as we are being morally, culturally, and environmentally responsible.

While I’ve written tons of articles on how to save money to travel the world, what to keep in mind if you’re planning to travel long-term, and so on, it doesn’t mean I believe that every single person will want to follow suit.

Brenna and Claire

A great night in London with my wonderful friend Claire

Mark Manson (one of my favourite bloggers) wrote an article this summer called “In Defense of Being Average“. In it, he explains how we’re all pretty average at most things, and that that’s OK. We only really hear about the people on either ends of the spectrum – either the girl who is absolutely amazing at what she does, or the girl who is so terrible at doing something that she becomes the unfortunate victim of a viral video.

We don’t hear about all of the other people in between, which happens to be the majority of society. I think it’s the same with travelling. We hear about these few magical unicorns that have been able to continuously (and happily) travel the world for many years on end, and perhaps compare ourselves to them. Even though I used to travel that way, and I’m now happy NOT to travel that way, I STILL find myself comparing myself to these people and thinking, “Why isn’t my life like that?” before taking another sip of my Malbec while sitting in my pyjamas and reminding myself, “Oh yeah, because I don’t want my life to be like that.” Not right now, anyway.

What I’m trying to say is this: it’s OK if your dream is not to quit your job and travel the world. It’s also OK if it is. Granted, if you’re reading this blog, you probably have some inclination toward travelling, but I feel like we’re so bombarded by social media and blogs that tell us our lives are boring or mediocre if we don’t live life a certain way, and I think it’s all bullshit.

Other people’s dreams are overrated; it’s not very productive to compare your life to someone else’s, especially if you only read about their life online, therefore never knowing the full story. We’re all different, with different backgrounds and different resources and different stories. Figure out what your dreams are, and work toward those. Maybe your dream is to remodel a car, or to learn a new language, or to help build schools in your neighbourhood, or to sing with a band on stage, or to collect every single Cover Girl eyeshadow (yes, that was another dream of mine at one point in my life, don’t judge).

While I think that some motivation online can help, whatever your dream is, don’t be pressured into thinking that your dream is any less cool or worthy or fantastic than somebody else’s. While I emphatically believe that travel makes our world a better place, that everyone should try it at least once if they are able, and that it helps broaden communication, foster international relationships, and is just plain AMAZING… I also recognise that not everyone may want to do it, or that not everyone may be able to do it.

To knock someone for not having the same dream – to suggest that they’re not living fully, or, worse, that they’re living a boring, dull, or meaningless life – is close-minded and pretentious. I think the same way about people who judge others for not wanting to marry or have children. Do I think that Olivia is wrong for not wanting the same things that I did? Absolutely not. We’re just different people, that’s all. I just think we’re both pretty damn lucky for having the choice in the first place.

So that statement about only really dreaming of travelling when I was younger… it wasn’t all true. I have dreamt of many things in various stages of my life – many of which never came true, but they helped shape my personality, my expectations, and my motivation to fulfil other dreams – and I’m sure I’ll continue to create new dreams for myself in the future.

What I need to remember is that they are my dreams, and that it’s OK if they’re not the kinds of dreams I usually see on Pinterest accompanied by a photo of someone with her arms outstretched on some beautiful beach. Just because you dream of having a good job, buying a house, and marrying your partner doesn’t mean you have a boring life, and it doesn’t mean your dream is any less rewarding and enriching than another person’s dream to travel the world. It may sound incredibly simple, but I know I need to remind myself of it sometimes.

Oh, and Mark-Paul, if you’re reading this… please get in touch.

Koh Lanta - 23 of 60

The Danger of Someone Else's Dream

What do you think? What are your dreams? Do you ever feel pressured by social media or blogs to focus on a different kind of dream, or that what you have in your life “isn’t enough”, even if you’re quite happy?


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Karen December 17, 2015 - 10:53 pm

Great article. I think there’s a sense of conceitedness from the sort of bloggers that you mention. What’s right for one isn’t right for all and that makes the world a more interesting place IMO. Travel a bit, travel a lot, or don’t travel at all… personal choice.

Brenna Holeman December 21, 2015 - 4:14 pm

Thanks, Karen! You’re totally right – it’s a personal choice. 🙂

Nikita December 17, 2015 - 10:56 pm

AHHH YESSS. I’m so sick of this attitude that everyone who doesn’t travel has a boring life and can’t possibly be content. There are so many other wonderful things to do in the world, and so many fascinating people who don’t have that traveller status. It seems a bit contradictory to me that the same people who tell you to open your mind can’t see that there are multiple ways to do that. After all, the world wouldn’t be so fun to explore if all the people we met were exactly the same!

Brenna Holeman December 21, 2015 - 4:16 pm

Thank you so much for your comment, Nikita! I really like what you’ve said here – totally agree that there are multiple ways to open your mind and live life to the fullest.

Danny December 17, 2015 - 11:00 pm

Thank you so much for writing this post, Brenna!

I’ve been a silent follower of your blog for the past few months, and it’s your authenticity and originality that always keeps me coming back (and even inspired me to set up my own travel blog in October).

I’ve often wondered whether a nomadic lifestyle would be the right thing for me. In fact, I’d be lying if I said I’ve never dreamed of packing up all my belongings and backpacking throughout Southeast Asia for half a year.

But the thing is – right now, that’s not who I am or what I want out of life. I’ve been living in Germany for the past three years, and I am completely content with working a 9-to-5 job that affords me the opportunity to travel throughout Europe on my vacation days.

It really is so easy to get caught up in other people’s dreams (or what we think other people’s dreams are). But recently, I’ve realized I don’t need to justify myself or my actions to anyone. I’m living the life I want to live, and I think that’s the most important thing any of us can do!

Brenna Holeman December 21, 2015 - 4:18 pm

Thank you so much, Danny! You are too kind – thank you for following my blog.

I totally understand where you’re coming from and I think it’s great to dream about things, even if we know they may not be the right things for us at this moment in time. It IS incredibly easy to get caught up in other people’s dreams, but it’s so awesome that you are living the life you truly want to live! Thanks again for your comment. 🙂

LC December 17, 2015 - 11:01 pm

I’ve been working professionally since I was 20, always as a shift worker, except for four magical months when I had a “normal” job. So, I get a little peeved when I read blogs encouraging people to break free from the shackles of their 9-5 routine… Because there’s been many occasions when I’ve wanted to pack my career in, just so I could go to the gym after work, or hang with friends and family on the weekend.

Realistically, we can’t ALL quit our jobs to travel the world – the planet would come to a standstill! As you pointed out, some people are lucky enough to travel full time – it’s a privilege that isn’t for everyone. There’s nothing wrong with that. I don’t think I could do it, nor would I personally want to. It’s nice to have a home base.

Definitely do not give up on Mark-Paul. Believe in your dreams!

Brenna Holeman December 21, 2015 - 4:21 pm

Thank you so much for your comment, LC! I agree – at this point in time, I wouldn’t want to do that either, and I’m totally happy with my job and what it allows.

I’ll never give up on Mark-Paul!! Never!!!!! 😉

Megan December 17, 2015 - 11:20 pm

this is a brilliant article, brenna. and a breath of fresh air really.

i have no issues with people not traveling and pursuing a different dream. i am tired of people thinking we all need to be the same and living in a society without any dynamism. one thing that bothers me is when i see people given slack for their lack of knowledge of which country is situated in between moldova and hungary (just for example), etc. while i grew up with a map in my hands and in insatiable curiosity of the world, most people didn’t. my sister is a doctor and traveling is just not her passion. she has visited me in europe and could tell you how to say ‘thank you’ or ‘i really liked your country’ in norwegian or could tell you 100 things about the people of norway, but could not distinguish between norway, sweden, and finland on a map. while ive been to 80+ countries, she can count hers on less than 10 fingers. she has desired to be a doctor since she was 5 and has achieved her dream. her dream was never to travel the world and speak different languages and eat foreign foods.

i cringe often when i see the inspo stuff on pinterest telling people to quit their job and travel the world. it simply is not for everyone. traveling has transformed my life in so many positive ways and i wouldnt trade it for the world. but it is my dream. not someone elses. i also like cooking, i have started my own company, and i enjoy watching netflix just like you. and i have a dog. while traveling will always be a huge part of me, it will never solely define me. just like you said- dreams change and evolve.

thanks for this post and thanks for hearing out my rambles as always <3 your blog is one of the very, very few ill ever comment on because your posts inspire me and i read them thoroughly and never skim through.

Brenna Holeman December 21, 2015 - 4:51 pm

Thank you so much, Megan! I agree with you – travelling has transformed my life in so many positive ways, too… but it is my dream, and I understand if it’s not everybody’s. Your life sounds amazing, and it’s so awesome that you have so many cool and inspirational things that define you, not just one thing. 🙂

And thank you so much for your last couple of sentences… I really, really appreciate all of your comments and all of the support you’ve given my blog over the years!

Yana December 17, 2015 - 11:23 pm

I agree with this so much, it used to be my dream to travel long term, but as I started having other dreams as well it was no longer realistic. I am studying social work full-time and have volunteered one day of the week for almost two years at an NGO for asylum seekers. This has made a significant dent in my travel budget even though I save my money fairly strictly. So now I save to travel a few times a year within Australia and once a year overseas. This Jan it will be Sri Lanka.

Brenna Holeman December 21, 2015 - 4:37 pm

Wow – that’s amazing. Thank you so much for sharing your story, Yana! I’m glad you liked the article.

Kylie December 17, 2015 - 11:29 pm

That’s the beauty of having dreams. They are ‘our’ own unique, personal dreams and goals. They can be what we want and they will evolve throughout our lives. Never be afraid or embarrassed to change your dream or create new ones. The world is full of choices and we shouldn’t feel we have to just do ‘the expected’. ????

Brenna Holeman December 21, 2015 - 4:36 pm

Totally agree with you, Kylie! 🙂

Kristin Addis December 18, 2015 - 12:56 am

Totally agree with you here. People make a living out of telling us that we’re not living the life we should be because being a have-not keeps you on the hook – call it ad agencies pushing products like cars, fancy watches, or perfume modeled by beautiful people. The same happens with this lifestyle design industry. It exists to make people believe that something is missing so that they’ll do anything to get happiness and they’ll hang onto every word, buy that course, or that book (Yes I wrote a book). Yet I hope with the stuff I put out there I’m encouraging people to just do what makes them happy and not what they feel they’ve been told to do or what they think they should want. If that’s quitting their job to travel, then great. If it’s maximizing a two week holiday because that’s what they can get off of work, that’s really great too. It’s good to read this and remember that it’s important to be encouraging and helpful rather than commanding and soap boxy (if that wasn’t an adverb before it is now). Plenty of my friends love their jobs but it limits their ability to travel, and that’s fine! We’re not all supposed to want the same things. That would be boring 🙂

Brenna Holeman December 21, 2015 - 4:53 pm

Yes – it happens in all industries, definitely! Yours is one of my favourite blogs and I think you do an amazing job of encouraging people to be happy, whatever they want to do. You’ve certainly inspired me! You’re definitely not commanding or soap-boxy (totally a word now)… and your book is one of the best I’ve read about travelling! 🙂

Paige December 18, 2015 - 1:17 am

I felt this way in college about study abroad programs–many of my friends were going away for a semester, coming back and talking about these life changing experiences, and I just didn’t feel like going away was the right choice for me at that time. I wasn’t ready mentally or emotionally, and I kind of doubt that I would have gotten into graduate school and moved a couple of states over if I’d left my coursework and mentors for a (very aggressively marketed…) life experience via a study abroad program. Now that I’ve just finished my grad degree, and am much more confident than I was at 19/20, and working in an office job that is really quite wonderful–I guess I’m striving for more of a work and travel balance. I think there’s also an attitude that either you have to drop everything now or waste away in a cubicle FOREVER–or worse, that life ends after you hit 30 or 40, etc., so jamming it all in before 27 is the ONLY WAY…oy… : )

Kelsey Tuller December 18, 2015 - 2:52 pm

Paige, I totally agree. I never went on a whole semester study abroad (only for a month one summer) but I really enjoyed my school, being close to family and the friends I got to live with and see all the time. Also, I knew one girl that had done a semester abroad and came back only to feel out of place and out of loop since she had missed out on four months of our small, close knit school’s life. Obviously not everyone has that experience, but not everyone has that sterotypical experience that’s so aggressively marketed that you mentioned. I also think most students who study abroad see it too much as an experience to drink and party in a new and different place. But anyway, good luck with your work-travel balance!

Brenna Holeman December 21, 2015 - 4:58 pm

Thanks for your comment, Kelsey!

Brenna Holeman December 21, 2015 - 4:58 pm

We definitely have to listen to what’s right for us… it’s so easy to get caught up with other people are doing! I am also trying to find a work/travel balance, and I find it quite fun.

Totally agree with what you’ve said, Paige – thank you so much for all of your comments and support on my blog!

Jenn December 18, 2015 - 1:59 am

I really enjoyed reading this. And I totally agree. I do hope to travel more but I also love being home so I could never lead a nomadic lifestyle, and I have friends who have no desire to travel at all. Everyone’s dreams are definitely different.

Brenna Holeman December 21, 2015 - 4:34 pm

Thank you very much for your comment, Jenn! I’m so glad you enjoyed reading the post.

Drew Meyers December 18, 2015 - 2:24 am

I spent the last few years as a nomad, before recently re-settling in Seattle. The constant travel & new experiences/people was amazing — for awhile. After awhile, I found myself missing my close friends/family. I grew tired of constantly figuring out where to sleep, what to eat, where to hang out, how to get around, and who to spend my time with. Like you, it exhausts me thinking about living that way.

Brenna Holeman December 21, 2015 - 4:34 pm

I have really enjoyed living nomadically in the past, and I may even do it again… but yes, at the moment it’s not for me! Thanks for your comment, Drew. 🙂

Ella December 18, 2015 - 2:31 am

Thank you so much for this post! This has definitely been on my mind recently and I’ve been wondering how much I’ve actually been affected by social media (and maybe even by some travel bloggers :S) into thinking that if I’m not travelling full time and going on big scale adventures, than I’m not leading a meaningful and significant life. Which is a fear of mine and of many from my generation (I’m 22 haha). This past year I was convinced that travel was THE dream that I HAD to pursue and my whole life should be revolved around it. While I definitely still love travel and have for a few years, still want to make it a part of my life and there are plenty of trips that I want to go on, I realised that I actually DON’T want to travel long-term and full time, to the point where I can’t pursue other interests or have some much wanted security and stability. I’m finding that this has really thrown me off course in a way, even though I never had the “dream’ to be a full-time traveller till this past year, anyway. Thank you! x

Brenna Holeman December 21, 2015 - 4:43 pm

Thanks for your comment, Ella! I definitely agree with you that social media puts pressure on us… I didn’t grow up with it and I never felt like I’d be living an insignificant life if I didn’t do a particular thing, only that I’d be living an insignificant life if I wasn’t living the life I truly wanted for myself. Social media can definitely be a blessing and a curse sometimes!

All the best, with whatever you pursue in life!

Kate December 18, 2015 - 2:46 am

I LOVE this article!!! I love traveling and travel as much as I can. Fortunately I love my job, and it does give me plenty of holiday time to fit my traveling in. I used to dream of going months, years at a time. But to be honest, I am happy with a month as the longest time away from home. I love my bed, my shower, my friends and love coming home to my cat. I have stopped following a few travel bloggers because I got tired of hearing that you are a “sell out” and a “slave” if you carry a Monday to Friday job. I love my job and especially the comfort of having a pension.

Anyways, keep up the fantastic blog!

Brenna Holeman December 21, 2015 - 5:00 pm

Thank you so much, Kate! And thank you for sharing your story here. I like the comfort of having a job, too, especially because I love my job so much.

Hayley December 18, 2015 - 3:12 am

Another ‘nail on the head’ moment, Brenna. I absolutely agree that you should do what makes you happy at the time.

I personally took the leap to travel earlier this year, but I wasn’t unhappy with my life. Quite the opposite! I had a great little home in London, a job I loved, and lots of people around me who made my life happy and exciting. But I couldn’t shake a niggling feeling that I wanted to see more, so here I am typing to you from Thailand, and planning to spend Christmas with my new niece in Australia. 🙂

I’m not immune to the struggles of daily life – My parents are going through a messy split at home, and my niece was born 3.5 months prematurely, amongst other things. But I’m happy. And when I’m not happy, I’ll make another change!

Thanks for writing this… You always have the power to make me think. x

Brenna Holeman December 21, 2015 - 5:02 pm

Thank you so much, Hayley! I’m really glad you liked the article. And yes, it’s all about what makes you happy, and about listening to those feelings of wanting more or wanting something different! Have an amazing time in Australia… love reading about your adventures! 🙂 x

Lizzy December 18, 2015 - 3:24 am

I’m so glad you wrote this article! I’ve been getting increasingly annoyed lately with the type of articles you mention, the “I quit my job to travel and you should too!” type. I think for the most part it reflects an elitist, privileged attitude. Yes, I did I quit my job to travel the world for a year but I recognize that for probably 95% of the world this just wouldn’t be possible, even if they wanted to. I recognize that I’m extremely lucky to come from a country with a passport that grants me easy access to almost anywhere, an education that allowed me to work in a good job where I saved plenty of money for my travel fund, and a safety net of a family home that I can return to anytime. I also know that everyone is different and most of my friends/family wouldn’t be interested to live nomadically long term if actually given the option.

Honest posts like this are why I love your blog! 🙂

Brenna Holeman December 21, 2015 - 5:05 pm

Aw, thank you very much, Lizzy! I agree that it’s important to remember how lucky we are, and how amazing it is that we’ve had the opportunity to even DREAM of travelling the world. Thanks for your comment! 🙂

Katie December 18, 2015 - 3:55 am

YES! I also read nomadic travel blogs and feel a bit jealous, wondering why my life isn’t like that, then realise that I don’t actually want it to be. Social Media and Travel Blogs can be a bitch sometimes

Brenna Holeman December 21, 2015 - 5:00 pm

They definitely can!! Thanks for your comment, Katie. 🙂

Ellie Quinn December 18, 2015 - 4:01 am

I think this is the best thing I’ve read in a long time!! Thank you for posting!

It’s true I love travelling and I love travelling for a few months at a time but I also like going back to a 9-5 job (I need to earn money for travel somehow) and I like being in a routine at home and I’ve realised there’s nothing wrong with that!

I started my blog, maybe to become a big blogger who gets paid to travel through it but now I realise I don’t want to spend all my time travelling on my laptop and working, I don’t want to be a full time travel blogger and once I realised that I became a lot happier with what I’m doing.

🙂 X

Brenna Holeman December 21, 2015 - 5:07 pm

Thank you so much, Ellie! I really appreciate your input here, and you’re right, there’s absolutely nothing wrong with that. Best of luck with your blog and your travels! 😀

Geri December 18, 2015 - 8:13 am

I had the same thoughts in my mind when I wrote “The Truth – 10 Reasons why You Can’t Travel Constantly”.

It is terrible that everywhere on the Internet you see: leave your job and travel the world…. What about your family, what about if you want to create a family …. to study. You can’t do many of these things if you are on the road all the time. In life there is time for everything – time to travel and time to settle. So, we have to chose what is most important to us at that moment. And finally, you can travel the world even if you have more settled life. To travel monthly is more than enough because it helps you to keep the balance.

I am glad you wrote this article, Brenna. It says the truth that many people don’t want to speak about.

Brenna Holeman December 21, 2015 - 5:08 pm

Yes – I think there’s time for a lot of different things, too. I believe our generation is quite impatient… we want it all, and we want it all right now!!

Thanks a lot for your comment, Geri. 🙂

Elina December 18, 2015 - 8:16 am

Thank you!!! I’ve been saying the same thing for years. Not all dreams can be the same. The same goes for education, I have a friend who wanted to become a florist but since there was only high school-level education available for learning that, she was worried that she’d seem dumb getting a lower level education when all her friends were going to the university. I told her to not give a shit. It’s what you want to do so why go to uni just because it sounds fancy?

Besides, there are no boring lives, there are just boring people.

Brenna Holeman December 21, 2015 - 5:09 pm

YES – love your last line. I just said it to someone recently. Thank you so much for your comment, Elina, I’m glad you liked the post!

Katie @ Domestiphobia December 18, 2015 - 2:33 pm

Of course, I absolutely agree with all of this. I tend to not let those kinds of posts bother me though because I know they’re primarily set up as an affiliate tactic so the author can maintain his/her lifestyle. We need to start recognizing and controlling how we let the words of others affect us. While it’s important to be compassionate and conscientious of how we make others feel, it’s even more important to hold ourselves accountable for our own happiness. It’s a difficult lesson to learn to stop looking towards others for approval and figure out how to self-assess — one I’m still learning at 33!

At least now I feel less crappy for binge watching Master of None. Thanks! (And Mark-Paul is adorable, but since you’re living in London I could totally see you with one of the guys from The Man from U.N.C.L.E. Just sayin.’)

Brenna Holeman December 21, 2015 - 4:33 pm

Yep – you’re totally right, Katie! So many of those articles are written as click-bait, and I can’t stand it. Like, “This is how you can live on a beach and never work another day in your life”. Ummm… no. And I totally agree that it is so important to hold ourselves accountable for our own happiness. I believe that happiness isn’t necessarily deserved… it’s earned.

I binge-watched it, too! And yes, I do like those English lads. 😉

Hannelie December 18, 2015 - 7:11 pm

So well written! Thank you for putting into words what I often feel when I read all the travel blogs I follow. I love to travel. It excites me in the same way that it seems to excite all who have followed a life of full-time travel. But I have not been able to find anyone who writes about their love for travel and their “9-5” job. Because that’s the thing, I love my job. I spent a lot of money (well, my parents spent a lot of money) to study at a great university and earn my engineering degree, and to become an engineer. I love being a construction engineer, but I love to travel. And I hope to one day figure out how to marry those two, but in the mean time, it is a little disappointing to read about how the only real way to follow a dream of travel is to quit your “soul-sucking” job. Maybe I have to figure out how to balance those two on my own, but I appreciate you addressing the fact that everyone has different dreams and that there is no right way to follow your dream.

Brenna Holeman December 21, 2015 - 4:27 pm

Thank you very much, I really appreciate it! It sounds like you have had a really interesting life so far and I’m sure you’re going to do amazing things! 🙂

I will try to write more about my job – I really do enjoy it, and i’m so thankful for it. I think it’s great to try to marry the two, and I feel so blessed that I’ve been able to. Thank you for the inspiration to write more about this!

Emily December 18, 2015 - 7:23 pm

That was beautiful. Thank you.

Brenna Holeman December 21, 2015 - 4:21 pm

Thanks, Emily. 🙂

Nadia December 20, 2015 - 12:23 am

Thanks for this interesting article, it definitely resonates with me. I think every single person is different, and it is great when someone is actually living what he or she loves, whatever it is. Our dreams and wants are definitely redefined naturally as we evolve through life. After obtaining B.A. and M.A. in my favorite topics, traveling the USA last year and traveling the world this year, it actually feels great accomplishing what I have always wanted and continue living and doing what I love, even if it means redefining for myself what it actually is at this point of my life. And what priorities are more important for me now.

Since I am a traveler and a travel blogger myself, I support quite a few travel bloggers in their journey and like reading their blogs, even when I do and don’t travel myself. Besides reading for the sake of virtual travel to all those places I haven’t traveled to yet myself, every travel blogger is different with his or her own personality, travel advice and style, and, may be, even a valid point of view and perspective, and a different outlook on life and world. Definitely interesting for me!

And if I do or don’t agree with a blogger/writer, and not sure what he/she actually means, I can either start reading blogs with my point of view or I can become an Adult and write a comment to a blogger/writer personally, and, may be, start a meaningful discussion. Everyone wins ))

Great post and interesting article, wishing you much success in your travel blogging and writing journey!

Brenna Holeman December 21, 2015 - 4:23 pm

Thank you very much for all of your input, Nadia! Wow – what an interesting life you’d led, and it’s so cool that you’re living your life the way you want to live it. You’re right, sometimes we need to redefine what we want at different times!

Thanks again for your comment. 🙂

Jacquie December 21, 2015 - 7:57 pm

Oh my gosh Brenna, this article moved me!!! I was sitting here nodding enthusiastically the whole time I was reading. As you know from our previous correspondence, I’m a once a year traveler with the 9-5 lifestyle.

I *wish* I could travel more than I do, but realistically, I am most healthy (mentally and physically) with a very regular schedule so the 9-5 life suits me well. I like being able to afford my own apartment downtown, look after my cutie little cat Chi, hang out with my boyfriend, try new recipes, etc.

I spent the last 5 years or so madly reading travel blogs and feeling like I just don’t have the courage to quit my job, but like you said, not everyone WANTS to do that! I get paid vacation time so I do get to travel at least once a year, and I can do that within my means. I’ve grappled with the idea of going to teach English in Korea so many times but I haven’t done it because I realized I just don’t want it badly enough. Not enough to give up my life in Vancouver.

After my trip to Asia this year (I went three times in three years) I came to the realization that I don’t want to go overseas next year. It was a bit hard to come to terms with that. But deep down, all I want to do next year is stay in North America, go to Disneyland, and have plenty of vacay time for hiking and camping which is a new passion of mine.

Thank you thank you for this article. It completely made my day and I’ll be sharing it with many of my friends. I hope you have a Happy Christmas, Miss Brenna!! <3

Brenna Holeman December 23, 2015 - 10:04 pm

Thank you so much for updating me, Jacquie! It sounds like you have an absolutely wonderful life and that you’re doing exactly what you want to be doing. All the best for your future… and have an amazing holiday season! 😀

3 Months In – Updates and Life Lessons | La Rubia En España December 21, 2015 - 10:27 pm

[…] If you’re looking for an interesting read,  this blog post really identifies with my feelings about how a life of travel just might not be for […]

Amy December 23, 2015 - 6:00 pm

Well said. We all have different dreams; what I like to see is people following their desires and passions in life, whatever they may be. Happy Christmas 🙂

Brenna Holeman December 23, 2015 - 10:03 pm

I agree! Thanks Amy, and Happy Christmas to you, too. 🙂

Rachel December 30, 2015 - 10:24 pm

Hi Brenna! I have just stopped by your blog for the first time through Adventurous Kate, and I have to stay, I love your relaxed and personal approach to blogging.

I have followed a few travel blogs for years now – ones that inspire me to travel places and don’t annoy or bore the hell out of me by saying ’10 must-see places in Venice!’ – but I always feel a bit sorry for the people who maybe aren’t strong enough to be themselves and follow their own dreams, when faced with an onslaught of people telling you to travel the world because anything else just ISN’T going to make you happy.

I’m lucky that I work for myself doing a job that I love and gives me the flexibility to pursue other interests. I wouldn’t want to travel full time; I would like to eventually buy a twee little country cottage with land for some horses, I want to be around to celebrate family events.

My dream is to buy a few acres of woodland and run ecology and conservation training courses, to run bushcraft weekends and manage the land for the benefit of wildlife, and to show that you can run a business that is viable, sustainable, AND good for the environment. I admit to having caught the travel bug, but my method of travel is a weekend here, a few weeks there, a day tagged on to the end of working away from home, and I use travel blogs to design a real-life mood board (so much better than Pinterest in my view. I don’t like using social media) of places that really capture my imagination.

And if I can combine travel abroad with conservation volunteering? Well, that’s on the cards…

Drew Meyers December 31, 2015 - 6:55 pm

Have you heard about Conservation Corps?

Rachel January 1, 2016 - 2:44 pm

I haven’t no – I’ll go take a peak now, thanks 🙂

Brenna Holeman January 1, 2016 - 7:43 pm

Hi Rachel, thanks a lot for checking out my blog, and I’m glad you’re enjoying it so far! Your life plan sounds absolutely amazing (I’d check out those courses!) and it’s so awesome that you are balancing your love of travel with the other things in your life. Thanks again, and I hope that you’ll continue reading!

Laura January 13, 2016 - 2:09 pm

I think this is a really important message to convey to others. I think I’m somewhere in the middle of being a long-term traveler and someone who is keen to just stay in. I used to day dream about traveling at my old office job, scanning Pinterest, your blog, other travel blogs, just thinking about all the places that it’s possible to see. I was fortunate enough to be able to afford a month-long TEFL practicum and start my way toward Korea. I use this country as a home base for the times when I want to relax and chill (which I’m not going to lie is pretty often) and I’m able to travel extensively as Korea’s pretty small. But this is my dream and I totally get that some people couldn’t possibly imagine living this life.

Moving or living abroad isn’t for everyone, nor is traveling. However, I agree that it’s totally normal as we all share different dreams and aspirations. Thanks for the great insight as always!

Diana Maria January 17, 2016 - 12:45 am

What a wonderful post. I completely agree with this. I think everyone has different dreams, and not everyone wants to travel for long periods of time. We are all different and that’s completely fine! Some people would love to travel and should definitely follow their hearts if that’s what their path is. When I finally traveled Europe partly solo, I realized that although it was lovely, I would love to travel with someone and share those memories. I think we should all accept that our ambitions and goals in life will not always be the same and that’s okay! Great post love, it really made me think!

Zalie January 19, 2016 - 4:16 pm

This blog post really hit home! I often find myself questioning my life or my own dreams after reading someone’s blog or Instagram post when there is nothing wrong with my dreams or the way I choose to live my life! I also agree fully with what social media portrays, only the two ends of the spectrum as far as travelling or life go, and not all of the rest of us in between!! p.s. I laughed so hard at your love for Mark-Paul and the collection of CG eyeshadows! xoxo

Brenna Holeman January 19, 2016 - 5:54 pm

Thanks Zale – I’m glad you were there to witness both my Mark-Paul and CG obsessions! Yes, I still often compare myself to other people and then have to stop and think, wait a second, I’m living exactly the life I want to live. xoxo

Jessica Barton January 25, 2016 - 7:54 pm

Thank you for this! I have corporate job, and while it’s frustrating at times, I can still afford to take two two week international trips and a handful of domestic trips every year thanks to my vacation time and salary. It doesn’t have to be a dreary lifestyle and it’s so irritating to hear it put down by other bloggers at time.

Just found your blog today and I’m loving it! Thanks for covering more than Europe & SE Asia 🙂

Jamie January 28, 2016 - 5:52 am

I’m a little late to this party, but I read this just a few days ago and it has really stayed with me. Especially when I see or hear people who really think that having an unconventional or a traveling life makes them somehow “better.” I go back and forth with how I feel about my own life (traveling enough? not enough?), and in the end I know it’s just like the Alchemist says: if you’re on the right path, the whole universe will conspire to help you. It’s only when you resist your true calling, whatever that may be, do you put yourself at risk of losing out on life. Thank you for writing this; it helps me remember why we ever write, which is to be connected.

Brenna Holeman January 28, 2016 - 9:58 am

Thank you very much for your comment, Jamie – I’m so glad you connected with the post! I totally agree with what you’ve written here.

Travel tastes like coffee | An Eye On The Coffee Pot April 8, 2016 - 11:40 pm

[…] its complexity. In essence, don’t follow what everyone else is doing. Don’t risk the danger of someone else’s dream – discover and understand what travel means to you. Think of it like coffee:  It wakes you […]

Brit Hemming March 28, 2017 - 9:47 am

Thank you for posting this 🙂 You are an inspiring writer and I think it’s important to be spreading this message as well. I’m currently traveling full-time and I love it but I often get questions from other people who feel like their lives aren’t adding up because that’s not the path they choose. I don’t think everyone should feel like they need to travel or that they need to be stuck in a career. You are totally right when you say you have to do what is right for you. Will I travel forever? I’m not sure, but I would like to not feel guilty about it, if and when I decide to stop.

Thanks again for sharing! This was a great post!

Beth Cooke August 4, 2017 - 3:16 pm

Great post! I love your writing style and honesty, it inspires me so much (especially with thinking about taking the leap of blogging myself).
I do believe there is a fair bit of pretentiousness about travel/travel blogging so reading this is a breath of fresh air.
I have a house, a husband, a cat! So backpacking for long periods is now not really possible anymore BUT we still do our fair share of travel, even if it’s just exploring places on the weekend. Posts like this reminds me that I am no less of a “traveller” than those who chose or can do it full time. In fact after a 5 month backpacking trip away with my hubby we were TIRED – tired of doing it, and felt ready to come home after 4 months….homesickness is real. At the time we felt there must be something wrong with us because we do love travelling, but it’s true there is no right or wrong way to explore and we’ve learnt what works for us now 🙂

Thanks for the words!


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