Holly Morris is a TV host (Treks in a Wild World, Globe Trekker), and the author of Adventure Divas and founder of the multimedia company Adventure Divas. Post your travel questions here and they could get answered in the magazine.
I’ve been at a desk job for eight years and need a change. I want to break away and explore the world but don’t know where to start.
A. Life is meant to be more than a string of brutally long, ergonomically disastrous days. The potent form of liberation I recommend? Leave. Restore your sense of direction by taking a sabbatical, a retreat, or a true pilgrimage. Getting away in a big way, for a long time, is an age-old component of a fully realized life. Set your compass toward something that is personally meaningful and push beyond your comfort zone. Backpack in search of your ancestors in the hills of Slovakia; hike the Colorado Trail solo; heck, spend a summer at klezmer camp. Some years ago, I went on a modern-day vision quest deep in the Sumatran jungle, where the combination of weeping leech bites and steamy dawns with a call to prayer tumbling in from the distance reminded me of the transformative powers of the unknown.
Need some role models? George Orwell relates his journey in Down and Out in Paris and London. Alexandra David-Néel renewed herself in the Forbidden City (Lhasa) in the 1920s long before any other European woman set foot there. Elizabeth Gilbert ate, prayed, and loved her way across Italy, India, and Indonesia. And, of course, there’s Siddhartha, aka Buddha. And all Australians.
If brass tacks are needed to nudge you off the cliff, consult The Practical Nomad by Edward Hasbrouck or peruse Lonely Planet’s Thorn Tree Travel Forum online community. Bottom line: As long as your departure doesn’t financially or emotionally cripple any dependents, point toward the unknown and jump.
Illustration by Harry Campbell