Posted: 12/20/17 | December 17th, 2020
As dawn broke on this year, I was excited for a fresh start. Last year, I dealt with panic attacks and anxiety from taking on too many projects, a breakup that left me heartbroken, and a mini-identity crisis from settling down.
But that “greatest worst year of my life” set the stage for a year in which I shifted my priorities and focused on developing routines. On a personal level, this was a solid year.
I cut my travels in half.
I now love waking up, opening my fridge, and making breakfast.
My panic attacks are gone.
I drink less and cook more.
I joined a gym.
I developed routines.
And, while my insomnia is not gone, I’m starting to sleep a lot better.
But no year is perfect.
I replaced one addiction (traveling) with another (work). On the road, it was easy to fill a day with exciting adventures. But now that I was home, what was I going to do?
I did the one thing I knew I could default to: work.
And I worked all the time.
I annoyed my team on the weekend by sending them work. I released more digital guides and published a new edition of my print guide, How to Travel the World on $50 a Day.
We changed the site’s design. I did two speaking tours. I ran three tours.
And, in the process, I burned myself and my team out.
As this year ends, I’ve come to realize that while I enjoy the stability in my life, I gave up the one thing I wanted most by slowing down: time.
Time to learn languages and start hobbies. Time to read and relax. Time to explore New York. Time to date. Time to do whatever the hell I feel like doing.
While I’m better at managing time, I still have too many projects going at once. As my friend Steve recently told me, “Matt, I got tired just hearing what you are doing. I can’t imagine what’s it like to actually do it.”
There’s a certain irony in that, while I preach the importance of creating time in your life for what you want, I haven’t followed my own advice.
The truth is I’m a workaholic. I have been since I was a kid. I used to pull 60 hour weeks at my 9 to 5. I don’t know how not to work.
I think that’s why I love being an entrepreneur. It’s easy to always create projects and build stuff.
But I take it to an extreme: I just work. And then work some more. I write, I blog, I start new websites and initiatives.
But I need to stop that. I need to free up time. The average life is only 29,000 days and, as I barrel closer and closer to the statistical halfway point of my own, it’s time to live a more purposeful life.
And so, as I am off to Thailand and then New Zealand through January, I’ve decided to take a mini-break from blogging. In truth, while the panic attacks are gone, the conditions that created them still haven’t gone away.
I need to work on that.
Last year was a revelation. This year was a realization:
This new me is still a work in progress.
One thing I loved about this year was that I finally got offline while traveling. I didn’t bring work with me. I allowed myself to fully enjoy the places I went. I didn’t rush off to find an internet connection or get bothered if one didn’t exist. I want more of that. It makes me love and appreciate travel.
When I’m doing that, travel isn’t work.
This is not one of those “omg blogging is so much work so I’m taking a vacation” posts. I plan to still write and be on social media. This is taking a step back and trying to figure out how to find balance.
I’m not looking for work/life balance.
I’m just looking for balance in general. I want to stop feeling like I’m five minutes away from a panic attack.
While there are two big community announcements coming in January (We’ve been working on them for months and they are freaking awesome. They are designed to get people together in real life and talk about travel.), new blog posts will be few and far between until I return from New Zealand.
If last year taught me to stay put, this year taught me the need for balance. Multitasking is an illusion, and settling in one place made me realize just how easy it is to fall into “the busy trap” of modern life. The internet, with its 24/7/365 schedule means, without proper restrictions, it’s easy to give it your 24/7/365.
And that’s not a good habit to have.
2018 will be a year of focus. It will be the year of stepping out of “the busy trap.” It’s time to learn to say no to things I don’t love and reclaim the world’s most limited and precious resource: time.
On a final note, thank you for everything. You all are amazing and I’ve enjoyed your emails, letters, and random run-ins on the street! Thank you for coming to all the meet-ups! This community is awesome and I look forward to seeing and meeting more of you in the new year. Thanks for always being there. Have a happy holidays and an amazing new year!
How to Travel the World on $50 a Day
My New York Times best-selling paperback guide to world travel will teach you how to master the art of travel so that you’ll get off the beaten path, save money, and have a deeper travel experience. It’s your A to Z planning guide that the BBC called the “bible for budget travelers.”
Book Your Trip: Logistical Tips and Tricks
Book Your Flight
Find a cheap flight by using Skyscanner or Momondo. They are my two favorite search engines because they search websites and airlines around the globe so you always know no stone is left unturned.
Book Your Accommodation
You can book your hostel with Hostelworld. If you want to stay somewhere other than a hostel, use Booking.com as they consistently return the cheapest rates for guesthouses and cheap hotels.
Don’t Forget Travel Insurance
Travel insurance will protect you against illness, injury, theft, and cancellations. It’s comprehensive protection in case anything goes wrong. I never go on a trip without it as I’ve had to use it many times in the past. I’ve been using World Nomads for ten years. My favorite companies that offer the best service and value are:
- SafetyWing (best for nomads)
- World Nomads (most comprehensive)
- Insure My Trip (for those over 70)
- Medjet (for additional evacuation coverage)
Ready to Book Your Trip?
Check out my resource page for the best companies to use when you travel. I list all the ones I use when I travel. They are the best in class and you can’t go wrong using them on your trip.