Any which way we choose


It’s a terrible thing to wish your life away. Life is beautiful, precious and fleeting; every day should be lived to the full and recognised for the priceless gift that it is. We should be grateful. Every. Day.

I truly believe this, and yet I suck at it.

Every day for the past 18 months, I have lived and breathed for the future, and wished my precious days would blend seamlessly into one, until the day arrived.

Our departure day.

With less than twenty weeks until we finally leave for India, I am finding it increasingly difficult to remain in the present. The many milestones that marked the long journey to that magical moment have almost all been passed; paying off my debt, building my savings, selling all of my possessions, buying our tickets… I feel like I am home free, sprinting towards the future.

In my head I’m already at the airport, tickets in hand, excitedly waiting to board my flight. I’m almost there, save for the 3,264 hour long wait at the check-in desk.

The once twisted and mountainous road leading to that blissful moment now appears wide open and smooth, and I can see clearly all the way to my destination. I’ve survived the storm and now the sun is bursting through the clouds, slowly dissipating the remaining wisps into nothingness. It’s all plain sailing from here on in.

Now that the major hurdles of our travel preparation have been cleared, I feel free – free to dream and plan and surmise new ideas and experiences that change daily.

Because the dreaming is almost as fun as the doing.

Today, stuck at work in an interminably boring staff meeting, the obsessive dreamer in me took over, lifted me from my seat and whisked me away to the golden shores of some tropical island. I felt the sand beneath my toes and the warm, fragrant breeze dancing across my skin. A huge surge of joy filled my chest like a ball of heat gently glowing inside of me, and goosebumps ran up and down my arms. I was completely transported on the wings of my daydream, and it felt wonderful.

I consider this ability a gift. Sometimes, when being present is too much to bear, wishing my life away gets me through.

Go confidently in the direction of your dreams. Live the life you’ve imagined.
– Thoreau

Our travel plans are largely un-plans, which leaves plenty of room for this kind of brain activity. Every day I design and redesign our adventures, and paint new experiences onto the canvas of my imagination. I can picture my future-self so clearly; barefooted and carefree, my skin peppered with sand and my arms wrapped tightly around Lee as he drives us through the hazy streets of Goa on our trusty moped.

In this moment, I am the happiest person alive.

Every day, thoughts of the future fill my head and make my heart swell, and though I may not be present exactly, I am certainly enjoying the moment.

I dream of all the places we will travel to over the course of our indefinite journey, of visiting Vietnam, Thailand, Cambodia, Myanmar, Laos…

Inch by inch, minute by minute, we are edging ever closer to a life of endlessly wonderful experiences, and an abundance of freedom to make our own choices. Left? Right? Train? Bus? Air conditioning? Sea view? If I can dream it, I can do it.

The possibilities are limitless. And the wonderful thing is, no matter how many different versions of my dream I might conjure up, I know that I can make any one of them come true. As Pablo Picasso once said, “Everything you can imagine is real.”

I have spent the past year and a half dreaming, and wished a large portion of my life away, but for a good reason. I know that the new life I am creating is the one I am supposed to be living, and to me, it was worth the sacrifice.

And eventually I will make it to the front of that check-in line.

This is the life I choose.


{ 25 comments… read them below or add one }

Rhonda May 17, 2012 at 20:46

That was so well written Hannah! I could feel myself with you on that beach, my skin warmed by the sun and sand between my toes.
As we plan I, too, daydream my way through work and occasionally don’t appreciate my day to day as much as I should, wishing the time to move faster towards our dream life.
Hang in there, time does fly by and sooner than you think you’ll be on that plane to India.


Hannah May 19, 2012 at 14:00

Thank you for your kind comment Rhonda. I know the time will pass soon enough, and before I know it I’ll finally be on that beach 🙂


Ryan at Travel and Graphs May 17, 2012 at 22:36

Enjoyed this read, Hannah. I can’t imagine what waiting a year and half is like…the six months I had to wait after I set my mind on travel were torturous!


Hannah May 19, 2012 at 14:16

Cheers Ryan! By the time we actually leave I will have been waiting 22 months – 22 very long months!


Jeremy or IHeartTravel May 17, 2012 at 23:09

The words of a true dreamer:
“If I can dream it, I can do it.”, I simply love it Hannah!
The finish line is almost upon you, keep dreaming senora, keep dreaming (as if I had to say that) 🙂


Hannah May 19, 2012 at 14:17

Thanks Jeremy 🙂


Lindsey May 18, 2012 at 00:11

Haha this is me to a T! I’m so excited for you both – only twenty weeks?! I agree with Rhonda – I love the way you write. I love the quotes as well, both of those sit above my computer 🙂 Imagination truly is a gift.


Hannah May 19, 2012 at 14:19

Thank you so much Lindsey, what a wonderful compliment 🙂


Steph (@ 20 Years Hence) May 18, 2012 at 01:53

Another wonderfully inspiring post. I really connected with your sentiment about how dreaming is sometimes just as fun as the doing. For me, sometimes this is actually a problem, because I legitimately get such great enjoyment in researching destinations and thinking of all the things that might be that I sometimes fail to ask. Sometimes I think the hardest thing in the world is taking that step that brings you to your dreams and makes them come alive.


Hannah May 19, 2012 at 14:23

Thank you Steph. I too have spent many an hour on Google looking at places I want to go – I love it! I truly believe our dreams are what help carry us forward towards our most authentic selves, so keep at it 🙂


Kim May 18, 2012 at 05:34

I can’t tell you the number of hours I spent in staff meetings daydreaming of the future. Now that that future is upon me the only advice I can give is enjoy the time you have at home, now. I never quite figured out how to live that advice, until right now at the end, but time will pass quickly…. it is all precious.


Hannah May 19, 2012 at 14:24

No more staff meetings for you young lady – woo hoo!


Sarahsomewhere May 18, 2012 at 07:48

A beautiful post Hannah. You so eloquently sum up the paradox of ‘dream planning’ – that it’s ALL about the future! Four months into our journey and I still find myself projecting into the future, but that’s the nature of travel, finding a balance between what’s around the corner and what’s ‘here’. It’s so exciting though, I don’t think I’ll ever find the balance, and like you, I dont care!


Hannah May 19, 2012 at 14:26

Thanks Sarah – and yes, like you I doubt I will ever get that balance right either. Once a dreamer, always a dreamer!


Patricia GW May 18, 2012 at 15:44

“If I can dream it, I can do it.” Yes you can, Hannah!! You spent the past year and a half dreaming, but also working hard in order to secure that dream. It’s a good trade, a few years of your life to earn the freedom you’ll carry for the rest of your life. You have a real gift for eloquently expressing your feelings and having them reverberate in other’s hearts. I know it hit a strong chord in mine xxx


Hannah May 19, 2012 at 14:27

Thank you so much my dear x


Leah Travels May 21, 2012 at 22:40

Beautifully-written post, Hannah. Your words are so descriptive and full of life. By the way, I grew up not far from Happy; it’s in the Texas Panhandle. But I think you can find Happy anywhere. Safe travels.


Hannah May 22, 2012 at 23:16

Thank you Leah! And you are so right – Happy really can be found anywhere (though I would love to go to the real one!).


Savvy Scot May 22, 2012 at 13:02

I too was there with you in that moment – keep up the writing Hannah 🙂


Hannah June 6, 2012 at 00:21

Thank you so much – it’s great to have you along for the ride 🙂


Lucie May 23, 2012 at 07:48

Oh wow, I recognize myself very much in that article, although I try to force myself to live the present. But how many times have I started to daydream about my trip. One year of dreaming, more than one year ahead to dream still….


Hannah June 6, 2012 at 00:23

Hi Lucie, you reminded me of the lyrics from the song ‘Happy Talk’… “You’ve got to have a dream – if you don’t have a dream, how you gonna have a dream come true?” Happy dreaming to you 🙂


Vacay Girl June 8, 2012 at 01:17

Gosh I feel the same way. Last summer when I got my bright idea to move to Mexico I stayed in the house like a hermit preparing for the preparing of this summer. And now this summer I’m preparing for next year’s big move. I think it’s okay to blur out the present when you have a goal in mind. The future will soon be your present and you want every detail to be as perfect and flawless as possible so you can continue to live it without fret. From the time you move and beyond is when you can truly stop and cherish each moment and it will be awesome!


Hannah June 11, 2012 at 21:49

Thanks for your comment, I’m definitely learning to be more present. I hope your plans are going well, and you are able to enjoy life now as well 🙂


amy September 28, 2012 at 16:53

Hi Hannah,
I just found your blog this week and all your posts really resonate with me. My bf and I are currently planning our own RTW trip, which will start in March 2013. We still have about 5 months left to go and I’m feeling such a weird mix of excitment and saddness knowing I’ll be leaving home everything and everyone I know in London to travel. You’re right – it’s awful to wish away your time, but I find it impossible some days to think about anything else but the getting to the day when we escape this life and get on with our new one.


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