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The Only Thing Stopping You Is You

I sat on the couch at my travel bloggers conference in Dublin taking a breather. I’d been talking nonstop for 2 days, my voice was hoarse and quite honestly I just wanted cave time. A moment to be alone.

A young Irish man walks past me and then stops. He is wearing a suit and I spot his name badge as a Dublin City Council member. He places one foot on the couch and shifts the weight of two heavy boxes he is carrying. Possibly filled with brochures not collected during the conference.

“May I ask you something?” He says.

I sigh inwardly. ‘Not really’ I want to say. I’m tired, I’m sitting here alone, clearly I have entered a cave and like any mother bear I want him to run away screaming. But none of this passes in the conversation and I smile brightly and with my husky voice I say, “of course.”

“I want to do what you do. I think it’s amazing you are travelling the world. I have only been to Spain and England and I want to see more. I want to do what you do.”

His Irish accent is alluring and I smile at him and ask a fundamental question, “What’s stopping you?”

He glances around and shifts the boxes to the seat.

“I have a mortgage.”

“So do I. I rented my house out.”

“I have a car.”

“We had two cars we sold them.”

And so the conversation went on with a few excuses on how it would be impossible for him to travel the world. I look around me. I am at a TBEX conference where 600 travel bloggers have gathered. Not all of them doing nomadic travel, but all of them doing travel in some shape or form. I look him in the eye as much as I can since he is still standing, while I sit.

“The only thing stopping you is you.”

The confrontational line is hard to take even when said with the nicest of tones and he grins at me, while picking up his boxes and standing back on two feet.

“It’s great what you do, I hope I can do it too one day.”

“Good luck.”

And he walks away.


This conversation came back to haunt me twice during that day as I discussed it with certain people during the conference. And I thought deeply about what stops people from living their dream.

We have a great blog series of different people who have moved into their dream, from nomadic travel to home-based travel, to local travel. It’s never the same, but it’s a dream come true.

I had a pile of excuses why we could not leave our home in Australia. Everything was too far. I had mortgages. I had cars. I had children for goodness sake. But I had a wanderlust that was not being cured by 4 short vacations each year.

Our family is not extra special. We have done nothing differently that other Australians do. We just realized there were much larger dreams in our life than owning a house, owning a car and taking kids to school.


Nomadic travel might not be for you, but there is some dream in your life that is lying dormant because of the excuses that the world feeds you and you believe. But it's time to get away from blame, excuses and denial to realise the only thing stopping you from your dream is you.

And it doesn’t need to.

Play that instrument you always wanted to. Write that book you always dreamed of. Sing that song you always longed to. Eat that food you always craved to. And visit that country you always thought to. Today is your day. The dream is not out of reach as long as you are still breathing.

Don’t wait till you’re married. Don’t wait till you have kids. Don’t wait till the kids are older.

You only live once, they say.

But I say you only die once. You actually live every day.

So how do you want to live? That choice starts now.


“Be careful what you water your dreams with. Water them with worry and fear and you will produce weeds that choke the life from your dream. Water them with optimism and solutions and you will cultivate success. Always be on the lookout for ways to turn a problem into an opportunity for success. Always be on the lookout for ways to nurture your dream.” Lao Tzu

Here's what you have to say...

"I respond to every comment by private email. So please leave me comments, I love chatting to you" -
Posted by Alyson on
Spot on Erin! I would add, don't be afraid to fail, there is no failure if you give something a go, try it for size, see if it fits.
Posted by Rhiannon on
Great! Lovely blog! Proud of you sis! You inspire me in the best of ways!
Posted by Anna on
I completely agree with this. People tell me all of the time they "wish" they could travel like me and I always tell them that they can. Then they list a bunch of excuses. I personally used to have rent, a car, bills and all of that but traveling made me more happy than my 9-5 life so I sold my car, ended my lease and found work I can do remotely. It all depends what is most important to you and the courage to risk failing.
I love the JK Rowling quote: “It is impossible to live without failing at something, unless you live so cautiously that you might as well not have lived at all - in which case, you fail by default.”
Posted by Helen on
Love this!
Posted by Heidi Wagoner on
Ta Da! You got it girl! That is exactly right, no matter if it is travel or any thing you desire to do. Live it, breath it, want it, be it. You need to focus on your passions to make them come true. "things" are anchors that can weigh us all down and lead to getting more "things". Nicely done Erin.
Posted by Kimmy @ AfterGlobe on
Well said! Whenever I talk to others about what Drew and I are doing they always say they wish they could do it. When I ask them what's stopping them they have a big list of excuses. I point out that they are all excuses, but they have to figure that out on their own to really see that they are the only thing stopping themselves from their dreams.
Posted by Jess on
I think people want to hear that there's some sort of magic secret that people who travel have all figured out. That would be nice - but really, it's about deciding what's important to you. Of course some people will have more opportunities then others, but that doesn't mean that 'I have a life' is a total excuse.
Posted by Catherine Forest on
I love this post, Erin! We always need to be reminded about that. Thanks for that!
Posted by Karin on
Beautifully said Erin so proud of you. I realise that if you have excuses you really aren't called to it. We all need to find our true passions. Love you to bits
Posted by Sheralyn on
Very well put - it's so true. Most people could do it, I think they are just too scared to try and fail.
Posted by Julie on
Such a good read, inspiring and leaves your thinking, stirs my soul.
We must not let anyone put out our passion, passion allows us to push through fear and the what ifs. When are you going to publish your book ? I'll buy it...Kindle app please :)
Posted by Mrs. Chasing the Donkey on
What a brilliant post! I get emails weekly from people saying how they wish they could do what we did (move abroad) and I tell them they can, and just wonder how they can't see that.
I love your line, I may borrow that one.
I;m curious to know, how your conversation effected him. What he thought afterwards - maybe he is packing his bags now and about to head off in his own adventure?
Posted by Mary Hickcox on
Great post Erin and I couldn't agree more. We are the only thig in the way of what we want. Everything else is just an excuse! People always tell us how lucky we are or they wish they could do it too. I just chuckle inside and tell them we are't extraordinary, if you want it go get it BUT its not easy or lucky. Its hard work starting with accepting you are the problem and taking the leap!
Posted by Amy on
I love this; lately I've been struggling with trying to explain these exact thoughts to relatives who flew out to visit us in Thailand. They just can't grasp why we'd want to give up all the 'security' of a steady job back in England to travel indefinitely. I think there comes a point when you just have to say: "I know why I'm doing this, if no-one else understands, then so be it."
Posted by JulieK on
I agree with you. But what do you do when your hubby has a very stationary job and doesn't have an risk-taking personality? I'd love to sell it all and drive around in an RV or something but... he would not. So we're trying to find a happy medium of traveling as much as we can during his vacations. (he's a teacher - switching jobs is actually rather hard these days b/c nobody wants to hire an 18 year veteran teacher so switching schools can be risky).

Curious about your thoughts on how to travel on a budget AND keep your house/car! :)
Posted by admin on
So great to hear from you all. I have messaged you all privately with my answers to your questions and will be doing a followup post soon, specially in answer to your questions JulieK. Thank you for writing & reading!
Posted by Karla on
Wow, what a great story.
You were meant to enlighten this person and make him realize that he was stopping himself or finding excuses and not really live his dreams!
In this society, security is what everyone is running after even though it does not exist. Accumulating stuff is not a safety net is it?
I too find it hard to explain the reason why I love traveling so much! My family & friends still can't understand why I won't be chained to a desk or tied to a house or a car like they are!
I prefer being out there wandering around in the world and truly live life to the max and feeling fulfilled.
Congratulations for doing what you love and bringing your family along for the ride!
Posted by Boot on
Love it!! Love the Helen Keller quote so much it is now my cover page on Facebook. I travel as often as I step selling my house and traveling more!! Loved meeting you and your family in Belize and meeting up again in New Orleans (even though I was a bit under the weather). Hope to catch up to you soon!! Australia when you finally get back home....
Posted by Beth on
I completely agree! I've encountered similar situations of people telling me they wish they could travel like I do. Whenever I tell them they can, they just string together a long chain of excuses. The only thing stopping you is you, indeed!
Posted by Jenna on
Well said! Such a great post. It's so true--don't wait for things to be perfect because that day will never come. Just get out and find a way to follow your dreams. Life is too short. So glad you are following your dreams!
Posted by Marysia @ My Travel Affairs on
I always go for optimism and solutions :)
Posted by Ron | Active Planet Travels on
I get the same question all of the time too. Soemtimes, it just takes time for people to open up and realize that it is indeed THEM that is stopping them from fulfilling their dreams. Not their mortgage, rent, vehicles, loans or anything else. I see you handled the situation well though! Can't wait to meet up at the next TBEX conference! ;-)
Posted by Bret @ GGT on
It's a great fantasy that everyone can have this nomadic life, but it's just not reality for 90+% of the human population. And for a lot of people it has nothing to do with fear or reluctance or a lack of wherewithal, but circumstance. For instance, I'm the divorced father of a 12-year-old daughter who needs me. I have 50/50 custody. I can't just leave and abandon my responsibility to her, even if I wanted to. Other people have pensions they've invested 10-15 years into building up, and will lose them if they travel full-time. There are lots of reasons why people don't travel as much as they'd like to, and this notion that anyone can do it is really hogwash.
Posted by Erin on
Thanks again everyone.
@Bret - I totally agree with you. Nomadic travel isn't for everyone and I think the post says that very clear. It's about whatever your dream is to chase it down - travel or other.
"If you think you’ll lose, you’re lost
For in the world we find
Success begins with a fellow’s will
It’s all in the state of mind....
Life’s battles don’t always go
to the stronger or faster man (woman)
But soon or late the one who wins
is the one who thinks they can!”
Posted by Megan Claire on
Thankyou for writing this post - I think the majority of people don't realize they are holding themselves back and the only thing they need to do is decide to go! Decide to make the plunge - believe in yourself and you're halfway there!!
Posted by Josie on
This is a valuable subject Erin. Sometimes the first step is indeed the hardest!
Wishing you safe and happy travels,
Posted by Julian on
You are absolutely right! Our own minds, fears, and convention limit our dreams being fulfilled. After working in a corporate world for 35 years, we left "safety" at the ages 53/52 and have spent the past 6 years owning and managing a holiday resort on an island in Thailand. My motto in life is that one has to make it happen, it won't happen on it's own. And when asked why we did it, my reply is the same quote you used "you only live once".

But I found an addition to that quote that suits this blog perfectly: "You only live once, but if you do it right, once is enough!" Mae West. Wonderful! If you're contemplating, "just do it!".
Posted by Carrie Thornton on
This is so great and has stirred me. We want to go on more holidays but are so afraid of something bad happening to our kids or our kids getting sick. We need to work on letting go of our fears!
Posted by Lindsay Nieminen on
thanks for forwarding this link to me! It's what I need to hear! Not the nay-Sayers, not the people who say "why" those who say GO FOR IT! For my Taylor Swifts's line "today is a new day / to be brand new" resonates with me over and over. I know I can do it. Soon!
Posted by Rachel Louise Sadler on
Brilliant post! Its easy to put excuses in the way!
Posted by Alexandra Wilson on
Great post!
Posted by JetSetting Fools on
Posted by Sarah Hopa on
Love this. Thanks Erin :)
Posted by Karen Dixon on
Curious where the Benders are in 2017 and what they will do in 2018 :) Kids must be travel experts by now as well!
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