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Can You Ever Have Too Much Freedom?

by Globetrooper Todd | 21 Responses
Too Much Freedom

Imagine visiting an ice creamery with 195 different flavours. Looking across the counter, your mind conjures up vivid taste-bud imagery: the sweet tang of sour apple, the velvety texture of mango cream, the bubble-gum fruitiness of rainbow swirl… they all tantalise you in their own unique way.

Okay, time to decide. May I please have the… umm… umm… You stand there, paralyzed by indecision. But why? This is your moment, anything you want, the world is your oyster. Or at least the ice creamery is your oyster. It has opened up, allowed you in, given you free reign, and now… nothing. You sad, sad, connoisseur of ice cream. You’re a mess.

We’ve dreamt about it for so long: 100% location independence, free to travel to any place on the planet, free to stay forever. But just like the ice creamery, we have about 195 different options. That’s how many countries we have to choose from, according to the United Nations’ definition.

Don’t get me wrong, I’m 100% grateful for this predicament, and as they say, it’s a great problem to have. But it’s an odd problem nonetheless, which is why I thought I’d pose a question to you (at the end of the post).

I’m not the only indecisive one though. Over at Traveling Savage, Keith was trying to decide where he should spend a month in Argentina (Buenos Aires, Mendoza, Cordoba or Salta). As I read his thoughts and the 70+ comments from his loyal readers, I could feel his frustration. I could hear him flicking obsessively through websites, poring over detailed personal accounts, reading out-of-date travel advisories, seeking advice from his closest friends, doing everything he could to make an ‘informed’ decision.

World Map

Decisions, Decisions. Where to go? - The Library of Congress

But can we really make an ‘informed’ decision about a place we’ve never visited? I think so, even if some elements will always be a gamble.

We went through the same process before choosing to spend 3 months in Montreal. Now, it’s our favourite city on the planet. Not because we feel some strange obligation to say we enjoy everywhere we go, but because we clicked with the city on so many levels. Sure, we haven’t endured a Montreal winter yet, and sure, there are downsides to such liberalism, but it really opened our eyes to how we define ‘quality of life’. And without the research beforehand, I don’t think we would have hit such a jackpot.

Anyway, I don’t want to get too philosophical here. It’s just interesting to see how we deal with such abundant freedom. Which brings me to the question I talked about earlier:

If you could go anywhere, for any amount of time, and had to book the tickets right now, where would you go? And, more importantly, is it an easy decision for you to make?

Luckily for Keith, I believe he’s reached a decision to spend some time in the culture-rich city of Salta. And I feel relieved too, not just for him, but for us because we’ve now decided to spend a few months in the nature-rich Argentine city of San Carlos de Bariloche. Hopefully, we can catch up with Keith in Salta, and even Marcello from Wandering Trader who’s already in BA.

By the way, if you have any info on Bariloche, we’d love to hear about it, but only if it’s positive, because we don’t want to go through this again, at least for another few months. :)

Posted in Adventure Travel | September 15th, 2010

21 Responses to Can You Ever Have Too Much Freedom?

  1. Well interestingly I wanted to go everywhere when I was younger and did manage to get to a lot of places but didnt really get into the culture cause I only stayed a couple of days in each port in Europe. Nowadays though I’m a bit picky – I’d like to go to Bellagio in Italy and Santorini in Greece and I would probably just stay there in those places for a bit. I’m much more interested in staying a bit still and getting to know a place more and just soak up the atmosphere, bit like how you have been doing Montreal. Its interesting how some places and the travelling a lot in general just doesnt do it for me anymore – and the need to touch base with home and the familiarity of that is more important now too. Different thoughts from the oldie!

    • Hi Heather! I love that you and Holly have been getting in touch via the blog :) Yes, I absolutely agree about staying longer. I’m not a fan of the chaos surrounding “travel”, but we loved settling down in Montreal. At home I felt a year could just past by and you wouldn’t be sure what happened. But 3 months here and 3 months there really adds some much needed variety to life (especially to someone who used to work in finance). Maybe we can do 3 months in Italy together, when it gets warm.

      • Hi Todd,
        3 months in Italy sounds fab! we could even sneak over to the French riviera for a visit…..

  2. I’m afraid our experience in Bariloche is only limited to a few days, but the chocolate there is fantastic. Not that chocolate should make or break a decision, but it’s always good to be on the positive side of that coin :)

    We’re currently in Berlin and love it, but I’m already starting to think of where to go next to avoid winter in Europe. Southeast Asia is calling my name again, so I think I’d book tickets to Bangkok and then figure it out from there. I figure that it’s always worth trying a place out and if you don’t like it, you can always leave.

    • We need fuel to train for our Gobi 2011 expedition and there’s no fuel like chocolate and steak :) Just not sure how the wine will affect our training motivation.

      We hear so many great things about Berlin, especially while we were in Montreal. It seemed that people who loved Montreal also loved Berlin just as much. And of course Thailand is an Australian favourite. It was on our shortlist with Argentina, but we figured while we were in Peru, it would be best to stay local.

      PS Love your Argentine wine post, great read.

  3. It definitely is a great problem to have. We’re currently planning our RTW trip and seem to be going around in circles somewhat. Should we go here? Should we go there? The fact we can do anything we want makes it all much harder!

    At the end of the day though, we see there being no wrong answer – whatever we decide, we’re sure we’re going to have an amazing time!

    To answer your question, if we had to book one place right now it would be NYC. We didn’t have time to travel to the East Coast on our last USA trip and feel like we missed out big time! That is an easy decision, but where to from there? That’s the dilemma we’re facing now!

    • Hey Kieron, thanks for dropping by; love your blog too. I still haven’t been to NYC; I’ve come close (Montreal), but never made it. One day soon.

  4. I keep a “short list” of places to consider going/living/working, so that when given the opportunity, it doesn’t take me long to decide. It helps that I have contacts in various countries whom I could live with to get started, or job contacts, but in general, it has never been very difficult for me to decide where to go. Honestly, I’m happy to go pretty much anywhere, as everywhere in the world, from rural Nebraska to Moscow, is interesting if you look at it that way. It’s all about perspective.

    (For those curious, short list includes: teaching English in Nepal, doing web design in Vietnam, working on a vineyard in Argentina, working with herders in Mongolia)

    • Hey Kesley, great shortlist. I have a shortlist too, and the choice always seems obvious, until I have to book the ticket. How do you rank Nepal vs Vietnam vs Argentina, etc? I’m honestly a very decisive person, normally, but when it comes to this, it all comes undone :) Maybe we can catch up in one of those countries soon. We’re heading to India in Feb, Mongolia in May, so we’ll be in the area… sort of (well closer than we are now).

      • It’s not about ranking, it’s about equality. They’re all equal in my mind, as are most countries. If I had to leave tomorrow, I’d go to Vietnam or Argentina due to weather concerns. If next summer, Nepal. I am not all that picky about where I go, because I know I’ll get to all of them eventually.

      • I may be joining up with Gobi2011 for a portion of it. I’m doing my own 6-month project in Mongolia from April to October next year, and Ripley and I have been talking a bit about collaborating.

    • Just checked out your blog, wow, love the look and feel in the main picture.

      • Which photo? The top post? That’s just the image for that given post. But, thanks!

      • Oops, words got minced… I meant to say I love the Look and Feel AND the main pic.

      • Ah! I was confused, but I get it now. If you look at each post, there’s a link at the bottom to who the photographer is. Though if there’s no notation, the photo is one of my own.

      • Yes, we’ve talked before about it, I personally can’t wait for Mongolia. Here’s the link to Kelsey’s Mongolia Experiment for those interested:

  5. Hi Todd
    It’s the paradox of choice. The more options we have the more difficult it gets to decide, and the likelihood of being unhappy with our choice increases :). For instance, if I could go anywhere right now, I’d probably pick Japan, but I’m sure that the real experience would be quite different from my current notion of what I’d like to see and do there.

    • Good points Nic. Though I have to say we’ve been pretty happy with our choices so far. I’m not sure what it is. I’m certainly not one of those “no regrets” people; I’ll be the first to regret something if it sucks. But I absolutely loved Montreal (our first stop on this trip) and want to move back there instead of back to Sydney when this trip finishes. And now in Peru, I’m realising how you can have a very similar life here compared to Sydney at a quarter of the cost. But we’re gradually travelling to more developing nations, so we’ll see how this holds up.

  6. I want to go everywhere! I want to sample all 195 flavours:) The place I most want to go, is anyplace I’ve never been. It’s all a part of my Bucket List quest. I want to check it all out… before I check out. Right now, I’m at the mercy of sponsors, but I never complain -there is adventure everywhere.

  7. Thanks for your information. I love travelling, esp when it comes to Asia

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