Since my return to the States, dozens of people have said to me, “I wish I could do what you did.”

I usually tell them: “You can. Why don’t you?”

The answer is always the same. “I can’t leave my job” or “I don’t have the money” or “I have too many responsibilities.”

The truth is, you can skirt around nearly all of these obstacles if you really want to see the world.

Sometimes we get so sucked into the rat race that we forget who’s making decisions in our lives: we are. We take on all those responsibilities, and we can shed them if we want to.

I know what you’re thinking. “It’s not so easy. I have a mortgage payment!”

Of course it’s not easy. Dropping everything to travel requires a change of mindset, and a few sacrifices.

You’ve gotta think outside the box. Do you really need that apartment or house? You think you do, but you probably don’t. This is one of the easiest excuses to fix. Give it up or sell it, and get a new one when you come back. Maybe after you see how other people live, you’ll have a different idea of what you want anyhow.

What about your job? A year ago, I would have suggested you leave it and simply find another when you get back. With this tanking economy, it’s not that easy. But you can still make that work as long as you create a safety net for yourself, either savings to live off upon your return or a free place to stay while you look for a job. (After 10 years on my own, I moved in with my parents after my trip so I could afford to write a book and find a new job. It wasn’t ideal, but that was my sacrifice.)

Now, money. This is a tricky one. You DO need money to travel, and you need savings to keep you afloat when you get back. But it’s not impossible to save that money. Move into a cheaper apartment for a year. Avoid your monthly shopping spree. Figure out what expenditures you can cut out, and stick to it. What’s your priority: that new plush armchair, or seeing the sunset in Bolivia? It will be worth it when you’re finally in a country halfway across the world.

The only common excuse that really sticks? Kids. Once your children are in school, it’s difficult to pick up and leave for six months. But plenty of travelers bring younger children on the road with them and choose kid-friendly destinations.

Purging everything society says you need — a huge house, too many belongings, your rat-race mindset — to pursue something you really want may actually be freeing. It was for me.

So GO! Figure out how to make it work, because there is a way. Go! You won’t regret it.

If you’re still not convinced, check out my list of logistical and inspiring resources.

UPDATE: Because travel advice is the best kind, ideas from Madator about how to tell your family you’re leaving to travel.

And, from Brave New Traveler, 12 personal travel Web sites that will make you want to quit your day job.

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