You want to travel the world and see it all. You sit there scowling at your screen as you watch your friends grace the globe through their Instagram posts. Oh she must be rich! Where did he get all that money? I wish I had a travel buddy to go with.
Like you, I wanted to explore, experience the different cultures, learn a new language, heard many stories from friends, read a million variations of articles on Why I Should Solo Travel, watched Eat, Pray, Love and Into the Wild only to feel inspired for all of thirty seconds before that inner voice starts with all the What If’s and self-doubts. Don’t let what stopped me before, stop you.
It’s Too Expensive!
Everything comes with a price so why settle for something less?
Initially, I intended to backpack around Asia. I figured it would be easier to adapt since I’m Asian. But why did Europe seem so implausible? It’s still traveling… but only a little further right? If I can save for two months and be able to travel around South-East Asia then why not be a little patient and go to seemingly phantasmagoric continents?
When I told people of my plans to go to Europe they looked at me in awe and assumed I was rich. Well forgive me for my pragmatic and frugal ways but for all you cynics out there, it was by no means an easy feat. I quit smoking, survived on crappy sandwiches I made and two dollar burgers from Mcdonald’s for months. I spent many weekends at home, skipping outings with friends which involved indulgences exceeding ten bucks. Isn’t that boring? Yes but it was worth it.
I’ve Got No One to Go With
Being an introvert, I can honestly say that being around people drains my soul. You wouldn’t want to spend thirty days seeing the same person/people every time. It gets boring and you won’t challenge yourself.
Here’s my male underwear theory; briefs are tight but provide comfort. They give you an assured sense of security. A pair of boxers allows for things to be a tad bit loose but you only get timely whiffs of ventilation. But do you know what none of those provide though?
Total freedom and the immunity from any obligations!
How many times have you sacrificed your happiness, compromised and did what your friends wanted to do? Don’t you wish you could not care about the rest and do what you want to do for once? Be selfish! Millions of people are exploring the world on their own while you sit behind the desk reading this. The world isn’t going to stop for you to take that step, so stop contemplating and let loose!
Will I Feel Lonely?
You’re comfortable being by yourself but you want to share with your friends back home about all the wonderful people you met and all the fun things you did with them. That means you got to get out of your cocoon.
We’re always mistaken for being anti-social but we just find it intimidating make the approach. Quick question; people love talking about themselves right? Then make them do all the talking! Keep asking questions and branch out from there. It’s effortless and it worked for me.
Sometimes your roommates are awesome, other times they’re boring. Yes, there were times I felt lonely. I put myself out there but everyone seemed to be in their own world or they feel comfortable with their friends. It was disheartening to see everyone having fun while I sat in the corner awkwardly. All I can say it boiled down to bad timing and luck.
The right people will come, stay strong and embrace the alone time.
What If I Get Lost?
That’s the best part! No matter how cut and dried your plans are, you’ll still find yourself wandering about aimlessly. Accede for serendipity. You might even discover things unheard of on TripAdvisor or Rick Steves’ guidebooks. Personally, I feel smartphones cripple the very idea of adventure so I went with the good old fashioned way of using paper maps provided by hostels.
For most parts, my navigational skills were a huge let down and it took me hours to get to where I wanted to be. It was tiring but I discovered many nook and crannies along the way. Sometimes, I was forced to seek guidance from locals and you know what? Those short interactions with them made my journey even more purposeful. As they say, it’s all about the journey, not the destination. No matter, if you’re still worried about getting lost you can always have the comfort of knowing that there’s public transportation.
I Cannot Eat Alone In Public!
The thought of doing things alone is daunting but if you’re always going to depend on people then how will you ever grow as an individual?
A guy is in the restaurant dining alone, do you A) think he’s a loser or B) admire that he’s comfortable being alone? Yes, no, probably? Well does he care about what you think? NO!
Challenge yourself; Go to your neighborhood coffee shop, cafe or bar, grab a seat and order something. Don’t pretend to be busy using your phone. Wifi isn’t so accessible anymore when you’re overseas. Instead, just sit there idly and watch life and the idiosyncrasies of its peculiar characters. Perverse as it may seem, it was pretty interesting and you’ll have the time of your life.
Somebody’s Going to Rob & Stab Me
You know those horror flicks where the girl is screaming her lungs out because there’s a psycho killer in her house who wants to kill people for no reason? Instead of staying in for the entirety of the movie and getting killed in the end, she could have just… left the house right?
Use a little common sense. I come from one of the safest countries in the world so it scared me when people warned me about tourists getting mugged or murdered. I got over the naivety eventually. Take the safety precautions, don’t give tell-tale signs that you’re a tourist and try to blend in.
Harsh reality is that these things can happen to anyone and nothing is for certain. Never fight back. Face it; you don’t have those special set of skills and neither does Liam Neeson. They can take your life if they wanted to. Nevertheless, don’t let fear consume you. It’s natural to be scared but don’t reek of fear. It’s all in your mind and it’s only as bad as you make it out to be.
I Got a Job Therefore I have No Time
The common mans’ self-justification.
Flight tickets to other continents aren’t cheap and it makes monetary sense to spend longer time there to explore more. Unless, you’re willing to quit your job and go on a vagabond journey, I suggest you hold your horses. Your yearly furlough probably wouldn’t be enough to explore to your heart’s content but can still be done. It’ll just take a longer time. Spending long time away seems galvanizing but you will begin to miss that sense of familiarity no matter how much you convince yourself you won’t. A shorter time helps make your trip less exhausting and you’ll cherish your time out there more.