Most people say that they’d love to travel, but most of those same people never do. Why? There is a common archive of responses including, but not limited to: I can’t afford it. I don’t have the time. I have responsibilities. I’m scared. While these reasons sound legitimate, there isn’t one that can’t be dealt with. So, what do you need to travel the world? It’s simple: a desire to do so.
I’ve always loved maps. Ever since I was a kid, I would gaze at them and dream of what it would be like to actually go to those places. They seemed so exotic and far away, even on a 3 x 2 piece of paper. This thirst only became stronger as I aged, but I found myself suppressing it. How could I ever afford such trips? Where would I stay? I must work. It isn’t safe. Thoughts like this, along with the soul-crushing pressures imposed by societal norms, didn’t leave me feeling very optimistic about my travel dreams. I felt like I had struck out before even stepping up to bat.
That all changed when I went off to Poland on my own. After having a mild internal anxiety attack for the first 5 hours of the flight (it was my first Transatlantic flight), I began to feel uncontrollably excited. From the moment I saw land again, I knew that I was about to experience something incredible. You could feel this, too. Fear is a normal emotion, and it acts as a driving force behind a lot of our decision making. Without it, we would have been doomed as a species long ago. Embrace it, and use it to your advantage. Look fear in the face and kick its ass. Throw out your guidebook and open your eyes. Media coverage heightens fear in a detrimental way, causing people have a negative outlook on the world. It leads them to feel as though they will not be safe outside of their home country. A few months ago, I was watching a British newscast that was focusing on the instability of Bulgaria because of its infamous mafia. Now, I can only speak for places that I have lived, but I felt considerably more on edge while walking home from work alone at 11:30 at night in Roxbury (an area of Boston) than while standing on the side of a Bulgarian road with my thumb out. In fact, Bulgaria turned out to be one my favorite places that I’ve visited, and I returned there several times to visit friends. My point is this: do not less fear prevent you from doing something that you truly want to do. Use common sense and be aware of your surroundings, but do not let one article you read or one community’s opinion make the decision for you.
If you want to travel the world, do it. You only have yourself to blame if you don’t. If money is your issue, make a plan. You’d be amazed at how much money you could put aside if you bought a few less coffees a week and didn’t pay to get your nails done. The possibilities are endless (and simple). Think about your priorities, and assess if they are truly yours. If you think that doing something new might make you happy, prioritize it. It may take time, which will require patience, dedication, and determination, but the best things are worth fighting for. You also need to consider what kind of experience you wish to have. Staying in hotels, eating at nice restaurants, and paying for admittance to popular tourist attractions will obviously empty your pockets quicker. For extended travel and to experience the world in a more personal and raw way, you will need to become comfortable with being uncomfortable. Using Couchsurfing and Workaway allows you to connect with people; it may also involve sleeping on the floor and cleaning a hostel. Again, priorities. Balance the pros and cons; will the enjoyment outweigh the potential discomfort? If not, change your game plan. Things don’t always need to be as difficult as we make them. Cut the excuses and do something about it. Only you can do for you.
So do it. It just might be the best decision of your life.