You dream about laying out in Cancun on the Gulf of Mexico. You can taste the dryness or sweetness of your wine in Italy. You get chills thinking about the cold wind touching your face when hiking through the Himalayas. You can picture the best Instagram photo with the white houses in the Cycladic Islands in Greece. These are only a few of the dreamy thoughts you have when it comes to traveling outside the country. Yet, it’s also very common to be scared of doing it. It could simply be not knowing the language, being surrounded by unfamiliar people or the culture shock.
It’s okay to feel this way. Particularly when you are used to understanding and doing things easily in your country. Having to put any kind of effort into doing something new can be scary especially when you might run the risk of doing it wrong. But doing it wrong and making mistakes gives you the opportunity to learn how to do it right. Without having that option, how would we ever evolve as humans? I’ve been in your shoes and tested the challenges.
Traveling with people could be super fun and more secured. However, it could also be a big pain in the ass. Having to negotiate with your friends where to go, at what time, or what’s next could be dreadful. Traveling alone makes you the pilot of your journey. You have the opportunity to change your plans in any way without the approval of anyone. Believe me, you will most likely have multiple tweaks in your itinerary. It never goes the way it’s supposed to. Not due to a negative reason but because maybe there is something better. You can do all the research and learn everything there is to do at your destination but you won’t know for sure until you’re actually present.
Traveling alone will give you the freedom to make these kinds of changes. The most common feedback I get from people who fear of traveling is being alone the entire time. Note, you might not actually be by yourself for the entirety of your trip. This is a great opportunity to meet new people and travelers. There are many cases when solo travelers meet at a hostel and venture off together to their adventures. Whatever way it results in, I promise that doing everything you want and on your own time will give you a better traveling experience.
Fear towards anything is created based on what you know or experience. How do you initially know anything about everything? It’s either what you are taught, watching the news, word of mouth or simply reading anything informational. Media and society are good at molding your mind to think a certain away about places and travel. But there is a large percentage in the globe of many people who despite what they hear, see or read still go into that exploring path. You are not alone. Don’t feel that you might be doing something so wild like swimming with the sharks in the ocean. In this age, we have the tools to make it accessible and easy to make any trip pleasurable or better than we can imagine.
Even while on your trip, if any case something goes wrong, you won’t simply just shrug your shoulders and say “Oh well, the trip is over,” and go home. You will find a way to fix it. You’ve made it this far, you won’t allow yourself to give in that easily. Yet, don’t throw those kinds of thoughts in your head already. I’m telling you first hand, the feeling you experience when you sit down in the airport right before you depart to a new place is ridiculously inexpressible. Once the plane starts lifting off, there’s no turning back. You’ll feel shaky and antsy but that’s you battling your fear within. You’ve officially have overcome that challenge.
I’m going to tell you right now, if you are traveling alone, do not in any way act like you’re a foreigner that doesn’t know the ropes once you arrive. Yeah, yeah, you are brand new but don’t make it obvious. You will be an immediate target from tour guides, cab drivers or even locals possibly taking advantage of you. This is where researching and talking to people who have been come into play.
Before I went to India, I spoke to a lot of people and read many articles about traveling in the country. I got some of the best advice that once I arrived, my confidence level was grand and I was able to manage situations well. These include saving a lot of money by negotiating prices with offers, learned the basic lingo to communicate with locals, avoiding scams and much more. I’m not saying I had it all together but it did make my decisions on doing certain things while traveling easier. I felt confident and people who came my way trying to offer me either higher priced items or simply even wanted to carry my luggage at the airport for money, back off. All because I knew how to handle that situation and I didn’t make myself look like a newbie.
You will learn when and who to trust and open up about being brand new. You have to start before you begin your trip. Once you get to your destination, you’ll feel better when you experience or see things less unfamiliar because you already know how to handle it.
As I mentioned before, living in your culture is simply easy since it’s your lifestyle. You don’t need help from locals or have to keep questioning what you are doing. Thus, when traveling alone into a new place, you become a little more dependent on the locals in order to survive. This gives you an opportunity to learn their lifestyle. Remember you ARE a foreigner visiting their country. You don’t want to do anything that might seem disrespectful or inconsiderate. So learn some of the basic practices.
The ladies of India are very modest. The weather was hot and humid but they still wore pants and sometimes long sleeve shirts. You would immediately catch the attention of others if you wore shorts or a dress above the knees in the daytime. There isn’t anything wrong with it, however, it’s not common to doing so. 90% of the time, I wouldn’t see ladies wearing Americanized clothing. This urged me to dress alike and I loved every moment of it. Another custom I had to get used to was the maids within the household. These live-in maids do everything for you from cooking food to making your bed. I was really surprised initially the first time I saw a little boy offering to take my luggage. I said no ‘thank you’ but then I realized it was his job. Don’t judge their practices. There are many things your home country probably does that would be weird for other tourists. As long as you keep an open mind, you will eventually learn slowly their cultural ways and will adapt to it.
Taking everything mentioned above and putting it together will reveal a brand new you! Once you start getting out of your comfort zone and trying new things, you will see a different version of yourself. You’ll know the taste of different foods, learn maybe a new language, new practices and a new outlook on life. You won’t have to think twice about something because you’ll know what it feels like to discover something brand new. In fact, you’ll start hunting for new things to try and explore.
Unleashing this brand new you is going to be a huge eye-opener. I encourage you and anyone to travel at least once in their life alone outside the country. You will have a better understanding of what else exists beyond your home. You will mature more and again, view things completely differently. I always say that traveling is the best teacher in life.
Traveling alone will be the self-empowerment you need to concur with anything else that life throws at you.