Reprinted from How to Travel the World on $50 a Day by Matt Kepnes by arrangement with Perigee, a member of Penguin Group (USA) Inc., Copyright (c) 2013 by Matthew Kepnes.
The most difficult part about traveling the world isn't the logistics of the trip -- it's finding the motivation to go. It takes a lot of courage to leave your life and journey into the unknown. It's the step that most people never get past. For me, it took a trip to Thailand to get me to make the leap. For others, it's a lot more difficult. Instead of the nudge I required, some people require a full-on shove.
While most of my book talks about the practical, financial side of travel, the first thing I want to tell you is that you don't need to be afraid of traveling the world. It's only natural to second-guess yourself when making a big life change.
And this is a big change.
One of the most common emails I receive asks me whether or not someone should travel the world. Do they quit their job and go for it? Are they in the right stage of life? Will everything be OK if they leave? Will they get a job when they return? These emails are peppered with nervous excitement over travel's endless possibilities, but there is also always one underlying tone to the emails: "Matt, I want to go, but I'm also afraid. I need someone to tell me it will be all right."
In my meetings with strangers, they pepper me with questions about my trip. People are curious about my travels, experience and how I got started doing this. They dream of traveling the world. "It must be such the adventure," they tell me, "I wish I could do it." And when I ask them what stops them, they come up with a book full of excuses as to why they can't:
- I can't afford my trip.
- I have too many responsibilities at home.
- I won't be able to make friends on the road. I don't want to be alone.
- I have too many bills to pay.
- I'm not sure I could do it.
- I'm simply too scared.
With all that fear and doubt, it's easier for someone to stay home in his or her comfort zone than to break out and travel the world. As the saying goes, "People go with the devil they know over the devil they don't." Home is our safe zone. We know it. We understand it. We may not always like it, but we get it. In the end, held back by their own fears, most people stay home, dreaming of that "one perfect day" they will finally travel.
But you know what? That day never comes. It will never be perfect.
￼￼￼￼￼￼￼￼￼Tomorrow, you'll still have bills.
Tomorrow, you still won't have just the right amount of money. Tomorrow, there will still be someone's wedding to attend or a birthday party to go to.
Tomorrow, you will still second-guess yourself.
Tomorrow, you'll find another excuse as to why you can't go. Tomorrow, people you know will still feed the seeds of doubt in your head.
Tomorrow will come and you'll say, "Today isn't the right day. Let's go tomorrow."
Dropping everything to travel takes a lot of courage, and while many people claim "real world responsibilities" are the reason for not traveling, I think fear of the unknown is really what holds people back.
If you are interested in my book, you are probably already on the right track. Taking a long-term trip is already on your mind. Maybe you are already committed or still on the fence about it. But no matter what side of the coin you fall on, know that even the most experienced travelers had doubts when they began.
I want to reassure you that you are doing the right thing. Right here. Right now.
For every excuse, there is a solution.
As people in your life offer both praise and criticism of your trip, you may be normal to have these fears. Just remember the above tips, calm your nerves and ease your fears.
Your future may hold mouthwatering meals in foreign countries, tropical beaches you only thought existed in a postcard, winding alleyways in European cities that throw you back into the Middle Ages or jungles so dense and teeming with wildlife you'll feel like you are living in an issue of National Geographic magazine.