Once you have made the decision to go it alone, you’ll soon realise that not everyone will share the same enthusiasm for your big trip. If I can travel to 112 countries solo, you can definitely do it! Here are the most common myths about traveling abroad and how to get past them.
Common Myths About Traveling Abroad
“Aren’t you too old? Aren’t you scared? How can you afford that? I wouldn’t go there if I were you!”
Be prepared that not everyone will see the world with the same passion that you have. They wouldn’t do it so they don’t understand others who do and are just projecting their fears onto you.
Some may have never travelled solo or have even left the country, having a perspective of the world based on what they have seen in the news. Don’t let their fears become yours. As with each roadblock, there are travel myths to be crushed.
“I’m too old to travel”
First thing’s first – you’re never too old to travel. That is an absolute myth. Whether you are in your twenties, thirties, forties or fifties, travel is ageless. I have met people on the road who are sixty plus. An age shouldn’t define you. More and more of us are looking to escape the rat race, opting for a more balanced way of life and realising that gap years aren’t just for students.
Travelling in your twenties may have a different purpose than a soul-searching trip in your later years, but there is something out there for everyone whether it’s culture, cuisine, wellness travel or just wanting to let your hair down and go wild in some coastal resort.
The travel industry caters to everyones needs and if you don’t have a desire to hang around with twenty year-old party goers, then avoid those kind of hostels and stay in hotels or homestays instead.
Tour buses may be great for youngsters but if you prefer a maturer crowd, then a coach trip may be more suitable. Look for tours that fit in with your interests rather than your age. You’ll soon find that age on the road doesn’t really exist, it’s what you are like that matters.
“Travel is too expensive”
Travel is as expensive as you want it to be. If you pick expensive countries such as Western Europe, stay in five star hotels and eat out every night then yes, it is expensive and you’ll soon find that your money won’t go far.
Fast travel will eat into your budget as you’ll want to experience each country and see as much as possible in a short amount of time. If you’re going to be away longer than a few weeks, consider picking up some work to supplement your travel funds.
It’s not uncommon to see people travelling on a one-way flight and earning enough money when they are out there to buy a flight back home again.
You could fruit pick, work in a hostel or on an organic farm in exchange for accommodation or if you need an income then consider teaching English. There are plenty of opportunities.
“Solo travel sounds great but it’s really not the right time”
Really, why not? Believe it or not, there is probably never going to be a perfect time to go; there will always be something to stop you if you let it. Do you know how many people decide to do it then change their mind because something “comes up?” Don’t let that be you.
Of course, there may be real legitimate reasons but for every one of them, there’s a solution.
This is going to be one of the best things (if not THE best thing) that you will ever do, so whatever excuse you think you have, it’s time to overcome those roadblocks and clear the path to your dream trip. Are any of these stopping you?
“I don’t have enough money”
This has got to be the biggest hurdle but not all travel has to be expensive. Consider countries that are cheaper such as South East Asia, Bolivia, or the Baltics in Europe. Spending a week in these countries can work out even cheaper than spending a week in your home country.
Your biggest cost is going to be airfare so the more flexible you are with dates the better. Travelling short-haul will help keep your budget lower but look at other options such as travelling overland or cargo boats instead.
“Shouldn’t I be studying instead?”
Choosing to travel before you enter the job market is no longer frowned upon by future employers and can actually be beneficial for your CV. Where else can you get an education of life experiences, cultures, and learn invaluable skills such as budgeting, than by travelling by yourself?
Travelling solo will not only prepare you to enter the job market but it will give you a life perspective that other students may not have.
Not only will you encounter so many others on their gap years, but you may even come back with the desire to do something completely different. If you’re thinking of taking a career break before going back into education at a later age, travelling will give you a break from life and the clarity that you’re on the right path.
“What about my job?”
Travelling by yourself doesn’t have to mean leaving everything behind for months. Even a trip for a week, or a fortnight, is enough to give you a taste of travelling and re-energise you so that you’re ready to throw yourself back into home life again. If you want to go for longer, then see if you can take an extended break or unpaid leave from your job. You never know, they may even hold it open for you.
You may be worried about the ease of finding another job when you return home but is there really any job security nowadays? Just because you stay in your job doesn’t mean that it’s guaranteed for the next few years.
Leaving a job isn’t for everyone but going away will give you the time and space to really think about what you want to do. You could even come back with a complete change of heart, wanting to start your own business, or just eager to start saving to do it all over again.
“What about my apartment?”
If you are planning a six-month trip or longer, consider renting your apartment through an agent or check with friends who may need a place to rent temporarily. Many people feel tied because of property commitments but getting the mortgage payments covered can be easy if you rent it out. You may even have some left over towards your trip each month. That way you know you have somewhere to come back to when (or if), you decide to come back home.
“I’m going through a hard time”
If you are going through a hard time in your life, making plans to travel can help guide you through a bleak period. Maybe you’re suffering from stress, a breakup or bereavement. No matter what life event is happening in your life right now, a change can be the best thing to get you back on the road to recovery and give you a new perspective on life.
Don’t allow others or society to pass their judgement onto you about what you should be doing at this point in your life. No one knows what’s around the corner so giving yourself a change of scenery can only improve your happiness factor and prepare you for a new phase of your life. Who knows, you may even fall in love on the road and decide to take a new path in your life.
“I can’t speak any languages”
Unless you’re travelling to Latin America, you really don’t have to be fluent in another language as English is spoken in so many places. Don’t take this as an excuse to not learn some of the languages for your chosen country, but if you’re travelling through five different countries there’s no way you can learn every single language.
But just knowing the key phrases can really help you to get by. Not only will the locals appreciate it and be more helpful towards you, it will also increase your confidence and reduce your chances of getting charged tourist prices.
“I don’t know if I can do it alone”
You can, but if you’re really not sure then test drive your solo trip by going away by yourself for a weekend first. It could be something as simple as a camping trip or just book yourself into a hostel or hotel in your home town. You’ll soon get the confidence to want to do it for longer.
If the thought of travelling solo really is too much then why not consider a group tour for the first part of your trip. Not only will this help you get your bearings in a country (especially if you’ve not travelled before), but it will give you that little nudge of confidence to want to go it alone afterwards.
It’s not cheating as a solo, especially if you want to go to countries that you may feel nervous about travelling to alone.
“I don’t know where to go”
That’s why you’ve come to this site! With so many countries in the world to choose from, it can be overwhelming deciding where to go. Do you fancy the sensory overload of India, the culinary flair of Italy or the deserts of the Middle East?
You can even combine your bucket list of places with a round-the-world ticket to get more out of your trip and save the other countries for a later date.
“The world is a scary place”
One of the biggest common myths about traveling abroad, especially if you travel alone is that the world is too scary. But it is really?
Crime can happen anywhere. Admittedly some countries are much safer than others but if you listen to locals and avoid the places they advise not to go to, then travel will be no more scary than your own capital city.
Crimes can happen especially in poorer countries, but pickpocketing is so widespread that it can happen almost everywhere. The best way to minimise any trouble is to avoid wearing designer clothes, expensive watches or jewellery and you’ll adapt more to your surroundings and be less of a target.
Tourism plays a huge part in the income of many countries and if the police can avoid tourist-related crimes, they generally will. Negative press will damage their reputation, and possibly their livelihood, which many people depend on.
The reality is that there is a whole world out there and yes, some areas are lawless, some unfortunately have ongoing wars and some are so unstable that you just don’t know when something is going to escalate.
But for every area that is out of bounds there are dozens more which aren’t. It is important to pay attention to any foreign office advice before you travel, but be aware that only certain areas may be affected and they may not be the places on your itinerary.
When you travel alone you’ll find that your instinct is heightened. Instead of being engrossed in a conversation with someone else, you become more aware of your surroundings as there are no distractions. You watch people and observe your environment more. You’ll be able to spot a potentially bad situation and avoid the unsavoury characters.
See, there really are no obstacles that you can’t get past. Each of these common myths about traveling abroad is there to test your desire and determination to travel. I hope that this article has empowered you to go on a trip. Don’t be one of those people who keep dreaming about it…
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