I can understand how lost you might feel when you want to accomplish something really big like wandering the world just you and your backpack, but fears hold you back every time you are about to book a plain ticket. That’s why I’m making it simple and giving you advice on how face fear when traveling alone for the first time. Here we go, travelers!
Look at the forest, not just the tree
What I mean here is that you should focus on the advantages that traveling (specially for the first time) has, not the one “disadvantage”. It’s really easy to be negative and convince you that it’s safer to stay at home. But… Haven’t you wanted to do this since ever? Try to look at things from another perspective, think of all the great and enriching things you will be able to get by just flying and getting rid of all your mental barriers.
Then, what does the forest mean? Well, the forest is: learning amazing things from other cultures, making new friends, being independent and getting by with no one’s help, speaking new languages, getting to know incredible landscapes, enrolling in social activities that will fulfill your young soul, just being free… It’s your time now to complete this list!
Yes! This is for sure what stops you the most from taking the decision. We are so used to complaining and giving more importance to the small obstacles, rather than daring to see what’s waiting for us if we give it a try. The flights are so, so expensive, I don’t know the local language, I don’t know anyone there, What happens if I get robbed?, I’m going to get lost in that isolated village… and it could go on and on.
Would you regret not having traveled alone in 20 years from now when you’ll be married and have kids? I guess you would. I would. Just close your eyes, click that “book” button and go!
Book a flight
This is like taking the first cold dip in the water. You have to do it quickly. That’s why if you already have a flight booked, there’s no turning back. Pick the first destination that comes to your mind when thinking of your dream travel. Now, you have to unavoidably start planning the rest of your trip, getting advice from Facebook travel groups and choosing what kind of activities you want to do: Do you want to work, just travel, study a language, getting enrolled in a social project, in a nature expedition, do some extreme sports hanging on a rope? Create your budget and fill your calendar to motivate yourself to keep going.
Be realistic: avoid paranoia
Meaning that I have some good friends that don’t fly or do anything (I’m serious, anything) adventurous because their fear of dying in a plane, getting kidnapped or violently robbed, is way more powerful than anything else. But this isn’t real, it’s your mind that’s talking. Just google the chances you have of some of these things happening to you. It’s almost impossible.
That’s why I suggest you don’t allow television, newspapers, or even your loved ones stop you from living your life. Of course bad things occur, they key is to be aware of that and take precautions when traveling alone. Your instinct will do the rest.
Trust, trust, trust
Trust in human kindness. When you travel to really experience things, to learn and grow everyday of your trip, whether it’s one month or one year, you realize that local people are there to help you. And not even just local people, other travelers can be a big support when wandering the world by your own. You will find that the “backpacker spirit” is something really contagious, that leads the other ones offer their homes, food and advice wherever you go.
And trust yourself. You. Can. Do. It. I can’t stress that enough. It’s all about daring to live and believing in your skills. If hundreds of young and old people can do it every year, why wouldn’t you be able to achieve it? It’s a matter of logic. It may sound a bit cheesy, but the right thing to do is to follow your heart. Always. In case something bad happens, just fly back home and problem solved, not a big deal.
That being said, my last suggestion is to do it your way. Some of you may feel reassured finding a lot of info before embarking on your trip. The more you know about the places you are heading to, the more relaxed you will travel. However, some others won’t even need a calendar or a planning, you’ll just go and figure everything out there. Be sure you’ll always find someone willing to help. Plus, you don’t need to travel to other side of the world, you can start in a place where you don’t feel that far away from home, physically or culturally speaking and see how it goes. YOU set your limits! And the limit is the sky, never forget that!