8 fears holding you back from your travel adventure
As someone who leads a life of travel, I get a lot of messages from people asking for travel advice, or tips on how they can start a similar lifestyle, or just how to work up the courage to take a long trip abroad. (READ: 9 types of trips you must take in your 20s)
Of course, I wholly understand how certain situations can keep one from pursuing the dream of traveling, but most of the time, there’s a workaround. So unless you are banned from every country in the world or plagued by a serious health condition, let me tell you that it is VERY possible for you to lead a life filled with travel and adventure.
Don’t let these roadblocks hold you back:
1. 'I can’t travel, it's too expensive. I'm not rich!'
I've had people tell me:
- "You must have earned a lot of money in your job.”
- "You must be from a rich family; your parents can always back you up."
- "You must be getting extra money from someone."
Newsflash: I'm not rich either, yet here I am!
When I was 19, I got my first job out of college at an international investment bank (this was apart from the 3 long internships I previously had). We all know how fresh graduates are usually paid, so it’s safe to say that I just had about enough money to get me by every month. I also lived apart from my parents at that time. (READ: 5 tips for your budget trips)
By the time I was 21, I took the necessary steps and preparation in order for me to launch my 'life of travel,' after which I finally quit my job. It was a bumpy road at first, but I depended on myself alone and I eventually managed to secure a stable income from my freelance jobs online.
Today, I am traveling through various countries and have started my own online business together with my partner.
After all I've been through, I definitely don't consider myself as 'lucky' because I believe in this quote: "Lucky is the word lazy people use to describe people who work hard."
We've been far too conditioned to think that travel is too expensive and that it is only for the rich, upper-class folks, people with pensions. But if you can practice some discipline, it can be done.
You need to make some sacrifices.
For starters, track your spending habits: where is most of your salary going?
Go and quickly identify these unnecessary expenses and then cut them out. You'll see for yourself that you can save a LOT of cash when you really separate your wants and needs, and then scratching out the unimportant expenses that you are making on your wants list. (READ: 5 money mistakes 20-somethings should avoid)
Change your habits.
Save as you work towards your goal.
Watch out for cheaper options: if you focus your travel goals first on countries where the standard of living is through the roof, the whole plan itself becomes even more unattainable. So keep a lookout for airline discounts too, or opportunities to get accommodation for free (like couchsurfing).
You have to be smart and in control about how you can work your way to make it happen.
2. 'I might run out of money!'
It's all about budgeting appropriately, and again: discipline. I know fellow travelers who have lived under just $10 or about P500 a week and they are still on the road.
Besides, if you have geared yourself for up a job that you'll be doing while traveling, you will still have a steady flow of income.
Let's say you blew your money, you lost it, or you can't find another job online. Don't panic, because there are still jobs that you can take overseas, for example, as an English teacher. You would not believe the demand for English-speaking people. Some schools might need proof of your college degree or a TEFL certificate, but most of the time you can make do with just conducting small private classes.
If you want more chances of scoring free accommodations, you can try:
Couchsurfing. People will let you stay in their home for free, letting you use whatever space available – may it be the couch, the floor, or if you're lucky, a spare room! There is a whole community for this at couchsurfing.org and you just have read the references or testimonials of other people to assure that your host is someone that you can trust.
Home Stays. You stay with a family overseas and experience their day-to-day life (a good website for this is helpx.net)
Home Swap. If you have a house/apartment/condo that you're leaving behind, you can let someone stay in your residence for free and then in return, you can stay in theirs for free, too. (homeexchange.com)
House-sit or Pet-sit. you get to have a whole house to yourself which you have to look after while the owners are gone for vacation; most of the time, you’ll have to take care of the pets, too (trustedhousesitters.com or mindmyhouse.com).
Needless to say, the possibilities are endless. You won't ever run out of options to keep yourself afloat abroad.
3. 'My parents will kill me!' or 'I don't think my friends will understand.'
I know how you feel. I have parents who are a bit traditional, so naturally, it took me a while to get them on my side as I revealed my grand decision of quitting my job.
Certainly, they'll be taken by surprise at first because they're simply concerned about your well-being, but if you lay out your plans and back-up plans, they will not only be assured of your safety but they will also get the message that you are serious about this.
As for your friends, they are really not an issue at all. This is YOUR dream, not theirs. There might be those who are secretly wishing that you fail, but we can't really avoid those, can we? Just carefully pick your friends. Above all: start mastering the life skill of not caring so much about what others think.
4. 'I'm afraid to travel alone!'
So no one has the same passion or goal as you do; that's a shame, I know. But hey, there's no rule saying that you have to be with someone while you travel.
However, I understand that some people are hesitant about the idea of making such a bold move by themselves. (READ: 5 tips in planning your first solo trip)
Don't be. I assure you that once you go traveling, you are never really alone. You're always bound to meet people along the way and they could eventually become your best friends for life. They may be locals or they may be travelers like you, and this whole process is one of the best gifts of travel that you should not miss out on.
I have had a lot of interactions with people that have a different culture or ‘way of life’ than my own and it’s always such an eye-opening experience. For instance, I would never forget my trip to Chiang Mai. I met two friendly Thais from Bangkok who were happy to come along and adapt their travel schedule to mine and even do the haggling for all of us. (READ: Exploring Chiang Mai, Thailand)
If you’re still hesitant, make steps to slowly ease your way into the idea of going solo: try going on a trip to a place in your home country all by yourself. Try it once, twice, or even more. I first eased myself into the idea of traveling solo when I first took a trip by myself to the far south of the Philippines, and then eventually to other places.
Once you start to get a feel for it and are ready to throw your fears out of the window, start planning the big trip. Go for opportunities that will surround you with lots of people: staying at hostels, attending festivals or concerts, and the like. You can even join communities online – there are a lot of groups that hold meet-ups in different parts of the globe! And of course, don't forget us, the travel bloggers. Just message someone who's in the country you're going into and for sure, they will be delighted to meet you and show you around.
5. 'I'm too old. It's too late!'
Deteriorating health is unavoidable and I am very sorry if this is your case. However, if you are still able to move around, then this is not an excuse that you should use... it's never too late to travel.
For one, I know bloggers who are in their 60s, and yet they are out there, making their dreams a reality. So please just always remember that age is not an issue. Take it from the world's oldest backpacker, Keith Wright, who doesn't let his age (he's in his nineties) get in the way of his travel plans.
TIP: There's the possibility that if you have rendered a long period of service to the company you're working for right now, they might grant you longer time off from work, so start negotiating.
6. 'I don't know any other languages. I won't be able to get around!'
If you're planning on spending a long time in certain countries that have a unified language, you can invest in learning the basics of the language. Many folks in foreign countries speak English, too.
Other than taking formal classes (since those can be expensive) there are a lot of platforms online that will help guide you through this process like Duolingo or Rosetta Stone. Personally, I started to learn Dutch from Rosetta Stone just a few months back and it has been of great help! At this point, I’m starting to decipher certain phrases and beyond a doubt, I am looking forward to finally speaking it.
Conversely, if you're just going to hop from one place to another, the language would still NOT pose as a problem for you. There are ways: do a quick Google search for the most popular phrases of a country's language, buy a book like Lonely Planet since they usually list out the important translations, or simply use your smart phone.
7. 'It's such a hassle. My passport won't get me anywhere good, anyway!'
As a Philippine passport holder, I know the frustration of having to apply for Visas to different countries in the U.S. or Europe. However, our passports are not as limited as you think, you may not get into the U.S. or Europe as quickly or as easily, but there are still other options for you to start traveling around visa-free. (READ: 15 destinations around the world for Filipino travelers)
I actually know a couple of fellow Filipino travel bloggers who are currently back-packing through the whole of South America for years; there's Argentina for instance that requires a Visa, but they still have managed to apply for one while still staying abroad – so such should be enough proof for you that it's attainable. (READ: Letting it all go to travel: 6 things to remember)
On the other hand, should you ever really have to deal with visas, there's always a way to make it a hassle-free process by properly planning beforehand and using whatever 'resources' you have to prove that you can make it out there.
For me to get to Europe, I have tried showing to the embassy a proof of sponsorship from a relative and later on, as I continued to have a more steady cash flow from my online work, I showed documents supporting that. Both cases have worked very well and got me the visas that I wanted. (READ: Applying for a visa? Keep these 5 tips in mind)
TIP: Did you know that with your Philippine passport you can also get a 1-year youth working holiday visa in New Zealand? So if you're aged 18 to 35, check out this link! (READ: New Zealand: 12 things to do in a nature-lover's paradise)
8. 'I won't have a career (or) I might not get a job once I finish traveling'
Not entirely true. You can mix your career and your travel plans, both at the same time!
I am one example of it and I will never trade my career right now for anything in the world. I love working for myself as a digital nomad and as an entrepreneur. Of course, owning a business was not an easy thing and it absolutely didn't happen in a day, but I'm pretty sure that along the way, much like me, you will get some inspiration to start up your own! (READ: Choose your career or go travel? Why not both?)
But let's say you're one of those people who aims to travel for a while and then come back to their home country to search for a job again. Depending on your skills and experience, doing a bit of travel and then launching into a regular work schedule again won't look bad on your CV.
In fact, as a potential employee for a company, it will shape you up into someone who is capable and well-rounded. HR people will also probably go crazy for your experiences and learning if you market yourself the right way.
You may decide to go on a different path, ultimately. It’s up to you to see which way your life turns on the road.
Aileen Adalid is a wild spirit from the Philippines who quit her corporate job at 21 in order to travel the world. Today, she is a digital nomad + entrepreneur traveling through various countries, one airplane ticket at a time. She is also the writer behind 'I am Aileen,' a travel blog where she documents her adventures, thoughts, and experiences as she aims to inspire other people to start a life of travel. Come and follow her updates around the globe on Facebook!