Solo Woman Travel

Are These 4 Excuses Keeping You From Realizing Your Travel Dreams?

There are so many people out there who might become travelers, if only they could find someone to travel with, or if they had more money, or if they spoke another language. The list of reasons some people have for not getting out there and following their travel dreams is long and varied, but there are some common excuses that many people use for not taking the plunge. But I’m here to prove to you that there are really no excuses. It’s time to go traveling!

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#1: I Don’t Have Enough Money

This is probably the number one reason people give for not traveling, but it’s also the one that’s easiest to solve. And there are two parts to it: first, you need to get more money, and second, you need to learn all about the cheaper ways of traveling.

Saving up more money is not my area of expertise, because I’ve always found that part easy, thanks to growing up with a bank manager for a father! If you have a concrete goal of going traveling, I think knowing the savings you make will go towards this great purpose makes saving a lot easier. Pick a method which works for you — either setting up your bank account to automatically transfer a set amount of money per week into a savings account which you don’t touch, or getting an extra part-time job and saving all the money you earn from it. If you’re thinking of traveling more long-term, then you shouldn’t discount the idea of working along the way, too.

Traveling cheaply is my area of expertise. If you do your research and are prepared to be a bit unconventional — which means things like avoiding guided tours and four-star hotels — then there are so many ways to travel without breaking the bank. Just as an example, you can look into accommodation options like homestays (cheap) or couch surfing (free), or at the very least not be scared off by hostels. Doing a bit of web surfing can save you huge amounts on big-ticket items like airfares. The information is all out there for the taking.

Solo Woman Traveler

#2: I Don’t Have Anyone To Travel With

So you have big dreams of crossing Russia on the Trans-Siberian, or backpacking all the way down through South America, but you can’t convince anybody else to go with you, right? This is another common excuse, and like lacking money, it’s a fair enough reason, but it shouldn’t be enough to stop you from traveling.

Again, there are several solutions. The most obvious one is to go solo. Many people are (understandably) anxious about traveling on their own, but in fact most people who do so find it an incredibly rewarding experience. As far as budget travel is concerned, there really is no “traveling solo” because you will easily meet up with fellow travelers along the way and often make joint plans for at least part of your trip.

The other possibility is to go online to try to find a travel companion. This is something I’ve never tried, but a European friend of mine had great success with the “companion wanted” ads on sites like Lonely Planet’s Thorn Tree forum — it has an entire branch devoted to travel companions.

#3: I Don’t Speak Another Language

Lots of people are anxious or even quite terrified about visiting a country where they don’t speak the language. It’s true that things could get tricky if you are stuck somewhere looking for accommodation and you can’t find the words to ask anyone for directions, or you might end up eating some quite unusual foods because you can’t understand the menu in a restaurant, but I think most reluctant travelers vastly overestimate the importance of being fluent in a language.

There are lots of solutions to problems like this. For a start, realize that there are many ways to communicate and that even in our own language, plenty of our communication is non-verbal anyway. In the restaurant, you can just point at something delicious-looking another customer is eating, and the waiter will get the message. If you’re looking for your hostel you can show someone the address and they’ll quickly figure out they should point you in the right direction.

The best way is to try to learn a little of the language spoken in your destination. Knowing just a few key phrases will help out a lot, and with the aid of a decent phrasebook you’ll get around without too many problems — and any difficulties you do have simply become funny stories to tell when you get home. I certainly couldn’t speak much Korean when I visited Seoul or any Finnish when I went to Lapland to meet Santa, but that didn’t stop me. And although I don’t want to encourage the expectation that English is spoken everywhere, it is increasingly easy to tap into locals who speak some English, almost wherever you go.

Person using laptop on Brighton Beach
© atomicjeep

#4: I’ll Have to Quit My Job. It’ll Look Bad on My Resume!

Another legitimate concern that many would-be travelers have is that taking any significant amount of time out of the workforce will be detrimental to their careers. Of course, the pros and cons of this are something only you can weigh for your particular circumstances, but I’d argue there are two reasons for going: first, international experience is becoming ever more attractive to employers in this era of globalization; and second, if you retire at sixty and look back on your life, will you be more glad that you stayed in your job or that you left it to fulfill your travel dreams?

I, of course, am biased, because I left a well-paid job to go traveling, and didn’t come back for six years. In fact, my travels changed my outlook on life so much that I haven’t gone back to the industry I used to work in (despite former colleagues asking me when I’m going to get a “real job” again), and I’m absolutely sure that my life is all the richer for it. Maybe the same will happen to you; or maybe you’ll just have amazing experiences on the road and meet lots of great people, and then return to your career happy that you took the chance to go traveling.

  1. so many people seem to be trying to convince themselves not to go out and about, even though they profess to want to travel.

    I have one question though, have you used Couch Surfting? I’m curious to if it’s safe, if it works out, what it’s like. I’ve been thinking about it for my year traveling – but I have no experience with it.

    Please drop me a line if you know anything about it?

  2. I’ve never understood the “resume gap” argument. Honestly, if a hirer turns me away because I took 4 months of from my “career path” to travel the world, I probably wouldn’t fit in at the company anyway. Is this even still a concern these days, when the concept of career is so much more fluid than it once was? I wouldn’t be surprised if it’s just a myth and most people simply haven’t figured it out yet.

  3. @ Hal, thanks, and I totally agree – if I was employing someone I’d think *more* of them for having made a long trip – but perhaps I’m biased … but I think it does depend on the culture, in some Asian and European countries I know of people who’ve had real trouble because of their resume gaps.

    @ Jeffery, you’re right, not everyone needs to leave a job to go traveling. And I know plenty of people (in Oz anyway) who’ve been able to take extended unpaid leave (6 months, a year) to go traveling and return to their job.

    @ previously.bitten – personally I’ve always homestayed rather than couch surfed – it wasn’t so well known when I was first traveling a lot and now I’m a bit more of a “flashpacker” – but I’m sure someone reading this has, we’d appreciate your input! Put it this way, I wouldn’t hesitate to do it.

  4. Now is a fantastic time to travel from a price perspective. I’m seeing discounts as much as 65% at some hotels. Flights too, if you do some digging on the web.

    On the language thing: It’s a shame some people don’t even try to learn a few phrases. Locals appreciate your efforts and laugh (in a good way) at how lousy your pronunciation is. It’s fun.

  5. @ Rob, totally agree with you on the language thing. I definitely believe that knowing a few phrases (even if they’re nearly useless for communication) at least shows that you’ve respectfully made an effort.

    I’m also seeing some super-special prices on travel down here in Oz. Esp flights – it’s great!

  6. Great article again, Amanda! I love traveling but don’t have the time or the money to go very far – so I road trip! Where there’s a will to travel, there’s always a way!

  7. Thanks Kris! You’re absolutely right – traveling doesn’t have to be a long-term thing to be worthwhile – as long as you’re getting out there and seeing new stuff, that’s great.

  8. Fantastic article! Totally agree on all four points. I think the financial thing really comes down to priorities – a good friend of mine has traveled more than most people I know, even though she makes very little money.

    I would add one more to your list – I don’t have kids yet, but I think a common excuse for not getting out there is “I couldn’t possibly take a big trip with my kids”, and I think that is so sad! I have been following some RTW families traveling with kids, and they are all having *great* experiences & say it’s totally worth it :)

    Thanks again, great article!

  9. I just found this article and I love it! I hear these excuses so often from friends who “wish they could travel” like I do. My advice is: Just go! I honestly prefer traveling on my own because I see, hear and experience so much more. My love for travel even inspired me to obtain a graduate degree overseas and I now spend several months each year traveling. Life is so much sweeter this way. Mind you, I’m a rich woman trapped in a working woman’s body ;o) and I still manage to make it work. I find great deals, do as much online research as I can about places, and I just go. So should everyone else who wants to travel!

  10. I agree with all these points, but if I could stress one thing that I’ve learned from quitting the job and traveling RTW, it’s this: Make sure you have as few to no bills as possible! I know people will sit there and say “Well I can handle my finances on the road”. But, budgets bust all the time. Then all of a sudden that monthly payment is really starting to take away from the trip budget.

    I know this because I left with car lease payments. I couldn’t transfer the lease. So I saved up more money and started my RTW later. But, to wait until it was done was to wait until March 2010. I had started saving in 2006 and was itching to go. So I went. However, I blew my budget (mainly thanks to ATM/Bank fees) and soon the car payments were a hassle. Not to mention that they were always somewhere in the back of my head, slightly taking away some of the carefree nature of my travels.

    Anyway, I would highly recommend someone getting all their bills in order and having no bills to pay before they leave for their long-term travels. If it means waiting until they are all done, then so be it. When I go back to the states and start working I will make sure I have as few bills as possible so I will be ready for my next long-term trip.

  11. All four of the excuses seemed so real until after I traveled….I took a year off and am already planning for my next year.

    my thoughts.

    1) traveling is so much cheaper than you realize…you need to just hit the places that make economical sense. Plus I agree – make sure you have no or limited bills at home. You will be fine.

    2) Most likely you went to college alone, yes? and suddenly you found lifelong friends in just a matter of days….traveling is no different. You will find friends for life.

    3) So, go and learn a language. Take a few weeks and enter a language school. Latin American Spanish schools with room, board, lessons and sometimes even surf remain extremely reasonable.

    4) I had no problem getting back to work from an interview perspective…the bigger problem will be after you accept a position and end your travels….coming back is the hardest part.

    stay adventurous.

  12. Oh, they are aaaaaall so true! lol.

    I’m sure, however, that if we didn’t have these excuses we’d just find a bunch of others!

    Great article :)

  13. I think all points are universally felt but #4 in particular is one that greatly affects Americans. The reason being that “career breaks” are not accepted in our society like they are in the rest of the world.

    When my husband and I returned from 4 months of travel, recruiters were impressed with his work experience, but worried about his gap. But once he started interviewing, the companies were really impressed with the experience. So it’s all in the mindset.

    Incidentally, my colleague wrote a great article about selling your travel experience to future employers:

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  15. I LOVE this post! I totally agree. I know so many people who always talk about traveling but never do, and they tend to use those 4 excuses exactly. It’s a shame, but their loss. If everyone were world travelers, we’d still be waiting in line to see the Louvre!

  16. There are only a handful of excuses not to travel but there must be a bucketful or more reasons to do so. Or none at all. There is simply joy in traveling for the sake of traveling.

  17. At times I find that people always depend on their family or friends to work it out with them. But going in clusters often is not possible. Each one gives his or her own excuse and at the end of it, we ourselves as well cancel the plan as no one is coming along us. We feel what we would do alone, exploring an unknown territory?

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