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!
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.
#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.
#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.