Are you secretly envying other people’s adventures? Living vicariously through travel blogs and Facebook updates of friends who have taken that big step and embarked upon a backpacking trip? So what’s stopping you? We share some of the most common pre-travelling fears and explain why you need to get over them… and fast!
1. It’s too expensive, I can’t afford it
Let’s be honest, it wouldn’t hurt to cut back on expensive nights out and make do without that month’s latest fashion or gadget! There are loads of creative ways that friends of ours have found to accumulate enough money to go traveling – and the best thing is you don’t need that much! One man’s junk is another man’s treasure, so take part in a car boot sale, sell your stuff on eBay or even take an evening job. Accommodation and food costs in South East Asia can be as little as $12/day, and you can shop around with to get some incredible bargains on cheap international flights.
2. It’s not safe out there
You can spend your life fretting about disasters: hurricanes, floods, murders, or kidnappings – we could go on – but the truth is that you shouldn’t let unnecessary paranoia stop you from making the most out of your life. The chances of anything gong wrong are extremely slim and there is as much chance of a meteor hitting your house in Melbourne as it is your hostel in Papua New Guinea. The only person you need to convince is your Mum! Obviously, be as cautious as you would back home: don’t walk dark streets alone at night, be aware of local scams and keep a handle on your alcohol consumption. And… don’t worry!
Terrifying or exciting? (photo Laura Davies)
3. I’ll be homesick
We very much doubt it. The comfort and safety of all that’s familiar can be easily accessed by WIFI in most hostels and backpacker hangouts, and there are internet cafés everywhere . You’ll know what everyone is up to (exactly the same as when you left!) with Skype, Facebook, Twitter, Instagram… And, guess what? Bangkok has Starbucks too! Time will fly and before you know it you’ll be back in your hometown wishing you were back on the slow boat!
4. Travelling will look bad on my CV
On the contrary! More and more companies now prefer their employees to have travelled. Use your summer break wisely to boost your career prospects and enhance your life experience. There are many projects you can get involved in; from volunteering, to teaching English to local children to work experience at the S.E.A Backpacker office! Successful backpacking abroad shows that you have initiative, organisational skills, and most of all guts. It demonstrates your ability to embrace new cultures and adapt to change and unfamiliarity, and that you will have gained valuable people skills and broadened your horizons.
How’s this for broadening your horizons? Sunset over Java, Indonesia (photo Ian Marshall)
5. I’ll be lonely and have no friends
This one is the least of your worries… backpackers are a friendly lot and we guarantee that you will meet more like-minded, friendly people than ever before! Backpackers seek backpackers. You’re all in the same boat and the moment you set your trusty backpack down on the sandy floor of your first hostel and hear the melodic strums of a guitar, or the shuffle of a pack of cards, you’ll know you have met some people who will make you feel at home. You’ll share terrific travellers’ tales, tears, laughter and will feel like life-long friends… and you probably will be.
5. But what about all my stuff?
Having fewer belongings is liberating! By the second hostel, you’ll have ditched the unnecessary items you’d thought were essential. Most hostels have communal TV rooms and film nights but, with all the fun, you won’t crave it! Hair-straighteners are pointless in this humidity and anyway, your curly locks look better after a dip in the Andaman Sea! If you decide to leave your smart phone at home, you can pick up a cheap handset and local SIM card… Forget your car, you can jump in a tuk tuk and whizz around without the worry of fixing that dodgy clutch or paying road tax. Don’t let your possessions possess you!
6. What if I get ill?
Hospitals and clinics abroad are better than you think. Clean, hygienic and with experienced, educated, English-speaking doctors, they are used to dealing with everything from Delhi-belly to jellyfish bites and are well equipped and capable. Make sure you have travel insurance – otherwise, you’ll be footing the bill for your treatment!
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7. I’ll miss my routine
Indeed it’s true – you’ll face unfamiliar sights, smells and sounds, and what an amazing experience that is! After the initial, “Ooh, this is different!” you become a dab-hand at unpacking and repacking your backpack in three minutes flat, jumping onto a sleeper train and waking up in a whole new place! Exciting and exhilarating? Always. Nerve-wracking and unsettling? Sometimes. Dull and mundane? NEVER!
New environment? New pastimes!
And finally, one real worry…
You may never want to go back! (We didn’t)
It could be ten minutes after stepping out of Terminal 4 into 50 shades of grey, or three days after your friends are done with admiring your new tattoo… You crave the fun, freedom and sheer fantastic lifestyle you just left behind!
So, what do you do? Well, you get on the net, look for cheap flights and start planning your next trip!
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