For a decision that's all about stepping down from commitment in your day to day life, stopping the excessive analysis, and basking in a the ultimate freedom - it sure has a lot of commitment, analysis, and restraints when you're making the decision. After all, there's so many questions to answer.
Can I afford to go solo traveling?
Will my career suffer when a decide to go traveling?
Is it safe? What if I feel lonely? What if I fail?
Believe it or not, the reason why you've been putting it off for this long is because those questions are swimming in your head and you don't even know that they're there.
In your mind you're ecstatic. You can't wait to finally get a chance, finally have the stars align, and finally leave for your trip. But in reality you'll never get a chance, the stars will never align, and you'll never leave - unless you consciously leave without waiting for the universe to give you permission.
All of those questions are very valid, and especially if you've never gone solo before, they're big points to consider. However, you need to explicitly make a point to yourself that they exist, and they've been filling you with fear.
And why wouldn't you feel fear? As a human going into distant lands, foreign tribes, foreign social circles, foreign everything - it's biologically programmed into us to be weary, on a fundamental level it's absolutely normal.
But on a higher order thinking level - we know. We know that the experience is priceless. We know the knowledge and perspective we'll gain will help us throughout life. We'll see the world differently. So we must go, it's not a matter of if, it's a matter of when.
Consciously leaving doesn't mean recklessly dropping everything and pissing off into the void - though there are many who do. But just like starting a business, or a project, there's planning involved, and fears to be confronted. But unlike a business or a project, there is no failure - So get that fear out of your head right now.
You cannot fail at traveling if you go, the simple act of traveling isn't pass/fail logic, but it is Boolean. It's true or false, it's do or don't. If you do, then you've already succeeded. If you don't then that's the only way to fail at traveling.
If you set out to go for a year, and you miss home and come back after 3 months, that's not a failure. That's you going on a solo trip for 3 months. A feat that I'd wager less than 1% of the world have achieved.
But to achieve this feat, to stop talking and start doing - you need to get the thoughts and fears that are aimlessly swimming in your head, on to paper.
You need to adopt the best method when it comes to making a decision like this that feels risky - You need to set your fears, from comically tiny and irrational, to very realistic and likely - all of them.
It's called fear setting and it's what finally made me leave for a solo backpacking trip that gave me memories to last a lifetime.
Fear Setting | The Method
This was the pusher that made me leave, and since, has helped many aspiring solo travelers get out there. It's very simple.
- Get a piece of paper and a pen, draw a vertical line right through middle, or have 2 separate pages
- Write every little fear you have about the decision on the left
- Write down how you can prevent, mitigate and deal with the item in the event that it happens, on the right
And as you do this, even when you just write down the fears, you realize how ridiculous some of them are - and when they're not, they most certainly and surprisingly can be dealt with quite easily once you know what they are.
It becomes a matter of common sense problem solving, rather than this illusive possibility that's been taking up residence in your mind.
What are your fears?
You've got the big ticket items related to money, health, and career - but the anxious among us probably have even more smaller ones. These might be as simple as making you uncomfortable, like "What if I find out hostels aren't for me when that's what I've budgeted for?" The key is to plan for mitigation, prevention, and provide yourself with back-up options.
Running out of money and not being able to come back home.
- Draw up a budget
- Stow away some cash for an emergency flight back home
- Look into ways of earning while on the road
Losing all of your things.
- Go carry-on only so your luggage can't be lost with an airline
- Take out travel insurance
- Lock your luggage
Getting incredibly sick abroad.
- Make sure you get all your vaccines prior
- Research things to look out for like water quality at your destination
- Make sure you insurance covers doctor and hospital visits
Not getting a job when you get back.
- Have a conversation with your current employer - you could potentially get a lot of leave if they're supportive
- Have a safety net of funds to last you while you look for work on your return - put a dollar figure on it
- Have a job lined up before you leave - utilize your network
Missing out on professional development when you're gone.
- Enroll in some online courses that you'll complete on your down time while away
- Organize time and funds for development when you're back
The list is endless, and a lot of the fears aren't as great a threat as they seem. You'll find that employers like candidates that have travel experience behind them, you most likely won't get terribly sick, and your insurance will cover most of the mishaps with your journey - if any.
This exercise allows you to do some planning, consider the possibilities, and realize that fear itself has been dictating your travel aspirations.
It'll show you that you can go on that solo trip, and that you don't have to wait.
And look, things will go wrong on your travels.
- Being stuck with a flat tire in the middle of nowhere
- Taking the wrong route and ending up at a completely different destination
- Having no accommodation for a night because you misjudged availability
- Eating some bad street food and wondering why life is a curse
All of these are OK, they're what makes your travels an adventure. Being stuck with a flat tire or getting food poisoning is just as likely back home; so you might as well be doing something fulfilling when it happens.
Write down your fears, and work through them.
Have your plans and funds in order.
And finally, you'll be able to write down a date - from that moment forward, it's all the beginning of your new adventure.
Happy traveling and good luck.