Aka: Leaving your comfort zone and the inevitable doubt and panic that awaits you!

They say the hardest part is leaving your loved ones behind, but the hardest decision is surely choosing to leave them in the first place.

Everyone has their own reasons for travelling. For some, it’s merely a gap year in which to experience some freedom and let their hair down before returning home and getting back on track with their chosen careers. Others travel to escape; whether it’s a failed relationship, a broken business venture, or simply a sense of not-belonging. A few simply wish to explore what the world outside the window is really like, without the filter of media agenda or social media telling us what we should and shouldn’t do with our lives.

Many of us travelers have a mixture of these; whichever it is that broke the proverbial camel’s back is a personal matter for each and every individual. It is this principal however, that I wish to draw your focus to before we carry on.

Whatever motivation you have to travel, it is YOURS and yours alone.

Too many other people in this day and age are far too quick to jump in and let their thoughts be known to all;

“Oh, I wouldn’t go there…”

“Have you considered this…?”

“What if…”

I will get back to this topic of outside judgement, but first and foremost, you have to do what you think is right for you. Don’t be afraid to ‘fail’, and don’t be afraid to return home if things go awry.

Ok, so, you’ve decided you want to travel, and you know your reasons why. You’ve started to make plans, and you begin to tell those nearest and dearest to you that you have finally made that huge, life-changing decision… only to be met by a cacophony of “Oh, but…”

who say’s life isn’t a holiday?

This can be deflating and de-motivating, especially when it’s family who start trying to ‘talk sense’ in to you. Don’t get me wrong, many people will applaud and wish you luck, but there will always be those who think you are making the wrong decision. Everyone will want to give their two cents, whether that be people who have travelled extensively themselves to people |” never left their home city or country. Just by choosing to leave and travel, you’ve made a decision that many are too scared to make. Be proud, and use that as your armor against those who will try to discourage you, and convince you that ‘life isn’t just a holiday’.

Even more important to remember, is that there will be times when you yourself start to question whether you are making the right decision. I’ve known people, myself included, to move to a new country and be miserable for the first few days, weeks or even months (Hello, Toronto), before they finally fell in love with the city or country they were in; although sometimes they didn’t even have that at the end (I’m still looking at you, Toronto). Depending on your plans and travel style, if you don’t like an area or don’t feel comfortable, then you can always move on to somewhere new. These doubts will arise though, and it’s down to you how you react to them.

When you are first leaving, there may be tears and/or doubts as you head for the departures gate, unsure of what lies ahead or what things will be like when you return.

It’s important to remember as well, that there are always going to be things you worry about before leaving, and usually money is the biggest concern of all. This is natural, and the worry will always be there even when you know you have enough! For me, it boils down to two important points:

> Do you have enough money to get home should an emergency occur?
> Do you have enough money to rent a cheap hostel/Airbnb room to stay should something unexpected happen?

Yes, the concerns of the many are often unfounded. When I tell people about my plans to live in Mexico, I get the same look from anyone who has never been there –

“But, isn’t Mexico dangerous?”

To which I reply that, yes, I’m sure all 120 million residents of the huge country that is Mexico are knife-wielding lunatics ready to mug me at first glance. Having said that, yes, certain parts of Mexico are recommended to be avoided, and I will do just that. It’s important to do your research and stay safe when travelling, but at the same time, just because one part of a country is to be avoided, doesn’t mean the whole country is tainted.

When seeking accommodation, follow your instincts – if you are Couch-Surfing and you don’t trust the host you are staying with, find a different place to stay and make different arrangements for the following nights instead. If the hostel you have arrived in has no lockers to securely store your luggage, then why would you want to risk your passport or money etc being stolen?

Get on that plane

Worst case scenario, you can always (usually) just jump on a flight back home. I know this is over simplifying it somewhat, and I’ve touched on this in more detail in the linked post (in progress), but you get the idea.

Fundamentally, remember what it is that made you want to travel in the first place. Whether it’s to seek a new adventure and escape the monotonous 9-5 lifestyle, to learn a new language and culture or to just blow off some steam for a few weeks and see what happens, we all have our individual needs and desires to travel. There will always be people who make judgements on your decisions, but you have to do what is right for you at this moment in time, and for all those who doubt you, there are those who support you every step of the way. Those friends and family members will be there when you are in need of a little extra strength. We all experience the homesickness, the money concerns, the travel mishaps and more. Remember, there are always people to help and guide you!

Don’t be afraid to make the mistakes, don’t be afraid to shed the tears and don’t be afraid to tell people you miss them. Leaving for the first time is terrifying, exhausting and exhilarating before you’ve even got on the first plane. That in itself is a huge step, and one of the most difficult to take – But we all have our own reasons for doing so.

Despite all the initial difficulties, concerns and debates, more often than not (9/10 times?), it will be the best decision you ever made, even if things didn’t go quite to plan. In fact, usually the times when the plans go awry are when the most memorable stories occur!

Me personally? My motivation is a whole other story! What’s yours?


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