T minus 29 days. Whilst the excitement is reaching fever pitch and the preparations are cruising along steadily, that little voice in the back of my mind continues to ask those difficult questions. Whilst I know that backpacking the world is certainly the right decision for me, it wasn’t a decision that I took lightly.
Part of the reason for this blog is to (hopefully) help someone out there to take the plunge and live their dreams. This post is dedicated to you, the dreamers and vagabonds. Let’s try and make those fears and doubts of ours disappear.
Fear 1: Solo travelling – the fear of being alone
You’re never alone. Yes, brave philosophical response to a loaded statement. Physically, yes – you will begin your journey alone but that is a temporary state. You meet people and you make friends along the way. This isn’t a pipedream – think about it – you’re surrounded by likeminded people; you are unified in your shared determination to explore the world.
In addition to the above, one thing I’ve learnt since going live with this blog is that I’m honored to have the love and support of family, friends, colleagues and even strangers. You take this journey with them in a metaphysical sense. They live through you and you live through them. Deep hey?
If this doesn’t convince you. Screw it – become your own best friend. Learn about yourself. It’s only a problem when you start speaking to yourself!
Fear 2: Career – am I throwing it away?
I don’t believe you are. The factual response is nobody can take away your education, qualifications and experience. It’s there to stay. Secondly, when you decide to re-enter the working world after your travels, prospective employers will certainly attribute value on a holistic basis as opposed to only attributing it on a singular dimension (Richard, if you’re reading this, I hope you agree, boss :-))
Fear 3: Show me the money
Yes, this is a biggie and it’s not a one size fits all component to your decision. Personally, I set a budget, saved like a machine and reached the savings goal. You can do it – you don’t need the latest TV, iPhone, MacBook, etc.
Just make sure you’ve got some funds stashed somewhere for when you decide to re-enter the world after your travels. I decided to put my life on hold whilst I travel – i.e. put everything in storage, not sell fixed property and not cash in equity but these are all personal decisions. My only advice would be to sit down, get a pen and piece of paper and make a plan. Maybe it’s the accountant in me coming out but decisions have consequences so make 100% sure you’re comfortable with the decisions you make now. Avoiding instant gratification is always a winner, unless we’re talking about beer – beer is always best served when you think about it!
Fear 4: Fomo
You’ll be away from home for a while. Your mates will continue their lives and you won’t be there when they do this. This is something which I’ve learnt already. Emigration is a bitch.
All I have to say about this is if they’re the sort of good quality mates you know they are, you’ll see them shortly and nothing would have changed. Hell, I’m meeting friends in Thailand, Vietnam, Cambodia, the Philippines and Australia already. You don’t have to worry about this. It’s a non-fear.
Fear 5: My home is my backpack
I’ll concede that this is something that I do frequently mull over in my head. As I write this piece, I’m sitting on a couch, in front of a gas heater, drinking tea (it’s a Friday night – yes, it’s a sad state of affairs) and watching an episode of My 600lb Life (which I blame entirely on Monique) and if I fast-forward 4 weeks I’ll have one 15kg backpack and that’s it. Goodbye creature comforts. Let’s test the concept of ‘absence makes the heart grow fonder’ then. How bad can it be? I think I’ll be writing about this in a few months’ time…
Fear 6: Some sort of crisis back home
What if something bad happens back home? Someone gets sick or god forbid, dies. Planes exist. Take comfort in the fact you can be anywhere in the world in 24 hours. Anywhere.
I’m going to leave you with this poem. Give it a read – I think it’s brilliant.
Ithaka – CP Cavafy
As you set out for Ithaka
hope the voyage is a long one,
full of adventure, full of discovery.
Laistrygonians and Cyclops,
angry Poseidon—don’t be afraid of them:
you’ll never find things like that on your way
as long as you keep your thoughts raised high,
as long as a rare excitement
stirs your spirit and your body.
Laistrygonians and Cyclops,
wild Poseidon—you won’t encounter them
unless you bring them along inside your soul,
unless your soul sets them up in front of you.
Hope the voyage is a long one.
May there be many a summer morning when,
with what pleasure, what joy,
you come into harbors seen for the first time;
may you stop at Phoenician trading stations
to buy fine things,
mother of pearl and coral, amber and ebony,
sensual perfume of every kind—
as many sensual perfumes as you can;
and may you visit many Egyptian cities
to gather stores of knowledge from their scholars.
Keep Ithaka always in your mind.
Arriving there is what you are destined for.
But do not hurry the journey at all.
Better if it lasts for years,
so you are old by the time you reach the island,
wealthy with all you have gained on the way,
not expecting Ithaka to make you rich.
Ithaka gave you the marvelous journey.
Without her you would not have set out.
She has nothing left to give you now.
And if you find her poor, Ithaka won’t have fooled you.
Wise as you will have become, so full of experience,
you will have understood by then what these Ithakas mean.