Hope. Anxiety. And Excitement. Such emotions are inevitable when you leave for the first ever grand adventures of your life. When I’d initially quit my job to travel, I had no idea what to expect. No one I knew had ever done it before. I was feeling a bout of jitters. To compensate my unpreparedness, I followed a few guidebooks and hoped for the best. I was an inexperienced and a hopeless self, and my actions spoke about my condition well.
But now, after travelling for a few years, I know things better. And if I could sit my younger self, I’d give him this advice:
Don’t Be Scared
Walking off the beaten path and travelling places you’re not familiar with, might be a little scary, but you aren’t the first person doing so. There is a well-worn travel trail and hundreds of online blogs and guidebooks to walk with you along the way. So don’t be scared. And if thousands of people can make their way around to the world, and to the place you’re going, why can’t you.
Look Beyond The Guidebook Experiences
Guidebooks are helpful. But don’t completely rely on them for shaping your travel experiences. They will never talk about the hidden, off-the-beaten-path experiences. For the best information, connect with locals, or speak to fellow travellers. People are always the best information source when it comes to travelling. The best experiences can only be learned, and not studied.
It might initially feel boring to a few, but slow travel is addictive. So don’t try to squeeze your experiences. ‘7 countries in 10 days’, or ‘around the world in a month’ will only give you a handful of photos to share, but no real knowledge of the places you will travel. So don’t rush your trip. Make time to lie down under the mountains, or sit in a café. Watch, as people behave. Slow travelling, is far more compelling, and a lot more educating.
Don’t Carry Too Much
When I visited Bhutan last year, I carried with me a 90 ltr rucksack – full of stuff that only sat in my bag all across the journey. And I learned a simple lesson the hard way: Pack Light. Don’t carry everything you owned back home. Because if you truly need something, you can always pick it up on the way. Travelling, moreover, is not only about seeing new places or meeting new people, a part of it also teaches you about self-governance. You learn to live with whatever little resources you have.
Further Reading: My Travel Packing Tips
Go With The Flow
If there is one thing I believe in, it is – a journey is only best experienced when unplanned. Because when everything is planned, and you only follow a fixed itinerary, there is no room for happy accidents. So just go with the flow and let the random moments shape your experiences. Let serendipity do its work.
Keep Some Extra Cash
Every time I go somewhere I carry some extra cash with me because no matter how well you budget, there are always unexpected expenses. And disasters like losing your waist pouch and all your debit cards with it, are never inevitable. Carrying extra cash moreover gives you the freedom to explore a little extra than what you’d initially planned.
I know you’re an introvert. But no matter where you go, there is a network of travellers who want to be your friends – for they might be travelling solo, just like you. So don’t be afraid, just say “Hello” and everything will fall into its place. Ask fellow travellers in a hostel, if you can join them. No one ever says no. Take the first step and you’ll see how easy it was to make friends.
[Further Reading: Why I Travel Alone]
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