Coddiwomp is a travel blog and community for first-time travellers. Through inspiration and advice I want to help anyone with travel on their to-do list move one step closer to their first trip, creating a supportive community of aspiring travellers and travel lovers along the way. If you haven't been travelling before, I want this site to be everything you need to experience the travel..
Whether or not travelling is a hobby is up for debate...here's what I think.
Is travelling a hobby?!
Is travelling a hobby? It’s fun-filled, life-changing, inspiring and just downright amazing. And hobbies can definitely be these things. But does calling travel a hobby really do it justice?? Or is it something more than that? Here’s a really quick piece with my thoughts…
What do you think of when you hear the word ‘hobby’?
An activity to enjoy in your spare time? A fun-filled pastime? A go-to activity of choice? A distraction from dull moments of the day?
So, technically, is travelling a hobby as well? After all, for many of us it is indeed a go-to activity of choice. It is absolutely a fun-filled activity- something to enjoy doing in our spare time, above almost all other things.
And yet ‘hobby’ makes me think of things like sport, reading, drawing…or bingo…or knitting.
Can we really put travel- something that is so fundamentally profound and life-changing- in the same category as knitting?
Isn’t it far more than that?
I’d say yes. It is indeed more than that.
But if it isn’t a hobby, what else is it?
If travelling is my hobby, then is it any different to reading, playing sport, or knitting?
“Who cares if travelling is my hobby?”
First off, there’s nothing wrong with considering travel to be a hobby.
I mean, I always maintain that travel, in every respect, is an individual thing and so we have the right to define it however we like.
I’m not here to tell you that seeing travel as a hobby is wrong.
Indeed, like I said, there’s a large part of me that would define it in this way too. At the same time though, I just don’t think the word does it justice.
A travelling hobby is more like a travelling lifestyle.
Travelling hobby or travelling lifestyle?
For me, hobbies are generally activities that I fit around my other, primary pursuits. I make time for them, sure, but generally they’re the luxury that rewards the work I’ve put in elsewhere.
For instance, I might draw in the evenings, after a busy day, or play sport at the weekends to socialise and get some exercise, or take a lunch break to read my book.
I don’t knit.
But the hobby is always secondary- fitted in around other parts of my schedule. Simply, these hobbies are side-lined to my ‘free-time’.
Travel, by comparison, is almost the opposite.
Travel, the way I see it, is the primary thing. I wish to mould my schedule around travel- not the other way around. Travel becomes the ultimate focus- the priority that I fit everything else around.
Travelling is a hobby, but it also isn't. It goes far beyond that for me.
In this way travelling is a fundamental component of my life (or at least I want it to be), as opposed to something I restrict to my spare time.
And, equally, I can continue with my other hobbies while I travel. I’ll read, exercise, write, draw…all while on the road. Is it really possible to practice a hobby within a hobby!?
And, at the end of the day, I get so much more from travel than I do most other things in my life.
I mean, who I am has literally changed and adapted in line with the experiences I’ve had while travelling. Travel is a powerful tool, a momentous life choice, a way to live life to its absolute fullest.
Dive headfirst into travel and, as clichéd as it sounds, it sort of becomes…life.
Or, less dramatically (if equally clichéd), travel becomes a lifestyle. It’s what I mean when I talk about the travel feeling. And it is this that gets at the crux of why I don’t see travel as a hobby.
Simply, travel becomes more than just a thing to do: no longer just some thing, or activity.
It becomes a way of interacting with the world: a way of being that impacts all aspects of life.
That all sounds a little grandiose, new-agey and woo-woo, I know. But I don’t know how else to put it! And there’s truth there, I promise!
So, to sum up, for me, at least, travel isn’t a hobby.
Maybe it starts off as one. Maybe at one point in time, as you begin to delve into the wonderful world of travel, it becomes a hobby. And maybe for some people it remains that way; like I said at the start, that’s 100% fine.
I just see it as so much more.
What do you think? Am I talking rubbish!? Do you see travel as a hobby or something more? Let me know in the comments!
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The disadvantages of travelling are hugely outweighed by the positives, but they're worth knowing about just the same...
9 Disadvantages of Travelling You Should Know About Before you Go
Travelling is awesome. It is life enhancing, emboldening, empowering, enlightening and just downright incredible. Everyone should do it. However, it isn’t always great. In fact, sometimes it is really hard. But the hard things don’t often get talked about. So, to put the cards on the table, here are 9 disadvantages of travelling you should know about before you go.
People always talk about the good stuff when it comes to travelling.
And that’s fair enough- after all, it is pretty amazing. I wouldn’t write this blog if that wasn’t true. I love to travel and absolutely think that everyone should do it.
But it isn’t fair to promote all the positives without mentioning some of the disadvantages too. The good massively outweighs the bad stuff, but there is definitely bad stuff worth knowing about!
So, for the sake of fairness, here are 9 of the main travel disadvantages.
Travel is addictive. The travel bug is real.
1. Travel is insanely addictive
There’s a reason people talk about the travel bug. It exists- I can vouch for it.
You go away once, sample all the incredible opportunities and experiences that travelling offers, and simply get hooked (read about how this happened to me!). Now, this might not sound like a disadvantage. And in some ways it isn’t. In fact, I love how addictive travel is.
But it has a funny way of affecting your ‘home plans’. Notions of career and plans for family get side lined in exchange for the next hit of foreign adventure that you can get your hands on.
And, like any addiction, it pangs when it isn’t indulged and has its own set of troubling withdrawal symptoms. Frankly, home life doesn’t feel the same (more on this later); life, for a time, isn’t as vibrant…the call of foreign lands is intense and all consuming.
2. Travel isn’t cheap
This disadvantage is stating the obvious, but money tends to be an issue for almost all travellers. Travelling to far away destinations and going for some time without an income can get expensive.
And, though travel on a budget is always possible, the pressure that travel puts on your pockets is undeniable. When travel becomes a priority, it requires sacrifice in other areas of life and forces you to live differently.
Again though, there’s a silver lining to this. After all, that very same sacrifice will lend an ever greater poignancy to your trip: whenever you put effort into something you tend to value it more.
But it will undoubtedly use up your savings, leave holes in your pockets and shrink those once bulging nest eggs.
While you're obsessing with travel, all your peers move on with their lives and get ahead down the more traditional path.
3. Your career gets delayed and people move on without you
Everything keeps moving at home while you’re away having the time of your life. Life moves on, people get married, move home, get promotions, have babies…
You get back from travelling and suddenly those awesome experiences get pushed into memory; you’re confronted with a reality where your peers are a year (or more) ahead of you in their careers, earning more money, in higher positions; maybe they’re already reaching the goals you once had for yourself.
For the competitive go getter, this can be a tough pill to swallow.
Of course, there’s no replacement for life experience and you’ll have that in abundance. What you do when you travel is life changing and progressive in all manner of ways.
But when you’re slap bang back home, confronted with reality, with your adventures (until the next one, at least) behind you, it can be hard to see how people have moved on ahead.
Join the Coddiwomp community for more travel tips and inspiration! Just click below!4. Usual habits and routines are difficult to maintain
You’re at home, you have a set routine and structure to your day. You know what to expect and enjoy the regularity of things.
If nothing else, travel is a brilliant way of upsetting this. And maybe that’s a good thing- we could all do with mixing things up every now and again, right?
But what if you’re into your gym and used to going 5 times a week? Or have specific dietary requirements? Or sporting or academic goals? Or you need a particular amount of sleep to properly function? The list goes on…
Sometimes habits and routines are helpful. Travel, with its irregularity and unpredictability, can make these hard to uphold.
Travelling is incredibly tiring at times!
5. Travelling is tiring
This travel disadvantage is impossible to be overstated!
Your brain will be working in overdrive to take it all in, plan ahead, overcome challenges, avoid danger and keep you safe. All of this is tiring at physical and mental levels.
6. You will be physically, mentally and emotionally pushed
In a similar way, travel will challenge you at all sorts of different levels.
You’ll be doing new things, feeling lonely at times, homesick at others, and frequently out of your comfort zone. You’ll have to be brave, face up to your fears, confront personal demons and take countless steps into the unknown.
Physically, mentally and emotionally, travel can be tough.
Of course, this is exactly why travelling is such a great self-development tool. Travel will change you in fundamental, positive ways (see below) and this is almost entirely due to overcoming the challenges it throws at you.
But that doesn’t make it easier in the moment! If possible though, whenever you’re struggling on the road, take it easy, be self-compassionate, accept what’s going on, stay present and know that the struggle will be positive in the long run.
It can feel like you're on your own when you travel. The inevitable loneliness is tough to handle at times.
7. It can be lonely and homesickness can hurt
Alone, on the other side of the world (or even in a group), loneliness is often an unwanted visitor. It can creep up on you and make your days feel pretty bleak.
Homesickness is loneliness’ bullish big brother and can quickly compound things.
It is absolutely natural to feel lonely and homesick on the other side of the world. I mean, consider what you’re doing! You’re literally away from all the people you know and love, stepping into the unknown and taking a big leap of faith.
You’re bound to feel lonely at times. You’re bound to feel homesick at times. Know that it is totally natural, and that it will pass, like wave, in time.
8. Coming home is hard
One of the biggest disadvantages to travel is that you have to come home! I mean, the obvious issue is that you’re no longer having the time of your life, out on the road.
However, coming home is hard for other reasons too. You’ll be back and it will all feel the same. You feel completely different (see below), but home does not. After utter independence and total adventure, you’re back to the same four walls; the same faces, the same routines.
The feeling is one of longing to be back out there, frustration at the banality of home, a general malaise and sensation of un-belonging.
Getting home from travels is never an easy process.
Coming home is the hardest part! You'll want to head straight to the airport again.
9. You won’t be the same when you get back
I’ve mentioned this final travel disadvantage a couple of times already, but it is so true that it’s worth going into in more detail.
Go travelling and you’ll almost certainly feel like a totally different person when you get back.
Again, in almost every way this isn’t bad. It is a sign of how profound travel is and you’ll find that you’ve changed in wholly positive ways.
But it is disconcerting.
Indeed, you might be unaware that you’ve changed until the moment you’re home and the hubbub of your return has died down. Then it’s like a slap in the face: you get home and feel utterly out of place in what should be a familiar environment.
It can take some time to get your head around.
And there you have it: 9 disadvantages to travelling. In no way whatsoever should these put you off going. Indeed, I actively hope they haven’t!
But in the interest of knowing what you’re getting into, I’d say they are definitely worth keeping in mind. And, to be honest, there’s no saying for sure whether you’ll experience the same issues! After all, everyone’s experience of travel is different.
Go have an adventure, revel in all the wonders it will place in front of you and embrace the negatives that go with them. In almost every way, there’s a silver lining to them anyway!
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The first time travelling alone is a daunting prospect, but ultimately a decision that will change your life.
Inspiration & Advice for Anyone Travelling Alone for the First Time
This piece is for anyone contemplating travelling alone for the first time. It can be a daunting prospect, venturing into the world, alone and unguided. It’s a big deal and a certain amount of trepidation and uncertainty at what to expect is only natural. To help, I wanted to put together some tips and inspiration that I hope will reassure any aspiring solo travellers out there.
Travel is no mean feat.
It may look and sound like fun and games, and, to be honest, it usually is, but in many ways it’s also a real challenge.
Indeed, a part of us knows this before we even go.
As aspiring travellers we look at the world. Then we look back at the comfort and security of home. Then back at the world. Then back to home. And once more back to the World.
And we think, “Hmmm. That looks scary- exciting, sure, but also scary”.
As excited as you may be at the prospect of living the dream and breaking the chains of a home life that’s come to feel unremittingly banal and claustrophobic, the thought of travel can still be a difficult one.
Especially if you’re going to travel solo.
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Indeed, travelling solo for the first time is a particularly difficult prospect. Looking ahead, you know that all the uncertainty and challenge to come will be confronted and navigated alone.
There is no one else to rely on. No shoulder to lean on, no hand to hold, no reassuring voice to tell you what to do or how to do it.
It’s just you.
And of course, this is exactly why solo travel is so powerful and life-altering: the increase in self-knowledge, esteem and confidence that comes from navigating and overcoming adversity, alone, while travelling, is incredible.
You come away a significantly different person to the one who first gets on the plane.
But you don’t know that before you go. No, prior to departure everything feels a little up in the air.
So I was reflecting on this and remembering the mixture of feelings I experienced before travelling. The memory prompted me to put together a post with all the inspiration, advice and reassurance that I would have found helpful to read/hear at the time.
If you’re contemplating travelling alone for the first time, I hope it’ll be useful in overcoming any concerns, settling any nerves, setting expectations and generally inspiring you to go do it!
Inspiration for Travelling Solo
Let’s begin by going through some of the reasons solo travel is so awesome.
Advantages of Travelling Alone
There are many great things about being on the road by yourself. Here are a few:
Total freedom and control
When you’re travelling by yourself you can literally do anything you want.
There is no-one else to take into consideration, and it’s amazing. Go where you want, stay where you want, eat when you want, move whenever you want...just generally experience a country on your terms.
Just don’t let this be to the detriment of your trip.
For instance, the people you’ve just met in your hostel invite you out with them to a nearby bar. You’re feeling sad and lonely and just want to stay indoors and think about home. That’s totally fine- this is, of course, your trip!
However, forcing yourself to do the thing you don’t want to do might actually be the best thing to do...if that makes sense. Accept the invite, make friends, create a memory and cheer yourself up in the process.
Sometimes having someone to make a decision for you is very helpful. Other times, having someone else around when a decision needs making just complicates things- especially if you disagree.
Being alone when you travel means this isn’t an issue.
As I said above, you get to do when you want, when you want, with no-one else getting in the way. This speeds up the decision making process and liberates you from spending your time away doing things you wouldn’t otherwise be doing.
Travelling solo is like an incredible tool for self-development.
And, like I mentioned in the intro, doing it solo only serves to magnify the effect.
Travelling alone confronts you with all the personal neuroses and issues that you can tend to overlook at home. With no one to help you out in a tricky spot, you’re reliant on your own decision making and problem solving ability.
Navigating and overcoming issues by yourself on the road increases your self-confidence and self-esteem like nothing else: you develop a self belief that carries through into all areas of life.
This can be a bit of a mixed blessing, as too much of your own space can quickly lead to feeling lonely and isolated. However, having the space and time to be alone while travelling can also be amazingly helpful.
Depending on where you are, it’s actually rare to have no-body at all around when you’re travelling- even if you set off solo.
In hostels, hikes, city tours and the like, there are almost always new people to meet and spend time with. But, with no obligations to anyone other than yourself, if things are getting a bit much (which they easily can) you have every option to step away and be alone.
It’s far harder to make your excuses when you’re travelling with other people.
Quotes to inspire Solo Travel
I love a good travel quote! Here are a few of my favourites that help inspire me to travel:
Loving life is easy when you are abroad. Where no one knows you and you hold your life in your hands all alone, you are more master of yourself than at any other time.
— Hannah Arendt
To awaken quite alone in a strange town is one of the most pleasant sensations in the world. You are surrounded by adventure
— Freya Stark, Passionate Nomad
A subject to which few intellectuals ever give a thought is the right to be a vagrant, the freedom to wander. Yet vagrancy is a deliverance, and life on the open road is the essence of freedom. To have the courage to smash the chains with which modern life has weighted us (under the pretext that it was offering us more liberty), then to take up the symbolic stick and bundle and get out
— Isabelle Eberhardt
The man who goes alone can start today, but he who travels with another must wait till that other is ready
— Henry David Thoreau
A person does not grow from the ground like a vine or a tree, one is not part of a plot of land. Mankind has legs so it can wander.
— Roman Payne, The Wanderess
Twenty years from now you will be more disappointed by the things you didn’t do than by the ones you did do
— Mark Twain
Tips for Travelling for the First Time
Moving on from inspiration to advice then. What tips would I give myself if I were to have a conversation with my younger self?
First, check out this hilarious video from Hey Nadine with her advice about solo travel.
what you NEED TO KNOW about SOLO TRAVEL - YouTube
Tips:Say ‘yes’ a lot
By this I mean seizing opportunity when it arises.
Remember, you’re going to be out of your comfort zone a lot when travelling, and when an opportunity seems particularly beyond what you’re happy with (eg sky diving, eating insects, skinny dipping...) it is all too easy to turn things down.
Force yourself into the habit of saying ‘yes’ as a routine response.
This way, you’ll find yourself in memorable, amazing situations that you’ll look back on thinking, ‘wow, I can’t believe I did that’.
Travelling and solo travelling require bravery anyway, so you’ve already ticked this box by deciding to do it.
But keep it up when you’re on the road. Push yourself whenever you can- when meeting people, when exploring a new place, when deciding an activity; be courageous and tenacious.
Be sensible and safe
A lot gets said about safety while travelling. It’s important, of course, but don’t let it get you paranoid about the dangers involved in travel.
Take the same precautions you would in any new place, look after your valuables, get travel insurance, don’t be overly conspicuous and you should be totally fine.
Be comfortable being alone
This one takes some getting used to and I’m still pretty rubbish at it. But travelling solo understandably requires a level of comfort being alone in your own space.
It’ll feel funny to begin, going out for meals by yourself, taking selfies and cooking for one. However, it gets easier. Know that far fewer people are probably looking at you than you might think.
See it as a learning opportunity: how does it feel to be alone at the bar/restaurant/cafe/museum etc? What’s going on inside? How is the emotion manifesting itself physically?
By acknowledging these things you’ll come to understand more about who you are.
Getting comfortable in your own company is important for enjoying solo travel.
This one’s a pretty basic part of travel but super important! By yourself there’s no sharing of kit between backpacks, so it’s literally all on your shoulders.
Take the absolute bare minimum of stuff. You’ll be thankful for it later and anything you happen to miss can almost always be acquired on the road.
So, if you’re looking for company, be the first to say hello to people you meet. At hostels, out and about, on a night out- wherever you are, get comfortable being the first to introduce yourself to those around you.
You’ll have the same conversation a million times, but that’s fine- it’s a necessary part of meeting someone on the road and you might find a bunch of new friends to share the adventure with.
The beauty of being alone is that if you don’t get on, then you can simply carry on your way.
In a desperate attempt to see everything and miss out on nothing, it’s easy to rush around when you’re travelling.
This approach is tiring and prevents you really experiencing the place you’re in. Instead, slow down, take your time, move slowly and immerse yourself in whatever you’re doing.
Take time out
Travel can be intense. Constantly on the move, one place to another, meeting new person after new person; it’s important to take some time every now and again just to chill.
Take a mini holiday from travelling.
Set up shop in a hostel somewhere, wash your clothes, eat good food, read, relax, rejuvenate. Don’t feel any pressure to keep on moving. If you’re tired, take a break.
Take the path less trodden
There’s value in getting off the main tourist track while travelling. It’s totally up to how you want to spend your time, but heading to lesser known places in lesser known towns down lesser known paths can be remarkably rewarding.
Nothing is insurmountable
There will be difficult times when you travel. It’s almost inevitable. Accept this from the outset.
But know that whatever it is, you can and will get through it. It might not be pretty, but you will come through the other side and it will have been a valuable part of the trip.
So there you have it, a brief guide with inspiration and advice for a first time solo traveller. Did it help? Let me know if there were particular points that stood out, or even if there are particular concerns you have that I didn’t address!
I’d love to get your thoughts in the comments below.
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The Abel Tasman is a stunning part of New Zealand's South Island.
Walking Abel Tasman: A New Zealand Night to Remember
Travelling is a fantastic means of giving you a story to tell. And, now that I have a few of my own, I thought I'd write a piece every now and again to tell the tale of a particular travel highlight, which I hope will serve as inspiration for aspiring travellers looking to make some memories of their own. In this first story I recount one mind blowing night in New Zealand that happened while walking the Abel Tasman.
I remember a time when I was in New Zealand, in the middle of hiking one of the Great Walks on South Island, in the Abel Tasman National Park. I have tonnes of memories from this hike. However, one in particular stands out, fixed in my mind’s eye as if it happened yesterday.
I’ll begin by mentioning quickly that free-camping on the Abel Tasman (and pretty much everywhere else in New Zealand) is strictly forbidden.
Instead, all hikers have to book and sleep in expensive designated campsites or huts positioned at fixed points along the way. Marshals patrol the entire route all day every day, enforcing this rule and slapping anyone without a booking with a hefty fine.
Despite the risk, we (me and three awesome guys I was travelling with at the time) decided to chance it. Simply, the money we’d save by free-camping was worth it- we just had to avoid getting caught.
Now, I’m usually not one for rule-breaking. However, we were on a tight budget, the designated sites seemed ludicrously expensive and, more than anything else, there was something alluring about the potential to be caught that created an air of cloak and dagger mischief to the hike.
Hopefully provides some context to the tale that follows...
It is actually a small segment of the hike that I want to talk about, but the story really begins towards the end of our second day’s hiking, when we reached one of the numerous tidal crossings of the Abel Tasman.
It was early evening when we arrived and the tide was in, preventing us from walking the hundred metres or so to the other side, where we’d planned to sleep that night.
A view of the beautiful beach where we waited for the tide to recede.
Despite the potential to be caught by the marshals it was an easy decision to sit and wait on the beach for the tide to recede, basking in the evening sun and soaking in the beauty of our surroundings.
The Abel Tasman National Park is an incredible place.
Situated at the Northern part of South Island it is nothing short of stunning: littered with mountains and native bush that meets crystal clear seas and famous golden sands. It wasn't the end of the world to wait for a couple of hours.
With little else to do we made a camp fire, cooked our evening meal and lay on the sand next to the clear, lapping waters, enjoying the blue skies and remaining warmth of the day.
But we'd pressed sticks into the sand at the water’s edge to track its outward progress and as the sun went down, it became clear the tide wouldn’t be low enough in time for us to cross in daylight.
Filled with a sense of adventure and in a prime position to be found by the marshals, we decided to make the crossing in the dark.
On the beach as the sun set, waiting for the tide to go out far enough to make the crossing.
As the sun eventually disappeared we were greeted by a night sky the likes of which I’d never seen before.
Now, the night sky has always captured my imagination. It has an enchanting, hypnotic quality that draws my attention and keeps me transfixed. That night was something special.
The Milkyway hung in all its glory above us and stars came out in numbers that defied what I thought possible. Unspoiled by light pollution the sky was perfectly clear and every available space seemed filled by stars.
We lay down next to the fire and between upward gazes, by fire-light, I read aloud sections of the Lord of the Rings- the book that had fittingly accompanied us on our travels around New Zealand.
It was a cool moment.
However, after some time the tide seemed to have receded far enough and it was time to leave. We put out the fire, repacked out bags and stripped down to boxers for the crossing.
What happened next was even more incredible.
Headtorches on, trousers off, backpacks donned. The start of the crossing!
It felt pitch black without the fire so we donned our head torches before taking our first steps into the water. As we did so I remember two things becoming immediately apparent: first, the sea was really bloody cold; second, it was still a lot deeper than we’d hoped.
For want of a better phrase, we were going to be balls deep.
The general feeling was of excitement though. Our head torches shining in the darkness would attract attention- marshals were somewhere on the other side. Moreover we couldn't see far infront of us and had no idea of the water's depth.
If it got too deep in the middle, we'd be forced to turn back. The novelty and low-level danger all added to the atmosphere of excitement though.
This was when it got even better. For fear of falling and soaking our stuff we literally had to watch our step as we moved over the unsteady ground.
Amazingly, as we walked in the shallower water we noticed tiny bubbles being released with each step, which glowed with a preternatural quality of shining turquoise, blues, whites and greens.
Lit by the stars, the moon and our head torches, our feet somehow became shrouded in a form of phosphorescence- it was like a scene from Avatar. I was captivated by each step.
Managing to tear my eyes from my feet, I noticed yet another awe-inspiring thing to add to the list. As we’d walked further the headlands of the parallel bays and the gap between them had come into view in the distance, silhouetted by the moonlight.
As we looked, we saw that a huge storm was raging in the distance. Framed perfectly by the shadowy land masses on either side, we watched fierce, forked lightning bolts splitting the darkness.
Everywhere we looked was a light show of sorts: the luminous phosphorescence at our feet, the flashes of lightning away at sea and the stars of the night sky above us.
The beauty of the Abel Tasman.
At that moment in time I felt extraordinarily privileged to be alive. It was as if mother-nature had decided to share a secret with us, demonstrating something so sublime I couldn’t really comprehend it.
It was one of those rare moments that are almost too perfect, which forces you into awareness of time and transiency. I was painfully aware that, like everything, it would soon come to an end and was determined to commit it to memory.
Everything about the experience was extraordinarily visceral and otherworldly- dreamlike and inconceivable. It was magic. I felt I’d stepped into an alternate reality.
There was so much to look at, so much to feel and take in that it pushed the limitations of what my brain could comprehend.
For a brief period of time, simultaneously, everything and nothing mattered.
I think what made this experience so memorable is its uniqueness- it was so far away from home, so overwhelmingly juxtaposed to my everyday world.
I’ve tried to describe it numerous times since I returned from New Zealand and always failed to do it justice. I am almost certain that I will not experience anything quite like that again.
Why do people decide to travel? What is it that drives our wanderlust and attracts us to the idea of stepping out into the wider World, to have an adventure? Let’s take a look at some of the reasons people travel, and why you should definitely do it too.
Why do people travel?
I think this a big question. And not an easy one to answer.
Indeed, I’ve often thought that, in some ways, it makes far more sense not to- travel, I mean.
After all, home is comfortable, predictable…safe; the World outside is generally unknown and altogether more dangerous, unpredictable and uncertain.
If then, as humans, we have evolved to prioritise our survival over almost everything else, why does travel remain so appealing?
I mean, our brains are specifically oriented around protecting us from threat.
Yet there seems to be something about travel that supersedes this intrinsic focus on survival: travel is a daunting prospect, but we still do it.
There’s even an added irony that the safety and security of home is one huge reason why I find travel so appealing!
Simply, home isn’t big enough.
In fact, it’s stifling and restrictive and sometimes almost claustrophobic. The possibility of pushing beyond it has always been overwhelmingly attractive.
But this can’t be everything.
What other reasons do we have for taking the (arguably counterintuitive) decision to travel?
I didn’t want to just pull reasons from thin air.
So, for the purposes of this post I’ve drawn heavily from my experts’ piece about first time travel, where expert travel bloggers from around the World explained what it was that made them go travelling for the first time.
I hope this gives the following reasons a little more substance and authenticity.
But first, check out this awesome video about why you should travel, which will hopefully get you inspired from the outset!
Like I mentioned, travel goes against a lot of what we, as humans, are built to want. Stepping into the World is often scary; the road ahead paved with difficulty and hardship, as well as all the positives.
For some people, this is reason enough to want to go. Simply, they see the challenges that lie ahead and lean into it, determined to overcome them.
I imagine the people who do extreme tests of physical endurance, such as ultra-marathons.
You might ask: “why on earth would anyone do that?” But it’s exactly the challenge, the hardship, the pursuit of excellence and the desire to surpass the limits we set for ourselves, which makes it appealing.
2) To rebel from the norm and take the path less travelled
From school, to uni, to career, to retirement etc…It all just feels too normal, too ordinary…and I want my life to be amazing and full (see ‘Live fully’, below). I don’t feel ready to accept this path and sideline true living until I’m in my 60s.
Travel is a fantastic way to break away from this typical route.
One of the reasons people travel is to avoid a typical route through life and to make the absolute most of your time.
3) To scratch an itch
Some people simply talk about an irrepressible urge to get out and travel; the travel bug just seems to be inherently there, often from a very early age.
Equally, some people have particular experiences they want to have in life: akin to a bucket list, where travel is the only way to make them happen.
Some people come from a long line of travellers in their family.
Having been surrounded by travellers and raised in a family there travel was part of normal life, it was only natural to want to go out and have an adventure of their own one day.
5) To explore the World
This one seems like a fundamental reason why people travel. The World is big and there’s a lot to see out there.
For some, the allure of experiencing and exploring different countries and cultures; witnessing novel customs and social practices and meeting all manner of different people from all around the planet, is the biggest motivation to have an adventure.
For me it comes down to this: life is short and you never know when it is going to end. Keeping this in mind, the thought of living anything other than a full life, packed to the seams with experience and joy, is not worth thinking about.
It is not the years in the life, but the life in the years that counts.
Travel is an ultimate way to pack life into your years.
7) To have an adventure
Call it being a romantic or a fantasist, but there’s often an allure to the basic idea of exploration, discovery and adventure!
I have always loved the stories of intrepid pursuits and amazing endeavours of people throughout history, who have travelled far and wide in search adventure.
There’s something special about it.
8) To escape from something
Travel can be an easy way to run away from things that are difficult to deal with at home.
I’m also guilty of this: my desire to travel is often at its highest when I feel particularly challenged by a situation at home; if I’m having a melancholy moment, my immediate instinct is to whisk myself away to some lost corner of the globe.
I caution against using travel as an escape though. It might be a temporary distraction, but constantly running from adversity is to our detriment in the long run. Sooner or later that from which we’re trying to escape will catch up with us.
I think (though there are surely exceptions) that it is far better to confront whatever it is in the moment, instead of running. This way, the issue resolved far more readily and travel is kept as a purely positive pursuit.
Go travelling to develop yourself as a person. This is an amazing reason to travel.
The adversity that you face on the road, coupled with the sheer depth and variety of experience, all come together to grow your personality, strengthen resilience and generally bolster and build who you are.
10) To make themselves more employable
Among all the many benefits of travel, its impact on your employability can be another key reason that some people take to the road.
Contrary to the beliefs of many, travel is said to enhance your chance of employment rather than limiting it. Go travelling, and your chances of employment should not be negatively impacted.
Indeed, your maturity, experience in new cultures and dazzling tales of foreign exploits will only help your bid to secure your next job.
For more on how travel enhances your employability, read this great piece from Save The Student.
11) To gain life skills
Similarly to how travel helps you develop as a person, the skills you can develop overseas are often another key reason people choose to travel.
Think about volunteering with disadvantaged communities overseas, doing an internship/placement that interests you with an organisation abroad, spending time on a farm while working for free accommodation…the list goes on.
The number of life skills you can develop through travelling beggars belief.
In this traveller profile series I take a look back through history at some of the World’s greatest travellers. What travel lessons can be learned from the adventures and exploits of these remarkable, intrepid individuals? By looking backwards in this way, I hope to inspire anyone looking forward to their own future travels. In this post I look at the amazing Amelia Earhart.
The second historic traveller I’m looking to for travel inspiration is Amelia Earhart, the infamous female aviator of the 20th Century.
Known and loved worldwide, Earhart’s pioneering piloting exploits turned her into an international celebrity. Her travels were done in the name of adventure, challenging the status quo and championing equal rights for women.
Her example is a fundamentally inspiring one. Let’s take a look at her story and travels to see exactly why she’s the perfect source of inspiration for aspiring travellers!
Earhart with her pilot's cap on. She was a champion of women's rights and a pioneering force in women's aviation. [Public domain image]
Amelia Earhart Traveller ProfileName:
Amelia Mary Earhart
Born July 24th, 1897 - disappeared on July 2nd 1937 (declared dead in absentia January 5th, 1939, aged 41).
Context and Travels:
Earhart was an American, born in Kansas, who became one of the most famous pilots of her age.
Her love for flying started at 20 years old, at a flying expo in Toronto. A plane drifted close to her, prompting Earhart to utter the words: “I believe that little red airplane said something to me as it swished by.”
Three years later, in 1920, she got the chance to fly for the first time:
By the time I had got two or three hundred feet off the ground, I knew I had to fly.
Earhart’s love affair with aviation had begun and the foundations of her flight path to fame were laid.
Over the next seven years or so Earhart continued to fly, breaking records along the way.
It was in 1928 though that Earhart’s celebrity status was established, when she became the first woman to fly across the Atlantic. Earhart was in a team and wasn’t allowed to pilot the plane, but became famous nonetheless.
From here her list of exploits, and fame with it, only grew.
From 1930 to 1935, Earhart set seven women’s speed and distance aviation records. And, in 1932 she became the first woman, and only the second person ever, to fly solo across the Atlantic.
This achievement took her over 2000 miles in under 15 hours and won her the Distinguished Flying Cross from the U.S. Congress in the process.
Earhart's final flight came in 1937 when she disappeared in an attempt to circumnavigate the globe. [Public Domain Image]
I have a feeling that there is just about one more good flight left in my system…
Earhart’s famous final flight came in 1937, on an attempt to become the first woman to circumnavigate the globe by plane. Setting off on June 1st, Earhart and her navigator, Fred Noonan, left Miami to begin their 29,000 mile journey to the East.
They never made it.
After a month of flying, on July 2nd, contact was lost with their plane. Their journey ended somewhere near Howland Island, over the Pacific between Australia and Hawaii but, despite desperate search and rescue attempts, they were never found.
Many theories, all unconfirmed to this day, exist about what happened to Earhart and Noonan.
However, for me, the mystery around Earhart’s death is secondary to the memory of the achievements of this remarkable woman in life.
Travel lessonsFollow your passion, make dreams a reality & earn a living from them.
Earhart is a brilliant example of the value of doing something you love. Not only did she turn make her dreams a reality, she went on to turn them into her profession.
When it comes to travel, it can be easy to forgo your desire to see the world in favour of a safer and more typical route through life. Don’t let it happen. If you want to travel, you owe it to yourself to make it happen.
Be Brave and Intrepid
This could be life advice as much as travel advice, but Earhart’s example was nothing if not a lesson in bravery.
In those relatively early days of flight, to cross from one continent to another over endless expanses of ocean was no mean feat. To attempt to circumnavigate the globe was practically insanity!
Everyone has oceans to fly, if they have the heart to do it. Is it reckless? Maybe. But what do dreams know of boundaries?
I want to do it because I want to do it. Women must try to do things as men have tried. When they fail, their failure must be but a challenge to others.
Adventure is worthwhile in itself.
Some of us have great runways already built for us. If you have one, take off. But if you don’t have one, realize it is your responsibility to grab a shovel and build one for yourself and for those who will follow after you.
Without doubt, Amelia Earhart's life and legacy were and are hugely inspiring.
For aspiring travellers her convention-defying approach and brave, adventurous spirit set an amazing example.
Hopefully her traveller profile has inspired you to attempt your own grand voyages!
Xuanzang is a perfect place to start in this traveller profile series [Image: public domain]
Traveller Profile: Xuanzang Travel Inspiration
In this traveller profile series I take a look back through history at some of the World’s greatest travellers. What travel lessons can be learned from the adventures and exploits of these remarkable, intrepid individuals? By looking backwards in this way, I hope to inspire anyone looking forward to their own future travels.
The first traveller of my Traveller Profile series is Xuanzang, a remarkable 7th Century Chinese Buddhist scholar.
Xuanzang’s exploits took him on land from China to India and back again over a 16 year period, forging in the process his legacy as a famed Buddhist leader, translator and traveller.
His story and travels are unique and outrageous in their scope and impact on the World.
I’ll begin with a little background info, before detailing his travels and finally considering the travel lessons we can take from his incredible story.
Xuanzang as depicted in 'Journey to the West'
Xuanzang’s Traveller ProfileName:
Circa 602 – 664 CE
Born in China in modern day Henan province, Xuanzang impressed from an early age with his intellect and interest in Chinese scripture. He became a Buddhist monk at 13 years old.
Over time, Xuanzang became frustrated by Buddhist texts of the time, which were often incomplete and/or contained discrepancies that led to misinterpretation of and disagreement about the teachings of Buddha.
Believing that one complete version of a text relevant to his Buddhist practice (Discourse on the Stages of Yogic Practice) would solve these issues he devised a plan to travel to India:
Xuanzang’s travels were in-depth and far reaching.
Beginning in 629 CE, Xuanzang disobeyed the orders of the Emperor, who’d forbade foreign travel due to an ongoing war, and began his long and influential journey to India.
Facing the constant danger of bandits, hardships related to the landscapes he traversed as well as the physical challenges of his endeavour, Xuanzang travelled thousands of miles over land along the Silk Road and through the Indian subcontinent.
His trip took him Westwards across Northern China, into modern day Kyrgyzstan, Uzbekistan, Tajikistan, Afghanistan, Pakistan and eventually India, where he travelled all over the country, from West to East, visiting as many places of Buddhist significance as possible.
Xuanzang's route through India was nothing short of extraordinary in its depth. [Image: public domain]
Over time Xuanzang met Kings and noblemen who he impressed with his knowledge of scripture; he dazzled local audiences with his elocution and wisdom.
Ultimately, Xuanzang established himself as a go-to authority on Buddhist matters.
Along the way he chronicled his adventure, detailing everything from the places he visited, the things he saw, the conversations he overheard, the distances between locations, as well as details about their landscapes, rulers and customs.
He turned his notes into a book entitled ‘Records of the Western Regions of the Great T’ang Dynasty’.
His return journey was just as epic, ending finally in 645 CE where it all started: China. Upon his return, he dedicated the remainder of his life to the translation of the hundreds of scriptures he’d brought home and died a national hero.
Xuanzang’s travels and detailed account have had a huge impact on multiple fields over time.
For instance, his trip inspired a 16th Century Chinese novel called ‘Journey to the West’ and in more recent times historians and archaeologists have utilised his work to learn more about this era and, thanks to the accuracy of his descriptions, even uncover ancient 7th Century cities.
For anyone interested, here’s an awesome little video explaining the storyline of ‘Journey to the West’ in comparison to the real life story of Xuanzang:
The Real Story of Journey to the West | WooKong - YouTube
Key Travel lessons from XuanzangTalk to and learn from the locals
Xuanzang would never have attained such influence had he not actively sought out and made the effort to befriend and learn from the people he met along the way.
Seeing a country takes time
It’s impossible to really see and experience a country without spending a significant amount of time there. Xuanzang travelled over 16 years, predominantly off the beaten track, in order to accrue his knowledge and understanding of Buddhism.
Slow travel is good travel
It’s all too easy to rush through a country. However, as Xuanzang’s example demonstrates, there is real value in doing things slowly. Travelling for 16 years, he clearly wasn’t in a rush.
Follow your dreams
Xuanzang’s motivation to travel was apparently helped by a dream that convinced him to journey to India. If travel is one of your dreams, then you owe it to yourself to go.
Sometimes there is value in sticking to your guns, ignoring what you ‘should’ do in favour of pursuing your goal to travel. In Xuanzang’s case, he literally defied a law set by his Emperor in order to travel and ended up a national hero!
Travel with Purpose
Travelling with a purpose is a sure-fire way to maintain your passion for it. Xuanzang’s travels were entirely fuelled by his desire to enhance his knowledge of Buddhism and put together a complete document that lacked the flaws of those already in existence.
Find a purpose and your travels will be imbued with a far greater meaning, which will help sustain your love for the road.
Record your exploits
As we’ve seen, Xuanzang recorded his travels and wrote a book of huge subsequent significance.
Keeping a journal of your travels is a fantastic way to keep hold of the memories you’re creating. Write about your experience and it’s far harder to lose to time all those little details that carry such value.
To conclude, Xuanzang was a life long traveller whose passion and ultimate purpose helped facilitate a momentous journey spread over 16 years, the legacy of which impacts the world to this day.
For any aspiring travellers, I hope his traveller profile will serve as inspiration for your own upcoming journeys!
Sources & further reading if you're interested:
Article on Xuanzang’s travels and significance in relation to Indo-Chinese history
We all feel the pressure of external and internal 'shoulds', which impact our ability to decide to travel.
The Dreaded Shoulds: Overcoming Pressure Not to Travel
We should do this, should do that; should be this, should be that, should say this, should say that.
Whatever it might be, shoulds represent implicit expectations that we all create for ourselves. Throw someone else’s expectations of us into the mix and you have a sure fire recipe for internal conflict and uncertainty at the correct course of action.
Whatever the source, shoulds create pressure that restrict and stress and stifle us. In conflict with a should we often choose to sacrifice the alternative in order to appease it.
We settle for the ordinary, the safe, the expected and dreams get sidelined. There can feel like a lot of pressure not to travel.
How do we counter such an obstacle to travel?
Let’s begin with our own internalised shoulds.
Often, shoulds operate at such an innate level that they hover insidiously out of sight, just beneath the surface. They impact our daily experience without us even realising.
Self-awareness is key. Recognising the shoulds that you abide by is a great starting point to moving forwards positively.
When it comes to travel, your internal dialogue might sound something like:
“I want to go travelling but I should go to university”; “I really want to explore country X but I should stabilise my finances first” or “I’d love to travel but I should do the right thing and focus on my career”.
These shoulds probably run deeper.
For example, the real issue may be an unrecognised expectation to be a ‘success’, or a need to be safe and secure, or an unwillingness to give up control- to take risks.
Try to recognise the shoulds you abide by...from a point of awareness, we can counteract them.
Recognised or not, there are often imagined negative outcomes of not listening to a should.
We tell ourselves that the alternative choice, even if it is something we desperately want to do, is silly, unrealistic, too difficult and not conducive to long term goals.
What’s the anti-venom for the bite of the deadly should-snake?
Well, to begin, there’s good news: when something is a thought, it is not a fact. These tricky little things are mere mental constructs, formed and nested in our heads.
Identify your shoulds, then realise there is choice available.
First, identify explicit and implicit shoulds, then recognise them as mere constructs that can be challenged, and then explore alternatives.
As uncomfortable as it might seem, a sure fire way of dismantling your shoulds is to challenge them.
Tim Ferris asks this question in his book, 'The 4-Hour Work Week':
How has doing what you ‘should’ resulted in subpar experiences or regret for not having done something else?
— Tim Ferriss
Good question- try to answer it.
Not only might this highlight some of the shoulds you’re currently unaware of, but reminding yourself what you’ve missed out on is a sure fire way of motivating yourself not to let it happen again.
Bye bye shoulds, hello travel.
Moving on to the shoulds of others.
These can be just as debilitating and come in two forms.
First, there are openly stated expectations such as “I want you to take on the family business”, “you need to have a good income”, “you should be career focused” or “you need to go to university”.
Secondly, there are internalised shoulds of others, cleverly disguised as our own.
When it comes to the first variety, remember that your loved ones care for you and want what they think is best for you.
Unfortunately, this can be manifested in the imposition of rules and regulations that restrict your freedom. Take their advice into consideration, but recognise that the choice lies with you.
People are great at giving advice that projects their shoulds onto others.
If your idea flies in the face of their should (of which they may be unaware), then the same type of internal conflict that’s elicited by a challenge to your own shoulds is evoked in them, which is then projected onto you in the form of advice/instruction that falls in line with their ideas.
Shoulds are kryptonite to travel plans. Sometimes you just gotta ignore them.
This links to the second variety.
The inner voice I mentioned earlier, is it yours or someone else’s? Try to disentangle one from the other. For instance, it would be common to recognise the voice of your Mum or Dad in there somewhere.
Remember, when it comes to parents we are literally raised in their paradigm of shoulds and so it is natural to ingratiate them into ourselves.
Indeed, a big part of growing up is working out our own way of doing things.
Separate your shoulds from those of your loved ones.
To live life at the instruction of an internalised other prevents self-discovery.
What we do is representative of this other, not of us. Simply, we lose control of our life. Separating out our own shoulds from others’ will lead to greater self-knowledge, increased self-confidence to make your own decisions, and a heightened recognition of what you truly want from life.
If your loved ones are somehow discouraging you from your travel plans, consider what they’re trying to accomplish. Are they looking out for your wellbeing, or are they forcing you to live within their shoulds, or both?
From here, listen to your own internal dialogue and consider who it is that’s doing the talking.
If the voice saying that travel isn’t a good idea is not your own, hopefully it becomes simpler to defy it. If the voice is yours, recognise the alternative to the should.
If you want to travel, but something says you should do something else, ask “why should I?” Remember, think Tim Ferriss- what are you potentially missing out on?
The opposite of what we think we should do is often what we actually want to do. If you’re telling yourself you should do something instead of travel, perhaps deep down you know what you really want.
Challenge your shoulds. Ignore the pressure. Explore the world.
It is easy for fear to get in the way our travel plans, sometimes without us even realising.
The Fear of Travelling Alone as An Obstacle to Travel
The fear of travelling alone can stop us going.
It is an entirely natural reaction to a daunting prospect. However, how do we stop it interfering with our plans for future travel? How can we overcome the fear that's there in order to travel anyway?
Travel is scary for many of the same reasons that it is exciting: complete freedom, independence, new experiences and cultures, stepping outside of your comfort zone into uncertainty, leaving behind loved ones, being unable to communicate with others etc etc.
All of these prospects breach a deep seated, inherent, evolutionary instinct to stay within the relative safety of what is known and predictable.
In an effort to promote our well being, and essentially just to stay alive, our brain is constantly on the alert, scanning our environment for danger.
Consequently, alarm bells sound at the thought of walking away from what is known and safe, into the relative uncertainties of travel.
In this way, it is absolutely natural to feel some fear at the prospect of heading out on an adventure- especially if it is for the first time.
Is it your fear, or someone else's, that's getting in the way?
Essentially, it is not necessarily your fear that is getting in the way of you and your trip.
Rather, it is a human fear shared by everyone- you are not alone in how you feel.
For me, something about recognising the fact that my brain is simply doing what it is meant to and that my fear at travel is really only a natural, biological reaction to a potential threat, makes it easier to overcome the psychological discomfort that the thought can sometimes evoke.
It allows me to rationalise and think,
Okay, wait a minute. My brain is telling me there’s potential threat here, so it is natural I’d want to avoid it. However, just because my brain says so doesn’t mean there’s any inherent thing of which to be afraid
Remember, all this happens in your head and thoughts are not facts; thinking something does not make it so.
At a natural, biological level fear is going to be there within you because at a basic level you’re an animal that wants to stay alive.
Once we acknowledge this we have a foundation from which to rationalise.
But what can we actually do to prevent our fears from stopping us doing what we want to, such as travelling?
I think a good place to start from is always awareness.
Stop and ask yourself,
What is it that scares me about going travelling?
Perhaps it is saying goodbye to friends and family, or stepping into the unknown.
Maybe it is fear of being alone.
Or fear of feeling lonely and isolated.
Whatever it is, as tough as it might be, acknowledge and pay attention to it, then stop and don’t do anything else.
Instead, try simply allowing it to be- knowledge and acceptance provide solid foundations from which to move forwards.
Sometimes we need to challenge the fears that get in the way.
Challenge the fears you recognise
As humans we’re also adept at imagining negative repercussions of a confrontation with the object of our fear.
Consequently, we try to wrap ourselves in cotton wool to avoid it happening.
However, we can't sacrifice the present purely to protect ourselves from some imagined negative future event. With your travels, you might be tempted to put off our plans in the interest of safeguarding against discomfort.
Where it feels comfortable to do so, I’d encourage anyone to challenge their fears by embracing opportunities in the present moment.
I remember swimming in the sea in the pouring rain when I first got to New Zealand, having just been told by a friend that it was perfect weather for sharks.
I considered not going in and it took an effort to force myself to swim the 30 metres or so to a pontoon where I stood in the pouring rain, surrounded by ocean and mountains, laughing in awe at the experience.
The fear at being eaten even added something to it! The alternative was not to do something awesome, not to make a memory- not to challenge my fear.
For me, this is what travel is all about: challenging yourself to do things you wouldn’t normally do and growing as a result.
A sure fire way to really develop while you're away is to be willing to confront your fears as often as possible.
Of course, to get to this stage though you have to take the initial plunge into the unknown by jumping into your first trip.
Fear is a natural part of human experience and there are aspects of travel that trigger deep, evolutionary mechanisms in our brain designed to keep us safe. For anyone fearful of future travel, I hope this is a helpful realisation.
For fear that goes further than this, at a more individual level, try and be aware of what it is exactly that you’re afraid of and treat yourself with compassion when you realise what it is.
From a state of awareness, in the interest of seizing opportunity and living in the present, where possible take action to challenge the natural tendency to avoid that which we’re scared of.
By considering how short life really is and facing up to the fact no one knows what’s around the corner, we might get that final push we need to face up to our fears.
In this way, I hope your motivation to travel will become a reality. You won’t regret it.
Where the World can feel like a scary place, it's important to overcome our fear of something happening while actually protecting ourselves from the potential dangers too.
The World is a Scary Place: Overcoming Potential Danger While Travelling
Let’s face it: the world is a scary place sometimes.
With all the potential threats that we hear about every day in the media and elsewhere, it is a wonder that anyone actually ventures outside, let alone goes travelling.
It is natural to be scared of the dangers out there and this fear may deter you from travel.
Obviously, there are dangers out there and they're worth considering for any aspiring travellers. What can we do to navigate the potential danger out there and prevent our fear of them putting us off our trip?
Fear of the dangers involved in travel can put us off going! Don't let it.
Let’s be honest. There are a lot of things that can go wrong while you travel.
I’d define danger as anything that can cause you some level of harm, whether that’s physical, mental, emotional, instantaneous, or delayed. This could literally be anything, right?
Theft, assault, sickness, injury, unscrupulous individuals, bed bugs, tuk tuk accidents, sharks, spiders, heat stroke, running out of money, street food, untreated water- the list goes on.
And what’s more, during your travels you’re a long way from home and loved ones, which makes the thought of something bad happening exponentially worse.
And, depending on where you are, there may be practical considerations too, such as reduced access to medical support or ways to communicate effectively with services.
A lot can go wrong when you travel! Protecting yourself from potential danger is important.
Clearly, it's true that there are many potential dangers involved with travel.
Nevertheless, I’d discourage anyone from forgoing amazing opportunities purely for safety’s sake. Remember that there are a lot of dangers in everyday life too; it is unavoidable wherever we are and whatever we’re doing.
Decision making and Risk
Ultimately, decision-making and risk are like two key components to this travel obstacle.
Psychologists talk about a rational model of decision making that says we make decisions based on a sensible cost-benefit analysis of the options available. Simply put, we weigh up the pros and cons and depending on the outcome decide one way or another.
Sometimes we have to weigh up the pros versus the cons. For me, pros outweigh cons every time.
If potential danger is putting you off travel then, why not try doing this in a very practical way rather than in your head?
Try writing a list of the pros and cons (where cons are the potential dangers) and see how it turns out.
It might help set the risks involved in perspective, relative to the positives- seeing a substantial list of guaranteed good stuff next to a relatively short one of the potential bad is unbelievably reassuring.
Remember: humans are literally biologically programmed to avoid danger in the environment; it is natural to focus on what might go wrong.
In helping to shift the focus away from potential harm back to the positive elements of travel we get closer to overcoming this issue.
It is okay to be irrational too. Is there risk? Yes. Should this fact alone stop you travelling? Absolutely not.
We are all great at being irrational- how often have you decided to eat that slice of chocolate cake despite being on a diet, or to leave your essay until a minute before the deadline when you had the last three months to do it?
Even if your head tells you that the rational choice is to stay at home given the potential dangers involved, remember that you’ve probably made a dozen irrational decisions already today and that sometimes we just have to follow our gut.
You want to travel? Sometimes you just gotta go.
It would be foolish not to be aware of the dangers involved with travel plans, so absolutely consider them seriously- just try not to let them cloud your judgement.
If it helps, think about the sheer number of people that travel every year- if the risks were so severe, travel would not be as popular as it is.
Legitimate risks involved with your travel plans? Figure out how to mitigate them.
Finally, with all else considered, think on the practical ways of mitigating the risks involved with your travel plans. Here are a few ideas:
Get good travel insurance
Check with your GP for recommended and essential vaccinations
Read government/tourist websites for the countries you wish to travel in
Get a travel guide for health and safety considerations
Stay up to speed with political situations in the countries you plan to visit;
Keep an eagle eye on your possessions while you’re away;
Take inconspicuous things to hide valuables in (e.g. an empty sun cream bottle for the beach);
If in doubt drink bottled water
Plan ahead & know the areas of town to avoid
Know the emergency service number for the country you’re in
Join a Facebook group for travel to ask questions before you leave
Have a contact in country who you trust and can help in difficult times
...the list goes on.
There are all sorts of precautionary measures you can take but most important is to do research before you go.
A teacher used to say to me that ‘prior preparation prevents piss poor performance’- prepare for your trip and mitigate the risks involved.
Final thoughts then.
Danger is everywhere and so it is futile to try safeguarding ourselves from everything, always- an approach that is detrimental through lost opportunities.
In setting the potential dangers in perspective, in relation to the likely positives, we can make an informed decision to take the risk and commit to the travel experience we desperately want.
With sensible research and practical steps before and during your trip, the chance of harm can be substantially reduced too!
So, despite the danger, go travel. Be sensible, but know that more often than not the thought of the danger is far more debilitating than the danger itself.