As a solo traveler I get many questions from friends, family, and random people I meet before any trip. Before both of my solo trips to Italy and Greece I got asked these questions on numerous occasions;
- Aren’t you scared?
- You’re a woman, aren’t you worried about being kidnapped or drugged?
- Won’t you be lonely?
- Have you seen the movie Hostel?
To which my responses have always been, “No, I am not scared”. Yes, I am a woman but I am not naive. Yes, I am travelling alone but in my experience I know that I will never be alone. No, I have not seen the movie Hostel.
For my trip to Southeast Asia, not only had these same questions been asked to me but I was asked another question…
Why are you not more excited for this trip?
That question stirred in my soul for days on end and it was true that I didn’t know why I wasn’t more excited. Of course, when asked if I was excited I would declare that I most certainly was but inside that answer seemed to feel like a lie. I started to second guess my decision and wondered if maybe I was being foolish to give up my life in Stratford in exchange for a journey across the world. I started looking for signs to guide me and looked deep within my soul as to why I was not more excited, even making a list of all the pros and cons for the trip. Here is some of what I came up with;
- I can explore my business idea and live my dream of traveling the world.
- Southeast Asia is affordable and my money will go further.
- A wonderful culture to grow yourself spiritually, emotionally, mentally, and physically.
- It is Paradise.
- No Snow
- Nothing happens in the winter in Stratford, so it is perfect timing.
- Giving up my apartment, car, and job.
- Starting up my life again from scratch and broke at 27.
- Having to foster my dog for at least 5 months and missing her greatly.
- Missing friends and family back home.
- What if I fail?
- Regretting not taking this opportunity for my entire life.
Clearly, the pros definitely outweighed the cons and I knew deep in my soul that I had to do this. For some reason, I felt a calling elsewhere. I had never left my hometown and never felt the need to leave. However, if I stayed and missed this chance it would be a missed opportunity. Change and growth wanted to happen in my life and although I was scared… I wanted it and I needed it. I had made many changes in my life over the past two years, but I had become complacent and slowly old habits start to creep back in around certain relationships and life choices taking me down a familiar path that would lead to unhappiness. I had a chance to choose a different path and I was not going to let fear get in the way of a once in a lifetime opportunity to travel for 6 months. All that was required of me was to take the first step and book the ticket.
Lao Tzu once said “a journey of a thousand miles must begin with a single step”
I knew that along the way I would have to make sacrifices and give up my comforts of home in order to experience the enlightenment I deeply craved. There was no doubt in my mind that this is the path I was meant to choose. However, after soul searching I still couldn’t tell you where the excitement was hiding until one moment it finally became clear. I had been watching many documentaries about travel and people going on daring adventures and was able to understand some of the risks and triumphs involved with long travel. Watching shows like Departures, Long Way Down, Long Way Around, 180 Degrees South, The Summit, and many more that involved journeying around the world had taught me many lessons to prepare for living my own adventure. I understood that to go on a journey like this is going to change me and who I am today may not be the person I come back as. I will see things that will culture shock me and break my heart into a thousand pieces. I will try new things that I have never experienced before. I will see breathtaking beauty and meet stunning people. My life will be impacted greatly by this travel and as much as that excites me, it also scares me.
You see, with travel there is an understanding that your life is going to be changed and your strength will be tested. When you go to these places to submerse yourself into a culture unknown, you are going to experience different food, customs, beliefs, and norms different from your own. You are going to understand your capabilities, weaknesses, and strengths on a whole new playing field. New things and people will touch your heart and you will be moved in ways you have never experienced. Now, not everything you experience along the journey will impact you in the same way. Some things will pass through you unnoticed and some will plant seeds in your soul that will leave you forever viewing the world differently.
So, the key to being excited for this type of journey is not in the preparation, but in the opening up of your heart and your soul to understand the true art of travel. Any traveler understands that with travel comes change, big or small, internally or externally. That is why we travel, to be exposed to all the elements of a destination and to keep the process of finding ourselves, where we truly belong, and our life purpose.
“The best journeys answer questions that in the beginning you never thought to ask” – 180 Degrees South (Documentary)
You see, when I went to Italy my life was forever changed. That trip not only exposed me to traveling, but to a whole new world of possibilities. It imprinted on me a new world of entrepreneurship in arts and communication and connected the scatter dots of my life to lead me to a destiny I would have never dreamed of.
So where is the excitement for the trip? The excitement became real the moment I stepped on the plane. It had been hiding behind my emotions of letting go of my old self and taking a risk on a path with unknown results. I exchanged my apartment, car, and job in for an opportunity to travel accross the world. I may not know exactly where this chapter of my life is heading, however I have a surprising comfort that I am exactly where I need to be.
So my advice to everyone would be that if you have a hunger for change in your life, you should start to invest into listening to your heart. Really figure out what you want in your life and then open your eyes to how life is trying to provide opportunities for you and go for it. Take a leap of faith and I assure you that you will not be disappointed.
“Twenty years from now you will be more disappointed by the things you didn’t do than by the ones you did do. So throw off the bowlines, sail away from the safe harbor. Catch the trade winds in your sails. Explore. Dream. Discover.” – Mark Twain