As soon as I got off the plane, the truth hit me like lightning: I was on the other side of the world. My cell phone displayed an "out of service" message and my body was begging for me sleep while the sun was at its highest point and was wide awake in the stillness of the night.
Standing amongst hundreds of people strolling through the airport, I began to notice how loneliness began to skitter across my body. Not only had my dream of becoming a traveler come true, but also fear wanted to sink its claws in me. Deep inside I always knew I had to venture into the unknown.
As much as traveling can be terrifying at the beginning, it is undoubtedly one of the most fulfilling experiences you'll have if you gather enough courage to go ahead and do it. This is completely different from traveling with a partner or a group of friends because it poses a bigger and more significant challenge, and the outcome is even more unexpected. You arrive with plans and expectations to soon find out that the place you had researched so much about is totally different from what you had imagined. Your thoughts before your journey won't match what you'll learn afterwards.
1. Fear is temporary
Being by yourself without anyone to count on can be frightening, but it's a feeling that fades away soon. Realizing that now you're not bound to anyone or anything is liberating. With nobody by your side, you can discover new sides of yourself. You'll be able to behave in a different way than you used to, because you won't be afraid of being judged. You won't lose your identity, but rather have a chance to understand a lot about who you are. Eventually, fear will be replaced by anguish due to not being able to see every place you long to visit in the short time you'll be spending there.
2. You're not alone
This kind of trip usually come from a need to change... a need to challenge yourself, and break the routine or sever ties with your past. Once far away, you realize loneliness is a mental state. The moment you arrive to the hostel, you get to know people from all over the world, and it's almost impossible not to relate to them, as they're going through the same experience.
You'll meet more experienced travelers who know how to move around without problems and will be willing to help you, since they know what you're going through. You'll also run into amateur travelers whose eyes reflect their existential crises, broken heart, and the uneasiness of not knowing what to do outside of their daily routines and boundaries. Before you notice it, you will be talking to people who perfectly understand your reasons for traveling and will become your travel companions as you continue your journey.
3. You must learn to trust
You have to have common sense. You must keep cell phones, cards, or any important documents in a safe place; beyond that, you don't have much to worry about. You cannot be suspicious of each person who approaches you. When people worry too much about these kinds of situations, they are not able to relax for even one moment and enjoy themselves. Old habits die hard. Every place is different, and it is difficult to tell when someone wants to take advantage of you, but if you take a step and stop worrying so much, you'll be able to enjoy your journey as much as possible.
4. People are willing to help you
You don't have to look like a whimpering stray mutt on the street. It is enough to approach someone and ask questions. Many travelers find it hard to get the help they need because, in general, we assume that people only care for themselves. Still, a traveler can really get the help they need. This can be easier or harder depending on the country. Mass tourism can turn the locals hostile towards travelers. But even so, you just need to keep asking until someone can provide you with the help you need.
5. Managing your own time is as liberating as it is frightening
We tend to make plans according to our life events, like reunions or dates. We manage time in accordance to other people's plans and schedules. When you're traveling by yourself, all of this is left behind. You're the one to decide what kind of places you want to discover. However, this can also be a downside; you can spend days doing nothing if you don't have the will to move around, and you can regret it forever. You don't need to plan every minute of your journey, but having an idea of what you'll do the following days will help you enjoy your the trip.
Traveling is definitely a different experience for each person, even if they visit the same place. You can read the following articles to find some suggestions on the travel destinations that may suit you best.
Travel Sites That Pay You To Be An Adventurer
Translated by Andrea Valle