When you tell people that you travel, you are met with polarising opinions. Some people are excited for you or inspired by you. Others are negative.
How can you afford to travel?
Why are you wasting your time travelling?
Why don’t you save travel until you’re older?
Travelling is just a way of escaping reality.
Well, YOU might be able to travel like that, but it’s certainly not for me!
In the words of Trevor Noah: Travel is the antidote to ignorance
At my graduation ceremony, my university professor uttered words that were both odd and compelling. He said:
Follow your sheep (Which basically translates to ‘follow your heart.’)
This stuck with me because post-uni, in the scramble for success, we tend to abandon what matters to us and start chasing goals set by others; goals that make us look good in the eyes of our peers.
To use this analogy, one of my ‘sheep’ is travel, the other is ‘writing.’ I have a corral of sheep but these are two that come back to me all the time.
One of the reasons why many people feel afraid to travel is because they put too much stock in misconceptions that are alive and well about what the experience of travel is like, so let’s bust these travel myths one at a time.
You CAN travel the world!
MYTH #1: I can’t afford to travel…
Don’t get me wrong. I’m not ignorant. Not everyone can just up sticks and go travelling in a heartbeat. People have different commitments including their careers, children, partners and pets. But this doesn’t mean that travel is impossible. There are endless ways to tailor travel to suit you and your life. There are also ways to build towards travelling even if you can’t hop on a plane immediately.
Most people have bought into the myth that travel equals shiny travel brochures, luxury accommodation and heaps of money, but you don’t need to travel this way and actually it’s often more fun when you don’t.
Having travelled to 29 countries, I’ve seen people travel from all backgrounds and walks of life; divorcees, new parents, couples, singles, even people with chronic illness. Some people have travelled with a small fortune and most have done so on a budget.
You can travel just as you are and you can do it your way.
Yes, travel costs money but so does everything. Drinking, smoking, clothes, rent. Let’s be honest; most of us fritter our money away on rubbish. You may need to draw up a budget, make a few sacrifices or re-evaluate life choices but travel is NOT impossible.
MYTH #2: It’s dangerous for a woman to travel alone
Last time I checked, I’m a woman and I have travelled alone many times. The longest time I’ve been overseas for is 1 year and guess what? I survived!
Travel, like anything, can be dangerous for both men and women and yes there are unique dangers that present themselves to women in this world.
You’ve always got to be cautious when you travel and avoid unnecessary risks but women travel every day, alone, and run into no problems. If you’re a woman looking to explore the world, don’t let the horror stories put you off. It’s perfectly safe to travel as a solo female traveller.
Consider this: you leave your home and do things on your own all the time in your own country right? So why would it be any more dangerous to do so elsewhere? If you are going to a particularly fraught country, then naturally you’ll need to be aware of what’s going on, but a little organisation goes a long way!
There are certain places that I personally would choose not to visit alone but for the most part, the world is very safe for a solo female traveller.
MYTH #3: My relationship won’t survive travel
This comes up so often. Someone wants to travel but they are in a committed relationship and they fear that their relationship won’t survive. Don’t get me wrong. Travel does pose unique challenges and complications for any relationship but there is no reason why a strong, sincere relationship cannot endure.
I know endless stories of couples who met overseas, waited at home whilst one partner travelled or embarked on long distance relationships, and they worked out. Being in a relationship with a traveller takes a different kind of work but space (and travel) are GOOD for a relationship. You’ll come out stronger and with more stories to share.
Love should not get in the way of your own personal dreams, it should be encouraging.
MYTH #4: I’ve got too many responsibilities
Ah, the R word. Again, I’m not being naïve here. At the time of writing I’m 28 with no children, mortgage or serious commitments. It’s easier for me and those like me to travel. You might have children, a mortgage, an ill family member or a plethora of pets that you simply can’t leave behind just like that.
In cases like this, any travel is better than no travel. There are ways to explore the world that can fit around your unique circumstances and as conditions change in future, you may find a window where travel feels more possible.
Responsibly needn’t be a full stop in your quest for travel. Instead, it can encourage you to think creatively about how to make it happen.
One travel blog that I love is Where’s Sharon. She’s inspiring because she travels with her kids. She makes them part of her travel experience.
If travel is important to you, you can find a place for it, no matter how big or small that space may be.
MYTH #5: You should never use a credit card when you travel
Some people avoid credit cards like the plague. If you use your credit card sensibly, then it can be a useful travel tool. If you put everything on your credit card and rack up thousands of pounds in debt, not so much.
As long as you are in a position to pay off your bill monthly, then it is perfectly okay to use a credit card. You’ll also enjoy greater protection on many purchases. It is always useful to take a credit card with you, even if you don’t end up using it.
MYTH #6: I’m too old to travel
This myth depresses me more than any other. It upsets me that people think like this. A lot of people assume that travel is only for the young. Or they work hard when young and put travel off until they are older. Then, when they are older, they feel that they have passed the travel window. But there is no travel window…
There is no biological clock for adventure as there is with babies…
On my travels, I’ve met people of all ages, the oldest being a woman in her 90s. Depending on your health and well-being you may need to factor in certain alterations. For example, you might not want a long-haul flight or to stay in a 10-bed dorm or to take part in a 3-hour trek of Uluru but you can still find a travel experience that fulfils you and suits your needs.
This is where it helps to get rid of your expectations of travel. Travel is not supposed to be exclusive. Our ancestors travelled and wandered all over the world. It’s part of the human experience and there is always a way to modify travel.
This myth harks back to ageism. As long as you are alive, you can still travel. Repeat after me, as long as you are alive, you can still travel. Do NOT fall into this trap.
MYTH #7: My ‘old life’ won’t survive
This is the fear that hit me the hardest.
When I first left to go travelling, I went for 1 year. I had a close group of friends, a wonderful family and home and a good job. The thirst to travel was too strong to ignore, but I was terrified that by following my dream, my old life would no longer be recognisable.
What if my friends were different? What if I missed important family events? What if I came back and couldn’t find a job easily? What if I changed? What if life moved on without me?
The truth is travel probably will change your life. You will make new friends (many of whom may go on to feature in your life quite prominently), you may fall in love or you may discover a new country or culture that you don’t want to leave. Alternatively, you may learn to appreciate home and miss people you’ve left behind.
All I know is that fear of change is pointless. However travel may change your life, it’s normally always for the better. You’ll find that you have more to talk about with your friends, your family will always love you and you may discover new opportunities for the next chapter of your life that weren’t there before.
These are some of the most popular myths around travel and they can put people off taking the plunge. I hope this blog has demystified some of the big assumptions surrounding travel.
All my love