Booking a solo trip..
We know how it goes…
You saw the deal of a lifetime, and then it hits you…
Crap! What do I tell my spouse or family?
Perhaps they’re not travelers, or they didn’t want to go. And maybe this is a country you’ve always wanted to visit.
But for you, this is a once-in-a-lifetime deal.
What do you do in this situation?
Life is truly about being extravagant, for being adventurous, and following your heart. Sometimes, it may not make sense to others, but we truly are human beings who crave spontaneity. We saw a mistake fare, whipped out our credit card, and just went for it! Like a ravenous lion hunting its prey.
To be able to do something on a whim is something that human beings don’t always practice enough of. The decision to do something extravagant could be due to the need for validation, the need to live life more on the edge and do something new, or perhaps even the desire to feel like one is living again.
Unfortunately, when in a family, or with a loved one, the two individuals may be in two completely different places in life at a given time.
This short guide is meant for those individuals who find themselves in this place. The place of realization that you may want to trek the world on your own for a short time, away from your loved ones. For this reason, we wanted to create something to help boost the confidence of many with a step-by-step breakdown, in how to address this situation so that you (and the person closest to you)are both happy. The last thing you want, is to “run away” on your trip, leaving the other party individual(s) upset, or worse, hoping you never come back again. Let’s walk through the scenario together.
The Moment of Realization
When one of the individuals realize that it is at this time in life that they must go out and explore the world around them. This may not come, necessarily, in the form of a touristy-type of trip around the world, as is sometimes seemingly the case. However, it can come in a trip to the next county over, the next state over, just across the border, or to another country to spend time with a friend or family. It is in this moment of realization, regardless of what type of trip you want to take, that your vision will be so clear, you can’t help but wonder if it is a sign from God.
It’s more than just opportunity, you see. It’s about mental clarity and a pull to do something amazing at this point in life.
If you’re feeling anxious or nervous, and sweating bullets about this whole thing, read this piece on how to handle travel anxiety.
The Magic of Thinking Big
When you’ve experienced the pull towards something great, it’s easy to begin formulating grandeur visions (climbing the Pyramids of Giza, anyone?) and tell oneself that if the trip is not over-the-top, Tomb Raider-style, it won’t be worth the experience at all.
Slow down, tiger.
It’s ok to have a vision for an adventurous, yet relaxing trek across the globe.
Realize that you can most definitely still think BIG, but don’t get too carried away. Planning your trip takes time, it takes patience, and most importantly, you must be realistic with your finances, your capabilities, and your comfort zone.
For example, if you’ve never transcended beyond the borders of your own country, it might be a bit much to plan on backpacking across Europe, while simultaneously hitch-hiking and catching rides from random strangers in the middle of the night, and foraging for food wherever you might find.
Many times, I have personally heard stories of grandeur, that seem to have been formulated either through a precise narration of an other-worldly dream, but forgets to consider the reality of certain things.
Traveling solo does take planning and finesse, however, it does not need to be totally off-the-beaten path, unplanned, and wildly random and leaving a traveler to pray that the day-to-day travels work out for the better.
Click here for a quick guide to leaving the country for the first time.
So, you want to take this trip but you realize the other party in mind may not be the biggest fan of your idea. At first, you might let them in on the idea for the trek, but you hesitate. You may even ask anyways, but you may find that they brush off the idea as unrealistic, unaffordable, or simply ridiculous. Your soul feels crushed underneath the weight of judgment spewed forth by your loved one or friend, and now you find yourself in a dilemma.
Do I go anyways?
— OR —
Do I wait till another time, another year, to take this once-in-a-lifetime trip? Perhaps when I retire or make it big in my career?
These two questions tend to cripple many wanderlust spirits, and unfortunately, the latter tends to become the more common choice.
Far too many individuals feel that travel can only be an option when debt is no longer a constraint in life, when responsibilities reach nil, and worst of all excuses, “there are bills to pay”. Far too many innocent folks get brainwashed to believe that it is impossible, and furthermore, irresponsible, to travel when so much is already happening back at home. To put the busy life on pause, so that one may enjoy the world we live in and explore the beauty it has to offer, should be an option for quite literally EVERYONE.
THIS is the biggest dilemma of all.
Making The Leap of Faith
At some point, a decision has to be made.
A sane person can only play mental ping-pong for so long until it drives them crazy.
A leap of faith must be taken.
Will you be scared? Maybe. And that’s perfectly natural. A combination of being excited, along with fear of the unknown for the journey ahead, is totally normal.
Realize that the greatest things in life happen when we finally decide to take a leap of faith.
Having “The Talk”
Realize like anything big in life, it’s going to be uncomfortable. Most notably when we are trying to figure out how to speak to our loved ones of this incredible decision to trek across the globe towards vast unknown territory.
“It’s not safe.”
“I’m worried about you.”
“What if something happens?”
“Why can’t you just be happy here, at home?”
Beware of sayings such as these that keep many mediocre people, well…mediocre.
The courage to make the decision is a big one. Boldness truly comes however, when you have the audacity to follow your dreams and stick to that decision.
Have a calm, yet planned conversation with your loved ones and assure them that you are doing everything in your power to plan the trip in a matter that will keep you safe and protected.
Ensure them that you will be sharing all pertinent travel itinerary information, updating your cell phone plan to a GSM plan so that you can be reachable (otherwise, take a mobile device to at least be reachable via Skype or Facetime when on Wifi).
Assure them that you are merely following your dreams, and if they truly love and care about you, they will allow you to take this journey.
Other things you can do to ease the tension throughout the conversation:
√Share the U.S. Embassy info with important friends/family for your destination country.
√List places/locations you plan to visit along with dates/addresses/contact info if possible.
√If Couchsurfing or staying at Airbnbs, share itinerary’s via the “Share” button on their website.
√If you purchased Travel Insurance, ensure that someone you trust also has this info and has access to the account policy in case of an emergency.
√Finally, share any other important plans for your trip, and even take advantage of check-in apps such as Swarm (set to Private or only tag your best friends or family) so that they can track where you are as well.
The Inner Battle
Naturally, what follows “the talk” is feelings of remorse, doubt and uncertainty.
This is perfectly normal. If it happens to you, keep in mind plenty of people out there go through the same thing.
“Should I have purchased this ticket?”
“Do I really need to take this trip right now?”
“What about my responsibilities here at home? I have plenty going on.”
These along with other thoughts may go flying through your mind as you consider taking your trip.
In order to quite it, go for a jog, or watch YouTube videos of other people’s travels. Talk to friends who have traveled to other countries before, or even join travel forums such as Trip Advisor, Fodor’s, or Flyer Talk so you can chat with other travelers and learn much more.
The more you envelope yourself in the world of travel, the more confident you will become, and the happier and more certain you will find yourself for your upcoming journey.
So now, you must make the decision to own up to your future trek.
You have to be 100% about it if you are going to make it worth your while.
Worry-free, soulfully-enriching, doubt-free, just completely letting go.
Make the decision inside and out that you’re ready for this.
You deserve it. It’s time. Just do it.
Go and fly far. Experience what the world has to offer.
BONUS: Solo-Travel Checklist
√Book your flight
√Book hotel accommodation or shared room
√Get travel insurance, we recommend World Nomads.
√Notify banks of travel dates and destination of travel
√Call wireless provider and ensure phone capability in country of destination.
√Ensure you have proper light and waterproof clothing for your trip (light coverwear for colder climates, as well). Would recommend
√Remember, you want to pack light. Would recommend a hiking pack like this awesome Osprey Men’s 50 AG Backpack.