I’ve been on the move-whether by plane, foot, or ship more or less for the past 3 years. Of course a huge thank you to corona for keeping me in one place for now…but that’s another story.
Sitting down and looking back at the last three years has given me such a cool opportunity to not only see how much I’ve grown, but share my experiences and mistakes with other people looking to start traveling full time as well. And let me tell you, there have been some MISTAKES. Of course part of the adventure is the ups and downs, but there are definitely things I wish I would have known that one day I decided to hop on a plane to Asia to trek the Himalayas-The beginning of the adventure J
I have all kinds of advice scattered around my blog, but I wanted to take a moment to really dive in and list the top things I wish someone had told me before I started to solo travel!
1. Creativity Is Your Best Friend
Especially when you first start traveling you are going to get some hate from a lot of people. Even the people that mean well are going to sit there and be worried about your safety and the money yadayadayada. There’s always going to be a whole list of reasons not to travel. I want you to really focus and find a good enough one to make those other ones un-important.
There are always ways to travel. Think outside the box.
Can’t afford a plane ticket? Keep scouting the Internet for deals. Take the train. Offer to fly a more flexible schedule on an overbooked flight and gain credits. Book something closer to home…for now.
There are always ways to be extra safe. Lock your backpack. Do your research on neighborhoods, restaurants, and hotels. Travel with a friend.
There are always ways to earn money abroad. Take photos for hotels/websites/companies. House sit. Write reviews. Take online surveys and translate audios.
I’m not going to sit here and tell you I haven’t done most of these things. If you want it bad enough, don’t tell anyone you can’t have it. Get working, get creative, and get moving.
2. Know when it’s Time to Spend Money
When I first started traveling I was broke. Heck, I’m still broke. And I can still look back and say some of the biggest mistakes I’ve made were NOT spending money.
Not that there isn’t a lot of budgeting that goes into travel-there definitely is, but I promise you, with certain items you will spend more time being frustrated and probably more money replacing the item than it would have cost to just buy a better quality item.
Everyone’s list looks a little different but let me give you some ideas to get you started.
· Buying a suitcase scale > paying for a slightly overweight bag in the airport because you can’t throw anything out
· Paying for a backpack with a lock > always worrying about your stuff at hostels
· Buying GOOD quality shoes > blistered feet
· Paying for a good suitcase, in general,> buying a new one each trip (I’ve gone through way too many suitcases to even count.)
· Paying for food at a fancy restaurant when you’re just not sure > spending a whole day of travel throwing up because your body is different than a locals
Whatever your list looks like, I’m going to play devil’s advocate for a second. BUY IT. Don’t hear me wrong, don’t buy everything (less stuff means more plane tickets after all…) but know when it’s time to treat yourself and loosen up those pockets. You’ll thank yourself later.
Check out my list of travel products under $10 you for sure want on your next trip!
3. Don’t Stop Taking Care Of Your Body
You’re going to have to fight the instinct from time to time to treat yourself. When you’re always traveling you’re going to feel like you’re always on vacation. Don’t forget your health or routines. They’re going to be more important than ever.
I’m going to say something that may shock you so hold onto your seat for a second. There are going to be days-especially if you’re traveling for long amounts of time- where you decide you’re just sick of it. You’re tired: Physically, mentally, and emotionally. You’ll be ready to quit, go home and just lay in your bed for weeks. I promise we all hit it, and don’t for a second feel bad about it. Of course, we’re strong but even superheroes need rest.
Take a day off. Don’t over plan every second of every moment. Treat yourself to local foods but don’t forget to give your body the nourishment it needs. Feeling sick? Eat rice. I promise you; no matter where you are in the world you can find rice haha
This is going to sound dorky, but I love smoothies. I carry a portable travel blender in my backpack and every chance I get I blend up lots of fruit and even veggies and make myself a green shake for breakfast. That way, I can treat myself for dinner and dessert and even a few drinks and know my body is still getting the nourishment it needs.
Also for Pete’s sake drink water. Drink so much water. Drink it when you want to and when you don’t. Traveling dehydrates you so pick yourself out a cute water bottle that you’re gonna get sick of seeing and drink your dang water.
4. Not Everyone Is Your Friend
I know, shocker right? I guess I knew not everyone in the world would be chipper and dandy but I think I was a little bummed when not everyone cared to help me. Of course, it’s okay to trust people, but have a backup plan and be safe because you’re not home. It’s as simple as that.
One of my worst travel experiences was relying too heavily on someone I thought was a friend. We got into a fight, I was kicked out, and I didn’t even have enough money to pay for a motel for the night (I know, I know, super amateur move). I ended up paying for a mega bus ticket to take me 3 states away where my closest family I had was. I don’t even know what I would have done if it weren’t for them because I sure as heck didn’t want to admit my mistake to my parents. (If you’re reading this now mom and dad I love you and I’m safe now so just ignore this story!)
I had to learn that some friends are temporary, and some aren’t even friends.
That was a hard truth to swallow, but especially when you’re traveling solo, you need to focus on yourself and your safety first and always.
5.Heartbreak Won’t Get Easier
Okay, this one is a long one, but stick with me for just this last point. By definition of solo travel, you’ll be going to new places alone. You might meet people along the way, but at the end of the day, when it’s time to hit the next country or stage of your journey, you’ll be by yourself again. When I first started working in a job that allowed me to constantly travel the world and meet new people every day I assumed I would feel the heartbreak when I got home.
I didn’t even begin to fathom how hard it was. My heart felt like a wrenched towel and I didn’t even know where all the new tears were coming from. When I got home I cried for weeks off and on missing my travel life and all the amazing people I shared it with.
I told myself I was just being dramatic and emotional. I was just sensitive since it was my first huge venture away from home. I told myself the next time I come home after a trip I’d be tougher. I lied to myself.
These days I don’t cry as much. Sometimes I wonder though if it would be easier. The heartbreak is still there and maybe it’s a good way to release. I’ll still have random flashbacks of memories from the past. Things in my everyday life will remind me of the stupid decisions I made with my friends abroad. Someone will say something that makes me think of a person I haven’t talked to in years and still love and miss desperately. I’ll crave being with everyone I’ve ever met knowing it’s impossible since we all live in different places all over the world.
If you get nothing else from this post I want you to know this. The feeling of heartbreak is normal. Please do not just push it away. Just having these kinds of feelings means you’re a lovely person who the world is lucky to know. Don’t let the pain of missing a person, place, or stage of your life stop you from knowing the next person, place, or stage. That would make me really sad.
Here’s how I’ve learned how to handle it:
1.) Acknowledge the heartbreak:
You know that person that always pretends everything’s fine but in reality their life is a mess and they don’t have a better way to cope? Don’t be that person. I’m not saying pull a chicken little “the sky is falling” scene, but remember you feeling things (good and bad) only makes you more a more genuine, unique, and beautiful person.
Even toxic people we can feel heartbreak over. Don’t feel guilty about it. That says far more about you than it ever does them. It means you care about the people that enter and exit your life and that’s a beautiful quality to have.
2.) Process the pain
Here’s where we’re all different. Maybe someone was especially difficult to let go of. Maybe acknowledging how much of a positive impact they had on your life was all you needed to move forward with your life. Gratitude goes a long way and can help you heal.
Maybe you’re more sensitive like me and you need to trigger your mind and your heart. Sometimes when I have a hard time letting go of people (again, toxic or not) I write a letter to them. I thank them for the impact they had on my life. What they taught me and how I feel about them. Then I throw it away. It’s time for the next person to get to know me.
Remember how lucky that next person is to get to know you…and they don’t even know it yet.
3.) Move on
It’s time for your next adventure, your next trip, your next whatever. It doesn’t even matter if it’s earth-shattering or the next stage of your life is just getting yourself some very needed rest.
Just like being attached to your phone can keep you out of the present, holding onto people that are in your past can keep you from growing into who you’re going to be.
Those people can fall into so many categories. They can be people that impacted your life but their purpose has been served. They can be people that are constantly there no matter how long you’re away from them. They can be someone that taught you a hard lesson.
Whatever kind of people they are, it’s time to keep moving. I’m not saying forget everyone and everything that happened yesterday and beyond. There’s a big difference between being there for people while still discovering yourself and trying to erase your past.
The key here is if this person has stopped you from growing, it’s time to say goodbye. Remember, goodbyes don’t always last forever.
With all that being said, let me tell you, the heartbreak is worth it every single time.
I'm just a girl from Indiana, who loves to write, travel the world and I want to love on as many people as possible in the process! Follow me on Instagram!
I hope to see you somewhere around the world.