If you have never travelled before, booking a flight and heading to a foreign country is a truly exciting yet intimidating thing to think about.
I remember how my stomach was fluttering with a thousand nervous butterflies before I went on my first big travel adventure – I had no idea what I was doing and I was scared because I didn’t know what to expect.
Going travelling is scary because it’s taking a leap into the unknown. You don’t know what will happen when you leave the comfort of your home country and you are totally clueless about how to make your way around. However, it might give you a little bit of comfort and confidence to learn that, like anything else, travelling is a skill you can aquire. It’s something that you will learn by doing and your confidence and comfort will grow the more you practice it.
One of our dear friends told Lee and I once that she wanted to travel the world like us, but she just didn’t know how and wasn’t sure if she could.
So Lee said to her, “Can you drive a car?”
“Yes,” she answered, slightly confused.
“Were you born knowing how to drive a car?”
“No,” she said, “I had to take lessons and practice, of course.”
“Exactly. Driving a car for the first time was probably a bit scary and challenging, but now when you drive a car it’s so easy that you don’t even think about it. It’s the same with learning how to travel the world.”
Travelling safely, cheaply, effectively and enjoyably is a particular set of skills that anyone can learn. It involves figuring out how to find the cheapest prices, learning how to spot scammers and avoid pickpockets, knowing what to look for when choosing accommodation and tours, planning out a route that makes sense and much more. I wasn’t born knowing which street food carts to eat from and which to avoid, or how to negotiate for a cheaper price at a night market… these are skills that I have learned. And I really believe that everyone can learn them if they want to.
How do you learn to travel? Your best resource is the infinite library of information that you have at your fingertips right now – the internet. No matter where you are going or what you plan to do, there’s someone out there who has probably done it already and has written some advice on a blog, forum, wikitravel page or review website. Before you leave you can Google every question you have about the country you are headed to so that you will be prepared.
However, you can’t anticipate everything before you go and some of it you will learn on the road from your own experiences – which is a wonderful part of the journey. There will be a little trial and error at first, but you’ll figure things out quickly. I’ve been travelling for years now and although I have mastered the basics, there are still little things that I learn every day. It’s okay to not know very much when you start out… no one is a perfect driver when they first get their license but by learning and practicing it eventually becomes easy.
Start looking at travelling as a skill that you can learn, just like any other skill in the world. When you look at it this way seeing the world will start to become a much less scary and intimidating idea.