I get asked a question consistently by blog readers – it goes something along the lines of –
“I’d love to move to country X, I have some savings and I have an idea of what I would do there, but I’m afraid it won’t work out, how did you become brave enough to do it?”
Truth be told, my fears were the biggest obstacle when I began travelling. I strongly believe that fear is the biggest obstacle for everyone. Money – which is cited most often, is actually attainable on the road. If you can find a job in your home country, you can probably find one in another country and, for most people, it is a case of choice. People choose whether they put money into cars, or deposits on houses, or rent in expensive cities, or clothes and shoes and avocado smash. Sure, some people have bigger budgets than others, but travel is actually fairly financially accessible to most university graduates.
Fear though, for some, can seem insurmountable. You can give yourself a financial target, but what about a bravery target – how do you judge when you are ready to travel or not?
I’ve written about how to move to a new country – but what if you are at an earlier stage – what if you have enough ‘how to’ but fear is holding you back? This how to face fear and travel the world:
1.Realise that everyone is as scared as you are
People who travel solo are not exceptional people without fear. They are often just more scared to stay at home and miss out on living their dreams than they are of taking huge leaps and moving or travelling overseas. That was me at least. The thought of going into a legal graduate job in my home country filled me with so much fear that I was more afraid to stay home than move to New York and live my dreams. So I did it. And when I got there I met plenty of people like me and I continue to meet people like me and they all have fear. They all fear they won’t get a job they like, or an apartment they like, or that they’ll fail and have to go home, or that they won’t make new friends or that they’ll get robbed and end up walking around the streets at night lost and afraid unable to call home. They all have fear. I’ve never met an expat who was without fears or apprehensions.
People who travel are not necessarily super confident, they’re not necessarily well-connected, they’re weren’t necessarily the most popular at school, nor the biggest achievers – in fact often it can be the contrary. The people who end up doing it are simply the ones who want it the most, who are more scared of missing out then diving in.
2. Dip your toe in first
If you’re nervous about getting your travels off the ground, why not start with a mini-trip first? OK, so if you’re a New Zealander wanting to move to London, you may not want to fly right around the world to check out London first (’cause whose got money or time for that?), but you might like to take a brief mini-trip somewhere close just to test out how you like travelling.
My first trip sans family was a group tour through South-East Asia. I was terrified, but by the end of the two-week trip I was more equipped than ever for larger trips. There is no harm in trying something out, visiting a nearby country, or even a nearby town just to see how you go outside of your comfort zone. It might give you the confidence to book the one-way ticket you’ve been dreaming of.
3. Learn to read a map
Nothing has helped my confidence more than my spatial awareness and ability to read a map. I never fear getting lost, because I know for sure that either by memory or checking Google Maps, I can always figure out exactly where I am and how to get back to the hotel/Airbnb/wherever.
Maps used to look like Chinese, but, fortunately, through getting my Pilot’s Licence, my map reading skills improved exponentially and I can now easily memorise cities and locations and normally get myself around without needing too much help from apps. I cannot recall the last time I asked someone for directions (in fact, I’d go as far to say that I’ve never asked a stranger for directions.)
Obviously you don’t need your Pilot’s Licence to become an ace map reader. Practice at home first – go to an area you’ve never been to before and have a go at walking yourself around. Use landmarks to help gain spatial awareness. Say if you’re in Melbourne, you might us the Eureka Tower as a landmark for Southbank. Quickly figure out where north is and use that as your guide for exploration. Google Maps is ideal of course, as it immediately tells you where you are and can give you detailed instructions, but try paper maps first, if your data fails, or battery is dead, you’ll still be in control.
At the end of the day, if you get lost don’t beat yourself up – just keep working on it until you feel more confident branching out.
4. Visualise it and achieve it
If you’re not into mindfulness, meditation or affirmations you may want to skip this point – but if you are, welcome aboard.
When I’m super nervous about something (which is pretty often tbh) I visualise the end result rather than the experience. I visualise myself walking out of a meeting/interview/whatever thinking “that went well” or “that was successful” or “great, good job”. I feel the feeling that I’ll feel if it goes well.
When I first moved to London, it took me some time to find a job and I had a string of initial interviews with both recruiters and companies (9 in 5 days at one point) – it was one of the most nerve-wracking weeks of my life. The only thing that made it manageable (besides watching many episodes of The Ricky Gervais Show) was visualising a positive result at the end of each day. I told myself and imagined myself into a state where things were going so well, that in time my nerves began to dissipate and by the time I got a job I felt relaxed in interviews. You can use the same technique for moving or travelling. Imagine things going well, imagine yourself making friends, finding roles and enjoying yourself – it helps take out the fear factor and studies show it actually gets you into a state where you’re more likely to attract the things you want.
5. What would ‘future me’ say?
Speaking of visualisation – try this exercise – it’s called the ‘future me’ exercise – it doesn’t sound very cool, but hear me out. Imagine yourself in 1 year (or 2 years, maybe 5, whatever works for you) and ask yourself what you’ve done, best case scenario. Where are you living? What are you doing/what have you done? How do you want future you to feel? Some of these questions are hard to answer, of course, but brainstorming at first is fine.
You only have so many hours on this planet (this lifetime at least) – make them count. Will ‘future you’ be disappointed that you didn’t take the chance and move to the place you’ve always wanted to? If so, you’ve got to take the leap, or, at the very least, dip your toe in.
Until next time,
P.S. check back soon for part two.