Over the last three years, since my New Zealand trip, I’ve realized I go through the same thing before every trip. Does this happen to everyone? Is this normal? I worry. A lot. About everything I probably don’t need to. This routine has developed and I noticed it with Slovenia too. It’s a trend and I don’t like it all that much. The best part about it is knowing how close I am getting to departure when certain phases come and go.
I just reached the “I can’t believe I’m going to five countries that I’ve never been to and don’t even speak the language and three out of the five are in the highest murder rated countries in the world” phase. This is my least favorite phase. This is when all the worry and doubt show up. Here are the rest of the phases in order.
Harry Potter cupcake from Daisy Cafe and Cupcakery in Madison, WI
1. “I want to go somewhere, where should I go?”
This is when I first decide a trip is in order, but need to narrow down to a region or country. This is when I ask more general questions like “how much money will I have?” or “when should I even go?” and “how long should I stay?” This is also when I get to look into all the cool things to do everywhere, which really doesn’t help narrow it down at all.
Somewhere outside of Queenstown, New Zealand
2. “I JUST BOOKED MY TICKET! I’M ACTUALLY FINALLY COMMITTING TO A TRIP! I CAN’T BELIEVE I DID THIS!”
There is a lot of excitement in this phase. Like, a lot. This is when I immediately tell anyone I am remotely close to about my future plans because I’m just too darn excited to keep it to myself. This is also when the planning begins, and by planning I mean scouring Pinterst, Trover, Thorntree, and Google for things that I should do there. A map is usually brought in at this point, a paper one, to see where things actually are in relation to each other.
Somewhere in Quito, Ecuador at night
3. “Really guys, I won’t get robbed, kidnapped, and murdered all at once, I’ll be fine.”
Not necessarily in that order. This is the stage of reassurance to everyone that hears about this trip, especially the fact I am doing it alone. No one seems to have faith in me to survive on my own because I’m a delicate lady. I can do this! I repeat, I can do this! I’m a pretty darn confident person and I have faith in myself, I know I can do this. I am still scouring the depths of the Internet, with a guidebook in addition, finding anything related to safety in Central America to show to anyone that doubts me not having adequate knowledge, at least as much knowledge I can have before I actually arrive. That’s a whole other ball park.
Lake Bled, Slovenia – A view from the island
4. “I can’t believe I’m going to five countries that I’ve never been to and don’t even speak the language and three out of the five are in the highest murder rated countries in the world”
This is where I am now. What everyone says is finally getting to me. If you hear it enough, it can be hard to push out of the way. This is when I start asking myself questions. Bad questions, like “what if I don’t make friends?” or “what if I do get robbed?” and “am I really going to be able to face my fears to do all the cool things I want to even though I’m afraid of, like, all of it?”
Doubt is creeping in, thankfully I know I get over it, but it just takes more reading about positive experiences and looking back on old trips. Slovenia is actually the perfect example. Probably three weeks before we left I started getting really nervous. Being the youngest, I was afraid I wouldn’t have anyone to hang out with since I’d be with a bunch of people way older than me. I was wrong. It was like I just got 35 new really fun moms that also happen to enjoy wine.
This is definitely the hardest part because it just makes me question everything I worked hard on to prepare for until this point. It can be disheartening to hear so much negativity related to solo travel, especially since I have never done that before. It definitely doesn’t help me prepare to go to hear all of that from, well, 90% of people I tell. Some are very supportive though and only have encouraging things to say, and that can really turn my attitude around, just one positive thing. Positivity makes a big difference. That being said, the positivity comes back in number five.
The Bottoms outside of Menomonie, WI
5. “Forget what you guys say, I’m going and it’s going to be the time of my life. I can do this.”
I am a very positive person. I do not enjoy listening to complainers. Who does really, though? I don’t enjoy watching the news that much because most of that is negative too. That means all anyone knows about where I am going is about the drug cartels and gangs 30 states away from where I’ll be in Mexico. Do your research before you tell me how dangerous Cancun really is.
This is the point where I realize that I really can do it. These are the experiences I am looking for. Difficult ones that I need to figure out how to fix myself and life-changing ones that may even be hard to put into words. I crave the adventure and different of the world around me. I’m still young. I don’t need to get a job now. This is what I want my job to be. A traveler. A writer. An adventurer.
Yours truly in a Spec Racer, ready to go, at Brainerd International Raceway
6. “I did it, I’m actually here!”
This is definitely the best part. Finally enjoying all of your hard work, living your dream, enjoying new company and experiences. This is what it all came down to and it was all totally worth it. Don’t let the doubt scare you away. If I let that happen, I never would have made it anywhere. You wouldn’t be looking at pictures from mountains in New Zealand or in Quito at night, ok maybe not the best idea, but then I wouldn’t have been able to try snorkeling in the Galapagos either, much less made it there on my own. I wouldn’t have gotten in that race car and found something I love doing. I wouldn’t have drank all the wine in Slovenia with all my new moms and I surely wouldn’t have eaten llama right after I got to walk one.
This is it. The arrival is just the beginning.
What is your favorite part about travel? Do you have your own phases before or during a trip? How do you deal with negativity towards your travels?