Little is more exciting making a coffee and start preparing a good trip. The good part is that you don’t need anyone’s approval to do anything at all. Once you have your paycheck, a backpack and a good pair of shoes, you’re the one deciding. It can be very liberating but to some overwhelming as well. How do you know where to go and if it would even be a successful trip? What if you get lost alone somewhere or end up in a smelly hotel room? This can and will happen if you travel enough and there’s nothing wrong with that. I’ve slept in hotels where I paid for cold water only as hot cost twice as much. When I got in the room, the hot water tap was simply taken off. Besides, I got lost countless of times. Finding my way always makes for interesting stories. I’ve missed many buses and ended up hitchhiking, meeting some interesting people and even got invited to stay at their place. What seems as a bad experience at first can, many times, turn into a good one in a moment. Be cautious and use common sense and in general, travel is as safe as staying in town. And, if you fail to plan well enough and miss a bus, there’s nobody to blame but yourself. You’re completely flexible and nobody’s there to disagree with any step you take. If you want to sleep early or skip a night walking around a new city, who’s there to stop you? Just yourself and your sour muscles could hold you back.
Reflecting on your life
Honestly, I’m unsure you can travel to get away from yourself. Everywhere you go, you take your past experiences and you are still the same person. If you hate yourself at home it will be worse if you get robbed in a French city, as I unfortunately experienced. However, if you manage to accept yourself without any drawbacks, no obstacle can stop you from enjoying your trip. It’s easier than it sounds, you have to accept all your flaws and past failures and at the same time reflect on what you did well.
I would say you get to know yourself during traveling. You don’t necessarily find a life purpose but you’ll be stranded or find yourself in hotel rooms alone. That’s not a bad thing, it can be a good experience. Few people are good to themselves, unfortunately. More people should be a friend to themselves instead of their own biggest critic. Instead of beating yourself up over past mistakes, when you’re alone you can reflect on these and forgive yourself for everything. You can allow your own thoughts and eventually work towards a balance. It takes a long time. To get there, just treat yourself better. It’s a choice that can be made any time. Get a manicure, yes, men can do this as well. Go out for a good haircut or visit a fancy bar. Go to the cinema alone. Just remember that nobody can treat you better than yourself. Stop caring too much about anyone’s opinion because only few people notice you. They see you but don’t know you so even if you wear hideous clothes on your trip, it doesn’t matter. Unless you’re aiming for a free upgrade on a plane, of course. Besides, who is anyone to judge how you look? As long as you travel comfortably, that’s all that matters. Have some fun with yourself and especially when you make mistakes or get lost. No matter how frustrating or lonely traveling can feel, you can only become more knowledgeable.
When you have sufficient trips under your belt, you’ll feel you’re starting to become a seasoned traveler. You’ll have your liquids ready at the security checks and your jacked neatly folded into a tray, keeping only your passport in your pocket. I once put it in a tray and it fell out inside the machine, resulting in me being scared and the staff teaching me a wise lesson. Keep it on you always. Long flights or train hauls can get tiresome but comfort yourself with the thought that you can always look for company. Once you’re on a trip with whom you thought to be a good friend but it turns out otherwise, things can get sour. It’s hard to drop a travel buddy, especially if you’re coming and planning to leave together. If you’re alone, you can test the waters and see whom you like to be around. You can roam amongst several groups of people and even split your time, tagging along with a group of guys and another week with a friendly girl you met. They can tell you about faraway countries or help you practice a language. And once you want to set off alone again, nobody will bear a grudge. The thing about traveling is that people expect you to go, these relationships are often short lived. That’s not always bad, you can share who you are and don’t have to worry that someone in your hometown will spread a silly rumor. You are free to be yourself alone and in company, how great is that! And, should you really meet someone special, it might result in a lifelong friendship. There’s really no downside to your independence.
Learning to be decisive
If you travel alone, it’s you rolling the dice. Every hotel you sleep in, every city you decide to spend time in. Each place to eat and every night you go out, you have full control over what you do. No need to ask anyone for permission. This might become a bit tiresome and the good thing is that you don’t need to decide anything alone. You can ask people from the city you’re in where you can best spend the night or have a beer. They might even list some options and you can still choose yourself. If you really got indecisive from the freedom of choice, ask anyone where they would go out if they were looking for a fun evening. Who doesn’t like to be asked for advice, after all? Eventually, you’ll learn to make the most of your trip whilst balancing a good night of sleep, or go without sleep if you go out. You’ll decide if you want to sleep on a night train or rather freshen up in a hotel. You’ll learn to value yourself more and will become more decisive. Eventually, after many days, you’ll decide in a split second if you want to stay in town or even hop to another country. You weigh the pros and cons and there’s nothing more to it. No need to negotiate, you’re alone anyway.
There’s few people that are alone with their thoughts anymore. Remember the last time you stared outside and just sat there for a while without grabbing for a phone . These moments help your mind relax and you get to sort your thoughts. If you travel alone long enough, you might get uncomfortable and look for company. If you’re still alone, no matter what thoughts come up, you can observe them from a state of detached awareness. As thoughts come, they will also go if you don’t identify with them. They pass just like clouds and thus you sort out your thoughts, not necessarily holding onto anything and reflecting more if you want to. Your mind sorts out its thoughts at night but why wouldn’t you allow yourself to do the same during the day? If you focus on your breathing and allow yourself to be in the present moment, a dull bus ride can become a truly sensational experience. If you want some input, you can finish the book you’ve been wanting to read. You can listen to a good audio book while dozing off. You can be a complete bore and nobody will try to cheer you up, there’s no need to be ‘on’ all day. Travel is exhausting at times so it’s fine to tune down now and then. The reflective and relaxing mental states you may find yourself in, are not a technique but rather states you will keep wanting to return to. This way, after your trip, you will think back to the day when you stared from the train window to endless wheat fields and you can feel yourself calm down. Travel has a soothing effect, as long as you can deal with being alone with your thoughts and thus being uncomfortable some of the time.
Satisfying your wishes
Most people have travel plans, some have no opportunity to go. Or, it’s only once a year. Many people are holding themselves back by making other lifestyle choices, they rather spend their money in different ways. Yet, the travel itch will return to some of these people. It will not pass. Therefore, if you have this itch and have any opportunity to travel at all, go. Do not let yourself be held back by anything. The reason you think you cannot travel now, will be a ridiculous excuse in the opinion of a single mother with two kids. Reasons why you cannot travel will only grow. People settle down, develop deep relationship and acquire houses and cars. If you think back about your life in the previous year, don’t you feel you had less obligations? You probably did. Responsibilities add up as we grow older, unless you make the conscious decision to live otherwise. No definite choices have to be made, just realize that many people of old age dream of being on the move and free as a bird again. If you have a good pair of legs and the abiliy to go see a place outside your scope, don’t hesitate. Though it may seem scary, it will turn out not to be that way in most cases. Safety and rationality first, there’s nothing else that should get in your way. There’s really no need to go long and far, you can treat yourself to some time off in your own town as well. There are plenty of ways to stop selling ourselves short and enjoy some deserved quality time.
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