Prepping for Long-Term Travel: Getting over the fear

I toyed with the decision to buy a one-way ticket to Thailand for about a year before I intended to take off.  I had an injury, needed to save a little more cash, and knew that I would have to change my life completely to travel long term.

Deciding to leave my comfortable, sedentary life in favor of becoming a nomad was easily the toughest decision I have ever made. Not only that, I was going to have to do this alone.  Nobody else was at a place in their lives where they could take off on an extended trip with me.

Did I mention that I’m not very good at being alone?

I recall scouring the interwebs for some kind of support – something to tell me that everyone who travels goes through this and it’s all going to be OK. There were a lot of articles about what to pack, how to save, and other prep, but nothing that talked about the hardest part of all:

Getting over the fear.

I had so many questions: what if I ruin my chances at a steady career?  After all, it is not very common for an American to take a year off in the name of travel.  It’s simply not something we tend to do.  We work, we consume, and we never take vacations.  That’s the American way.  I was going to go completely against it if I took this trip.

How would people react? I kept my dream to become a nomad a secret for quite some time.  I had to be so sure of my decision that nobody could sway me.  I needed to be positive this was what I wanted before I threw it out there to my loved ones.

Lastly, how would I support myself?  As an investment banker, I did well financially, but it wasn’t fulfilling.  When I looked introspectively and asked myself what my dream job would be, it was always the same – I wanted to be a travel writer.  I finally decided that I didn’t care if that meant I’d never be rich.  The years of talking to CEOs who were in their 60s and never took a break made me realize that money had little pull over me anyways.   It wasn’t worth exchanging my youth for paper and coins.

But what if I failed?

Would it be worth it?

Sometimes faith is the hardest thing to find
Sometimes faith is the hardest thing to find

I thought back to every time I had traveled.   Nearly all of the trips I had taken were self-funded.   The first was at age 20 when I took a trip to Europe with my sister.  I returned home with no money in my account.  I survived on soup and day-old bagels (half the price of fresh, new ones) for a couple of months.

Funny thing is, I was happy to do it.  The experience jump-started my wanderlust.  I had zero regrets about spending my savings on travel.  I suspect nearly everyone who has done the same would agree.

This time will be no different

An addiction

That’s what I repeated to myself over and over.  I needed to stop worrying about what might happen after I returned home.  Heck, maybe I didn’t even need to come home.  Who knew what the future might hold for me?  All I knew is I needed to follow my dreams, or I would be miserable.

I needed to be selfish.

It was okay to be selfish.

I reached out to a favorite blogger of mine (that’s you, Ayngelina) who further cemented my beliefs that this was something I needed to do.  We traded a few emails and a couple of months later, I purchased my one-way ticket to Bangkok, with the intention of traveling solo.

I still have some fear from time to time – more of the unknown than anything else. I’ve learned to embrace it.  This is healthy fear.  As my departure date has inched closer, it has morphed into excitement.

I don’t know what the future holds. For once, I’m okay with that.

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  1. says

    I love this post! Wonderful. Would love to have you on as a guest for Atlas Sliced to delve a little deeper on taking a career break, prepping for your trip, and overcoming fear. Oh, and the travel quotes… I just pinned a ton of them on Pinterest. Thanks for the inspiration.

  2. says

    You reached out to me in a time you really needed me. And tonight you wrote this when I really needed to hear it. The universe works in strange and mysterious ways but never random. I hope we cross paths soon.

  3. says

    it is really hard to go against the norm but it’s about time that you pursue your own dreams and what truly makes you happy. Soon I know you’ll realize that it’s the best thing you’ve ever done. I will be following your journey of living the life of your dreams.

  4. Adela@ FourJandals says

    You are going to have such a great time! We have been away for three years now and I have never regretted leaving home. You will have days where you wish you were somewhere else, but everyone has those days and the good days will make up for them. Congrats booking the one way ticket! I have so much respect for solo travellers.

  5. says

    You’re bound to have some fear at first – you should be worried if you’re not a little scared! You’ll have a great time, and don’t worry about going against the norm. I had the same realisation about money a while back, too – I’m not really bothered about becoming rich. Do what you want!

  6. says

    Congrats, Ava. I’m sorry our paths didn’t cross in BKK. I’m currently struggling with the same issues. I am all for going, not afraid of being alone or anything like that, but have a little dog and also parents who just don’t get it. As I said in my message to you, I plan to be back soon… Decisions decisions!

    • Kristin says

      ESC is so awesome for featuring me.

      AWESOME Jules! So cool to meet a fellow i-banker who is giving it up to travel. I have no regrets and am confident you will feel the same :)

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