Travelling on one’s own, there will sometimes be big decisions that you have to make where you’ll need to face your fears.
A common one is money. How big is your budget? Will there be enough for food and accommodation? My friend who lived and worked in England for a year said that this was one of her biggest fears: not having enough money to cover basic living expenses.
Then there is the actual planning of a trip. How does one manage when there is a sudden change of plan? How do you cope with the fear of not being sure what to do in the moment, or how to deal with getting lost? Train trips are a good example of this. London’s railway system is easy to use and not expensive, but if you don’t know railway systems then it can be rather scary if you miss your train by accident. Even if you have a plan, you sometimes have to learn to make new plans as you go along.
I remember when I was in the UK and felt really nervous about getting on the wrong train from Watford Junction station to Burkhamsted in England. This is because I wasn’t used to catching trains overseas where they actually arrive on time. I got on the wrong train that went in the opposite direction! You will make silly mistakes like this, but at least it’s a mistake that you can learn from. Finding accommodation can also be a little nerve-wracking if you haven’t planned at least your first night in the city you’ve landed in. Make sure you have enough money when you get off the plane for at least one night’s worth of accommodation. Even better: think ahead and rather book your place to stay well in advance.
The thought of running out of money is scary. Questions will go through your head. “How do I get a job in this foreign country?” If you thought ahead you would have applied for a work visa so that you had that option available to you. “Should I phone home and ask for money?” The whole point of going overseas was to take that step of independence, so you don’t want to do this unless you weren’t able to find some sort of employment.
If you are planning on staying and travelling in a country longer than six months, look for a place to rent in a safe area. Renting can be expensive, but it helps if you find a good person who you can live with and split the costs. To begin with, try stay with family you may have in the area or in a youth hostel that could accommodate you for a few weeks. Though my friend who lived and worked in England for a year doesn’t recommend one stay with family for long, it may be an important starting point to tide you over before you can find your own place to stay.
Another aspect definitely worth factoring in is food. This may sound silly, but you can’t afford a meal in a fancy restaurant then consider your other options. There are bound to be street vendors selling food on the side of the road which can be quite dodgy if you’re not careful, but keep your wits about you and go with whatever is most feasible. Tour guides or even the locals would know the best and nicest street take outs available.
Sometimes it might be best to use your gut feeling for certain situations. If you are really battling, ask a friend or family member. If you are really stuck, phone home for advice. But, before you do this, take time to think about how you can resolve whatever situation you may find yourself in. You will grow more as a person as a result.
Travelling on your own can be a scary thought and is sometimes a time where you learn the most about yourself in the decisions that you make. This is what makes the whole experience so wonderful. Keep your mind open and embrace the change!