So you’re thinking about or planning on taking a trip to a far away place. You’ve heard all about how cool it is to hike the Himalayas or to climb volcanoes and you’ve seen ‘The Beach’. You really have no idea what’s waiting for you but your excitement is building. I was in a similar position back in 1984 when I started travelling.
Let’s talk about some of the stuff you’ll need and some of the situations you’ll end up in.
Why do we go travelling?
To get a change of scenery, to meet people, to learn more about other cultures, to get away from the stuff we’re used to, to learn more about ourselves etc.
These are great reasons and when we are travelling it’s good to remind ourselves why we’re doing this. You will definately find yourself in a nowhere town making an unexpected overnight stay because your bus has broken down or the train hasn’t come. Don’t stress on it, this is travel. One of the reasons that we love to travel is the unknown and part of that is that everything is not guaranteed.
So relax, you’re not at work, enjoy it.
When to travel?
Travel because it calls you. If the idea of travelling through a foreign land in the spirit of adventure makes your heart beat faster then you’re ready. If you’re doing it to impress someone else, that is, so you can “say you did it”, then forget it. That’s the worst reason to do anything.
For me the beginning of a trip is one of the most exciting moments in life. Imagine, boarding a plane in England with an open return ticket and a money belt full of traveller’s checks. I feel like a gambler that has just stepped up to the craps table and is about to roll the dice. Anything is possible and I’m going to have an adventure no matter what!
Who do you travel with?
In my experience, two is the optimum number for a trip. Over the years I have found that there always seems to be two jobs going, or two beds available or two travellers of the opposite sex nearby! When you travel in pairs you have a buddy to share those magical moments with, eg. sunrise on the top of a volcano and someone to cheer you up when your faced with that 10 hour delay in India.
A pair is able to make a decision and go for it so much easier than three. With three you’re now a ‘group’ and people will treat like a group instead of Sean & Chris, or Mary & Kim. Two people will get into more good situations than three. I would not want to consider a long trip with four.
In choosing who to go with obviously money is a big factor. If you have to talk somebody into going, you’re maybe asking for trouble later. Also, your ‘best friend’ may not make the best traveller. Generally, someone who is honest, somewhat reliable and relaxed will be a good travelling partner.
If the time has come and you can’t find a suitable person to accompany you, don’t worry. The biggest myth of travel is that it’s a “lonely planet”. When I travel I meet more friendly people than when I’m at home, especially when I travel alone! So I would definately consider solo travel.
You also want to get straight your personal situation with your travelling partner if you happen to be of different sexes. If you start a year long trip and one person fancies the other, trouble may be around the corner if that person later develops a romance with someone else. Another one to avoid is three buddies and a girlfriend. The one buddy will be emotionally pulled in all directions; the two other guys versus the girl.