If sugar and spice and all things nice are what girls are made of…
Then grit and guts and a little nuts is what travelers are made of!
When I hit the road 7 months ago I had absolutely no idea what to expect in my adventures. All I knew is that I “wanted to travel”. It had always been a dream of mine and I finally took that leap of faith and set out yonder to distant lands with foreign languages, foods, and cultures.
Now that I’ve been at this travel life for a bit I no longer consider myself a novice. I’ve had my fair share of adventures, happy times, weird situations, and the “ups and downs” that life is sure to bring us.
Packing my life into a backpack and jetting off to a foreign country felt quite normal to me. Even though it was something I’ve never experienced before, it had been an experience I had anticipated for YEARS. I’ve had many random people over my months of travel message me and express something along the lines of their jealousy of my lifestyle.
It is pretty freaking great! BUT it isn’t always sugar and spice and all things nice. There are certain aspects of travel that pose a series of challenges that you probably wouldn’t face in the comforts of your own country.
So I got to thinking… WHAT does it take to be a traveler? What characteristics does a person need to live the life of a nomad?
Here is my recipe of a nomad:
1. Adventurous – well DUH. Obviously.
2. Open-minded – EVERYTHING from people to food to experiences. One of my favorite joys of travel is that I don’t know what my next destination will bring!
3. Patient – Transition travel days can be the LONGEST days EVER between getting to the airport, waiting to board your flight, and figuring out the transportation in your new destination. Gone are the days of just hopping in your car and taking off! Patience will also be required when attempting to communicate with people who don’t share your mother tongue. Don’t worry too much though — hand gestures and pictures will usually work.
4. Confident – As a female traveler exploring on her own, it is so important for me to exude confidence. It is a bit nuts to turn up in a new place all by yourself and not have a freaking CLUE where to go or how to get there or what you are doing. Fake it til you make it and ask questions when you need to!
5. Curious – I’ve always been curious about the people and things around me. I can’t walk through an airport without wondering about where everyone else is going and what their “story” is. New places brings new faces, food, smells, sounds… the more curious you are about everything the better – it will enhance your experiences by far.
6. Humility- Everyone feels relatively smart until they go to someone else’s house and try to turn on their shower. RIGHT? Well it’s tenfold when you are in a foreign country. From flushing toilets, to cook tops, to opening up subway doors – shit just won’t be like it is back home!! When traveling you can’t be too proud to ask questions or ask for help. It’s bound to happen. Even in Ireland where they speak English I had to ask multiple times what certain phrases meant – I didn’t have a clue!!!
7. Observant & Adaptable – EVERYWHERE I’ve traveled has been a bit different. I feel like a super sponge trying to soak everything up in terms of how people interact, greet each other, how they eat, what they say etc… I want to immerse myself and blend in with the community as much as possible. Therefore being observant and taking mental notes as well as being able to adjust myself to adapt to my surroundings is key in being a respectful traveler.
8. Self -Entertaining – Get ready to spend a lot of quality time alone. Yes you will meet awesome people and share adventures with them… but you will also find yourself in your own company… a LOT. I have no qualms about going somewhere alone. The cool thing that happens when you are alone is that people usually end up chatting with you and are curious about your adventures.
9. Perseverance – To even get yourself on the road takes some dedication and persistence. From saving money to dwindling down your belongings, each step of your travel journey will bring with it obstacles to overcome, problems to solve, and decisions to make. Shits gonna happen and you will have to solider on! Like that time I forgot to check in for my flight and had minutes to spare (https://iamatraveloholic.wordpress.com/2014/07/21/5-reasons-to-never-travel-hungover-and-sleep-deprived/) — as much as I just wanted to scream and shout and freak out, I had to push through and deal with it!
10. Authentic – Travel how you want, where you want, when you want, and with who you want – just be true to yourself! I will read guide books and travel blogs but I usually find myself wanting to “get out there” and make my own experiences. Since the moment I left the USA I was committed to going where the wind took me and I’ve been true to that the whole journey. I like not having an agenda and rigid timeline of where I want to go and what I want to do. It works for ME. If you are a planner type and that works for you then do it! I’ve come across this quote several times and it couldn’t be more true — “To travel is to take a journey into yourself.”
I frequently read business articles and watch video’s of other people out there achieving their goals and often hear, “IF I CAN DO IT ANYONE CAN!” — I think that’s a bunch of baloney. We are all unique creatures with varying characteristics and personalities. We want different things and have different goals. What may have worked for one person could be a disaster for someone else.
To anyone out there that has dreamed of a travel life, I will refrain from the “If I can do it so can you…” speech– but I will say that it’s a hell of a lot easier than I ever expected (given some patience and perseverance). Create a vision, make a plan, and take action. You may never think you have enough time, money, or whatever it is that you feel you need to life a travel life — the only way to truly know is to back a bag and get out there!
Above ALL the characteristics I’ve listed in this article there is by FAR one that is the absolute most important… and that is BELIEF.
If you don’t believe you can live a life a travel — you won’t. If you don’t believe you can ______ (save money, quit your job, live abroad, etc..) — you wont.
“Keep your dreams alive. Understand to achieve anything requires faith and belief in yourself, vision, hard work, determination, and dedication. Remember all things are possible for those who believe.” – Gail Devers