My arm shoots into my messenger bag, swung directly in front of me to keep an eye on the zipper, and I riffle through its pockets. Passport, ID, money, phone printed out directions for 5 weeks worth of hostels. Ok, I guess I’m ready to walk into JFK.
Travel is splashed across every form of social media from quotes about wanderlust to pictures taken in places I’m not quite sure even exist on earth. The dream is so heavy I can almost feel it on someones breath before they utter, “I just want to travel the world”.
And don't get me wrong, traveling rocks! What everyone says is true: stepping out of your comfort zone forces you into a better, more well rounded person.
But…in order to reach that enlightenment, you first have to get uncomfortable.
My 5 week backpacking adventure was a success in many ways. My luggage wasn't lost, I didn't get robbed, get stuck in a country (except for that slight issue with a plane in Barcelona), end up taken, or even get into a fight with my travel partner!
However, thats not to say it was easy either.
Traveling is different from a vacation. We were up early, we were in hostels with slightly shady wifi and we were getting lost more times then we weren't. And yes, I know, getting lost is super cool and the only way to live life. Except its not. Not when you have a 3 hour walking tour to get to, wander for 5 hours trying to find the next walking tour and have too then take the 3 hour walking tour after you are already tired! Relying on GPS is obviously out of the question.
Don’t worry. Getting lost can get frustrating but you can also find the tastiest gelato that way. Plus learning how to use a map, while super annoying, confusing and so totally tourist, is actually pretty cool once you get the hang of it. And it will take about three and a half of the five weeks you're away to actually figure it out. But it is a feat you will be proud of!! Celebrate by finding more gelato and not getting lost!
Then theres checking in at home. Being thrust into a journey where you are isolated from everyone you have ever known is stressful; especially in a society where we feel a content need to be in the loop. What if something happens at home? What if you cant be reached? What if you lose everyone at some Berlin night club and don't even remember the name of the hostel?
Fear not my fellow worry warts! You just have to hope nothing happens, and I know thats shitty advice but what, are you going to put your life on hold because of what could happen? And while its awesome to stay connected to home and to be able to Instagram everything you want to make your friends jealous with, its nice to just be able to go out with people you just met and party! No one distracted by texts or making sure they snap chat just before the beat drops. Everyone is living in the moment just like you; with you.
And as long as you have an amazing travel buddy like I did, (Shoutout to Dee), they aren't going to leave you behind. They'll be right next to you, throwing back shots and talking about sexy accents with the guys you just met!
So let yourself be uncomfortable, let yourself be anxious. It really is the only way to see that what you are stressing about isn't worth it. There are so many better things to experience, you just have to step out of your comfort zone.