It’s been a little over six months since I began my journey. So much has happened since then, but I still remember vividly the weeks and days leading up to that life-changing moment in October when I decided to board a plane to Hawaii on a one-way ticket all by myself. So far, it’s taken me on a wild ride across three countries. It’s also given me a good chance to seriously think about my life – where it’s been, where it’s currently at, and where it’s headed. That inner journey has only just begun.
I was frustrated. My life was comfortable, but that’s all it ever was. I had money in the bank. Supportive family and friends. A job that gave me pocket money. On paper, I had no reason to feel like my life was lacking, but there most definitely was something missing.
I felt a longing. My job, working a retail electronics department, was a soulless void, filled with people who were OK with complacency and settling for a mediocre, menial occupation. These people were uninspired; you could see in their eyes and hear it in their indifferent tone of voice. Secondly, I had been living in Texas since I was seven years old. I had been talking to the same people and seeing the same scenery most of my life. Finally, I was raised in a fairly strict religious household, so I felt naive about the world! I didn’t know how life worked, and I realized that solo travel could be a spectacular way to fix that.
I’ll admit, I’m feeling frustrated again. The main challenge I’ve been facing lately is money. I started freelancing over a year ago while still working my day job. My goal was to finance my travels from anywhere by this point, but even now I still can’t land enough work. I’m mostly living off my savings right now, which isn’t sustainable. But the thing is, I’m definitely not ready to go home yet. On the flip side, there’s so much I want to see while I’m here in Southeast Asia, but I’d rather not be stranded somewhere with empty pockets. I feel like I’ll have to settle for being paid peanuts just so I can have money coming in again. But I’m still applying for gigs, trusting things will work out soon enough.
I’ve sort of hit a tipping point. I feel deep down that my life is being pushed in a wonderful, brand-spanking-new direction, and while I can see where I want to be, I have trouble figuring out what to do next to bring me closer to that end goal. You too may be uncertain about the next steps you should take – that’s perfectly OK. What’s been helping me find the motivation to keep at it is reflecting on my life before I left and reminding myself why I wanted to leave my job and travel in the first place, and that makes it easier to push through any uncertainty I have about the future. Don’t look too far ahead; just figure out the next logical thing to do. Don’t let a few bumps in the road phase you, you’re working to build a life you want.
When it comes down to it, long-term travel is just another lifestyle that comes with its own pros and cons. When you’re traveling on your own and have nobody else to rely on but yourself, you become empowered. You’re more independent. You’re free to do whatever you damn well please (within reason), and you don’t have anybody else to worry about. Traveling alone tests your mettle and shows you how strong you can be.
However, traveling alone also makes you vulnerable, strips you down to your rawest form. Things you may have taken for granted back home, like a nice meal, hot shower, or a bed to settle into at night take on a whole new importance. Old habits that you thought you overcame years ago might resurface. Maybe you’re not as outgoing as you thought you were. You’ll have moments where you take a good, hard look at yourself in the mirror and question everything you’re doing.
But to me, the biggest challenges that you face traveling alone reveal the most beautiful aspects of traveling alone; out of the chaos of it all, you have fresh opportunities every day to reinvent yourself, change how you approach life, embrace more deeply what you love about yourself and come to terms with what you don’t. That’s why so many people travel, and that’s why I want to keep my journey going for a while.
I feel like this is more of a reminder to my own self at this point, but I’ll tell you this too: Give life and the universe time to do their thing, and trust that your journey will teach you everything you need to learn.