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Matt Kepnes Headshot

The Five Myths of Travel

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FLASHPACKERS

Whenever I tell people that I travel for a living, they usually fire a million questions at me about what it's like to do an around-the-world trip. Then, they usually finish by saying, "You're so lucky! I wish I could do what you do, but I have too many responsibilities." Or they might say, "A trip will be too expensive," or "I'm afraid I won't meet anybody." I hear these excuses all the time, and each time I hear them I sigh a bit. I know first hand how they can hold you back and how they aren't true. But I sympathize with people. I, too, had the same fears before I went away. Even when I got on the plane, I was still nervous. However, if 4 years of travel has taught me anything, it's this:

Travel is NOT expensive. Despite what the ads, the travel agents, and the TV commercials may say, travel is not expensive. You don't need thousands upon thousands of dollars to take a trip. The reason why you see only costly trips in magazines is because those are the places that pay for the advertising. I spend less money traveling than when I am home. On the road, I figured out how to find cheap flights, get free accommodation, save money by using local transportation, and cooking some of my meals. Moreover, not having any monthly bills drastically reduces your expenses. Once you "live like a local," you'll find travel is cheap.

RTW trips are easy. When I first went away, I planned and worried about every little detail of my trip. In the end, I realized I was worrying for nothing. Everything seemed to work out and travelers, hostels, and locals had much more up-to-date information than the guidebooks had. Moreover, I kept on changing all the plans I made as the situation changed. The lesson: Now, I book the first few nights and then go with the flow. Everything works out in the end.

2010-09-08-travelmyths1.jpgPeople speak English. English is a global language, so you shouldn't have too many problems taking to people. Even in places like rural Cambodia, people still understand a little bit of English. You'll be able to communicate on a basic level and get around. Moreover, hand signs work very well. A friend of mine communicated his desire for eggs by drawing a chicken and an egg on a piece of paper. My point is that with the widespread dissemination of Hollywood movies and English being the common language, you won't have a problem communicating.

You will make friends. When I first backpacked around Europe, I was nervous about making new friends. So, what did I end up doing? I simply asked people if they wanted to hang out. And you know what? Everything worked out just fine. Life on the road is filled with other travelers in the same position. Making friends just happens. You sit down on a bus or enter your dorm and say hello. Or you join in a game of pool. Not really good at asking questions? Don't worry. People will ask you questions and include you. Everyone is in the same boat.

Responsibilities are an illusion.
The great fear people have about going away involves their responsibilities. People worry about their bills, their apartment, or all their earthly possessions. Yet, once you go away, all of these things disappear. It's easy. Cancel your phone and cable service, sell your car, give up your apartment, and go. It sounds so simple that it must be too good to be true. The truth is it really is that simple. Once you make the decision to go, you'll find that all those "responsibilities" that held you back are gone just like that.
2010-09-08-travelmyths2.jpg
In the end, what really holds us back is ourselves. Our own fears and lack of confidence keep us from going overseas and taking that trip we dream of in our heads. That was my biggest challenge. I had to prepare myself to take the leap. But once I realized these fears were just in my head, it was much easier to take the leap. And that's the hardest part. After you take the leap you will realize that all your worries were for naught and you'll start having the time of your life.