How would you like to leave behind everything you know, besides a bag full of things and maybe a friend or two, to see another part of the world? I’m talking bare-bones travel here–no tour guides to choose your hotels, your meals, which sights you see. Just you in a noisy hostel, making your own decisions, pronouncing words in foreign languages incorrectly but still getting by.
This is my first of three posts on budget travel, and it’ll be more of a reflective piece in contrast to the next ones that’ll be more advice-y. Why am I so chatty about travel? No, I’m not a world traveler who has spent years on the road. But I have been pretty impacted by the travel I have done in terms of experiencing a big boost in confidence—something that I struggled with in the past due to my introversion.
My travel experience outside of North America has been in Europe. I worked in England for eight months full-time, spending my weekends off seeing the UK and enjoying three weeks of travel outside of the country. So I haven’t done the epic year-long backpacking trip, but I’ve experienced a lot of what travel has to offer: immersing yourself in different cultures, being separated from the people and things you like most (goodbye Tim Hortons donuts!), having to get things done for yourself. Budget travel was my only option since I’m still a poor student, and I’d do it again if I could (still waiting for the funds to magically appear).
Travelling this way scared me at first, because I knew I couldn’t be passive if I wanted to get the best experience possible. Being an introvert, I’ve always found it easy to just turn inwards whenever I wanted to—to stay at home when I wasn’t feeling social, to stick around the same group of friends because that was what was most comfortable. Because of this, I didn’t have as much confidence as I could have to meet new people and do new things.
But everything is so much more immediate when you’re on the road, so you have to make the most of it right now and not just when you’re at your optimal level of energy. And something happens when you start doing things that scare you as a part of your routine: it becomes normal and you become more confident just being.
Believe me, I did not become a super outgoing person after my experiences travelling: I still like frequent alone time. But through interacting with others in hostels, in groups I joined, and when I got lost or otherwise disoriented (trying to do laundry in Paris is a fond memory of mine), I’ve come to feel a lot more comfortable in new situations in general.
Not everyone wants to or is able to travel, I know. For me, travel has been a means of forcing myself to do things I wouldn’t do otherwise. If you can do anything to take yourself out of your routine, that’s a good thing I think. Travel is just one option, and it’s a pretty fun one in my opinion.
But I understand that travelling as an introvert has its particular quirks. So this week you can expect to find on here a post on travelling with others, and next week I’ll post on travelling solo!
Until we meet again, post in the comments what you like or don’t like about travelling and any worries that you have about leaving your comfort zone!