How to Have a Travel Adventure When You Are a Weenie

Are you a travel weenie? I know I can be once in awhile. In this guest post we have some great tips for conquering your fears!

I’ve always been a weenie and a homebody.  When I went to summer camp as a child, I cried so hard I threw up.  And that was at day camp.  But I haven’t let my weenie tendencies stop me from having some awesome travel adventures.

Here’s my advice for fellow weenies who are ready for adventure:

1.  Force Yourself

If you know you aren’t a risk-taker, then you need to force yourself out of your comfort zone.  No one else is going to force you to experience awesome, new things, so take the initiative and try something new.

In college, I applied to study abroad in South Africa.  Even thought I was nervous about living there, I tried to remind myself that once I arrived I would have an amazing time.

2.  Plan Ahead

The easiest way to force yourself out of your comfort zone is to plan ahead.  If you want to go on a two-week backpacking trip to Chile, then get planning.  Buy your plane tickets; it will hold you accountable.  Get excited by researching and booking tours and accommodation from the comfort of your own home.  Tell people about your plans; this will add another level of accountability.

3.  Take Baby Steps

If you are truly a weenie (like me), don’t leap into the most extreme adventure you can fathom and expect to enjoy it.  Ease yourself into adventures by traveling with friends or family members.  Visit a place where you can speak the language.

After spending four months in Ghana, where I could speak English, it was much easier to visit Italy, even though I couldn’t speak Italian.  In Ghana, I could communicate with most people, but I still had to adjust to new food, new cultural norms, and a new climate. When I got to Italy, which had food, cultural norms and a climate I was more familiar with, the language barrier felt minor.

4.  Pack some creature comforts

For many of us, travel adventures are uncomfortable because we aren’t in control.  Having one familiar thing in an unfamiliar place can help you regain that sense of control.  Bring your ipod, a good book, or something else that can calm or entertain you.

When I lived in a bamboo hut in the jungle of Vanuatu, I frequently listened to Badly Drawn Boy and other favorite songs on my iPod.  The music calmed me, reminded me of home, and made me feel like I could handle one more day of monsoon rains or one more meal of boiled plantains.

5.  Do it for the story

When you take a risk, sometimes it doesn’t work out.  Once, I found myself stuck on a dirt road in the middle-of-nowhere, Ghana in a taxi that was on fire.  In the moment I was upset.  My travel plans were ruined.  I was hot, sweaty, thirsty, and frustrated.  I told myself that I didn’t ever want to travel again.  Now it’s one of my funniest memories of Ghana.

Instead of letting an adventure-gone-awry stress you out, try to find the humor in your situation.  Retell your story in an email or letter to a friend.  Use it as a conversation starter at cocktail parties.  Take some pictures and turn it into a scrapbook page.  These misadventures are often the things you remember best after a trip.

Emily E. McGee has lived in Africa, the South Pacific, and three states in four years. She pays the bills by writing for various educational companies, but she’s happiest when writing about travel. Emily and her husband live life on the go, and they are currently living in Nairobi, Kenya. Emily writes about travel, and life as a trailing spouse at One Trailing Spouse.

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