If I can travel, anyone can

anyone can travel, says self-confessed clueless travel blogger from While I'm Young and Skinny

Do you dream of travelling but don’t know if you’d be ‘good at it’?

This post is for you. It’s for the dreamers, the ‘If Only’-ers, and the ‘One Day’-ers. The ones who didn’t grow up knowing that the world is their playground and those who don’t think they have the balls to go out and play.

I used to be you.

I wish someone had told me these things when I was younger, desperate to see the world but with no idea how to go about it. I thought that travel was only for the 1%. The rich kids, the hardy volunteers and the adventurous souls who ate seeds and wore sturdy brown shoes and weren’t scared of losing their way in unfamiliar terrain.

Travel was for them, not for me – even if wanderlust was slowly seeping into my pores and igniting my dreams.

It turns out, anyone with a passport and a bit of cash in the bank can travel – even clueless twenty somethings who barely have their sh*t together.

I’m going to explain why I’m the least likely ‘traveller’ and expat ever, yet I’ve still managed to somehow turn myself into a globalista. But first, some confessions. If you can identify with these things, I got your back. If you can’t – tell me your secrets. How you get so good at life? I bet you iron your knickers and know how to fill in a tax form, you big weirdo.

I’m about to admit to some seriously embarrassing geographical knowledge blunders here.

  1. When I was 21, I uttered the words, “Is China in Asia?” to a friend who was moving there for her year abroad.
  2. Until a few years ago, I thought Swahili was a made-up language, like gobbledygook. ‘He may as well have been speaking Swahili’ – it just sounded fake, you know?
  3. I also thought that Timbuktu was a fictional place. I think that was because someone gets shipped off to Timbuktu in The Aristocats. So Disney hasn’t just given me unrealistic expectations of men, but also geography. Cheers Walt.

You see, once upon a time my world was very small. I grew up on an island, and sometimes it was difficult to believe anything existed beyond the mythical ‘Mainland’, where you had to go to buy anything that everyone else didn’t already have or to catch a flight to further-flung destinations.

I mean, we had geography lessons but they were about tectonic plates and marshes, not actual useful knowledge.

And that’s not all.

why anyone can travel

I’m not good with wheels.

I’m probably one of the most incapable people I know. I can’t drive, I get mixed up with left and right and I can barely ride a bicycle. I didn’t let that stop me cycling to Angkor Wat when I was in Cambodia though! I felt massively accomplished that day – until we got caught up in traffic and tuk tuk drivers laughed at my poor coordination.

I get motion sickness.

This used to be triggered if I was even sat in a car for more than fifteen minutes, but now I can handle everything except rough boats. I still can’t travel with a hangover – but unfortunately, I find myself doing just that all too often. I can tell you a list of the weirdest places I’ve puked, if you’re interested.

I’m scared of everything.

Mice, getting lost, the dark. You know, all those things you’re highly likely to encounter while you’re travelling.

If you’re scared of your own shadow too, this post about being abroad alone when you’re a big baby might help.

I’m disorganised.

Mainly because I like to shy away from my responsibilities, but also because I usually just have no idea how to sort things out. Seriously people, how do you know how to do all of this official stuff like book things and make an itinerary?

I’m lazy.

If I can get someone else to do something for me, I’ll totally sit back and let them sort it out. Crack on pal. Someone else organised the majority of my trip the first time I went travelling. If it had been left to me, we would never have got on a plane.

I’m moody.

Hmm, this is turning into a list of reasons not to date me – oops! Moodiness is a real hindrance when you’re on the road – especially for your travel partner. There are often times when food isn’t readily available, or the temperature just gets to you; and if you don’t respond to low blood sugar or heat waves well, you’re screwed.

Maybe these personal flaws make me a poor travel partner, but I like to think I make up for it in sheer enthusiasm.

I have a distinct lack of direction.

Ask any of my friends who have had to try to direct me to a meeting place on the phone – I’m seriously directionally challenged. An old ‘flame’ (eww) once gave me a compass as a present, to poke fun at my permanent state of disorientation. I’ll also always take the least logical route, meaning it takes me forever to get anywhere.

I’m shy.

Add to that a serious case of bitchy resting face, and you can see why I might have been tentative about going travelling. Nothing says ‘don’t talk to me’ to everyone else in the hostel like a surly frown.

I actually care about having a career.

Like many millennials, I’m in a constant battle between wanting to get paid for something I enjoy and eventually living ‘the good life’ in my forties, and simultaneously wanting to escape to the beach whenever I’m trapped in an office. Balancing a career with travel is tough, but it is totally possible. I have an education and a good job – and this makes it difficult to buy in to the whole ‘Quit your job and travel the world’ thing that we’re constantly being hounded with. Not that I’ve never done that – I jacked in my graduate job and moved to New York for three months on a whim.


ships in the harbour

Too scared to try solo travel

Until very recently, I’d travelled to places alone before, but there was always someone waiting at the other side. I enjoy a solo journey because I see it as thinking time, and a chance to watch some films and maybe finish that book I’ve been reading; but I feel a million times more relaxed once I’ve located a friend and I know I have company.

It’s a fear that’s drummed into you as a child when you begin to wander: Don’t go anywhere by yourself. I guess my mum’s warnings have stayed with me in adulthood.

I’ve only recently become brave enough to travel solo. I flew to Borneo and spent a night in the jungle by myself last year. I’ll be honest, it didn’t feel like a massive achievement – more like a huge mistake. This year though, I spent two days in Dubai alone, and later moved to Dubai! All alone!

kite beach bikini

Why none of this fear or stupidity matters

Despite my many, many failings; I don’t let anything stop me from seeing the world on my own terms. Once that ticket is booked, nothing else matters. Not fear, not lack of confidence, not a dwindling bank account. I’m going on an adventure, and nothing is going to stop me.

So many people refrain from satiating their curiosity about the world because they’re just too nervous. Maybe you don’t trust yourself, or don’t trust other people. What I want to tell you is that travelling is the best gift you can buy for yourself. I can guarantee that by taking the plunge and buying that ticket, you will surprise not only yourself but also some of the people who are closest to you. Do you think the girls who saw me cry when I got lost during my first week of university expected to see me roughing it in Malaysia on my lonesome a few years later?

There’s nothing better than proving yourself and other people wrong.

So take the risk and get out there. It doesn’t matter what kind of travel you choose: whether it’s trekking through the Himalayas or just laying on a secluded beach in Hawaii for a while, I can guarantee that you’ll wonder why you didn’t think you had it in you.

You are absolutely capable of going anywhere and doing anything you want.

What’s stopping you?

I’d love to hear your thoughts about this, so leave a comment and don’t forget to share this post if it inspires you.


If you’d like to follow the female Idiot Abroad (I’d like to think I’m better looking than Karl Pilkington though), you can catch up with my expat life in Dubai on Instagram, Facebook and Twitter.


1 Comment

  1. March 30, 2016 / 2:31 am

    I love this post – the same goes for me too! Like you, I’m a big baby and something about being an expat scares me every day, you just have to ignore it and do it anyway! x