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The Courage to Travel

Erstwhile Expeditions is an ongoing series in which I reflect on my past travel experiences. I recently wrote about my first trip overseas and my semester of studies in New York. In my last post, I described my decision to move to London and my preparation for departure.

In the months leading up to my departure for England, I eagerly discussed my plans with my friends, whom I wouldn’t be seeing for quite some time. My friends were excited for me, but the words of one friend in particular stood out to me, and have remained with me ever since:

“You’re so brave to travel the world all by yourself. I could never do that.”

When she first voiced this opinion, I was unsure how to react. Was I so brave?

I wasn’t going to feed starving children or save animals from extinction or fight to protect my country. I had no language barrier to face in the United Kingdom. And while it was true that I knew no one in London, I wasn’t afraid. I had gone to college without knowing anyone, travelled abroad by myself, worked several waitressing jobs in new cities, and gone through sorority recruitment solo. In all those situations, it didn’t take me long to make life-long friends. Would this be any different?

Over time, I’ve often found myself reflecting on my friend’s words and come to realize the true meaning behind them. It wasn’t so much that I was brave, but that she was afraid. The fear of leaving her comfort zone was preventing her from trying something new.

During the past several years, as I’ve continued to travel and experience new things, I’ve noticed that a majority of my friends have remained stationary. They’ve moved back in with their parents, or finished school and jumped directly into a job. They’ve gotten married and started having kids. They haven’t travelled for longer than their week-long honeymoons. Many of them haven’t left the United States.

Of course there isn’t anything wrong with starting a career and a family, but I can’t help but wonder if my friends ever have dreams of traveling. I know many of my friends could have found the time and money to travel the world, and yet they haven’t. Is it this fear that holds them back? Or do they truly not want to leave the relatively small community in which they live?

Let me share a secret with you: traveling isn’t as scary as it sounds. It’s no different than moving to a new neighborhood or starting a new job. I have never once gone anywhere where I didn’t almost immediately meet genuine, interesting people. And I am a shy person. Sure, you will always meet some people that you don’t like or get along with, but that will happen in your own neighborhood. So why not travel?

Be sure to read the next chapter of my travel series, in which I discuss how easy it is to meet new friends while abroad!

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    Hello! I'm Erika, a quiet girl living in the noisy city of Los Angeles with my husband Eric and my cat Cookies. I enjoy exploring new places, going on adventures, eating delicious food, and taking lots of pictures! >> Read more
















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