Ah, the open road. Endless possibilities abound on winding paths, highways and alleyways. They spring from terra incognita and the Wonders of The World. All strangers are scholars of the unknown and every moment is one step closer to a limitless horizon. All you have is to do is take that first step.
So, what are you waiting for?
Probably to snap out of it.
Traveling can be one hell of a nuisance whether you’re a wide-eyed wanderer or a seasoned cynic. The possibilities are endless for your plans to get derailed. Those highways are soul-sucking stretches of boredom. The alleyways are dangerous. The strangers strange and the Wonders of The World expensive.
But dammit, you’re going. There are souvenirs to buy and Facebook friends to make jealous. And, frankly, we desperately want you to go and have the time of your life—really. Just do it with your eyes wide open. And send us a postcard when you get there.
1. Travel Is No longer A Secret
It may sound like a spontaneous and original idea to, say, backpack through Asia, hitchhike across Europe or use your gap year for a around-the-world adventure. But about 983 million other folks, according to the World Tourism Organization’s latest report, also have that idea.
The truth is that backpackers spend more money than other travelers and are an increasingly mainstream demographic on which tourist economies worldwide rely. The success of popular party hostels allow chains to spring up on backpacker circuits, formerly known as “off the beaten path.” Consider the path beaten.
2. Travel Ain’t Cheap
So, you’re the 99% and would like to occupy something other than your less-than-glamorous New York City shoebox apartment. You can barely afford the Big Apple so should you be setting your sights any farther?
A few things to take into (or out of your) account: plane tickets, gear, currency exchange rates, visas, ATM fees, hotels, car rentals, travel insurance, emergency healthcare, the tourist traps you will inevitably fall for, and, you know, food.
3. Travel Can Be Dangerous
To keep costs low and adventure-level high, many middle-class travelers head to developing nations on their initial sojourns, usually resulting in their first exposure to poverty, and with it, danger.
As tenacious as many travelers tend to act, web forums and hostel conversations are still teeming with the predictable question, “Is it safe?” And the onslaught of “Ten Most Dangerous” lists offer little help to abate that fear. When you go, be smart.
4. Travel Can Be A Pain
You’re fearless and loaded. Discomfort does not discriminate. Progressively, travelers learn the art of accepting that which they cannot control. For example, let’s say: your plane gets delayed; crying babies take over coach; your luggage gets lost; someone is yelling at you in an alien idiom; tears are falling down your face in response; insects are feeding off your fresh and blood; the guidebook promised WIFI, I WAS TOLD THERE WOULD BE WIFI; hot water is not a thing; and you’ve realized there’s no toilet tissue—after the fact—and you’ve only just landed.
5. Travel Can Make You Sick
On the road, your body and mind work overtime to take on all the extra energy that travel demands, making you more susceptible to illness. It’s only a matter of time before the bacteria of your new environment breaks into your system and does the mambo. Parasitic infections can come down on anyone, whether you get it from tap water or hostel sex (for goodness’ sake, please bring your own condoms).
Sure, run-ins with illness is a backpacker’s badge, but get seriously sick abroad and the apparent glamour floats away like piss in the Amazon. By the way, don’t ever piss in the Amazon.