Too scared to travel

I’ve taken to walking along the river while holidaying up here in Townsville. I guess part of me is hoping to come up with an excuse for lingering here a while longer. It’s certainly a lot warmer here than in Gympie, and it’s very pleasant to sit on the balcony. It overlooks some kind of park, which is framed by tall spindly eucalyptus growing along the river in the background.

The main reason to write this entry is to put down a few comments on one of the travel blogs I’ve been reading. You see, I’m very easily influenced by things. As I was walking this morning, I was listening to some podcasts about education (since I’m studying to become a teacher). While listening to some very excellent talks, I became very motivated to go back to Gympie and get stuck into my studies. I was determined to do ridiculously well in my course and become an amazing teacher. I would not travel, instead I would put all my efforts into this year and a half, excel at my studies and get a job that I loved.

Then of course I came home, made myself a salad and cranberry/7-up/guarana drink (I’ve had three of these now, which might be why my leg won’t stop shaking). I picked up my sister’s iPad and flicked through Flipboard. It used to be mine until I gave it to her and she hasn’t changed my settings which is very convenient for me. Anyway, as you might have guessed, my Flipboard is dedicated to all things travel. The article that inspired me to write this post was one by the Huffington Post called “5 ways to travel more spontaneously”. Now, I know that the Huffington Post is not regarded as the height of journalism (sorry guys), but I must admit some of their articles are pretty entertaining.

The list starts off with ‘Go’, a concept which I agree is pretty fundamental, but I would also argue could be part of a list that describes “5 ways to travel less spontaneously” , or even leaving the last two words out entirely. In fact, I would argue that unless the title was “5 ways to not travel” or “5 ways to armchair travel”, this would be on every single list. The second is to “Get Lost”, which I thoroughly agree with for the best travel memories. The third is less so, unless you get really lucky. The third point says to “Talk to Locals”.

Really? If someone asked you what to see, what would you tell them? I could probably tell you what places I like to hang out at. Might be a bit boring for you since I usually go there with my friends. What restaurant should you go to? What should I see? My response: have you tried Google? Seriously – that’s why guidebooks exist. Yeah, I got super lucky in Malaysia that the girl who ran the hostel was super friendly and took me out to show me Melaka. She wasn’t a local though, but a traveller herself. Yeah talk to the locals, you might get really lucky and they’ll take you out bush in their 4WD, or invite you to their home for the Chinese New Year, but usually you’ll get more helpful info from other travellers and people working in the travel industry.

The fourth point is to “Do Random Stuff”, which apparently includes picking restaurants and cafes at random. Seriously? Would you do that at home, or would you read the reviews of places and then go there. Now, I’m not talking about places where you mainly eat street food. Go and be as spontaneous as you want there. I’m talking about Western countries where eateries have hundreds of reviews and you can pick what you like. You have limited time when travelling, why would you waste a meal in a bad cafe when there’s an amazing one two blocks away?

“Be Distracted” is the last point, which I guess I can’t find fault in (try as I do :D). Just remember that in long term travel, it helps to have goals and a ‘mission’, something to work towards otherwise travel burnout can happen much more quickly than you think. Believe me, not too long ago I went to travel around the world. Five months later I came back, burned out. I travelled slowly, I took plenty of breaks and I met up with friends along the way. I probably burned out because I didn’t have any plans. I was trying to be totally spontaneous and flexible. Or maybe I just love Australia too much, maybe I missed people acting ‘normally’ and speaking good English. Most of my already limited humour is lost in translation.

This isn’t their fault, I’m a little slow on the uptake when I hear a joke in German. It takes me a few extra seconds to process. Sometimes I don’t get a slang word or a double meaning. At the same time I have a dark sense of humour that is not funny if you have to explain it. People tend to start backing away slowly. The language differences can be funny though. Did I already mention the time where I was trying to explain ‘bat’, as in the animal? We finally got there by me showing a picture of a bat on my phone. The reply “Oh – like Batman!”. Yes – just like Batman.

Now, sitting on my sister’s balcony (she went back west for the Uni break), I can’t stop thinking about travelling. What is it about far-away places that draws us like crazy? Why am I here in Northern Queensland, dreaming about a beach in South America. Or maybe in Thailand.. I could really use a good massage after sitting at my laptop for this long! Not Indonesia – my left eye still starts twitching when I think of that place. So, what should I do with my year and a half? Should I knuckle down and do my degree, or should I take it on the road, making sure I make time for my studies and always have an internet connection. Shouldn’t be that hard in this day and age. Maybe I’ll go study Spanish for a month or two in Guatemala. Or Italian in Florence! Maybe I should log off before I get too excited. It’s something to think about though. Maybe I can better decide once my studies begin, and I can see how heavy my workload is.

All I know is that the thought of getting on a plane and flying to another country is probably the most exciting thing I can imagine. If someone offered me 50 million dollars on the condition I could never leave the country, I wouldn’t take it. That’s how crazy we travellers are. Ask anyone on the road and most would agree with me. I guess that’s what it comes down to. I would rather have nothing but my backpack (and maybe my gadgets – I love gadgets!) and travel the world, than have everything and be not be able to leave. Do you know the thing I’m most scared of when it comes to travel? That I’ll get burned out and want to go home.

Man I’m messed up! If someone else said that to me, I’d want to punch them. I’d say: “So, you have the money, you have the time, you want to travel, but you’re scared of wanting to come home. Where you are now. Why is that a problem? Sure it costs a bit of money for the flight. Probably not as much as your living expenses in Australia. Plan, then book your ticket and go.” Truth be told, at the moment I’m too scared. Sure I could make up a million other excuses which include a full uni workload, submitting my tax return, my uni prac that’s coming up and my friend Jodi who will be visiting soon. There will always be any number of excuses. Who would have thought I am way too scared to travel?