People ask me for travel advice a lot, and I’m always happy to give it. I love helping people see more of the world and sharing my travel experiences and suggestions to help people plan their own trips. But I’ve noticed that often, when I follow up about their trips, they tell me they decided not to go.
And, every time, I’m like, “Ummm…why?!”
It turns out that I hear the same handful of reasons why people cancel (or decide not to go on) their trips. In today’s post, I summarized all of the answers (excuses?) I’ve heard across several different people. The result? A concise 11-item list on why you aren’t traveling as much as you could be. Hopefully this list will help you think twice next time you’re deciding whether or not to cancel or postpone a trip. Here goes!
1. I just don’t want to
I get it. I’ve been there. Maybe it’s a stressful time at work, you’re burnt out, and all you want to do is snuggle in your bed and watch Netflix all weekend instead of going on an exhausting weekend trip. Or maybe you just don’t really feel like going anywhere.
And to that, I say one thing: you do you.
There’s not much advice I can give on this one, but what I will say it’s always extremely important to take care of yourself and your mental health, even if it means taking a day off to do absolutely nothing.
2. I don’t know where to begin
Planning trips is stressful, I know! You’ve got to take care of the flights, the hotels, lining up the dates with your vacations, transportation from the airport, and more. Even worse, when you’re traveling with someone else, you’ve got to make sure all of your stuff lines up with theirs! YIKES.
As will all large projects, a trip is best planned in small steps. First? Decide where you want to go. If you don’t know, maybe start by looking up cheap flights from your city, asking around about which of your friends live in which areas of the world, or finding a destination nearby to drive to. Then, figure out how to get there, and where you’re going to stay. Soon enough, your trip will materialize into something awesome.
3. I don’t have enough money saved up
This is a tough one, but I truly believe that any young professional can find ways to save up for a trip, either big or small. You can even save money without giving up social outings with your friends. It might take a few months, but if you can manage to cut down your costs and save a little bit of money with every paycheck, you will soon be on your way to planning your next trip. I once went to Cuba for less than $500, including a $116 round trip flight! That’s the equivalent ~$5-6 per day for 3 months.
4. Flights are too expensive
It can be totally horrifying to search for flights and see prices in the high three-figures, or even in the thousands. I definitely wouldn’t want to travel all the time if I thought flights cost that much! However, there are a bunch of ways to find cheap flights, from getting a points credit card to looking for error fares. One of my favorite ways to find cheap flights is by looking out for the Scott’s Cheap Flights newsletter, which keeps me adrift of all of the great flight deals swirling around in the universe.
5. I don’t have enough vacation days
I can almost empathize with this one. A couple of weeks of vacation is definitely not enough to see the entire world, and it can seem daunting to try and cram an awesome trip into just a few measly days. However, with a small perspective shift, you can definitely have some incredible adventures in just one week or less. Hiking to Machu Picchu? Totally doable. Wine tasting in Bordeaux? You got it. Exploring the pyramids, wandering through Angkor Wat, or going skiing in the Alps? Definitely possible. The opportunities are endless.
6. I can’t seem to find the perfect time
Weddings, birthdays, family outings…it can be hard to work and travel around big personal milestones. But I’m going to let you in on a little secret: there’s never a perfect time to travel.
Sometimes, we just have to get up and go. Often, that means having to miss a couple of things, or take time off work when it’s not totally ideal. But if you continue to succumb to the pressures of staying at home, you won’t make it out the door! One way to help with this is to plan your trips very far (a few months) in advance, so that you have them on the calendar and can commit to them. Keep your trip visible and at the top of your mind so that you don’t lose your excitement or drive to go.
7. It’s not safe (or my parents won’t let me go)
“My parents won’t let me go because it’s not safe.” I hear this one ALL THE TIME. First of all, you’re an adult, so you can ultimately make your own choices. But the more important issue here is safety, and ensuring that you are always safe in other countries. This might be controversial, but in many cases I think safety is a matter of perspective. Before you pound the table in an enraged fury, hear me out:
**KNOCK ON WOOD** After visiting over 35 countries in the world, I’ve only had serious safety concerns in two places: Paris, and on a bus to New York City. Two places that are considered “safe” by most people’s standards. No, I didn’t get robbed in South or Central America. No, I didn’t get pickpocketed or drugged while partying abroad. And yes, I was traveling solo the vast majority of the time.
Of course, safety is the #1 thing any traveler should be worried about, but the media often sensationalizes how “dangerous” other places in the world are. Instead of worrying about whether a PLACE is safe, you should worry more about whether YOU are being safe in your actions, your itineraries, and your chosen mode of transportation (with the exception, of course, of war-torn areas or other objectively dangerous places).
One of my stories from traveling perfectly highlights the sentiment of safety as a perception. I was wandering around in Mawlamyine, Myanmar and I told a shopkeeper I was from the United States. Her jaw dropped and she said, with wide eyes, “America?! Isn’t it so dangerous there?? Everyone has guns!”
Case in point.
8. I’m afraid of [insert disease, creature, etc. here]
This I can definitely relate to. Foreign places are filled with scary things like spiders, snakes, and Zika, right?! With all of these are things to be afraid of, sadly, they’re not confined to places away from home. There are terrifying things everywhere, and there are probably spiders in your backyard or your basement right now. A lot of times, at least for me, fear of these things is actually linked more to an anxiety of leaving home.
It’s totally okay to be afraid! But, as someone who has overcome a lot of fear to travel, I’ll say that the fear is temporary, which the memories of travel far outlast.
9. Other tourists/travelers are annoying, and I don’t want to be one
Believe it or not, I’ve actually heard this. From my own friends. And my response? Why do you have to be an annoying tourist? What’s stopping you from being a respectful and kind tourist?
A lot of people tend to get into the trodden argument of “tourists vs. travelers.” To be honest, I just don’t buy it. Everyone who is visiting a foreign place is a tourist. Everyone who flies through the air at several hundred miles per hour, or jumps on a bus to a new city, is a traveler. Instead of being worried about what other people do, we can just strive to be aware of our surroundings, and be friendly to the local people. If you really hate other tourists that much, stay away from the main tourists hotspots and look for some hidden gems in the city instead. You never know what you’ll find, and you definitely won’t regret taking the leap to see the world.
10. I’m in a relationship and my significant other can’t go
If this is you, let me address your concern with a follow-up question: why do you have to travel with your significant other all the time? Is it because of fear? See number 8. Is it because you need companionship? See number 11. I have been in a relationship for five years and have only traveled once a year with my boyfriend. He’s in medical school and he can’t always get out on the same schedule as me.
If you’ve been following this site for a while, you know I‘ve traveled a lot more than that each year. When I’m not traveling with my boyfriend, I travel with friends or alone. We might even be better off for it because we can operate independently of each other. He goes on trips without me. I go on trips without him. We trust each other and travel together we can. And it has worked out totally fine!
11. I don’t have anyone to go with (and I don’t travel alone)
I kept this one for last because it’s the one that cuts into me the most. Although there are some misconceptions about solo travel, I’ve written here several times about the merits of traveling alone, and how anyone can do it. I’ve gone to over 20 countries completely solo. And yes, I’m a small, unassuming Asian-American girl.
So, when I hear my friends tell me that they refuse to travel because they can’t find someone else (a boyfriend, girlfriend, friend, or family member) to go with, I have to ask: why? Is it because of fear? Because of insecurity? Because of safety concerns? Because if so, I totally get it. These are all completely valid concerns, and ones I grapple with often.
But I’d be remiss if I didn’t tell you this: there isn’t always going to be someone who can go with you. Just like when you’re learning to use the potty as a little kid, or learning to ride the bus to school, or learning to drive a car by yourself, there won’t always be someone there to go with you. The utter refusal to travel just because no one else can go makes me really sad, to the point where I want to give these people a hug and tell them all of the amazing experiences I’ve had traveling solo.
At some point, if you truly do want to see the world, you have to take the leap and go for it yourself. Take baby steps at first. And, even if there are bumps in the road, traveling solo is always worth a try.
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What are some common reasons not to travel that you hear often?
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