Some people are impulsive. They live on the edge, on whims, and flights of fancy. Other people are planners. They research their trips and want details, and more information. Most everyone fits somewhere between these two extremes, but I (usually) fall into the latter category. I plan, and I research, and I think, and then I overthink. When it comes to travel, sometimes thinking is bad. Not that you shouldn’t think at all. Please don’t be stupid. Just don’t think, or maybe to be a bit more specific, don’t think too much.
Those Who Can’t Travel (and Want to Travel) Research
Back in February I learned there was a pretty good flight deal from Edmonton (where I live) to various cities in Europe. In order to get the deal, I would need to do a stopover (of a couple days) in Helsinki, Finland. Being a travel enthusiast (also travel planning nerd) I started playing around with different European cities I could visit. London? Berlin? Madrid? Copenhagen? Athens? Istanbul? Anything is possible.
Anything is possible, but I had some requirements a possible trip. It needed to be something I can afford on my paying student loans/working at Starbucks/freelance writing income. And I also wanted to find something where I’d be able to get away in the fall for 10 to 14 days. I can’t stress how much of a travel nerd I am – I even had a planning spreadsheet with price and flight time comparisons of different European cities. Yeah #travelplanningnerd
Where Am I Going?
So I did make a decision. I’m going to Spain and Finland in October. Yes, the trip isn’t for a while, but I like to plan, and that helps me get amped for a trip. I’m flying to Madrid for a week (and possibly debating going to Barcelona, although I might save Barcelona for another time). Then I’ll be heading to Helsinki, Finland for a few days before I fly home.
Why Spain and Finland?
Honestly because of this deal. I never considered traveling to Madrid or Helsinki before. Nothing against either of these places, but other destinations kept popping up on my travel radar before them. Still the flight deal I got was good ($600 roundtrip – I paid $850 flying to London 7 years ago), but I hesitated for a while before booking my flight. Why?
Fears, doubts, and all that jazz.
I’m Not an Experienced Traveler
I want to avoid saying things like, “I’ve never truly traveled” because I don’t want to diminish the travel experiences I’ve had. And I don’t want discourage other people from traveling as well. To me any travel you can do, even if it’s just your country, is a worthy experience. And I’ve loved my travels in Canada, and in the US.
The truth is it’s been five years since I traveled anywhere outside Canada or the US. Even my last trip outside Canada/US was to go to my cousin’s wedding in Cancun, Mexico. It was a fun trip, but a resort vacation isn’t the type of travel that resonates with me. The only other time I’ve gone on a trip to somewhere outside North America was when I went to Europe. I spent a few days in London, and then I went on a very quick group tour of Western Europe (11 countries in 9 days). That was in 2008.
This trip will be the first time, ever, in my life, where I’ll be traveling entirely on my own to countries where I don’t speak the language, or know anyone. It’s the first time where I’ll be in a foreign country (aside from the US) without friends or family or a tour guide or anyone else.
These worries might seem a bit overdramatic. I know I can learn some Spanish, and learn Finnish phrases to help me out on my trip. I know that Western Europe isn’t the most culture shocking place for me to visit. I also know that this is a relatively short trip (I’m not going on a yearlong round-the-world journey, or moving to these countries). I know I’ll probably get by in Spain and Finland just fine. In fact, I’ll probably look back later in retrospect and think all of these fears and doubts were pretty stupid.
Right now though it doesn’t mean the worries just go away.
On The Sidelines
I’m an observer. I love gathering information, reading travel blogs, hearing people talk about their travels. Sometimes I spend too much time watching life from the sidelines, forgetting that I might want to participate.
I’m not special, or some super travel woman. I travel a lot less than many of my friends and family members (and certainly less than many of my fellow travel bloggers). I get all these worries and doubts that creep into my head and makes me wonder if I should go, or if it would be better to wait.
Impulsive Decisions Can Be the Best
Eventually, there comes a point where I can’t spend any more time researching. I can’t wait for more signs. I have to stop playing eeny meany miny mo, and I have to make a decision. While shutting off my brain (that worrisome part of my brain that is) might sound counterintuitive I think it is the only for me to travel. If I kept listening to the worrywart in my head, I’d never go anywhere or do anything.
That is my advice. If you want to travel somewhere, and if you’ve done some research and know the trip is possible (without getting you into debt) then you should stop thinking and start traveling. Or at the very least book that flight, or that hotel, or whatever it might be that makes travel go from a maybe to a definitely.
Yes, making a crazy impulsive decision like this is nerve-wracking (wait, am I actually booking a trip to Europe? Holy shit I am). Yes, you might have fears and doubts (how am I going to get time off work? where am I going to stay?). What I’ve found for myself is that travel, no matter how costly or stressful it can be, and no matter how much I might worry, is never something I regret.
Or to quote my favorite author Hunter S. Thompson
Buy the ticket. Take the ride.
Do you need to stop thinking in order to travel? Have you been to Madrid or Helsinki? Please leave your suggestions and comments below.