Want to Travel? Stop Thinking

Want to Travel? Stop Thinking

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Note: this is an old post, and I’ve taken these trips. You can read about my time in Madrid and Helsinki. You can also keep reading this post to see why I went to those cities.

Some people are impulsive. They live on the edge, on whims, and flights of fancy. Other people are planners. They research, 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 overthink.

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. To get this deal, I would need to do a stopover (of two days) in Helsinki, Finland. Being a bit of a nerd when it comes to travel planning I started playing around with different European cities I could visit. London? Berlin? Madrid? Copenhagen? Athens? Istanbul? Anything is possible.

The Plan

Anything is possible, but I had some requirements for a possible trip. It needed to be something I could afford on the small income I get working at a coffeeshop and occasionally freelance writing. As well I’m paying off student loans so I didn’t want to rack up more debt on top of that. I also wanted to find something where I could 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?

I made 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 my travels. 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.

Senate Square in Helsinki, Finland.
Senate Square in Helsinki, Finland.

Why Spain and Finland?

Honestly because of this deal. I never considered travelling to Madrid or Helsinki before. I have 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 reasonable ($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 Traveller

I want to avoid saying things like, “I’ve never truly travelled” because I don’t want to diminish the travel experiences I’ve had. And I don’t want to discourage other people from travelling as well. To me any travel you can do, even if it’s within your own country, is a worthy experience. And I’ve loved my trips in Canada, and in the US.

The truth is it’s been five years since I travelled 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 (although I would like to do a resort trip again at some point). The only other time I’ve gone on a trip outside North America was my previous trip to Europe. I spent a few days in London, and then I went on a quick group tour of Western Europe (11 countries in 9 days). That was back in 2008.

Buen Retiro Park in Madrid, Spain.
Buen Retiro Park in Madrid, Spain.

The Fear

This trip will be the first time, ever, in my life, where I’ll be travelling 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 culturally 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 unique, 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 it makes me wonder if I should go, or if it would be better to wait.

Impulsive Decisions Can Be the Best

Eventually, there comes the point where I can’t spend any more time researching. I can’t wait for more signs. I have to make a decision. While shutting off my brain (that worrisome part of my mind 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.

Theodore Roosevelt National Park in North Dakota.
If I kept overthinking, I wouldn’t have gone on an impromptu road trip across Canada and the US two years ago, and I would have missed out on seeing this site, Theodore Roosevelt National Park in North Dakota.

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 travelling. 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 gonzo writer Hunter S. Thompson

Buy the ticket. Take the ride.

Do you need to stop thinking to travel? Where will you be visiting next?

8 thoughts on “Want to Travel? Stop Thinking”

  1. I love me a good impulsive decision or 3 Alouise LOL! Good for you. You’ll do great. I have traveled mostly with my wife but did a trip or 2 solo in a country where I wasn’t fluent in the native tongue. Hand signals go FAR in spots like these lol….and most times How Much, and a calculator, will solve the most pressing problem in any spot on earth. Happy Travels, good on you!!!


  2. I had to click on this today. Feeling the wanderlust bug so intensely sometimes! First, I LOVE Canada. I live in the US, but I have this fascination with your country. I would love to continue exploring it! Second, I think that this is so true. Often my husband and I travel for concerts (close and far). We get the good deal on the tickets, or buy them before we sell out, and then we HAVE to take a trip to get there. But it’s lower pressure. It’s often just a weekend in a new city, but it’s just what we need. I can certainly say that just saying yes works so well, so often. And that sometimes the “most planned” and “most certain” trips can be so much more pressure filled for me. Thanks for sharing this, and good luck with your “impulsive planning” I am sure you will have a great time. I would love to recommend the app (computer site as well) DuoLingo. Not being paid to say this! I just have been using it on my phone to brush up on my Spanish, it’s a fantastic free tool! Not sure they would have Finnish… But Spanish for certain. Drop by sometime and say hi, I am from the travel blogger group on facebook, but do lifestyle blogging in between my travels. 🙂 XO -Alexandra

    Simply Alexandra: My Favorite Things

  3. Hi Alexandra. I love quick weekend getaways in a new city, for me any kind of travel is good travel. Thanks for the language app recommendation. I will check it out. And if you’re ever traveling to Alberta send me an email – if I’m close by maybe we can meet up.

  4. Sophie @ Sophie's World

    Madrid and Helsinki are very different, and both lovely; you’ll enjoy it heaps, I’m sure. 🙂

  5. Agreed! Just do it and things will fall into place! (Bring some rain clothes for Helsinki though, it tends to have rainshowery weather 🙂 )

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