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The Gap Year Blog

Independent Travel

5 Nov 2016 15:55 PM

Travelling independently can be a daunting prospect, especially if this is your first time fleeing the nest. Leaving familiar surroundings for greener, most of the time, dustier pastures, and throwing yourself into the unknown is a journey people usually shy away from.

Photo Credit: Flickr | Keith Parker 

Embracing independent travel allows you to reap the benefits handsomely. In the early stages of organising a big trip like volunteering or globetrotting, it can take a while to get friends on aboard. Deciding on which countries to visit and waiting on friends to get back to you is always a game changer and it can sometimes be better to throw the towel in and go solo to stop the arguments. Don’t be afraid to push friends aside, and make the completely selfish decision to go it alone, this choice will most of the time make that dream trip a reality and an adventure which is solely yours.

Waving goodbye to distraught parents is a situation which will occur; however, as soon as the plane is boarded your previous reality will become a distant memory as the overwhelming excitement of the trip will start to cloud all of your thoughts. The unknown is a terrifying thing to be faced with in any situation, but it also keeps you alive. Travelling alone will teach you to welcome it and thrive of it.

Volunteering expeditions are a great way to travel independently. The expeditions are full of international nomads, all wanting the same thing. The conservation and development projects attract similar like minded people, who want to learn and grow through unique and challenging experiences. Signing up for a group project or tour as an independent does not mean you will be on your own. You will spend the length of the program with around 10-15 others, and most of them will also be lonesome travellers.

Independent travel forces you to introduce yourself to people, it allows you to break your own boundaries and take you out of your comfort zone. To be a successful independent nomad you need to overcome shyness, find confidence and be as sociable as you can. This may take you a while, but don’t worry, look out for other independents in the hostel, and speak to anyone in your room. The world is smaller than you think; you never know, you might have more in common with your roomies than you previously thought.  It's easier than you think to fire up a conversation with someone in your hostel, everyone is on common ground because you’re all travellers. Conversation can stem from anything, everyone is always interested to hear a good adventure tale or funny story from your past.  

If you’re travelling on your own or even if you’re volunteering on a group project, assert yourself as part of your fellows. Get stuck in to whatever they’re doing; it may be drinking, going to a museum, diving, going for lunch on your break from development work. Whatever it is; enjoy it, embrace it and I’m sure you will return a more confident, rounded, cultured individual.  

Pretend you’re Jim Carrey in the film ‘Yes Man’ – everyone loves a yes man.

By Ed Hawes - Online Journalism Intern

Frontier runs terrestrial & marine conservationcommunityteaching and adventure projects in over 50 countries - join us and explore the world!