So you've been staring at that Lonely Planet you've had forever and a day and at long last made the choice to put it in a backpack.
As romantic as Kerouac and Hemingway make it out to be, most of the time, travelling is nothing of the sort. You'll be plunged into dorm rooms with dozens of others in dozens of cities. Every one of you will set off with a spark in your eye thinking you're venturing off Into the Wild. Yet within 48 hours most of you will be sitting in front of a screen in a hostel common room, checking-in online and posting an image everyone else has seen a thousand times before.
How do you actually make the experience worthwhile then? How do you try feel some of that esoteric magic the early explorers felt? How do you still cut loose and feel that rebellious life of a vagabond?
It's simple. You don't need to share every experience that you have. A “like” doesn't translate into “I'm actually interested in what you're doing and where you're at.” Little is going to change back home in 12 months—it's as if they are stuck in time. You're the one is going to change if you let it, and the only way that can happen is if you don't carry your home around with you in your back pocket.
Make Your Own Way
If you follow guides too closely or take all-inclusive tours then you're not exploring, you're just following a path that's made out for you. It is so easy to find your own way, if you choose one of these tours you're just going to end up with 30 other people just like you and again you'll be taking home with you and more than likely be far too drunk doing it.
Draft, Don't Plan
At home things make sense, we can predict how each and every day throughout the week is going to run. We plan on a calendar where we're going to be for months, we have a schedule we've got to keep otherwise everything will fall apart.
When you're travelling things never run according to plan, places are better or worse than expected, planes are missed, buses never arrive and somewhere along the line you end up falling in love. Never consider more than a week down the road, everything beyond that is a draft in a general direction. The best part of travelling is discovery and if you're following a path too rigidly then you lose that freedom.
Remembet That You're Never Coming Back
Pick a destination that you've always wanted to go to, one that inspired you as you grew up. It will always be different to what you expect, but will be beautiful because it's yours. Do everything there that you've always wanted to. There is no such thing as a “later.” The chances are that you'll never be coming back. You may come back to the same place, but you'll never be able to return to those incredible first moments.
Even though you can choose to disconnect, the world is such a small place now that at all times you're less than 48 hours from home. Although pushing through tough times is what can make it special, it hasn't always been amazing for me. This year I broke my leg in Bolivia on Death Road and I very nearly died. I lived, I pushed through and it's now become a part of my story.
Real travel means having things not go according to plan, and not knowing what's going to happen in the next chapter. If we knew that then we'd never open the book to begin with.Add this article to your reading list