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6 Things I Wish I Knew Before I Started Traveling

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Sometimes failing at something is the best way of learning. And sometimes it helps to know that other people have made the same mistakes and that other people feel the same way about things. These are the six things I would love to tell my younger self before she’d set off to her first trip:

It’s okay to be scared.
I’ve visited more than 40 countries in my life and to be honest, I’m still scared. Scared of what will happen and scared of what won’t happen. Traveling is always like jumping into cold waters, leaving your comfort zone. And even the most seasoned traveller will be scared every now and then. I’m mostly scared the day before departure, when I’m sitting on my sofa in Berlin, my bags still laying empty in the corner and then I catch myself thinking: Ah, screw this, I will just stay here. In my comfort zone. Then, when I’m finally up and away I realize that traveling itself is my comfort zone. And everything feels fine again. And if it doesn’t, I have an easy trick that always helps me: Check into my hotel, go to my room, lay down on my bed, and sleep for a few hours. The world always looks different after a nap.

It’s normal to get the travel blues.
Even when traveling with a bunch of friends, there will be hours, days, maybe even weeks, when you’ll feel lonely. Maybe you miss home, your family, other friends or you’re just overwhelmed by the stimulation you get. Maybe a plan didn’t work out the way you wanted it or you just don’t feel understood by your travel buddies. It happens. Tell your friends how you’re feeling. Tell them if you need to party like crazy or if you need a day on your own. Personally, I always feel better when I get some me time; I love to wander around the streets of an unknown city, get lost all by myself, and do whatever I want to do. Treat yourself to something you really, really like. Watch an episode of your favorite show. Skype with your family back home. You’ll see it’ll and be fine.

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JOMO is way better than FOMO.
When I started traveling I always thought I need to see all the important sights, do all these exciting things and I was always running out of time. “Fear of missing out” is the worst thing that can happen to you while traveling. Instead of embracing the little moments and joys of traveling you’re running around like crazy, because you’re scared you will never come back to this country and if you haven’t seen this or done that, the trip isn’t complete.

What if you start thinking about the idea of JOMO, the joy of missing out? I love sitting in cafés for hours, watching people passing by and enjoying it so much that I don’t have to be anywhere else, that I don’t have any events to attend, nothing to do, besides sitting there and enjoying the moment. Instead of doing the walking tour as recommended in a guide book, why don’t you just embark on your own and find your own “walking tour”? Find your own best things to do and see in a city or a country. Often you’ll end up with the better story.

A plan is a plan is a plan is a plan.
Plans are destined to be changed. John Lennon said: Life is what happens while you’re busy making other plans. This is so much truer while traveling. While you’ve probably had a strict plan for your first trip, the more you’ll travel, the less you’ll plan things. You will start enjoying moments more and more, and you’ll start to go with the flow and you won’t regret changing your plans once. Maybe you’ll will. But failing is okay too.

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There’s no “real way of traveling”.
If your friends are super active while traveling and you aren’t—that’s okay. If other people who’ve been to places tell you it’s a MUST to see this or do that and you don’t want to—that’s okay. If you know this one girl who’s constantly traveling off the beaten path and you enjoy just laying on the beach and getting a tan—that’s okay. Everyone is different, so is everyone’s travel style. Traveling is what you make of it. What you want to make of it. It’s your trip, it’s your choice.

Traveling is addictive.
Once you start traveling you’ll likely never want to stop. You’ll dream about countries you’ve never been to and places you want to go back to again. Your travel memories are sacred to you and you’ll be surprised how many places in this world will suddenly feel like home to you. The world is so huge and there are so many things to see and do, there will never be an end. And you’ll want to fill your soul with new memories, new daydreams, new adventures. And that’s okay. You’re not the only one.

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