Shut Out Doubters, Shut Down Your Own Doubt and Travel

by brian on April 1, 2010

First, let me say this: I have the best blog readers. I really do…

After reading about my lunch with Alisha who wanted advice on her trip to Spain, loyal reader Nikki offered to take me out to dinner to pick my brain about her travel ambitions. Like I said before offer a free meal and you can pretty much ask me anything you want.

Nikki’s great goal is to take off and bounce around Southeast Asia for a while.

Not for a few months.

Nope, she wants to leave the USA for a FEW YEARS, scuba diving, eating pad thai and learning another language, among other things.

And she’s well on her way to doing that. She’s taking care of her finances and getting her life in order before she goes and buys a ticket.

Thai duck for travel advice? Good trade for everyone – Thanks Nikki!

 Shut Out Doubters, Shut Down Your Own Doubt and Travel

What she asked me about was what many long term travelers and anyone who does anything outside the box encounters.

The Doubting Thomases
Nikki talked about family and friends who told her all the bad things that could happen to her and one of the main reasons she wanted to talk to me was to get some positive reinforcement. What she needed to hear was a friendly voice telling she can do it. And she absolutely CAN do it.

Isn’t it amazing that the people who have never done what you want to do always have a negative opinion about it? Where are their objections coming from? MAYBE from love because they care about you. Or maybe from believing that because they couldn’t/wouldn’t do it themselves, you can’t either.

The other thing people who travel extensively hear is, “What are you running away from?”

Who said we are running away from anything? A curiosity beyond our own little domains and a sense of adventure can make people go anywhere. Someone does not have to be running from a bad relationship, the police or anything else to take off for parts unknown.

Don’t let people run guilt trips or otherwise dictate your life according to how they think it should be. If travel is going to make you happy, do it. YOU are the person ultimately responsible for your own joys in life.

The Internal Self-Doubt
Nikki wonders if she was doing the right thing. She’s going to leave her family and friends and a perfectly good job to do this. Shouldn’t she just stay home and continue doing what she’s doing? She arguably has a great life. But there is a need for more, something that is pushing her forward to see Thailand and the rest of Southeast Asia for an extended period of time.

I told Nikki it took me a long time to actually buy my round the world ticket. I had the itinerary, the cost, the dates, everything. I just could not pull the trigger and give my credit card number.

Exactly a month before I was scheduled to leave, I finally sucked it up and booked the trip. And never looked back.

I just kept thinking if I miss this opportunity now I may never get it again. That thought propelled me forward.

The one thing that drives many people to travel is the sense of needing a change, desiring some new mental stimulation and challenges in our lives. Traveling is an adventure from the moment you wake up until you close your eyes again.

That fact is you’ll hate the feeling of regret if you don’t do it.

So for all the people out there like Nikki, who have grand dreams of travel but hold back for whatever reason…

Believe in yourself and your aspirations.

Shut out all the doubters and haters.

And go for it.

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{ 15 comments… read them below or add one }

Head Sherpa April 1, 2010 at 7:12 PM

I couldn't agree more! So many people told me that I was running away from my commmittments or that I was too fearful of failure when I told them I was thinking of traveling around the world. I went through a similar process whereby I had my itinerary for a copule months, but I just didn't pull the trigger because; a) it was a big dollar amount and, b) I was fearful of what life would be like when I returned home. The fact is, you never know what its going to be like when you get home and what the job market will be like, etc. All you can do is commit yourself to keeping an open mind and exploring far flung places with a sense of wonder. If you recognize that you can't control macroeconomic conditions and you put the utmost faith in your ability to find a way, then you can do it, no matter what. Great post and I wish Nikki many wonderful experiences during her upcoming trip.


davestravelgear April 1, 2010 at 7:37 PM

Totally agree,
I had some of the same negativity too, before a solo round the world trip, not from everyone, just the ones who didn't understand!
It was the single best thing I have ever done, period!
I have honed my traveling kit over the years, to make things as pain free as possible, but there's one thing you must remember to take with you……an open mind!

All I can say Nikki is, you will never regret making the descision to go, but you may if you don't!

Have a wonderful trip, hope your writing a blog about it to keep everyone informed on your progress?


Rambling Tart April 1, 2010 at 7:52 PM

Thank you so much for this, Brian. :-) I've had naysayers for as long as I can remember, but I keep traveling and loving every minute of it. I really needed this post today. I'm planning to move to Australia and the doubters voices are practically shrieking. :-) But I'm forging ahead and today, I found out how to contact the embassy. I'm on my way. :-)


Head Sherpa April 1, 2010 at 7:59 PM

So, Nikki – do fill us in on your itinerary!


brian April 2, 2010 at 6:33 PM

@Head Sherpa
My experience exactly. The world won't end if you do this and you'll be a much better person when you come home…if you decide to come home.

You've definitely got to trust more when you're on the road. Not easy sometimes, especially for folks from big cities, but there is no way you can travel long term without having an open mind to the people and things around you.

@Rambling Tart
Good for you! The best lessons come to us when we most need it. Glad I could help, because I've been there too.


John Bardos - JetSetCitizen April 2, 2010 at 6:34 PM

I have found the that the best way to avoid the negativity is to not tell anyone until after it is completely decided and there is no turning back.

There will always be naysayers. Most of them will have absolutely no experience or knowledge of what you are about to do.

I have gotten similar criticisms about travel, starting a business, even running marathons and triathlons. Some people just don't have the ability to imagine a better future.


Earl April 2, 2010 at 7:44 PM

I agree that it is all about the regrets. I've never met anyone who left for an extended travel adventure who truly regretted it in the end.

And with those who try to convince you that such a decision to travel is misguided, some of those very same people will end up asking for advice on how to follow in your footsteps once they realize what they're missing!


Renee King April 3, 2010 at 7:34 PM

Yes! "Shake those haters off!" is what I say! I do believe that 'well-meaning' people who try to discourage you from traveling are expressing their own fears. They are often afraid of stepping out of their comfort zone and may be in awe or actually jealous of your ability to do what they have convinced themselves that they can't.

I've always believed that one must follow one's own counsel when it comes to traveling. In fact, the most fantastic things that have ever happened to me was a direct result of my taking chances and throwing caution and critics to the wind.


brian April 5, 2010 at 2:19 PM

@John Bardos – JetSetCitizen
Dreamstealers, as I heard someone call those who throw salt on your desires. Even a noble personal goal like running a marathon or triathlon is met with sneers and objections. Drop those people from your life as soon as you discover who they are.

That is the same thing I told Nikki. No one I met, myself included, has regretted taking the trip. Not a one.

@Renee King
You're going to be sick with regret if you don't do it, travel or otherwise. That is what is propelling me forward when I hesitate on something.


A_Gallivant April 6, 2010 at 11:23 PM

Gotta say the running away thing was definitely something I heard a lot of last year when I was on the road. I allowed the thoughts in for a bit and then I just said screw it! Clearly I'm not so much running away as I'm running towards a travel adventure I've always thought may be possible. Nikki, have a fantastic time and get out there.

I'm thinking of using that Asian Pass to tackle Asia for a bit in the fall to catch some tennis.


brian April 8, 2010 at 6:28 PM

Yup I got that from my mother! I also had to explain I wasnt joining a cult or anything crazy. Looking for adventure would sum it up, which I got plenty of!


silver_153 April 27, 2010 at 10:59 AM

I really needed this post. I can totally relate to everyone when they have experienced doubters instilling fear in them because they plan to travel. I am planning a month long trip to Europe. I don't think a month is very long, but when I tell other people about it they look at me like I'm crazy. Maybe because to them traveling overseas is something they are to scared to do or they think it is so out of reach for them. Even my mother is really nervous for me because she has never heard of somebody traveling overseas that long. She is fearful I'm going to be kidnapped. Overall she is supportive though. Traveling is my motivation for everything right now. I will never settle for getting stuck in a dead end job leading a boring life. I want adventure! You only live once. I refuse to look back on my life with regret because I let fear stop me from doing what I love. Nikki, I congratulate you on pursuing your dream and traveling to Southeast Asia. I know you will not regret it.


brian April 27, 2010 at 4:40 PM

Living without regret. It is what we should do and yet it can be extremely difficult to actually do it.

In the bigger scheme of things, a month is not long. If you're doing everything right and have the time of your life, the time will FLY by. Hope you take off soon and enjoy yourself.


mina (sending postcards) August 20, 2010 at 5:09 AM

great post. it’s a shame when people make negative comments under the guise of providing advice. if it were only so easy as “shutting people out”… i think therapists would be out of luck.


brian August 22, 2010 at 3:44 PM

I know. The worst ‘enemies’ can be family, who are well intentioned but don’t know a thing about what you’re doing, or why you’re doing it. Can you ignore a great Mom or Dad who honestly cares about you? How about your best friend who has been there for you through thick and thin?

The thing I learned: Never take advice from someone who’s never done it before, no matter how well meaning they are. Your aunt, who you love to death, but who is as broke at a $2 dollar bill. Would you take financial advice from her? So why do we listen to them when we want to travel? There is no good answer, because we shouldn’t.


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