According to the Australian writer Benjamin Mee, sometimes all you need is 20 seconds of insane courage to make incredible things happen. I must admit, it definitely took me longer than 20 seconds to gather up the courage to travel alone full-time.
When the idea of becoming a nomad was planted in my mind, I was still stuck in what felt to me like the “waiting room of life” aka the daily grind. The mere thought of leaving all of that behind made my heart skip a beat. So I wanted to do some research first, I thought I’d better read up on things to prepare myself for my new “homeless” life. Every night, I would devour travel blogs, one article after the other. Conclusion? A lot of these articles said—more or less—the same thing:
1. All rules are off once you start traveling full-time
2. Once you’re out the door, your carefully manufactured routines are out the window
3. Things WILL go wrong (and that’s okay).
Hold on, the control freak in me said. That’s not what I signed up for. No rules? No routine? This sounds exhausting.
I mean, I was used to making plans when I visited a new place, and stick to them. I liked my routines. And making lists (see proof above). This “laid-back attitude” towards travel was new to me. If this was true, how was I ever gonna combine work and travel? How was I ever gonna get any work done?
It sounded like some sort of travel paradox to me. I was gaining control over my life by breaking free from my old life and travelling solo, but I was also supposed to lose control and completely go with the flow? How does that work? I was getting anxious before even getting on the plane.
By trial and error, I discovered what worked for me. Luckily, travelling full-time and breaking out of your comfort zone doesn’t mean you’re completely out of control ALL the time. Or that you shouldn’t be ambitious or can’t have goals.
It just means not everything will go the way you have planned it. And that’s why traveling is a beautiful opportunity to learn to let go of control. Disrupting your routines and stepping out of your comfort zone is the most powerful thing you can do for yourself. Things can go horribly wrong—or unexpectedly amazing. Eventually, you’ll learn to adapt.
Yes, the so-called digital nomad lifestyle can be quite chaotic. Some days, I’m all over the place, and not just literally. And that’s why I think it’s good to have at least some type of comfort zone, instead of destroying it completely. Most people who are anxious or introverted by nature (myself included) thrive when having at least some kind of daily routine. So be kind to yourself. Keep little morning or night routines if you need to. Listen to your body and feel when it’s time to take a step back from travel, and just chill out for a bit.
Trust yourself to make the right decisions, and determine what YOU need. In that way the glorified “no-rules-rule” rings true when it comes to solo travel, even for introverts or control freaks like me. I’m not sure what the key takeaway is here. Just do whatever the hell you want, I guess, it’s one of the major advantages of travelling alone!