Pardon my rambling.
Now I haven't started travelling anywhere on my own yet and I will. There were a few questions that were on my mind so I thought I'd ask them here. Right now I am in graduate school and I will be done in a year or so. I'll be 26 and I'll be in quite a bit of debt. But I'll get a job and I'll be able to pay it off in a couple years as I'm only going to be focusing on paying off my loans. So I'll only be able to truly travel around when I am 29 unfortunately. And I don't just want to be a tourist I want to actually travel. This means that after I pay off my loans I will have to quit my job to travel the amount that I want to (I'll always have a job in my profession). Recently I was also in a relationship that broke and one of the main reasons was because I wanted to truly travel and my partner did not. So now I am thinking is it really worth it? I mean what do you get out of travelling? The reason I want to go is because I want to see all the new sights and learn new things. Plus I hear of all these people regretting not doing it when they really wanted to and I've always dreamed of travelling the world. I don't want to end up stuck into some monotonous routine. But will it truly be worth it? I guess what I'm looking for is inspiration. Maybe I'm trying to find fulfillment. What are your experiences (especially with travelling alone)? This summer I'll have two weeks and enough money to go wherever I want to. It's not that much time but it's the first time that I can so it's something. Any suggestions? I'm in the USA, Texas right now. I could just be in country or go international.
I think you should use your two weeks with an international trip to test out whether travel flicks your switch.
Sometimes the reality is different and you do find yourself wondering why am I doing this! Only afterwards do you forget the jetlag and tummy aches and boring parts, and over a long time you build up your knowledge of the world - and it changes you.
The trouble is you don't yet know what changes it'll make to you :-)
What I got out of it was self-confidence. I know that no matter what curveballs life throws me, I'll be able to handle them. I'm way better at making decisions, at researching and optimizing choices. I'm very happily running my own company, rather than working in someone else's, which I'd never have done if freelancing wasn't the way to go in Australia, and I'd just kept it up.
I got the travel bug out of it. Haven't really stopped travelling since. I still love the long-term travelling lifestyle, and can instantly revert to it when on the road.
I got to inspire a whole bunch of people (friends and acquaintances), who thought, "well, if he can do it, then so can I!" and are travelling ever more, to ever more exotic places, where they tell me they'd never have done so if it wasn't for me.
I got friendships planning the globe out of it. A craving for specific types of food which just don't exist here. Perspective on how things are done elsewhere. A good long time to examine what I want and care about, free from the expectations of people who know me. I've settled in back home, but I know that I'd do just as well if I decided to emigrate to any of a number of other countries.
Oh, and I kinda disagree with Andy above. I'd never be able to approach a two week trip in the same way as long-term travel. Two weeks is a vacation. Two months is starting to be the area where you can't plan for it, and need to figure it all out on the road, and need to live a lifestyle which is sustainable for yourself - while a vacation you can see as a "break" from your regular lifestyle. The vacations I took by myself before I started travelling were nice enough, but didn't in any way prepare me for the real deal, nor give me a good impression of what that'd be like for me.
[ Edit: Edited on 22-Apr-2014, at 23:39 by Sander ]
Since I was very young, I've always had a love of maps. In my day, we collected stamps from around the world and learnt capital cities and currencies. I saw pictures of Machu Picchu and Angkor Wat and wanted to see them for myself. And in Geography we learnt about the different peoples of the world. I started on a limited budget with a short amount of time and explored my own country first.
Once you get a bit of money to travel, you can visit other countries and see if your imagination matches the reality. Through travel I've made friends both in my own country and in the countries I've visited. I've had offers to visit countries I haven't yet been to. I've learnt (and mangled) some bits of languages (and some languages in more detail) and I've shared all this with my friends and family.
Most people on this site (probably all of them) are here because they have a love of travel and want to share it. As has already been mention, travel can make you more confident and independent. I know what Sander is saying but I disagree with a couple of weeks being a break rather than travelling. On a short time-span, planning is important but I've done several two-week trips (usually travelling round a small country) and found them just as much fun as longer trips. Unfortunately I don't have the luxury of being able to travel for more than two months at a time (job, mortgage, family) but personally I can be equally happy with a weekend away in my own country so long as I know they'll be a big trip before the end of the year.
With the two weeks at your disposal and being in Texas too, how about hopping over the border to Mexico and perhaps just a little further into Central America? A different culture, a different language and a different currency all add to the travelling experience.
Use your 2 weeks to get out of Texas/US completely. Go to somewhere in Central/South America or if you're really adventurous, Cuba. (It's technically illegal for you to travel there but actual legal repercussions for a tourist are zero. Fly to Mexico City then Havana return.)
No matter where you decide to go make it an international flight and go somewhere that English isn't spoken. 2 weeks will be a perfect introduction for your first time away from home.
Have fun with your research.
Thank you everyone for the responses. It looks like there are differing views on what is considered "real" travelling. But the general trend seems to be that you don't regret choosing to travel so I'm glad to hear that. Also I guess I didn't provide enough information, but I have been out of country before, just not alone. I went to India last summer for a month and I got to see a lot of things though it was with family so I don't think it's quite the same. Haven't looked into Central America since I've been looking at a European destination. Central America sounds nice too although I have in my head that it is a bit more hardcore. I'm not sure at all as there're so many places to see. There are a lot of places in the US itself that I haven't seen. Maybe a road trip through the US?
Another question I had was do you think that travel is better (more enjoyable) if you are in a relationship (a significant other) or if you are by yourself?
[ Edit: Edited on 23-Apr-2014, at 14:26 by cross.chrono ]
Every trip is different
It depends on your own frame of mind
& the person you are travelling with- it will definitely make or break the relationship
I really enjoy travel with the right person- you have someone to share experiences, costs and hopefully memories later
The right person is very hard to find so I do a lot of travel on my own and enjoy meeting people for short parts of the trip.
The freedom of going where I want , when, how etc does compensate some for the lack of a permanent company.
Either way dont let lack of a travel companion stop you travelling
"... do you think that travel is better (more enjoyable) if you are in a relationship (a significant other) or if you are by yourself?..."
There is no hard and fast answer to that question, that's 100% up to you and how you approach life. Some people can't make a single move without a significant other... some people are perfectly happy to travel solo forever... and there are many people who enjoy both ends of the spectrum.
"... Central America sounds nice too although I have in my head that it is a bit more hardcore..."
If you've been to India then almost no other place is more hardcore. (Unless you were on some kind of escorted 5 star tour that kept you sequestered away from anyone except the other rich tourists in your tour group.)
"... There are a lot of places in the US itself that I haven't seen. Maybe a road trip through the US?..."
The US is an absolutely fabulous travel destination - one of the most interesting on the planet - but it sounds to me like you should break out of your comfort zone and go international.
Europe is good for a couple of weeks - not too much jetlag, English widely understood, packed with sights. Broadly the west and north are expensive so don't neglect the east and south.