How Travel Opens Minds to Consider New Destinations

Today it’s exactly 17months since I left the UK with a one way ticket to Mexico. I had 2 nights accommodation booked in Tulum, and nothing else. Looking back, it’s no wonder I was in tears of sadness, anxiety, and fear at the airport, with some excitement thrown in. mostly it was a wrenching of my heart as I walked away from my parents, unsure when I would see them, my sister, or my friends again.

I chose to travel in Central America because everyone seemed to be in South East Asia, and I wanted to go somewhere different. Since my Geography teacher at school taught us about the Himalayas (she’d travelled there) I’ve wanted to go there too, drawn by ideas of a longer trek in the mountains, but I didn’t want to pay for an expensive tour, and was too scared to go alone. Likewise the Salar de Uyuni in Boliva have long held an appeal, but I was too chicken.

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Central America, on the other hand, was different enough but Mexico, Belize and Costa Rica seemed suitably culturally different to be an adventure while adequately popular with tourists and travellers that I wasn’t scared of going. As for Guatemala, Honduras, and Nicaragua, I figured i’d see when I got there, and could always get a bus through if it was too much. Turns out Guatemala and Nicaragua where my favourite countries, although getting over Culture Shock when I first arrived in Belize definitely enabled me to ease into traveling though Guatemala and Nicaragua. conversely, Costa Rica, while a beautiful country, just didn’t quite hit the spot for me, Probably because of a combination of travel weariness, I was ready to go somewhere easier, start of the rainy season, comparatively expensive prices, traveling alone and missing travel buddies, and everything seemed so geared up for tourists that I felt I was seeing Costa Rica through a superficial veneer. It just wasn’t the right time for me, and that is why I would like to revisit Costa Rica.

Traveling Solo in Central America has taught me so many things, and I’ve grown a lot and changed subtly because of my experiences there. The most important things I’ve learned are that I am perfectly capable of solo travel, the worries and the stress of being lost in an unknown city not knowing where your going to sleep that night is also liberating, and unbelievably freeing, as long as you know that everything works out in the end, something I’m a firm believer in. The unknown is whats scary, but finding out about destinations is easy, and even the most of the beaten track destinations have been visited by someone else before. I guess it’s no surprise then that my loose idea of heading to Australia and South East Asia before finally returning to the UK have been swept away. Instead I have little idea of where I’ll go, or when, and I’m finding myself curious about places I would never have considered before, and seeking inspiration about specific destinations alongside the where what and hows.

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Africa

It’s a bit unfair to lump a whole continent together, but I know very little about Africa. It would probably fit on a postage stamp. But after reading a post by A little adrift about Africa, I started to half consider actually going there. I’ve read a few more articles since, and seen a couple of documentaries, and I’m still considering Africa. Sure it’ll be scary, and I know safari’s are expensive but that I would want to see Africa’s amazing wildlife while there. perhaps a volunteering opportunity would be a great introduction before more independent travel. I don’t know if/ when I’ll get there, but it’s definitely on my radar.

India

Despite India being a popular destination for travellers it’s never really appealed to me. I think it’s the preconceptions I have of India being full of big, bustling busy cities, (I am not a big city person) and essentially just a crazy culture. I’ve heard tales of female travellers being groped in India, and I’m not sure I’m bolshie enough to deal with all the hustle and bustle and opportunists. It’s stupid really, India has beautiful scenery (which I love) and I’ve met some awesome Indian expats in New Zealand (and back home). I think it’s past time for me to consider India.

China

China is one of the largest countries in the world. I spent months in Central America exploring an area that would fit over 10 times into China, and similarly so with New Zealand. Again, it’s a country I know pretty much nothing about, (except for seeing amazing views of the Great Wall, busy Beijing and Chinese New Year) which really doesn’t amount to much. Again, part of my reconsideration comes from meeting a couple of interesting Chinese people, which made me more curious. The movie Mulan, (the proper non Disney one) was deeply moving, but it also scratched the surface of a whole wealth of history I barely know of. It surprised me, I’m a great lover of the outdoors, but being an Expat in New Zealand, which has very little, has given me a better appreciation of cultural history, and a desire to discover more about great civilizations.

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So there you have it, 3 destinations I would never have considered visiting are on my radar. I don’t know if I will visit them or not, but I’m definitely going to look into it, and hopefully one day I’ll make it there. Who knows where my path will take me. What Destinations has travel opened your mind to?

7 thoughts on “How Travel Opens Minds to Consider New Destinations

  1. Great article! I still don’t know how so many ladies do solo travel. I’ve travelled by myself to Madrid for a weekend and got exhausted from the tension, fear and all that came along. I prefer living by myself than travelling. But I definitely want to challenge myself more in the future 🙂

    Assia | http://www.assiashahin.com

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    • It was definitely scary at first, but I met so many other solo travellers that it helped a lot with tips from them, and I travelled with friends made on the road too. Hostels are great for meeting people, particularly smaller hostels, and some places seem more solo friendly, in Central America pretty much everyone was a solo traveller aged 25-35, and were very friendly and welcoming, whereas in New Zealand there was a high proportion of groups of 18 years olds who I had less in common with. Perhaps going solo on a tour would be a good way of trying it? You’ll meet lots of people so won’t be on your own, and have the extra security of being one of a group. My sister did this with Top Deck in Europe and had a great time! 🙂

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  2. One destination that travel has opened my eyes to is Thailand. If I hadn’t moved to Japan to teach English, I would have never considered visiting Thailand because I knew nothing about the country. But a lot of English teachers in Japan go to Thailand on holiday so I decided to join the club – and I’m glad I did. Officially, I’ve been to Thailand four times.

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  3. HI there, glad you enjoyed traveling around Belize and Costa Rica. Those are both on our to see list. I have seen a lot of pictures and they both look amazing and inviting. Hopefully one day! Good post, thanks.

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  4. Go to Africa, it is amazing! I went solo, however I did go on a tour with Africa Travel Co. and it was wonderful, and very affordable in comparison to many others. Many people I toured with did combo it with volunteering projects either before or after the tour.
    I do share your disinterests in China, it’s never had a huge draw for me. From what I’ve heard from China-loving travelers I have met along the way thought I should go. I also have somewhat of a fear of going to India alone because of stories I’ve heard from people, but then again those same people all say it’s a place you must experience. I think I will end up in them eventually though. I guess you can’t really knock it till you try it, so I’m willing to go there someday!

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    • It’s nice to know I’m not the only one! Wow, sounds like you had a great time in Africa, I’m going to look seriously into traveling there.
      You have a positive outlook on visiting China and India, so I reckon if you visit them you’ll have a great time!

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