Misconception #1 -It’s difficult.
Obviously the strain of travelling is subjective, but it really is possible to make your way around the world without researching and planning every movement in advance. While it can be demanding to book a bus ticket in Brazil due to knowing zero Brazilian-Portuguese, you CAN communicate what you want in other ways. Tried-and-tested ways include writing the bare bones of the information, such as destination, time and date and then handing it over to the ticket officer. When that fails, you’ll be surprised how often another traveller or English-speaking local come to your rescue!
Misconception #2 – The whole world is a paradise
Maybe I’m wrong but when I ponder upon the nature of paradise I don’t visualise myself sleeping in a manky, rickety bunkbed in a room full of mosquitoes, let alone sleeping in a room with other questionables! Of course, there are moments when life on the road is pure freedom, but that’s not to say that just because you are on the trip of a lifetime every moment will count.
Misconception #3 – You’ll stick to your budget
Uh-uh. Just you wait until you hit the weekend markets for ‘cultural reasons’, only to return to your hostel laden with swathes of silk, souvenirs and questionable wooly legwarmers for the coming summer (oops!). Just be aware that money repels a traveller’s purse.
Misconception #4 – Foreign countries are scary!
Particularly when I tell people I once lived in Shanghai, China, their first expression is one of shock, followed by horror. “Oh my God, how did you cope?!” I’m often asked. But to be honest, although countries vary immensely around the world, they are all pretty much comprised of the same elements. Like your hometown or home country, there’ll be people there to look out for you, people who want to take advantage of you, and places you shouldn’t go in the dark. While travelling I tried to make sure I was as cautious as possible, but it’s actually more likely that bad things will happen to you in your home environment because your guard is down!
Finally, travelling is all about getting out there and experiencing it first-hand. It doesn’t matter how much of your Lonely Planet you’ve read, backpacking tips you’ve memorized or how many questions you’ve posted in forums. What does matter is that you’re open-minded and ready to spend your next few months doing something memorable. Just don’t feel too sad when you get home, are skint and desperately want to hit the road again!