“I can’t travel, I’m afraid of all of that strange food!” – Neverending Footsteps (Facebook|Twitter|Instagram)
For most people, food is one of the greatest reasons to travel. It’s all about experiencing new dishes and flavours, and eating local enables you to better immerse yourself in the culture. It’s about challenging yourself to leave your comfort zone and snacking on unidentifiable street food on tiny plastic stools. But what if you’re a picky eater and food feels like your biggest barrier to travelling? What if you’ve never tried Thai food or Indian food or Chinese food before? What if you’re afraid of rice?
That was me when I first started travelling and I felt like the biggest weirdo. I’d listen to other travellers rave about the tacos they’d eaten in Mexico; the steaks in Argentina; the curries in Thailand; the soups in Vietnam, and I’d think: yuck. The good news is, it’s surprisingly easy to travel the world as a picky eater. 7-Eleven and equivalent grocery stores can be found almost anywhere, there’ll always be Pringles and chocolate bars, fruit and vegetables are easy to find, most restaurants will have a few Western options, and there are McDonald’s in practically every major city.
But that’s not to say you should eat solely from grocery stores like I did during my first few months on the road. Despite having a lifelong fear of anything with flavour, I gradually worked up the courage to branch out from my bland roots and try the things I’d been avoiding. Like rice. And eggs. And nothing was really that bad. In fact, I kind of liked most of the things I tried — and if I didn’t like it, it wasn’t a big deal. I could just try something else or stick with burgers until I visited a new country with something different to check out. To my great surprise, travel transformed me from the fussiest eater ever to someone who’s now eaten duck beaks in Thailand, cockroaches in Laos, lizard in Vietnam, kangaroo in Australia, and brain tacos in Mexico. In fact, funnily enough, food is now one of the reasons why I travel.
Editor’s Note: I’d be remiss if I didn’t mention that you can read all about Lauren’s always hilarious adventures in her new book, How Not to Travel the World.
“I can’t travel because I’m pregnant” – Around the World L (Facebook|Twitter)
Sure, it can be an adjustment to travel while pregnant, but as long as you’re having a healthy pregnancy and your doctor approves your plans, don’t rule out seeing the world at this exciting point in your life, even as a solo woman! There are even surprising benefits. When I traveled to Dubai alone and pregnant, not only did I have a wonderful and fascinating trip, but this “Solo Babymoon” yielded fabulous boons.
First, taking time away from my husband and toddler made me appreciate them so much more, allowed my husband to demonstrate what a great partner and father he is, and helped reestablish my confidence as an independent strong woman — not just a wife and mother (as important as those roles are). I actually felt MORE energetic and healthy during my solo trip than I did while at home, lying on the couch and moaning from pregnancy back pain! Second, people were incredibly kind to me during my whole journey because I was so visibly pregnant.
For example, on all 4 flights I took over the course of my 18 hour journey, people moved their seats so I could stretch out, which made a huge difference. Remember: Being pregnant does not have to trap you. You can still travel if you get medical approval and plan well, and your heart and mind may benefit greatly from it!
“I don’t want to quit my job to travel” – Expat Edna (Facebook|Twitter|Instagram)
Quit your job to travel the world? Nope, it doesn’t have to be an either/or situation. Five years ago I graduated from college and booked a one-way ticket to Singapore; no job, no friends, little working experience. Two years later I was covering my first Olympics and living in Paris; I went on to live in Italy as a journalist, covered a second Olympics, and at 25 was hired at a top US car company to join their Asia Pacific communications team in Shanghai.
Being overseas didn’t prevent me from building a career; it allowed me to develop one. Instead of finding internships and working my way up from the bottom like so many of my classmates, throwing myself into a foreign country let me start from the middle, meet important contacts, and gave me opportunities I would have never received at home. Not to mention all the travel I was able to do from a new home base — at my peak I hit 20 countries in one year — and being sent to countries I likely wouldn’t have visited on my own, like Azerbaijan!
“I’ll travel…someday” – Travel the World (Facebook|Twitter|Instagram|Pinterest)
I know a lot of people who want to travel, but they don’t. They have lots of excuses, usually having to do with money or time, but the bottom line seems to always be that they will travel, but someday.
The problem is, that someday never comes because those excuses never go away and someday always exists until it doesn’t anymore. If you really want to travel, do it now and plan it now.
When I saw Patricia Schultz, author of 1,000 Places to See Before You Die, speak at the San Diego Travel & Adventure Show, something she said about this subject resonated with me. She said that if you want to travel, put it on your calendar. This is the first step in making sure your dreams of travel become reality. If it’s on your calendar, you are more likely to take the steps that are needed to make that trip a reality, like saving the money, booking the tickets, and taking that time off from work. Stop saying someday and set a date.
“I can’t travel with a disability” – Flight of the Travel Bee (Facebook|Twitter|Instagram|Pinterest)
“Gosh I can’t imagine how hard it must be to travel with a disability, I couldn’t do it myself” a woman told me once. Hearing her remark surprised me and yet it also saddened me that some people still think of it as a excuse not to travel. Luckily, I have a mother who taught me to never let my disability deter me from achieving my dreams. She never let me think of it as a limitation.
With the rapid growth of technology; from iPhones, iPads, Apps, and so forth we have the tools to assist us in our travels. App in the Air alerts me if there are changes to my gate, there are a wide variety of translation apps. As well as FaceTime, TTY, social media and text allows me to stay in contact with friends and family members around the world. Having all the resources that are readily available these days, it should not stop us from exploring.
Recently I met a taxi driver in Thailand, who tried to relate by telling me that his mother was Deaf. I’ve taught many people Sign Language in my travels, and have met many Deaf people from different countries around the world and have picked up different signs. You would be surprised as to how many people from around the world that want to relate, to learn about Deaf culture.
Travelling takes me out of my comfort zone; while it can be challenging, and frustrating at times – my desire to explore the world outweighs the negative. Michael Palin said it best “Once the travel bug bites there is no known antidote, and I know that I shall be happily infected until the end of my life” For me it’s about prioritizing, I’ve made it work, figured out a way to travel the world despite the fact that I am Deaf. Don’t let your disability deter you from achieving your dreams.
Next: More on travelling with kids, why pressure from family members shouldn’t stop you from exploring, and why being vegan isn’t the end of the world.