Advice from a Solo Traveler: Take the Leap
“Wait, wait for it..”
says the Brazilian instructor to my left as we stand together on a platform with a few cords connecting us to a glorified kite.
He is waiting for the right moment to catch the wind and successfully drift into my first hang glide flight.
After what felt like hours, he finally yells, “GO, GO, GO, GO!” as we sprint off the ledge.
I could no longer feel the ground below my feet, as running became useless. I took a deep breath and realized that I was flying.
Although that leap of faith off the hang gliding platform in Rio de Janeiro was momentous, it was many other leaps leading up to that day which made all the difference.
This year, more than ever, I have learned to look fear in the eye, and leap anyway.
I quit the sales job that I hated.
I booked a plane ticket to Colombia.
I created a blog about traveling with a vision impairment.
I packed up a carry on suitcase (to the brim!) and set off for a 7 week, solo, Latin American adventure.
And it was the best thing I could have ever done for myself.
Not to sound reckless or anything, but I let my adventure unfold and I didn’t let fear dictate my experience. I ate chicken heart in Brazil and tried surfing for the first time in Manuel Antonio. I conquered a sketchy Guatemalan zip line and (barely) survived class 5 tubing in Costa Rica. I sang karaoke with new friends in Santiago and snorkeled with nurse sharks off of Caye Caulker.
I felt like I was finally LIVING and it was amazing.
I realize not everyone can (or would want to) have this life changing moment standing off a cliff in Rio de Janeiro, but here’s my advice if you are feeling a little stuck in life.
Your voice matters
A lot of people felt the need to vocalize their thoughts on my trip.
“Why would you quit a good job like that?”
“Gosh, <insert country name here> is dangerous!”
“All by yourself? Why not go with <insert friend name here>?”
No matter what it is...a trip, new career, different gym membership, new lifestyle choices - if YOU are happy with your decision, it is the RIGHT decision.
Recognize your fears
“Hello Fear, is that you?”
Get to know your fears, understand their triggers, and recognize why they are paying you a visit.
When you are able to rationalize your thoughts and calm your mind, you can take a deep breath and look fear in the eye.
I promise, fear is more scared of you than you are of it!
Seek out support
I know I said your voice matters (which is still 100% valid), but also seek out support from like-minded people.
I went on two trips with Under30Experiences (Starter Costa Rica and Machu Picchu & Peru) and met people who were also stretching out of their comfort zones. In our Alumni Group I am continuously challenged to live a more meaningful and well-traveled life.
So whether it be leaping into…
a nomadic traveler life,
a decision to go back to school,
a choice to become more active,
a chance on love, or
a career path change,
TAKE THE LEAP!
I took the leap and feel like I am flying.
Just like hang gliding, life can be scary - but it is always worth the ride!