Hopes and fears for long-term travel: Miami, Nicaragua and Colombia

“I must be more nervous about this trip than I thought.”

That’s what’s going through my mind at 3am this morning. I’m wide awake, random thoughts churning through my head. I only do this when I’m worried about something. Normally me and sleep are very happy bedtime buddies.

Tomorrow I travel to Miami, the start of a two-month journey that will also see me take in the Florida Keys (albeit briefly, as I’m on a budget), Nicaragua, and Colombia.

Hopes and fears for long-term travel: Miami, Nicaragua and Colombia

Why wouldn’t this be anything other than exciting? Seriously?

I should be super-excited.

I am.

But I’m also a little bit freaked out. I must be. I resorted to checking my phone for text messages. At 3am. Cos obviously someone’s gonna be texting me at that time!

On the grand scheme of things my fears are pretty minor. I know this, as I couldn’t pin point any one of them in my sleep-deprived state.

My fears for long-term travel

I won’t be able to find (enough) work when I return in early March. This one’s probably at the core, no matter how many times I myself have sat opposite friends over a coffee/glass of wine and reassured them about their own job/work searches. For all the usual reasons – they’ve got the right attitude, connections, willingness to work, skills, experience. Ditto for me. I need to have a word with myself on this one. I have a plan, but that’s one for a blog post in a couple of months’ time!

It’ll be weird travelling alone for so long. The last multi-month trip I did was with my ex, back in 2007. No matter that since I’ve travelled alone to places like Vietnam, Laos, Cambodia, Nepal, Guatemala and had a month-long trip in South-Eastern Europe too. Something inside me is saying “eeeeeeeeeeek”. That little mouse needs to be quiet. Or to be eaten by a cat. Sometimes it would just be nice to have a familiar friendly face around, that’s all I’m saying. I’m gonna miss my friends!

That every worse case scenario detailed on the travel advisory of the UK foreign office website is going to happen to me, and I’ll get expressed kidnapped in Colombia. Maybe I shouldn’t have read the travel advisories two days before travelling? The Colombia advisory was – how can I put it – gritty. Then I took a deep breath and reminded myself to get a grip, as I have no intention of going to any of the “gritty” places mentioned. I did, however, find myself reading a story about the latest FARC peace negotiations on the BBC website at 2am. In Spanish. I was – as we say in Yorkshire – “well chuffed” I got the gist of most of it, so every cloud has a silver lining!

This reminds me of the core of who I am – an eternal optimist. The girl who sees the glass half full rather than half empty. And if it’s not half full, godamn it, I’ll go and buy myself another one so it is!

My hopes for long-term travel

Finally improving my Spanish. Yay! This has been a biiiiig objective of mine over the last 6 months or so. I’m biting the bullet and moving from practice (which I’ve been doing in recent months) to improvement. Two weeks in Spanish language school in Nicaragua are booked, and I can’t wait.

Interacting with local people. Hopefully more easily with my improved Spanish. I find this a major advantage of travelling alone; it makes for far more opportunities to interact with local people. Even if it’s only ‘cos there’s no-one else to ask about your chicken bus connection for you!

Hopes and fears for long-term travel: Miami, Nicaragua and Colombia

Which bus? If you’re on your own, you need to do the asking. This pic’s from Antigua, Guatemala.

Hopes and fears for long-term travel: Miami, Nicaragua and Colombia

postcards help me interact with local people

I like to take postcards of my home city of York with me when I travel, so I can show local people where I live. Talking with local people and their hopes and dreams makes me feel very humble. I’ve met drivers / farmers who are studying English at night school, and tuk tuk riders who are studying accountancy. People seem to seek out and grasp opportunity at every turn. It makes me sad that so many in our home (far wealthier) countries don’t have the same incredible attitude.

Good coffee. I was in java heaven in Guatemala when I visited in November 2013, and I’m sure I will be in Nicaragua and Colombia too. A trip to a coffee plantation or two will definitely be in order.

Volcanoes. I’m going to climb a volcano. Technically I climbed one in Guatemala last year, but it was so cloudy I could barely see my hand in front of my face, so quite frankly I could’ve been anywhere. Nicaragua’s volcanoes are out there, and I’ll be conquering (at least) one of ‘em.

Sun, sun, sun. As anyone who knows me knows, I am not a fan of cold weather. And the UK at the moment? It’s cold (not in an Arctic sense, in a Julie sense). I like to feel the warmth. Me and my factor 30 sunscreen say, “bring it on!”

Overcoming my long-term travel fears

Those around me may see me as confident, but we all have fears. I know that by facing some of mine, I’ll gain far more: in memories, moments, the people I meet, the things I’ll learn, the places I’ll experience, the journeys I’ll take. Knowing this helps me cast off those niggling doubts and strap on my backpack.

Miami, Nicaragua, Colombia? I’m coming at ya!

What are your hopes and fears when you travel? What helps you overcome your fears? I’d love to hear your tips!

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6 Responses to Hopes and fears for long-term travel: Miami, Nicaragua and Colombia

  1. Dave 7 January 2015 at 1:17 pm #

    A big smile and sense of optimism will lead you through places and situations when and where confidence falters…it won’t be long before you feel fully immersed in the local culture, getting on with your daily life as one of the “gringa” locals, discovering new things and making new friends you’ll wonder why you ever doubted yourself.

    I always found that friends and family were always there when I got back with all the excitement of catching up it gave a real buzz, energised relationships and made you more appreciative of those you have around you.

    Enjoy yet another great adventure

    • Julie 8 January 2015 at 3:28 am #

      Thanks Dave, I’m looking forward to being the (tall) gringa girl 🙂

  2. Lynda.. stillhowlyntravels 7 January 2015 at 6:01 am #

    We spent a month in Granada, Nica last October and, yes, the coffee, food, volcanoes, friendly people, and inexpensive living, not to mention the beautiful old colonial city…were amazing!

    • Julie 7 January 2015 at 11:13 am #

      Thanks Lynda. It’s always really reassuring to hear I made a good choice 🙂 Any fave coffee haunts in Granada you can recommend?

  3. Rebecca 6 January 2015 at 1:41 pm #

    Great post Julie, as always! What do you say to me….you will be fine!! You’re hardly fresh out of college (no disrespect intended) ‘I’m gonna travel the world with just a Lonely Planet guide and spare underwear’ kind of girl (although your how to pack article was great)! You are resourceful, organised and resilient. I find that a bit of positive affirmation and visualizing myself having a great time really helps. You will have an amazing time, keep in touch and I can’t wait to hear all the stories when you get back. Have fun 🙂

    • Julie 6 January 2015 at 2:03 pm #

      Thanks for your kind words Bec, they mean a lot. I know I always say “you’ll be fine” to people – need to practice what I preach, methinks! And you’re right about the Lonely Planet/underwear (literally as well as figuratively) … my bedroom floor currently looks like packing Armageddon. I’ll have a great time, I know 🙂

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