I had such an overwhelmingly positive response to the first guest post in the “Dream, Dare, Go” series, a string of guest posts from people who overcame their fears to pursue their travel dream (find us on Twitter at #DreamDareGo). It really struck a chord with many of you, and I hope it inspires you to overcome your travel fears. The first post “I Left My Job to Be an Au Pair in Spain” was by Kaycee Lagarde.
This second post is from Kimi Sugiyama, a female solo traveler who’s been to 18 countries so far!
Guest post by Kimi Sugiyama
With sweaty palms, incessant foot tapping and an inability to focus, I watched the clock tick down to the most nerve-racking moment of my professional career. My timing couldn’t have been worse. The entire office staff was about to convene for an important meeting to get our biggest summer event underway. Not to mention, one employee had just quit six months earlier, and a few others would follow suit after my own termination. Needless to say, it was a year of high turnover.
Running the conversation through my head kept me awake at night the whole week prior to that moment. How do I best explain that I’m quitting a stable job to travel the world without sounding like a lunatic? Consider the scenario: One month after landing this new job, finally planting my feet firmly on the ground after college and bouncing around from odd jobs in New York City, I decided I would stick it out for a year, save money, and then go travel. Spoiler alert: there isn’t a best or easy way. In retrospect, my friends claim I was leading a double life. It was a burden to carry that secret with me, but absolutely thrilling at the same time.
Naturally, when it came time to pull the trigger, I couldn’t remember the script I had memorized, and all I could muster up the courage to say was, “My last day here will be June 8th.” My voice quivered, so I knew it was my heart talking, and therefore it came through more sincere. My supervisor immediately put me at ease stating that though she was disappointed, she saw it coming. Throughout the day, I made my rounds to give my fellow employees my one month’s notice, and with each person, I began feeling lighter but more exhausted. The word was officially out, and there was no turning back. The emotions of that day are still alive within me and remain the driving force to keep traveling. That night, I slept like a rock.
Prior to departure, traveling solo felt like the most daunting task, but in fact, the fight to set my dream in motion and keep it alive was the most difficult and, at times, disheartening. An extended, solo trip was a grandiose dream, and I lacked confidence in myself to pull it off.
The amount of time I put in researching everything about solo female travel could be deemed inhuman. I had never traveled internationally on my own before. How could I be sure it would turn out as incredible as I had built it up to be in my head?
Once I left for the road, I soon learned that I could research all I want, but I’ll never be fully prepared for everything the world is waiting to offer me. The near future was uncertain, but instinctively, I knew the pieces had already fallen into place. Traveling requires spontaneity and trust, and in order to enjoy the ride, I just had to jump in and learn to swim on the way.
Having successfully traveled solo to 18 countries and counting, I now realize the fear of disappointing the people who mean the most to me by veering away from a lifestyle they think I should have was far more taxing than navigating foreign territory.
As I move around the world, my palms still sweat and my heart still races, but now, it stems from the exhilaration of living my dream and all the adventures that come intertwined.
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Find us on Twitter at #DreamDareGo. It’s a set of posts from people who overcame their fears to pursue a daring travel dream. The goal is to inspire you–yes YOU–to get out there and travel (IF it’s what you WANT to do), no more excuses. I’m hoping if you see that others have done it, you’ll start to believe you can do it too.