Originally Posted by Stevewc
Did you always make sure you had contacts in the different places before going? I'm sure that would add a little comfort, especially the first trips/adventures.
Also, did you travel a lot in the U.S. before you ventured out?
Thanks Nords for the link.
I'll have to spend some time checking that thread out.
Steve, Actually, I never had contacts on my first trips to places. I have started out a few trips over the years in a language school, and that always provided a nice environment to learn and to meet other people.
I have used couchsurfing.com a few times to meet folks. I have done this in Colombia, Philippines, Malaysia and Myanmar -- always just to meet for dinner or coffee, never using it as a place to stay. Other times friends joined me on the road and sometimes they had friends in these places.
Most of my previous travel in the USA was business travel. Traveling on your own is more challenging because you are not spending someone else's money
I did take a couple of international trips (3 weeks each) on my own in 2005 and 2006, while I was still working, and they were huge confidence boosters and learning experiences. One trip was to Rio for a friend's wedding but instead of flying home I flew to Ecuador for 2 weeks of language school. In 2006 I went to Central Mexico for 2 weeks of language school, then a friend flew down and we spent 10 days touring some colonial cites in that area.
I had traveled to Europe a number of times for my job, which I really enjoyed, but traveling on your own, traveling more slowly, and especially traveling to developing countries, is just a much different experience.
After I retired in 2007, my first extended trip was to SE Asia; I had never been to Asia. I just bought a one-way trip to Hong Kong, planned a multi-month trip, and yes I was both scared and excited. A few weeks later, before I left on this initial post-retirement journey, a Chinese friend I had known for several years told me she wanted to join me for a month through China and north Vietnam. Then a friend from the States joined me on a later part of this trip through Malaysia and Thailand. Then I met a friend who advertised online for a traveling partner to Myanmar, and we had a great trip together. In fact, she and her boyfriend came to north Thailand earlier this year to visit me. So about half the time on my first big trip I was traveling with a friend.
I returned to Chiang Mai for 1 week at the end of this 7 month trip through SE Asia, I was by myself but I had made friends in Chiang Mai. In that week, I ate exactly one meal by myself. And Billy actually called me during that one meal alone wanting me to join him on a run to Computer Plaza. I realized that this was a place where I had made some nice friends, and decided to return to live there later that year. And that was the start of Perpetual Traveler living for me, the first time I realized it might be for me. After a visit home and a 2 month trip traveling through Colombia, I returned later that year to Bangkok for one month of intensive language school and went to live in Chiang Mai after that. . .