My face is covered in sweat and my quick dry shirt feels like it's permanently glued to my back. It's a hot and humid day and I'm wearing cargo pants, hiking boots and over 10 kgs on my back. I walked in circles outside our house, getting accustomed to carrying all that travel gear. Oh the many ways I had prepared for that journey!

Lois Backpack

Fast forward to 4 months later when I'm actually traveling in India

I was on a sleeper train after 3 days of traveling nonstop from Jodhpur to Goa- over 1559 kilometers! We didn't stay at any hotel along the way. The only chance I had to wash myself was in a dirty, flooded bathroom at a train station. My entire body was hurting from carrying my backpack and sleeping on cement floors. I did what any person would do in that situation: I broke down.

No amount of preparation could get you ready for the worst case scenarios of travel.

Months before our 6 month trip in India and across Southeast Asia back in 2011, I had researched like a maniac, scouring travel forums, blogs and guidebooks for advice. And I got exactly that- tons of advice.

But the one thing I needed couldn't be found in the Thorn Tree Travel Forum. Nor was it in the budget excel sheets and alphabetically organized how to's that travel bloggers had painstakingly put together. It wasn't even in the discreet money belt, assortment of malaria pills, or first aid ointments that I stuffed into my brand new North Face backpack.

7KG Challenge - Toiletries

The one thing that would prepare me the most for my first long term trip was a moment of honesty.

I wish that before I traveled, someone held me by the shoulders, looked me in the eye and tenderly said… "What the hell were you thinking?"

And then calmly continue.. 

Dear girl, there will be days when you are terrified. There will be days when you will have no idea where you will sleep that night, who among those drunk couchsurfers you can trust or how you'll be able to pay for another flight after you've just missed the last one. You will ask yourself again and again who gave you the insane idea to travel in the first place. You will visualize that person's face and you will want to smack them with the Southeast Asia on a Shoestring guidebook.

SE Asia on a shoestring

But it’s going to be okay.

Some days you will be filled with doubt. You will doubt yourself and your decisions. Especially that last one where you stuffed a few pizza slices down your throat after it was offered to you. Only to realize half an hour later that they were the "happy" kind.

You will worry that you are doing it all wrong to begin with. 

You will obsess on whether your backpack should have a lock or whether you should buy some travel insurance. (Locks are not necessary since it's easy enough for someone to pick up your pack and take off anyway. Yes on the insurance if you're going to be away for over 3 weeks.)

Travel Blogger Money

You will worry about which currency to carry and if they will have money changers in your destination. (US Dollars are good and most cities have money changers. Exchange a few bills at the airport where the rates are usually low. Use this for cab fare and a meal. Then go find a money changer that offers a better rate elsewhere.) You will check and recheck and triple check to make sure that all your cash is still in that hidden pocket in your bra. (They are. But next time, don't put all your eggs in one basket.)

It may take time to get used to this backpacking thing but you won’t always feel so overwhelmed. 

Travel Blogger Battle

One day, you will be looking over your shoulder, but you won’t let fear dictate your trip. You will realize that most people are not out to harm you. You will learn to haggle in the local dialect and get a free bracelet for your efforts... I can do this! You will sleep soundly on the bus and wake up just in time to grab your belongings, order a bowl of noodle soup and wait for the ferry to the next island... I'm doing it!

So yeah, there will be days of worry and doubt, but it’s going to be okay…

You're the best person for this journey. Not because you picked the perfect hiking boots or the best BPA free canteen. (Someone will eventually steal those or you will leave them behind at an airport somewhere, anyway.) Not because you had meticulously planned your itinerary down to the last flight number.(You will most probably miss a flight or forego the return flight home.) Not even because you sold all your worldly possessions just to bankroll this trip. (Including grandma's family heirloom that you were supposed to pass on to your children.)

You're the best person for this journey because you stayed true to who you are and what you love. 

Because you listened to what only you know inside. It doesn't matter if you feel like a frightened beginner. You didn't choose this dream. It chose you. And you said YES. You said yes to your only reality and unimaginable adventure. You said yes to the ride. You belong in the life of your dreams. 

No one belongs here more than you.

Do what you love

Lois is the Editor-in-Chief of the female travel blog wearesolesisters.com. She's currently in Manila waiting for the birth of her first child. She hopes to have a healthy baby and resume surfing and traveling very soon. 


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2 sole trails


I've been meaning to tell you a lot of things. Like how my life has drastically changed in the last few months. How I haven't been able to travel and surf since March. Or how my days are spent in the city longing for the sea.

As a blogger, I often have to decide whether I share something online or I keep it to myself. And what I'm about to tell you is something deeply personal. It's not travel-related but it's going to be one of the most intense and exciting adventures I'll ever embark on.

It's called motherhood.

Let's begin where most journeys start, at the airport.

Maternity Malaysia1

Malaysia

My partner Ben and I decided to travel long term together in Southeast Asia without a plan or end destination. We left Manila in November after downsizing most of my possessions to a 7 kg backpack. Little did I know that it would be the last trip for me to travel as a minimalist.

Maternity Malaysia3

Our first stop was to Kuala Lumpur to attend the Asian Women's Conference which was a truly empowering experience. I met so many awesome people and after the conference, a few of us had an interesting discussion: whether we wanted kids or not.

Maternity Malaysia2

We were about 5 women and all of us were over 30. When it was my turn to voice out my opinion, I told them: "I'd have no regrets in life- kids or no kids. I've long made a decision to live my life to the fullest and I can do that by myself, with a guy or with a family."


Maternity Thailand2

Thailand

After about a month in Malaysia, we decided to travel overland to Thailand. We made a quick stop in Bangkok where we were welcomed by Ben's friend Mike and his fiancĂ©e, Sterenza. They showed us the opulent side of the city and we were spoiled by their generosity. On our last evening with them, we enjoyed an indulgent dinner of steak, wine and Roquefort cheese- which is still my last meal with alcohol.

Maternity Thailand5

We decided to rent an apartment in the northern city of Chiang Mai. It's easy to get stuck here because it's a wonderful place to be good to yourself. To breathe, eat healthy, do yoga, get pampered or feel the cool wind on your face while riding a motorbike.

Maternity Thailand6

We would rent a big bike to get to the border of Thailand and Myanmar to do our visa runs. It is 5 hours each way but the roads are smooth and the changing scenery of rolling hills, temples and markets made it worth the trip. On one such occasion, I ended up with such a bad case of burping. I had so much gas in my belly that I almost cried in pain. At the time, it felt strange but I blamed it on my making faces in the mirror while we were going more than 100 kph on the bike. I must have swallowed a lot of air. Or so I thought.

Kay Soy

Thai food can be very addicting. We lived close to a food market where the entire street was lined with food stalls starting at around 5 PM until the wee hours of the morning. So I often woke Ben up after midnight just to get a hot bowl of noodle soup, pad thai or  butter toast. This went on for weeks until I noticed I was gaining weight. Then one day I was surprised to feel a small bump on my belly even when I lay in bed.

We finally decided to go to the nearest pharmacy to get a pregnancy test. I rushed home only to find out that all the instructions were in Thai! We went back to the pharmacy and the guy at the counter had to explain in broken English that if I were to see 2 lines, it meant that I was pregnant.

So I took the test. It was the longest 10 seconds of my life. The first blue line appeared. I held my breath. And then there it was, faint but visible. The second blue line that decided our fate. I went out of the bathroom to tell Ben. But the look on my face said it all. He just gave me a bright smile and said "I knew it all along."

Maternity Thailand3

We went to the hospital the next day. A very polite Thai doctor gave me a check up and an ultrasound to confirm what we already knew- we were going to be parents. He gave me a few reassuring words in broken English and I struggled to take it all in. It felt so unreal. And to Ben he said with a chuckle: "Beware, mood swings!".

Maternity Thailand4

Being pregnant didn't stop us from having a few more adventures. We hopped on a motorbike to go to the scenic town of Pai about 3 hours away. We even ventured out to the Mae Hong Son loop, a road that boasts of a thousand hair pin bends. Ben is a very experienced driver and he didn't take too many risks.

Maternity Thailand7

The most challenging trip we faced was going on an overnight minivan for a 10 hour ride from Chiang Mai, Thailand to Vientiane, Laos to get a long stay visa. I had felt confident about the trip thinking that I was only 3 months along. I wasn't counting on riding at the mercy of a driving terrorist.

After over 3 hours on the road, I politely asked the driver if we were going to stop for a pee break anytime soon. He ignored me the first couple of times I asked. I wondered if he couldn't hear me or simply couldn't understand. On my third try, he yelled at me "We follow time stop!". Which meant he had to stick to the schedule. I wondered if I had to wait until Laos to empty my bladder. I was very close to tears when I told him "But, I'm pregnant!" He grunted a reply and I had to endure another hour before we finally stopped at a gas station. 

Maternity Indonesia3

Indonesia

In March, we felt the need to be close to the sea so we flew to Bali. It would be one of the last times we could sneak in a surf trip before the baby arrived. For the first few days, I was content to sit on the shore, watching people surf those perfect overhead sets. But on a particularly small day in Padang Padang Beach, I just had to try to surf even for the last time while pregnant. 

Maternity Indonesia4

Ben watched from a close distance as I paddled on a long board to catch a wave. I was careful not to put too much pressure on my belly. I felt awkward and clumsy, like a beginner. I hadn't surfed in months and my balance was off. I struggled to paddle out for a few waves and stand up, but I could only manage to crouch before falling off. After a few more failed attempts, I decided to paddle back.

No more surfing for me for a while.

Maternity Indonesia1

Ben did get to surf on a daily basis. After one session, he took me under a cave, into a cove in Uluwatu. We swam a bit and watched this beautiful red ball of a sunset. Before it sank completely, he smiled this boyish smile of his, took my hand and showed me a beautiful dolphin ring. He asked me to be his wife.

And just like that, I said yes.

Maternity Shoot2

Now we're back in the Philippines playing the waiting game. I'm grateful for family and friends who have been supportive. My younger sister just so happens to be pregnant too and I ask her for a lot of advice.

Maternity Philippines2

These last few months have been the most challenging. There are times when I feel frustrated about not being able to travel and surf for months now. I try to get used to this body that I often don't recognize.

Maternity Shoot

Some days I don't even feel like myself. We're very active individuals who couldn't stay in the city, or any place for that matter, for too long. We're like fish out of water in Manila. But we have to think about what's best for our child.

I've done a lot of crazy, scary things in my life. But this trumps it all.

One night I lay in bed, sleepless, wondering about motherhood, life changes and this squirmy creature in my belly. I felt Ben turn to face me, grab my hand and whisper in my ear,

"Let's make mistakes together, shall we?"

Maternity Shoot1

So a new journey begins...

Maternity Shoot3

Special thanks to Tiara Mejos Photography for my maternity shoot photos. And to Patrick Oronico for my hair and make up. 

Lois is the Editor-in-Chief of the female travel blog wearesolesisters.com. She's currently in Manila waiting for the birth of her first child. She hopes to have a healthy baby and resume surfing and traveling very soon. 


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4 sole trails


A blog is a great way to share travel stories, tips and advice. But where does a traveler store her most intimate thoughts and musings? A place where she can be herself with no pretense or judgment? I'm sure most of us still like to keep a travel diary or journal to write down observations, reminders or seemingly incoherent ideas.

When I started traveling, my journals became my most prized possessions. I enjoyed going through the pages, reading my former self's thoughts, and wondering about the places I've been and where I'm headed next. One of my favorite entries was written on my birthday last year.

I was asked to join GMA 7's Poptalk as a guest on their Batanes episode. I had a wonderful time with the crew, exploring what I would remember as the most beautiful place I've visited in the Philippines. But I didn't expect that the trip would last longer than just the 1 week I initially planned.

My backpack, which contained almost all my clothes, laptop and essentials ended up "stranded" in Itbayat, one of the lesser visited islands in the region. And to make it worse, trips going to and from the island were cancelled for more than a week because of bad weather. I ended up spending my birthday in Batanes, which a friend's family. All in all, it wasn't such a bad place to get "stuck" in. I wrote my thoughts down on my journal:

Sole Sister Lois Travel Diaries2

"On Turning 31

I discover that I'm not out to accomplish anything or prove anything to anyone. Not even to collect experiences or souvenirs.

I know everything is fleeting, transitory. My life is constantly shifting, moving and I dance along with these changes.

I stare at the waves and know that I am drawn to their energy, power and grace. Because I am simply a wave in a big ocean. Coasting along, transitioning, moving forward- always. From shore to shore. I have no home but I belong to the vast sea.

I move forward to lose everything- things, sanity, myself even. I lose everything to find myself. Because self is often hidden in the clutter and the noise. You never really see yourself for who you are until you have lost everything.

Sole Sister Lois Travel Diaries3

Light is how I feel. As light as a baby born with nothing. Happy only to be alive. Alive - that's how I feel today- at 31."

Valugan, Batanes March 2013
Sole Sister Lois

I asked my Sole Sisters to share a page from their travel diaries. Here's a peek:

Sole Sister Rica Travel Diaries3

“People in constant movement recognize the value of stillness,” said Pico Iyer during his talk at the Singapore Writer’s Festival some time ago. Finally, after the craziest, most challenging and overwhelming month at work, I’m happy that I can finally put my life on pause this weekend.

Sole Sister Rica Travel Diaries

So I’m okay with staying in on my first night in Seoul, Korea where I’m writing this entry from my hotel room. Sometimes adventure can wait until tomorrow. Tonight is for stillness."

Sole Sister Rica Travel Diaries2

June 28, 2013, in Seoul, Korea
Sole Sister Rica


Sole Sister Lauren Travel Diaries

For over two weeks I traveled with photographer Ben McRae into the heart of Kaokoland, Namibia in search of the nomadic Himba tribe. We awoke each morning, chasing the light as the sun rose over the giant desert dunes. This journal entry was written in Deadvlei, a valley where skeleton trees have been standing for over 1200 years. My time spent in the desert and with the tribe is an experience that I will hold dear for the rest of my life.

Sole Sister Lauren Travel Diaries2

"Rule Number One when traveling in Africa - Drink lots of water. Rule Number Two - Bring a hat! Say goodbye to the dead trees of Deadvlei, whispering history over 1200 years in these desert dunes. We spent three days exploring the red sand peaks of Sossussvlei, camping just outside the National Park. Waking up at 3:30AM to be the first ones in for photographs. Chasing sunsets and the perfect light glowing across the face of the dunes. The first day we walked into Deadvlei I nearly passed out from the heat! Now we drive North, past lichen fields and meerkat homes, old shipwrecks beaten by the harsh waves of the Skeleton Coast."

Saturday, 24th of May 2014, Namibia
Sole Sister Lauren

Sole Sister Adi Travel Diaries2

I’ve been living in an island near Bali, Indonesia for over a year now. Moving here was nothing short of life changing. My existence here is so different from the structured and restrictive “normal” routine that I have been accustomed to. I feel as if I have been given a second childhood to just be myself and play all day.

I practice yoga in the morning and I’m free to chill, surf, explore, hangout with some locals and take travelers around the whole day. The panoramic views around the island never fail to take my breath away. If you drive around, you’ll see travelers standing on top of the hills or on the side of the road, just frozen in awe of the beauty all around us. It’s pretty amazing.

Sole Sister Adi Travel Diaries

There are dozens of secluded and secret beaches within less than an hour’s motorbike drive from our main town. There are so many hills and valleys that you can climb, and every one of them gives you a completely different perspective. 

The colors change depending on the season. During the wet season from November to February, the sky is overcast but the landscape is lush in a million shades of green. The buffalos, goats and chickens turn obese. As the dry season enters on March and stays all throughout October, the ocean sparkles in magnificent shades of blue and there’s not a cloud in the vast, open sky.

It has taken me a year to know the south coast of the island by heart. I have stared into these oceans and mountains long enough to know them like the back of my hand. Now everywhere I look, I see familiar roads and paths where I have happy memories on every single one.

Sole Sister Adi Travel Diaries3

There’s something satisfying about hiking up a hill, you get a bigger picture of how nature is nourishing the whole town and how its people live and work. It’s pretty inspiring. And there’s definitely something liberating about finding a secret beach without a single footstep on the sand, no one around for miles and miles. 

I know I have the world to explore, but this island will always be home.

Sole Sister Adi


Sole Sister Stephanie Travel Diaries

"I feel the most alive when I am traveling. Living like a vagabond with nothing but my possessions in a huge backpack. Moving as my only constant. Anything is possible as I am given a brand new day in a place I have never been. I like having no set plans. I find comfort in just flowing with the universe. Not knowing what the day will bring.

Sole Sister Stephanie Travel Diaries2

This journey has bought me to the most breathtaking places I have ever laid eyes on, amazing people I've met in serendipitous moments, and the most blissful experiences I've ever had in my life. The adventure continues as I learn to surf the waves of Zambales and La Union. Then live my dream of trekking through the Banaue Rice Terraces in the Ifugao Province. I am falling in love everyday, eager to see this world I know so little of. With this insatiable wanderlust and the curiosity to explore."


Would you like to share a page from your travel diary with us? Please send a photo and a paragraph to solesisters.weare @gmail.com. We will pick the top 5 entries and publish it on the next Travel Diaries blog. 

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2 sole trails


This series is for those who are thinking of going away for a while, if not forever. It covers not just the financial and physical aspect of travel. More importantly, it deals with the the human side of it all.

So far, these are the topics we've covered on the series:

Live on Less
Go Light
Be Adaptable
Negotiate
Create Your Freedom

At this point, you've read enough articles online and finally convinced yourself to make that big escape. But the morning after making that decision, a dark monster starts showing its ugly head. This creature is Fear. And he may even show up with his buddies: Doubt, Insecurity and Hesitation.

If you don’t address your fears early on, there's a big possibility that you will feel trapped and powerless. The worse thing that could happen is to be paralyzed by your fears that you abandon your initial decision to escape.

When I first planned my big trip across Asia, I found myself overwhelmed with a lot of fears. I constantly asked myself questions like: “What if I run out of money?”, “What if I get harassed?”, “What if I end up in jail?”, “What if I get sick while in a foreign country?”.

These fears were very real. They could happen to me or to anyone while traveling.

The first step in conquering these fears is to acknowledge that they exist. List down all your fears. Ask yourself this question: “If I quit my job to travel, what’s the worst thing that could happen to me?”. List down as many as you can. Here are the most common ones:

Cheap seats in Bohol?

Fear of Traveling Solo

The first time I traveled solo was to the island of Koh Samui in Thailand. Was I scared? Not at first. But after a few hours on the bus, just right before boarding the ferry, all passengers were asked to disembark for no apparent reason. Then we were ushered into a dark room to be questioned. Couples or families were questioned together. Since I was traveling alone, I found myself in a room with around 5 men. I tried to keep my composure but the experience was pretty unnerving. They asked me where I was headed and if I already had a place to stay in Koh Samui. I remembered a couple I had chatted with briefly on the bus, a Filipina and her French boyfriend. I told the guys that I planned to stay with them and mentioned the hotel where they were staying. After that, they didn't bother me and just told me to get back on the bus.

I had saved myself from a potentially dangerous situation by staying calm and thinking quickly. It also helped that I was friendly to the right people. If you plan to travel by yourself, it's best to leave a detailed itinerary with family and friends along with a copy of your passport. Try to bring a cellphone with international roaming or just check in with loved ones on a regular basis through email, skype or facebook. Be friendly to others but don't let on that you are traveling solo. If people ask, tell them you are meeting a boyfriend or family member and they know that you are on your way.

Kuta beach sunset; Lombok, Indonesia

Fear of Going Broke

This probably tops everyone's list. Who wouldn't be afraid of running out of money especially in a foreign country? While traveling to Myanmar, the land of no ATM's, back in 2011, this happened to me. I only had about 250 USD when I arrived and I was planning to stay for 30 days. It was simply not possible to stretch that travel budget for that long! Thankfully, an Indonesian whom we traveled with, came to my rescue and agreed to loan me some money until I could leave the country and  get access to cash.

To start with, it's best to avoid this type of situation. You can do that by saving more than enough money prior to your trip. You may also want to keep your money in several places so you can access them easily while on the road. I usually keep 1/3 of my travel fund in crisp US dollars cash and hide them inside ziplock bags in several places in my luggage and wallet, ready to be converted in the local currency. Another 1/3 is kept in the bank with an ATM that has either Cirrus, Mastercard or Visa logos for international withdrawals. The rest I keep in my Paypal account or in traveler's checks. It's best to bring a credit card or 2 when possible.

But in case you find yourself broke on the road, try to ask for help from fellow travelers. Some of them may be sympathetic after being in the same situation previously. Or try to explain your situation at a guesthouse so they can spare you a night's stay and a meal while you try to reach some friends or family members to ask for help. Some restaurants or hostels may also give you accommodations or meals in exchange for working at their establishment.

tommy-schultz_com-journey-2

Fear of Getting Robbed

I've been lucky enough never to get robbed while traveling. But a friend, Noel of Wander 2 Nowhere, had an unfortunate experience. Here's his account and some advice:

"I used to tell people that I had been very lucky in my many years of travel, because I had never been robbed. There were many occasions but I was able to diffuse them. But that was before I moved to Colombia.

I lived in Medellin, once named the most dangerous city in the world, for over a year. Instead of staying in gated apartments where expats and the rich live, I chose to rent a room in a family house near the center of the city. One morning, I left the house at 6:15 AM to go to work. As I walked down the street, a few meters from my door, I saw 2 guys walking towards me. As they got closer, one guy pulled out a sharp object and aimed it at my left chest. I saw menace in their glazed eyes so I handed over my phone and about 20 USD worth of money. Upon getting their reward, they walked away quickly. I was left standing there with people walking past me and traffic going by. I was stunned. The whole incident took less than a minute. 

When I regained my composure I realized I was shaking in fear. I walked to the police station and reported it. But the nonchalant attitude of the policemen made me angry. I spent the rest of the day playing the incident over and over in my head, thinking how I should have handled the situation better, how I should have put up a fight. It affected me quite a bit. I started going out less at night and became more attentive to my surroundings. I became more suspicious of people I passed by in the streets. 

Two months after the incident, I was walking down the main street at 7 PM. It was rush hour with people returning home from work. At a section where the shops were already closed and there was no light, a guy came up to me and asked me in a very friendly tone for a cigarette. When he saw that there was no other people around, he took out a knife and asked me to hand over my phone. Very calmly, I did as instructed. When he got my phone and started to get away, I didn't know what came over me, but I started chasing after him, screaming at the top of my lungs. He ran into rush hour traffic and I followed him. Cars were coming at us but I wasn't afraid, I had my eyes set on him. When he realized he wasn't going to lose me, he threw my phone at me, luckily it didn't break when it landed on the asphalt. By the time I picked my phone and looked up, the guy was lost in the crowd. Many friends said I was foolish to chase after the robber. 

But many patted me on the back and said "you're a Colombian now".

There's no sure way to avoid getting robbed when traveling. But there are measures you can take to minimize the chances of it happening, and the loss you suffer. Be aware of your surroundings and use common sense. Avoid going through back alleys and walking alone at night. Try to look like you know where you're going, even if you're lost. Don't carry too much cash- only the amount of money you need for the day. Make friends with locals, they know the places you should avoid, and in their midst you are unlikely to be a target. When you're paying for a purchase, don't take out a wad of cash. Lastly be positive. Positive energy invites positive experiences. Should you get robbed, so be it, write it off as another travel experience."

tommy-schultz_com-journey-7

Fear of Being Locked Up Abroad

I've also been lucky enough to never have any bad experience with the police or authority figures. But another friend, Stephen of Bohemian Traveler, shares his story:

"Occasionally travelers are detained. If you play by the rules, you shouldn't get into trouble and have nothing to fear. But there are those of us who like to, shall we say, stretch the rules a little bit. I’m not talking about drugs or anything like that. If you’re into smuggling illegal stuff, that’s just stupid, and you’ll get little sympathy from me or most other people.

But when it comes to bending the laws and testing the limits of immigration, that is something even some smart travelers risk. I had overstayed my tourist visa in the European Union. I made it as far as Spain and decided that my lifestyle there was just too good to leave. According to the laws, I could only stay in the Schengen Zone for three months of a six month period. I had remained in Spain for almost a year before returning home for a holiday. 

Upon my return to Madrid, the immigration officer noticed the extended length of time I spent in his country and I was detained. Normally, officers in Spain aren’t diligent with checking dates, and many of my friends had slipped in and out several times without being noticed. But I wasn't as lucky.

After being detained for three days, I was forced to buy a one-way ticket home, or face Spanish jail time! 

I chose the trip home— I don’t love Spain that much! Here's some advice if you’re thinking of overstaying a visa: Know that every country has a different tolerance and consequences for lawbreakers. Do your research and understand your risks." 

Surf trip on the Bali Coastal Road

Fear of Getting Sick or Injured

I don't know if I have an iron gut or simply have a fantastic immune system but I have not really been sick while abroad. I do purchase travel insurance with some health coverage if a trip extends longer than 3 weeks and I highly recommend you do the same.

Here's Aleah of Solitary Wanderer's account of when she got sick and how you can avoid it:

I was nearing the end of my 70-day backpacking trip in Europe, and was just chilling out in a friend's home in Belgium. I had over a week left, so I was planning to go see the Eiffel Tower in Paris, and the tulips in Holland. Suddenly, bam! the next day I felt feverish, then I had the colds, cough, and voice loss. 

I had no choice but to stay and postpone my France and the Netherlands trips. Getting sick while traveling really sucks, to say the least. I had been very healthy prior to this; I weathered (pun intended) the temperature change very well when I arrived in Belgium (-15 deg Celsius) last February from sunny and humid Philippines (32 deg C). I stayed in numerous couches, traveled by plane, bus, boats, and trains. If you think about it, I have probably been exposed to a number of germs that could have brought me down. But it didn't. At least not until towards the end. 

If you are backpacking for longer than a month, make sure to stay healthy. Here are a few things you can do to avoid getting sick while traveling: Take Vitamin C regularly. Drink a lot of water. Bring tissue, wet wipes, or hand sanitizers. Load up on seafood, vegetables, and fruits. Sleep at least 6 hours a day. Bring a first-aid kit. Bring insect repellant and sunscreen. Get a medical or travel insurance before you go."

Read the full article: How to Avoid Getting Sick While Traveling

tommy-schultz_com-people-1

Fear of Career Suicide

It's every long term traveler's greatest fear: that return flight to reality. Going back home jobless and broke and trying to figure out how you can reintegrate yourself back to the working world. Contrary to what most people think, travel does not ruin your chances of being hired again or making a living. It can actually make you more valuable to an organization- if that's where you want to go.

When I came home in 2009 from almost 2 years in the US and in Europe, I was certain I wouldn't get my old job back. How could I convince them to hire me again? But when I heard that a similar position had opened up in the same company, I came for an interview. I impressed them with my work experience abroad and the countries I was able to visit.

In the end, I became even more employable that they agreed to nearly double my last salary!

How do you make sure you don't commit career suicide to go on a long term trip? Start with an amicable exit from your previous company. Let them know you are choosing to enrich your life by long term travel. While traveling, enhance your existing skills or learn news ones that you can use to make an income later on. Blogging and travel writing are only a couple of ways I was able to fund my lifestyle after quitting my job. Volunteering or working abroad also allows you to earn an income and learn a few useful skills while immersing yourself in a different culture.

I've managed surf resorts and hostels as well as become a social media manager for several organizations which helped me keep traveling. There are also other competencies that are enhanced through travel. Nothing tests your patience and adaptability like traveling alone in a foreign country. You also learn to rely on yourself and this boosts your confidence and independence. Keeping your finances in order shows you can budget and practice self-control. And traveling with a bunch of strangers? It makes you a great team player or even a leader!

It will still be up to you to put all your skills, competencies and experiences together to create a compelling resumé. But if no one wants to hire you, don't worry. You can always employ yourself and create your freedom!

Beach sunset at the Cloud 9 surf pier in Siargao, Philippines

Fear of Failure

We all want to succeed, especially at something we all love to do like travel. So the thought of failing can easily make anyone afraid. But there's something you have to know:

There’s no such thing as failure in the world of travel! 

You can always come back. If you make it a month into your journey and realize that long-term travel isn’t for you, then it’s okay to go home. If you have made it to one year and a loved one falls ill or you miss your friends or having a regular job, there’s no shame in cutting your trip short.

Maybe you discover that you're not made for travel. But there's only one way to find out. Packing your bags, going out the door and getting yourself into that plane, bus or ferry is already more than what some people are willing or able to do. And if you've done just that- consider it a major accomplishment!

Now back to your list...

Write down every fear in your head no matter how laughable or severe it is. Everything on your list is valid. Then go through each item by yourself, although it’s more effective if you go through it with a supportive, non-judgmental friend. Put every single fear under a magnifying lens. Ask questions like “Is this really true?” or “And if this happens, so what?” This allows you to acknowledge your fears, see them for what they really are and eventually, see past them and move on to the next step.

 Ultimately, all our fears have one thing in common: The fear of the unknown. 

We like to keep our daily lives in neat little packages that we can control and predict. We want to avoid surprises, even the good ones. We're always looking over our shoulder. But if you really think about it, can you look even one minute into the future? Is anything ever really "under your control"? Why not get past the fear and simply accept and embrace the fact there is nothing we can absolutely foresee and avoid?

Palawan blue water sea kayak paddling near El Nido

Better yet, replace your fear of the unknown with an insatiable curiosity.

Another exercise that I've practiced when I’m faced with several choices is to identify my fear level for all of them. When I'm really having trouble deciding, I assign a number to all my options from 1-10: 1 being the least fearful, and 10 being the most terrifying option. Then I force myself to go with the option that scares me the most.

It's important to admit that you are afraid. But never allow yourself to be motivated by fear.

Just a few months before my Asian trip back in 2011, I was faced with one of my biggest fears- a fear that scared me even more than death. The prospect of telling my own father that I was going to quit my job at the bank in order to travel the world.

After I told him of my escape plan, he asked me: “But aren't you afraid? What if something happened to you?”

“But what if nothing happened to me? 

Nothing noteworthy or exciting or breathtaking. I'm more afraid of a life where nothing extraordinary ever happens. I am more afraid of putting my dreams on a shelf and later realizing that I am too jaded or too tired to live them."

In the end, the pain of not going far outweighed my fear of venturing into the unknown.

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And the day came when the risk to remain tight in a bud was more painful than the risk it took to blossom. -Anais Nin

So that’s the 6th part of the series. It goes until 10 so I’m going to feed you nibbles every few weeks.

What fears are you facing now in order to travel? Feel free to share them in the comments below. 

Next time, I’ll be sharing some tips on "Accepting the Kindness of Strangers" so watch out for that!
All photos credited to: Tommy Schultz Photography

Lois is the Editor-in-Chief of the female travel blog wearesolesisters.com. When she's not having adventures around the globe, she can be found surfing, surfing someone's couch or giving motivational workshops and retreats.

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