Wanderlust Cannot Fail- Europe Difficult for Vagabond Travel
Filed under Travel Questions and
You put your self in a hard place, and it seems as if you
benefited from it greatly. It is difficult to be a vagabond in Europe,
much more so than almost anywhere in the world. To add to that, you were
traveling into winter, alone, with very little money, and big plans.
The second rule of the traveler:
Follow the birds. North in summer, south in winter.
I think that it is a common misconception that Western Europe is a
relatively easy destination for travel. It is easy, yes, if you have a
lot of money, but anyplace is easy to travel in with lots of money. It is my impression that it is just as
difficult - if not more so - to travel in Europe as it is almost
anywhere else in the world. To add to this level of difficulty, Europe
is very expensive.
Being a vagabond in Europe is hard.
You cannot bed down for a night in a hotel or hostel in Europe even if you want
to. They are too expensive. This is less of a problem in the summer,
when the breezes are warm and you can just sleep under a tarp outside,
but in the autumn and winter traveling in Europe can be stressful. Harry
Franck once wrote of the fear of oncoming night when tramping in cold
climates. To anyone who has stayed up through a night on the sly
shivering, a winter night is worth
fearing. If you were traveling in Latin America or Southeast Asia you
would have had the option of sleeping inside of a hotel when the weather
was disagreeable, but in Europe, you have no such choice. In Europe, a
dorm bed in a hostel can cost a good percentage of your travel funds. In
Europe, the traveler must either sleep outside,
couchsurf, work, or
trade for accommodation.
I have no idea how anyone can afford to pay for accommodation in
You put yourself in a hard position by choosing Western Europe as a
starting point for your vagabond journey around the world. Leaving the USA with only two
thousand dollars and a plan of traveling for years is a hard enough
endeavor, but add to that the fact that you chose to begin your travels in such an
expensive part of the world, and you have a lot of pressure on your
shoulders. You were in
tight circumstances, don't get down on yourself.
You have nothing to be ashamed of. You lasted a whole month and
traveled through three or four challenging countries.
It is almost easy to travel through cheap countries like those in
Latin America or Southeast Asia. If you want or need something, you just
buy it, and there is a well established backpacker infrastructure. It is no challenge to live comfortably
in Latin America or Southeast Asia on ten dollars a day. But to do so in
Europe requires a large degree of tenacity, toughness, and, perhaps,
experience. It is my impression that you gained a good deal of all three
qualities on your journey.
You will take this experience with you into your future travels. You
cannot give up the Wanderlust.
To the fact that you wrote about feeling vulnerable as a women, all I
can say is this:
Sometimes traveling as a women will work to your advantage while
traveling, and sometimes it won't. I would not let your gender
discourage you, rather, I would recommend finding ways to travel the way
you want to as a woman. It can be done.
You should read Gadtramp.com,
as it is the record of a blond haired woman traveling solo in some of
the nether regions of planet earth. She is in Africa now.
But I do think that it is a good sign that you feel fear in
potentially hazardous situations. This is good. It means that you are
not a moron. But I think there are ways to cleverly circumvent fear and
ultimately do what you want to do.
You can't give up the Wanderlust, so don't even try. I would recommend
saving up some money in the USA and striking out on the Road again. Go
to Southeast Asia, find a traveling companion, couchsurf, and expect
nothing of yourself other than what you are comfortable with.
The prime directive of traveling is enjoying yourself. So stay within
your own bounds, and know that you cannot fail. Going home does not mean
failure, it just means that you wanted to go home. There is nothing
wrong with that.
Above all else, travel is about feeling fear, pushing your
boundaries, finding out how stupid you are, and looking back at a Path
that you woven through space and time and saying, "Damn, I can't believe
I did that."
It sounds as if you had some good, scary adventures in Europe. Keep them
going, the aftereffects are always worth it. You learned a lot. Don't
get discourage, you are now more prepared for your next adventure. Your
journey was a success. All journeys are successes. Relish the trail you
I hope this helps.
Backpackers in Morocco.
Hi Wade. :)
I am sorry I never wrote you back. I really am. ...and thank you for
writing to me, before.
I came home.
After only a month. ...so I didn't know what to say. I felt ashamed--
too much so to talk to you; probably more so because I was disappointed
in myself and to tell you the truth would mean facing that.
...I'm not quite sure what to do, to tell ou the truth. I still feel
that urge to wander, but for the first time in my life, I became very
aware of just how female I am...and just how much more vulnerable that
makes me. Nothing horrible happened, although a few things almost did--
I was right, though, I am a girl who knows how to take care of
herself... but I didn't realize what exactly it could mean to be a woman
in other societies... or alone, at all. And I didn't realize how
exhausting and terrifying it could be to have to be on your gaurd 24/7,
every single day...
I also didn't realize how American I am. I have never been proud to be
American, and never felt like I belonged here, but coming from here--
and having been elsewhere, now, I know just how American I actually am.
It is lonely to suddenly realize that no one has the same accent as
you-- to not hear it for days and days; to be sick and have no home to
go to, know that you can't sleep outdoors because it's too cold, but not
have enough $$$ for a hostel.
I know you know all this-- minus the danger of losing maidenly honour,
But...coming home has been-- as you said-- even worse.
When I came home, there were a few weeks when I was the best I have ever
been in my life-- I felt a confidence and a peace that I had never
known. I don't think I had ever been happy until I came back; everything
was so simple--
possessions were unimportant; food was good; arguments were not the end
of the world-- simply 2 people learning to talk to each other; my
clothes were clean and warm, the arms of my boyfriend were indescribably
wonderful; life was simple, and therefore perfect.
And then something happened...or many things...and through it all, the
little voice inside going, "you gave up. No, you just gave in..."
And now I'm here. And don't know what to do. I feel good, yes,
sometimes. I feel trapped, too.
...and I don't know what to do. I have never been so broke, so sad, so
'overweight', or so unhappy as I am now...and yet, when the clarity
comes back, or I remember how terrified I was in some guys truck at 3am
outside of Paris, or when I didn't know where I would stay the night in
Amsterdam...I don't know.
...Spain was perfect...if I had started there, who knows if I would have
come home. Maybe it was the wrong time of year-- maybe it was to big of
a jump...maybe it was because I never got the chance to walk, or the
disapointment at finding out just how similar America and much of Europe
are...but, I don't know.
I wish I could ask your advice, but I feel guilty even writing to you
after so long...
..and really I wouldn't even know what sort of advice on what subject
that I am asking for.
...it is not fair ...to be born with the soul of a wanderer, and the
body of a woman...
...and a heart full of unrealized fears...i guess...
...may be I am not made of the stuff that makes heroes...or bards &
minstels...maybe I am just...
I don't know.
I am sorry if this letter is a downer. It was not my intent when I
began. But I don't know what else to say.
I hope you are not...disappointed in me. Strange to think I fear that
from someone I only met once and may never see or know again, but...I
do. Maybe I am just hungry for approval.
But, in all, I hope that you are well and that Hungary leaves your
belly, your mind, your heart, and your glass very, very full...
~ Genevieve, the whistler...
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