Whats stopping you? / by Jessica Ballerstein

With the cold months ahead I can't stop daydreaming about an escape. Wishing I was somewhere warm, where I can wear a bikini while sunbathing with unlimited access to Haitian food. I swear the best kind of food to eat while on a beach are Haitian Fritaille while sippin' a bottle of Prestige or traditional Haitian cocktail. Okay, that statement was obviously subjective but I still stand by it. The contemplation of my next destination really made me realize how much I've changed. In the past, there were many issues that stopped me from traveling. One day I had to sit down and contemplate 'What's stopping you'? After I sat down and analyzed what my hinderance were, I came to these conclusions. 

Money

The struggle is real! We all get bills and overpriced rent that's due MONTHLY. Nonetheless, I was determined to keep my traveling dream alive where it became more of a goal. I had to take it back to grade school with the 5 W's and H: What, Who, Where, When, Why and How. 

What would I like to gain from the experience? With Who?  In the past, I spent a lot of time and energy in trying to have people travel with me but then I realized if I keep waiting on a serious potential travel buddy I'm never gonna leave the state.  So I had to get rid of the mentality of "Who's is coming with me?". Where would I like to go?  When would I like to go? Why would I like to go and most importantly How much money am I able to spend? 

I had to have a budget for flights, accommodations, places and food. The first thing I knock out first are the airplane tickets. Once that's paid for I worry about the rest in due time. Purchasing the tickets also make me snap into reality about taking budgeting seriously. Knowing I'll be in a different place I would like to explore and eat without thinking about my finances. As for accommodation, I try the cheapest route possible. Realistically, I'll be out and about most of the time. I just want a place to lay my head after I'm done touring the area. I don't care about for a fancy hotel with a mini-bar, just give me an air mattress and peace of mind. 

Fear 

After establishing the 5 W's, I naturally started to overthink and overanalyze. Subsequently leaving me with a sense of fear.  Will I be safe? What if I get lost? What if I get injured or sick? What if there are racist people there? What if my luggage is lost? What are the chances of being raped and robbed?! Are there police officers? Are they racist? Will they attack me thinking I'm a thief? What if I die? Worse, what if I almost died? 

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Sounds crazy right?! Unfortunately, that's the harsh reality I had to be cautious about, being a young black woman traveling alone. However, it shouldn't and haven't stopped me from leaving. There are racist, rapist, and thieving assholes in my own community, yet I still step outside and take the risk. I shouldn't be stopped. 

 

& Lack of Confidence 

 

Another risk I take in my own town is getting lost. I'm constantly getting lost in Boston, most of the time it's my fault. (Other times is cause Boston have the worst unorganized street layouts in the country if not the world)! I didn't feel confident enough going to a different country and figuring out their subway or roads. I also thought about communication. How would I communicate with locals if it's not an English speaking country? I didn't want to look silly and put myself in an awkward situation. Again, I had to redirect thoughts to proper solutions. RESEARCH & PLAN AHEAD. It's really that simple.

It's crazy how our minds go a mile a minute overthinking and stressing when there are so many ways to solve a problem. Although when it comes to confidence different people have different issues and approaches. The way I build confidence to traveling is thinking positive about the outcome. Thinking how I survived my last trip? What did I do before? and what can I do differently to make the trip better? Whether it's learning a couple of phrases to use in the country, or remembering to bring a backup charger. Always take a trip as a learning experience whatever the outcome...