I want to experience the world, but I don’t want to do it alone.

I am 22 and just graduated from college. I want to spend a year traveling before I settle in to real life, maybe in Asia or Europe, or possibly across the United States, but I am afraid to take the first steps. I also don’t want to travel alone, and three different friends who were to travel with me have backed out when other opportunities came along. I am planning on packing a tent, a water bottle, some rice, and either taking odd jobs or panhandling if things get really bad and I run out of money. I am so afraid of starting this adventure and not being able to finish, and I am nervous about going alone. How can I convince someone to come with me, and how can I get up the courage to just go and have the trip of a lifetime?

I suppose, technically, I’m old enough to be your mother, so I’m going to tell you something boring and annoying that your mother probably told you, which you didn’t like, which is why you decided to seek advice and support elsewhere: you’re going to have a great, fun, spontaneous time if you plan and save first.

Oh, I know, boo hiss, rain on your parade, where’s my sense of adventure? Well, I’ll tell you where it isn’t. It isn’t sleeping in a tent in a Wal-Mart parking lot eating dry rice, spending its days pandhandling with a vaguely sexually suggestive sign (WILL “WORK” FOR FOOD, WINK WINK) so it can then move on to sleep on a sidewalk in the wrong part of town and possibly get murdered by a serial killer. Being young and fun doesn’t mean being an idiot.

Kids your age are willing to do anything for fun and excitement. Once, I drove six hours in one day to see a two-hour concert on a weeknight. (Oh, wait, that was last year…because I’m awesome and not your typical suburban 30-something-year-old-mother-of-three. Fine. It was a Paul Simon concert. But it was a Wednesday!) The fact that no one wants to come with you should be a pretty clear indicator that your plan sucks.

I think you should get a job, get a little money, and map out your trip. Live with your parents, or live with some roommates in a cheap apartment, and work your ass off. Save some money, and then go have your adventure. The world will still be there. All the things you have to learn and experience when you travel will still be there. You’ll just be warm, dry, and well-fed when you experience them.

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