I’m a 22-year-old neurotic Jew from New York. I recently graduated from college, and despite being a risk-averse individual with moderate anxiety, hypochondriasis, and Obsessive Compulsive Disorder, I have managed to travel to 18 different countries in the past three years. I’ve had incredible experiences like scuba diving, rappelling down waterfalls, exploring dark caves, and even encountering Bengal Tigers. It’s quite surprising because, until a few years ago, I never imagined my life would take this adventurous turn. I used to be content within my comfort zone, having no desire to step outside.
After completing college, I started questioning what lay beyond my familiar surroundings. I did some research and reached out to a friend, and together we planned a two-month trip to Southeast Asia. That journey turned out to be truly transformative for me, not in a hyperbolic or “Eat, Pray, Love” kind of way, but in a profound way. It opened my eyes to the incredible ecological and cultural diversity that exists in our world and how accessible it is even to someone like me, who is neurotic, anxious, and risk-averse.
Here’s what I want you to know: backpacking isn’t solely reserved for free-spirited and carefree individuals. You don’t have to be an Instagram nomad who buys a one-way ticket and figures it out along the way. You can be the type of person who packs every possible medication in case of emergencies, tightly holds onto their wallet in unfamiliar city streets due to stories of pickpocketing, or someone who constantly questions if their decisions are wise. And yet, you can still find joy, and maybe even therapy, in the challenges of backpacking. How do I know this? Because I’ve experienced it firsthand.
My goal here is to share some of my travel stories and explain why a loosely structured trip is an excellent starting point for those who teeter on the edge – those who have contemplated embarking on a journey but feel unsure about how to begin or are overwhelmed with worries about how things will turn out. I want you to know that regardless of your concerns, I’ve been through it all. I’ve had doubts, worries, and fears, but I’ve also found solutions and discovered that the rewards far outweigh the anxieties.
Remember, age is just a number when it comes to exploring the world and embracing new experiences.