A six-month backpack trip through Asia – how I overcame my fears

For many people, a six-month backpack trip through Asia sounds like the ideal scenario. A coconut on the beach, beautiful views, no work for six months… Who wouldn’t want that? However, most look at it through the prism of beautiful photos. Only those who themselves have a similar goal in life know that deciding to leave is not so easy. From people who would like to experience such a journey, I often hear the questions “Do you feel safe there?”, “How did you deal with your fears?”, “How did you achieve all this?”. I realized that I wasn’t the only one who struggled with this great monster inside me – the fear of the unknown. 

So what can help dealing with the black scenarios we create in our heads?

Don't jump into deep water right away

Fear has big eyes, but sometimes the things we set up for ourselves can overtake us. No surprise there. How would a first-grader feel in a math class if he were given a test designed for a high school student? He would probably run out of the classroom crying. The small steps method may prove to be a better way to conquer our fears. And I had quite a few of them in me….

What fears did I have to face?

  • I won’t be able to travel alone
  • solo travel will be boring, it is better to share the experience with other people
  • What if something happens to me?
  • How much will the Asia trip change me?

Fear #1: I won't be able to travel alone

I have been dreaming of traveling to Asia for 10 years. I’ve often visualized what I’ll do once I’m finally there. However, it always ended in my head. Fear of the unknown and so much exoticism paralyzed me. There were too many question marks in my head. I wanted to go so badly, but I wasn’t mentally ready for it. I loved to travel, but I was always accompanied by a partner and/or a pack of friends. A solo trip to Tenerife and Madeira combined with remote work opened my mind. There I saw what it was like to be on my own and live in a foreign country without any acquaintances. I wrote about my thoughts on traveling alone in a separate post (click).

Fear #2: traveling solo will be boring, it is better to share the experience with other people

How wrong I was! The truth is that while traveling alone, I met a lot of cool people, including those working remotely. Traveling alone opened my mind so much that in Madeira I went alone to an event organized for digital nomads, because I wanted to meet people from remote working community as soon as I arrived. If someone had told me about this two years ago, I would have knocked my head 😀 Now, for me, the concept of digital nomadism, once exotic and sounding like a dream, is something commonplace and an adventure that I have had the opportunity to experience on my own.


Fear #3: what if something happens to me?

It took nine months from the time of the decision to my departure to Asia. It quickly became apparent that when I started talking about it out loud, there was a willing girl to go. I met her in Tenerife. It was a hit, because I knew that if we traveled together in such exotic countries, we would be happier together. However, I was still scared of this trip. A few days before flying to Asia, I woke up with clenched fists, with nail marks. Now having been there for so long, I know that my fears about security were not right. I’ve traveled in Bali, Thailand and Vietnam and felt very safe in each of these places. Anyway, before I left, I took out decent insurance for myself in case of any accident and provided with my loved ones’ 24-hour location. 

Fear #4: How much will the Asia trip change me?

This was actually my biggest fear. I was afraid that the trip would affect my values so much that it would completely turn my world at the time upside down. I was afraid that after the trip I wouldn’t have the courage to follow my heart and implement everything I learned during those months into my life. But the truth is different – travel in Asia teaches me to better understand my needs. I have an irresistible feeling that I have entered another level of self-awareness. In the past, I often worried about what would happen in a few months, dreaming up black scenarios. Now rarely, but I still sometimes have such thoughts. But there is a fundamental difference – I learned to look at it from the side, sort of from the role of an observer. Say to yourself “Aha, Monika, you are afraid. This is normal. But remember that you always try your best and it brings good results. So if you continue to have the courage to follow your heart, you will find ways to arrange your life so that it is in line with your values.” This is not just my perception. Whenever I record my friend’s voice messages, she would greet me with the phrase “oh my, what peace beams from you. I can hear that this trip to Asia is changing you .”

What can be helpful in fighting fears of traveling alone?

  • A decent financial cushion to know that in case of anything you are protected in this regard 
  • good insurance
  • making your location available to loved ones 24 hours a day
  • try solo travel in Europe/remote work from Europe
  • As for Asia, I would recommend Thailand (Koh Phangan, Chiang Mai, Pai) for beginners. It is really very convenient, there are a lot of stores open 24 hours, where you can pay by card. Delicious food, good infrastructure, the streets are clean, super massages. Lots of digital nomads and backpackers
  • I recently met a girl on a trip who was afraid go to Asia by herself. However, she wanted to try working remotely from Vietnam, so she contrived to go there for two weeks on organized tour to see how she would feel there. When she made sure everything was ok, she decided to stay alone for a while longer. (Btw, she overcame her fears and is already planning to work remotely from Bali or Thailand! :)))
  • booking accommodation in dormitories, where there is a private room option, but there is also common space. I often choose this option, I value my privacy, but I don’t want to alienate myself 😀 
  • going on a trip with someone – you can always split 😉 
  • Buying yourself a sim card with internet on the spot, or a digital sim card from an app (I use Airalo).


Remember, you can always change your decision and go home!

I think it’s worth mentioning – the most important thing is to listen to your intuition. If, while already on a long journey, you find that it overwhelms you, you can always return. Nothing will happen, and it will certainly be a valuable life lesson.

I believe that if someone really wants something, he will be determined enough to achieve it. I’m also convinced that it’s not worth to squander dreams just because we’re afraid of something. Fear is good, it means we need to get out of our comfort zone. This means giving yourself tremendous room to grow. For me, nothing will be the same. Already my thinking has changed so much that I am planning the steps I will take to be able to look in the mirror and say myself that I am going my way and neither any man nor the canons imposed by society are able to tarnish my values. This is how I want to live. I wish this for all people, that they follow their heart’s voice courageously, and when they look back on their lives decades from now, they will say “What an awesome life I had. I don’t regret anything and I wouldn’t change anything! I’m curious to see what the next few years will bring!”

If you want to know how I had to prepare before going to Asia, read my post:


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