4 Huge False Assumptions I Had About International Travel

You don’t know what you don’t know, and I didn’t know these four things before first leaving The States over a decade ago.

Travis W. King
8 min readJan 10


I was scared on that first flight. Photo by Alonso Reyes on Unsplash

I remember what it was like. I remember the swirling worry and anxiety before my first big, unplanned, open-ended, international adventure. I flew into Aruba, a small island just above Colombia’s northern coast, without even having a bed booked for that first night.

I leaned into serendipity and started to allow every new day, every new connection made at a hostel or on a bus to dictate the adventure; one domino slowly tapping the next. This is my preferred way to travel, but I didn’t really know that before I left on this first, solo, one-way adventure.

The worries I had before I found my feet and got comfortable approaching a table of strangers at a hostel were very real. I can still feel their weight if I put myself back in the headspace I had during the summer of 2012. However, after traveling and living abroad for the past decade, those fears have been assuaged.

I want to give you a jump start on dispelling these fears before you even board that first flight.

The world is enormous and it can feel rather intimidating to explore it all alone (Spoiler: You won’t be alone. See #4). But once you open up to the magic of it all, you’ll find these four fears aren’t worth worrying about. They definitely shouldn’t stop you from packing your bags and boarding that first flight.

I didn’t think I would be able to talk to anyone. Photo by Anthony DELANOIX on Unsplash

1. I wouldn’t be able to communicate.

On that first big adventure in South America, I was worried that my lack of Spanish would be a huge barrier. It turns out, that worry is a bit silly. Obviously, it’s much easier to navigate all of Latin America if you have intermediate Spanish, but it’s not a deal breaker. It’s harder to engage in meaningful dialogues with many locals without Spanish, but it’s not too much harder to simply function. To get a cab, book a bed, or order food.



Travis W. King

Traveling, writing, & working abroad for 10 years. Former Remote Year Dir. of Community. Check out my travel memoir—Not That Anyone Asked—at www.traviswking.com