Common Travel Fears

Life is either a daring adventure or nothing at all.

Helen Keller

I have heard time and time again from people of how much they want to travel but don’t due to various different reasons. The excuses are frustrating. We have no clue what the future holds. So, why are we just sitting on the sidelines waiting for something to happen, waiting for the coach to tell us it’s our turn to play? Fear of travel should not stop us from our desire to explore the world.

How can we appreciate life if we are so scared of change? You start thinking of the worst scenarios and all of the things that could go wrong? Well, what if everything goes right?!

We think we have all the time in the world to travel, but in a blink of an eye, your life can change. I have fears, plenty of them, but I have and continue to travel. Take control of your life and realize that the fears of travel can be overcome. I’d like to think that if there is something we really want, we will make a time and place for it.

If we fear travel so much, why don’t we give it a second thought when we exit our homes to go to work everyday where crazy shit can happen?

In my own city my house has been broken into; I’ve had someone lunge at me while I was walking to work; I had someone try to sell me baby formula down the street; I’ve been scared to walk home from work as it got dark. As for homicides and murders…I had my car blocked off with yellow tape as they found a body in a dumpster near where I parked; I’ve been ushered from a street I was walking down by men in black bullet proof police vests and guns about to storm into a house.

I work at a hospital and see and hear a lot of shit that happens near my home so when people ask me if I’m scared to travel, the answer is not really. I do have some travel fears but it wouldn’t stop my from travelling. Preparation is key.

An ocean of regret is not something I want to live with.

Common Travel Fears

Fear of getting lost.

Getting lost can result in some of the most unexpected yet exciting adventures. It can also result in a lot of fear of being in the wrong place and getting lured into a dark corner. What’s great is that everyone has a phone nowadays with GPS. Before that, there were paper maps. There are still maps. If this is something you cannot get over, then I would stick with a tour and not travel off the beaten path unless you are comfortable.

Fear of getting injured or sick

The chances of getting injured abroad are quite slim. But in the off chance you do, most places have doctors and hospitals. If you have food allergies, make sure to learn phrases in the native language of the country you’re visiting. Also, there is a reason people buy travel medical insurance. Check out World Nomad for their insurance options and see what credit card offers in terms of insurance as well.

I like to carry a small travel medical kit that has bandaids, polysporin, gravol, advil, tensor, etc. In Amsterdam, my partner twisted his ankle and I was glad I had the tensor bandage with me. Also, blister bandages have saved me after long walks in not so great shoes. Check out this kit that has quite a bit more stuff:

Fear of feeling unsafe

Feeling unsafe is probably the most common fear. This is a general fear that I have since nowadays, it’s so difficult to trust anyone. All the kidnapping movies puts ideas in our minds. Be alert and informed. Don’t flaunt your wealth, don’t leave your stuff laying around, don’t walk down dark alleyways alone and don’t get messy drunk and have regrets. Know in which areas of town to avoid. The road less travelled isn’t always the best idea to be on. Basically, don’t be a dick and get yourself into stupid situations.

Be cautious of your surroundings and let someone know of your itinerary. If you’re into fanny packs now like I am, try the PacSafe anti-theft RFID blocking waist wallet while you’re out and about to help protect your money. If you’re worried about someone getting into your hotel room, check out the Addalock.

Fear of not having enough money

I hear a lot of people saying they don’t have enough money to travel. Great news, travel does not need to be expensive especially if you plan well. Also, you’ve worked hard and deserve a vacation. I’m not suggesting to take out a line of credit. If it is something you really want to do, you’ll save up. I have a money jar that I put all my loose change, birthday money, Christmas money, etc in and at the end of the month it goes to the bank into my vacation fund.

There is also the fear of running out of money while on vacation. Whatever your budget is, add 25% on top so that you’re prepared for any surprises (like needing a new pair of shoes, or missing your bus and needing to purchase another ticket). You’ll be fine. There are many places to travel that does not cost an arm and a leg. Set a budget and stick within your means.

I once travelled to Oahu thinking it was going to be a bank buster. I was there for a week with a friend and the total including airfare was less than $1000. There are loads of discounts out there, you just have to find them. If you’re on a tight budget, you need to be willing to take the bus, not stay in 5 star hotels, use whatever points you have accumulated, and not eat at the fanciest restaurant everyday. In Iceland, we saved money by making ham and cheese sandwiches for lunch everyday. You can check out my budget for Iceland here: Budget breakdown for 9 days in Iceland.

Fear of travelling solo

I personally do not like travelling solo. I prefer to share my experiences and I feel safer with someone. But, I’ve also gone to Cuba on my own and loved it. It was so relaxing not worrying about whether your friend is having a good time or not.

Yes, there are perils that can come with travelling alone. But, if you prepare and have a little bit of common sense, you may find travelling solo to be a blast. Being able to do what you want when you want is so liberating. Your mistakes are your own, you develop a way of coming out of your shell, and you do exactly what you want to do.

If you’re not convinced on solo travel, you can still travel. Cruise ships have single bunks and many tour operators are geared towards single travellers. Joining one of these tours is an easy way to get to meet new friends. Many times, people will end up finding a travel buddy for future trips. If you do decide that solo travel is for you, keeping a journal can help you enjoy the adventure that much more by letting you see what you’ve accomplished on your own and also strike off the fears of travel you’ve overcome!

Fear of the language barrier

Arriving in a foreign land not being able to communicate with anyone and getting a blast of culture shock can be overwhelming. The initial shock of feeling lost as you get off the airplane and into the busy airport is scary but it can be thrilling too. Don’t let this fear stop you from travelling. In my opinion, learning a new language is attractive and makes you a better you. Embrace the challenge!

You don’t have to dive into unfamiliarity right away. Start by going to a difference country that speaks the same language or where you know someone.

If you want to dive head first, familiarise with the language. Being able to speak the language of the country you are visiting can go a long way. Communicating the basics can help you navigate and help you feel safer with your surroundings and create an overall better experience. There are loads of apps out there that help you communicate. You don’t need to be fluent, but knowing a few key phrases can immensely improve your trip. Just like all the other fears of travel, preparation is key. You’re likely to own a smartphone so keep it handy as there are several apps out there that can help:

Duolingo (free) – covers 23 major languages that they make fun and addicting to learn

Triplingo (free) – the ultimate travellers app as it includes culture notes, voice translator and emergency help numbers.

Fear of having a bad experience

Is fear of having a bad experience really a thing? I’d rather be on the beach having a bad experience than stuck at home in the winter. I’m pretty sure I have a bad experience at work that I complain about everyday. Fear of having a bad experience is something we think about each day. This fear is stems from stress and anxiety. Calm down, relax, and stop worrying about the what ifs and get excited about the what ifs! Of course this is easy to say, but this travel fear is irrational and stopping you from living your best life.

Check out the blog by That Anxious Traveller. Nicky suffers from anxiety and has a bunch of awesome posts on how to overcome it. Check it out here. Instead of thinking about all the negative things that could go wrong, think about the possible positives. This journal is amazing and can help you focus on all the good things in life to help you get over bad what ifs.

Travel can be a scary thing for various reasons. You may feel some or all of the above listed fears and it’s totally normal. If you have the desire to travel and are seeking to make it happen, don’t let the fear of the unknown stop you. Work to overcome them and know that there are solutions to help you.

Travel isn’t always pretty. It isn’t always comfortable. Sometimes, it hurts. It even breaks your heart. But that’s okay.
The journey changes you: It should change you. It leaves marks on your memory, on your consciousness, on your heart and on your body. You take something with you. Hopefully, you leave something good behind.

Anthony Bourdain

Settling for misery because we are afraid of change sounds like the worst idea ever. Don’t let the fear of travel control you. If travel just isn’t in the cards for you just yet, make a travel vision board and just start from there!

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Hey there, I'm Cristine (aka Nomadgirlfriend). I want to quit my job so I can travel more. I just need to figure out the digital world so I can start making money to feed my wanderlust with my digital nomad partner. I welcome you to join my on this journey of self discovery and new adventures!

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