As someone who prioritises travel above all else, and rarely spends an hour without thinking about where I could book a ticket to next, being afraid to travel doesn’t ever really enter my periphery. I realise that I am a very privileged middle class British girl, who has travelled without incident for many years, to many countries….so I guess that my perspective is a charmed one.So why are so many other people out there so afraid to travel? I’m guessing that if you are reading this blog, you have a pretty healthy amount of wanderlust in you, but that doesn’t mean that you act on it right? A lot of my friends bemoan their lack of annual holiday, and I can’t help but think that only one holiday a year is insane! I live to travel, and aim to go away monthly if I’m honest.
I don’t want children right now, purely because I don’t want to factor them into my travels. If and when I do decide to introduce my spawn to the World, they’ll be coming with me on my travels whether I can face that 12 hour plane trip with a baby or not. They need to learn, and so will I.
I grew up with a very anxious mother, and a father who loved to travel in his youth. So I guess I got my adventurous side from him…..nevertheless, our annual holidays consisted of my mum fretting on the plane, gripping the seat rests as we took off, and me crying due to my terrible ears (which happily I’ve grown out of now). I got on my first plane before I was two, and even had my own passport. I was lucky enough to see one of the Wonders of the World – the Great Pyramids of Giza as a toddler, and have seen them several times since.
So I know why I now love to travel, and I have zero fear. ZERO. I’m not a no-fear kinda girl either — I am terrified of cockroaches and boats….well, let’s just say I don’t love them. You would literally NEVER get me on a cruise ship (how do they float with so much STUFF on board?!) and I feel pretty weird about proper safaris.
But I will do it all, if it means that I get to see something new, somewhere new, anything outside of my comfort zone. Although to be fair, I would say that my comfort zone is when I’m 30,000 feet in the air…..100%. Flying is a highlight of any holiday, and regardless of how bumpy it gets I never feel more at home.
But I know, that for most people — a fear of flying is oh so real, and stops them from travelling. Along with many other common fears, I want to tell you how you can get over them and stop your fear from stopping your travelling dreams.
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This is the most common phobia of all. I’m pretty sure we all know more people who are scared of flying than not, and those who say they love flying are few and far between. Unless you are at the annual #LovesMeAPlaneFeel conference. Which you aren’t, because I made it up……although how cool would that be?
I am reticent to offer catch all advice to those who have this phobia (what’s the official word? Planeophobia?), because everyone is so different. Whoever I speak to has deep rooted things that trigger their fear, and sometimes it isn’t even fear — it’s feeling sick, or feeling claustrobobic, or just hating the stresses that Airport’s can bring.
There are also such a big phobia spectrum, with “Meh, hate take off and landing but am alright once I’m up”, to “I will literally never get on a plane” and everything in-between. And for those who fall into the #uberscared end of the spectrum, the comforting statistics telling them that flying is the safest way to travel, are meaningless.
What I will say is this; don’t let your fear/hatred/disgust of flying stop you from travelling. Dig into why it bothers you and Google away, because I promise you there’ll be an answer for each specific issue. To make this paragraph of some value….I’d like to refer you to my helpful PDF, with my top tips on coping with all of the fears I’ve talked about in this post 🙂
Get the PDF at the bottom of this post.
This may sound ridiculous, but sometimes people are genuinely afraid to try new food when they travel. Afraid they’ll spend the entire well earned holiday on the toilet, or worse, end up in a foreign hospital on a drip. This fear doesn’t often completely stop people from travelling though, as the availability of various non-native food mean that you can have pizza every night if you really want, regardless of whether you’re in Italy or not.
I think this is a mistake, and in my own opinion — food is the MOST important way to connect with a country when you’re travelling.
I think that the fear of food when you travel is never more true than when you’re in India……the amount of times I was told that I would definitely get sick there, and to avoid this….avoid that. Well, naysayers you was wrong — I was there for two months and I NEVER got sick.
Don’t get me wrong, I could see how you could easily end up getting a bout of ‘Delhi Belly’ in any country, but using your common sense and a few simple rules will help. My guide to avoiding the lurgy is here, and again — the free PDF at the bottom of the post will help you avoid it too.
Fear of the Unknown
This one is so abstract, yet we’ve all been there right? That small voice inside you saying “But, what if?” or “You can’t do it, you don’t know what might happen” has spoken to us all at some point or another.
Tell it to sod off, because your fear of what might NEVER happen, is ruining your life. For me, travel is never frightening because I’ve done it. That is literally all you have to do, take the very simple step of just doing it. Book the ticket, pack your bags and go. And the fear WILL dissipate because it’s irrational, it’s malicious, and it doesn’t want you to grow.
I say perceived danger, because in the vast majority of times — where you choose to travel will be incredibly safe. Because most people do not choose to travel to war zones, slums, or precarious ice caps to snuggle polar bears.I live in London, and can comfortably say that, statistically speaking, it is the most dangerous city I have been. Ever. But I can 100% guarantee that there are a chunk of people out there in the same statistically dangerous city as me who are letting their fear of a perceived danger hold them back from travelling.
But there are certain places where fear becomes much more apparent. The Middle East, for example is an are of the World that has been unstable for a while now and because of that, we apply a blanket view that the are is dangerous. In truth though, some places aren’t advisable to travel to, and many more are. Jordan, for example, is well known to be a safe haven, a sea of calm amongst chaos. But when I tell people I’m travelling there for my honeymoon (part deux…..let’s see how long we can eek that one out!), they almost always ask if it’s safe to go there.
There are some really simple ways that you can check if a country is safe to travel, and I’ve outlined them all in a nice printy PDF at the bottom of this post.
I should add that travelling solo as a man rarely prompts the statement “You are so brave”. I travelled solo around Thailand & Australia when I was 24. It was a little scary, of course, and sometimes lonely too. But I never felt unsafe, and I certainly didn’t feel remotely brave.
There truly is nothing that needs to stop you from travelling solo to anywhere as a human, let alone as a female. If you are the type of person who wouldn’t dream of eating alone, or going to the cinema alone…..this needn’t stop you, because I was that person before I went travelling too. I have always been fairly independent and introverted, so don’t require lots of people to top up my energy levels. In fact, the fewer people the better in my opinion!
I’m not suggesting that everyone should feel 100% comfortable to travel solo, not at all. I also don’t believe that every country is an easy place to travel solo — India, for example, is more challenging, and to ignore that would be ignorant. But if you are aching to travel, don’t have someone to go with and don’t want to wait a second longer — you’d be crazy to let your fear stop you.
I’m sure you’ve guessed by now that I’ve included some great tips and resources in the handy little PDF I have created for you at the bottom of this post. Yeah….that message hasn’t been super subtle has it? Ah well, it’s my first free resource for my beautiful readers and I feel pretty damn proud!
Does fear stop you from travelling? Share in the comments, and please feel free to contact me (firstname.lastname@example.org) if you want answers to any burning travel questions. I might not be able to answer, but I’ll try!
And here is your amazing free one pager with tips, tricks and resources to help you get over your fears and go travelling today. Just head on over here to get it!
Also published on Medium.