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In light of the horrible events in Tunisia, I thought this would be a good time to share an article about travel fears. Don’t let the bad guys win….

I’m not an expert in many things, in fact at a push I’m an expert at one thing and one thing only, and that’s travel. Yet here I am on the day I start my 30 week, 30 country African adventure – Cape Town to Casablanca and a fair few random countries to boot and I’m nervous, I’m anxious and admittedly, I’m pretty bloody scared.

West Africa

I wanted to share the roller coaster of emotions that I, and most others, feel in the run up to an epic traveling adventure like my African trip, or last year’s ten month Latin American jaunt, or the Central Asian stint before that. My Instagram and facebook fan page are jam packed full of gorgeous sites, new friends, crazy hangovers but they don’t tell the whole story, so I thought it was about time I did.

It always starts with excitement. I’m sure you guys know the feeling well. You’ve been stationary too long, you’re fed up living vicariously through your friend’s social media. It’s time you had some adventure and you’re ready to hit the road. You start to actually contemplate going somewhere new – Thailand, Mexico, Brazil. You’re going to throw yourself headfirst into some crazy new place with some crazy new friends. As you truly start to believe you might actually do it, the only thing going through your mind is all the amazing sites you’ll see, the new experiences, stories for the grandkids. This is gonna be epic.

alone in Sudan

Then it starts to creep in. You cast a closer eye on the region you’re considering going to. Military coups in neighboring countries, typhoon season, travelers getting mugged or worse. Was this country always this damn dangerous? Or is it just really bad timing? Hmm, maybe this isn’t such a perfect idea, anyway it should be ok, right?

 

Next, a friend who “swears” they’ll join you for the trip of your lives slowly seems a little less certain. Money problems they say. Who’ll look after their dog. And they just can’t leave work, they’re about to get a promotion. Then, another friend drops out. “I thought there was gonna be three of us dude, I can’t do it with two, it won’t be the same”. So now you’re supposed to go solo? Really? You’ve never done anything like that before.

Me and my small backpack

Looking back at the map again, it all seems a little more difficult. How the hell do you even get from A to B? Where will you stay when you arrive? What if there are no other travelers? Are you gonna be that weird person sitting on their own? Maybe you won’t take to this traveling malarkey.

Doubts and fear creep in, slowly stepping forward, louder and louder. “Wow, all these people who travel are so brave” you think. Before it seemed so easy, then upon deciding you were ready to take the plunge, it has never felt more difficult.

You mightn’t believe me when I tell you that I go through this stuff, or something similar, before each and every trip. And you know what? In almost 150 countries the fear and anxiety is still there. I’m still scared before I hit that first flight, first border, first hostel. Nervous about who I’ll meet. Worried about politics, violence and costs. But there’s one thing that my experience has helped me with. I know everything works out fine. In fact, it will work out a whole lot better than fine.

The key to overcoming those fears is accepting them. Of course it’s scary to go where you’ve never been, especially solo. You’d be weird if you weren’t apprehensive. But leaving your comfort zone, that’s where the magic happens.

tour group

And yes, you may get lost. And you may spend a little too much money. And you may even find yourself hitchhiking when you miss a bus, or sleeping in a train station. And you know what else? You’ll love yourself more for it. You’re braver than you think, you’re more adventurous than you think and you certainly more resilient than you think, but you have to get out that to prove it not only to the world, but to yourself.

 

So I wanted you guys to know that it’s ok to be scared to travel, but don’t let that defeat you. It’s cool that you join me online on my journeys through obscure countries, I love it so so much and it keeps me going when I’m jaded. But I’d love it even more if you grabbed the opportunity to do it yourself. I know you may be scared, I am too. But we can do it, we just have to take that leap of faith. So I’ll see you on the road?

 

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One thought on “Motivational Monday: Facing Your Travel Fears – It’s Ok to Be Scared To Travel

  1. Hey there!
    I’m planning on traveling myself but I’m confused about the money thing and security. I want to know how you travelled without much money but found out how to get some? Especially if you don’t have a full time job waiting at your return. Id like to leave for months ! Thanks!

  2. Thanks for your inspiration Johnny. But you don’t just inspire me, you really touch me on the inside and you really make me get out and live my dreams to the full xx

  3. I love this post!!! This is something I’ve barely seriously started considering. I want to travel solo to a different country, but those are the same thoughts that go through my mind. I barely started traveling an only been to a few places, but every time I travel I see people who backpack alone and it gives me that much more courage to try it on my own. I’m the type that goes out to the clubs and different cities even if my friends end up backing out. I hate waiting on people. I think I’m ready to take this step. I just have to find the right county to try it out the first time. What country do you recommend for a single 20 something year old?

  4. I wish I discovered that I could travel alone when I was 18, one time I didn´t travel for 6 months, because my friend couldn´t go. I didn´t even think about the option to go by myself. Only discovered that 6 years after…

  5. great post i love your articles they are very inspirational and make me wanna follow my dreams no matter what

  6. I’m going through this fear face just now of whether or not I could travel or worse travel alone. One more year of undergrad studies at uni left and then it’s open from there. Thanks for the article, feeling inspired and of course…it’s okay to be scared! 🙂

  7. Great post, keep on inspiring people to take their fears and charge through them. Good luck in Africa! Looking forward to reading about it.

  8. Great post Johnny, couldn’t agree more I’ve done a good bit of travel and still get nervous. Africa is pretty intimidating but definitely an awesome continent.

    Was the last photo from Uganda, I recognise the instructor, from my Africa trip. Think he was from Zimbabwe. Random!

  9. Good luck I’m sure everything goes fine. People are living there and buchtaxis goes there no problem. Keep cigarettes allways with you it can be big thing to some one get it and you can maybe get all easier by that. I paid thatway people to trust me when I krossed Africa(93-94) from north to south alone/woman.

  10. wow, this is really inspiring me! GOOD JOB JOHN!
    Previously, I nearly bought a ticket to krabi for a solo trip but when i asked opinion from my siblings, they straight say NO without hesitation. I was so sad at the moment and even until now. I would like to ask, do u ask people’s opinions before you make this decision? I need support from family especially mentally and also giudeline from the travellers

  11. Couldnt agree more! I get that whole ‘oh youre so brave’ BS all the time. Its not about bravery, its about doing it despite the fear… and then growing so much because of it! You will rock it in Africa. Uganda stole my heart a few years ago and I need to go back… I’ll be following your adventures for sure! Keep being an inspiration 🙂

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