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.
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.
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.
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.
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?