In my opinion, traveling is the most exciting and thrilling thing you can do. It can also be one of the most fearful. When you travel, you are literally stepping into the unknown. No matter how much research you’ve done, whenever you place yourself in a new region/country, you become vulnerable. You’re immersed within a different culture with different customs and beliefs. Your senses are launched into overdrive as you absorb new sights, sounds, flavours, and smells. There are different foods, different languages, different modes of transportation, different signs, different time zones, different governments, different seasons, etc – with the list continuing on and on and on.
As overwhelming as these unknowns can be, there is always the potential and high probability you will learn many new things about yourself and the world around you. So much so, you feel humbled, inspired, energized, and grounded – realizing just how tiny you and your problems are. Travel makes you realize that no matter how much you know, there is always more to learn. And through this knowledge you are equipped to face and overcome what’s holding you back.
Here are 8 fears that traveling will help you conquer:
1. Fear of the unknown
Sometimes, you just gotta let go and see what happens. I can personally apply this to many aspects of my life in recent years: moving to another city, leaving a longtime job, going back to school, and taking a job in a field I have no prior experience in. When it feels scary to jump, that’s when you jump. Otherwise, you end up staying in the same place your whole life. One of my very favourite movies is The Secret Life of Walter Mitty, and that is what this movie is all about – courage, stepping into the unknown, and allowing yourself the opportunity to experience an incredible adventure, however it decides to present itself.
2. Fear of being judged
Not knowing the local language or other traditional customs can leave you feeling vulnerable in a new region of the world. Personally, learning these things is one of my favourite parts about travel. Being respectful goes a long way and is very much appreciated by locals when you are unsure of what to say or do, such as a few words here or there in the local language like “hello,” “goodbye,” “thank you,” etc. Remember that new customs are not “weird,” just different. You are the visitor in another country, and now is the time to learn so many new things, judgment free! You just have to make a respectful effort, even if it’s the smallest of gestures.
3. Fear of not being good enough
Travel is rewarding and enhances your sense of self and being. It provides feelings of grand accomplishment and incredible achievement, because traveling takes confidence and courage. You did something you know a lot of people would never have the dedication or courage to do.
4. Fear of regret and failure
There are many things I would do differently if I could go back and do them again. But to learn from our mistakes, unfortunately there is no other way but to first make those mistakes and face those feelings of regret and/or failure head-on. I believe that our regrets are not doors that have closed forever, but keys that open up bigger doors with even bigger opportunities. One of the biggest lessons I have learned throughout my travels is to stand up for myself and not let someone take advantage of my forgiving personality. Now, I have an “edge” rooted deeply within me (that isn’t going anywhere), and if I feel I am being disrespected, I sure as hell won’t allow myself to be walked on.
5. Fear of losing something
It happens. We lose track of things along our travels – whether lost by accident or downright stolen. Despite how heartbreaking losing something valuable can be, all of these material things can be replaced or repaired. During travel, it is the vital things such as good health that should be brought to the forefront – something much more irreplaceable. I’ve accidentally left many things behind: camera, clothing, and various other gizmos/gadgets, all of which were replaced and restored. It’s important to remember that our health is the most valuable of all!
6. Fear of getting lost
Believe it or not, getting lost can sometimes enhance your experience – if you can manage to let go of some of the control. In my experience, getting lost presents you with the best memories and stories because you have unexpected adventures. Embracing the benefits of getting lost can help you learn to relax, go with the flow, and enjoy the experience.
7. Fear of not being in control
Many people approach travel with the assumption that everything will go according to plan – that schedules will be adhered to and time frames will be met. But travel is unpredictable. Places and people are constantly changing, and when you’re traveling, chances are that some things WILL go wrong. Travel plans are pretty well made to be broken.
8. Fear of being alone
Whether it’s eating alone or exploring solo, traveling alone (in my opinion) is quite possibly the most rewarding and fulfilling experience. You are comfortable with yourself and your abilities, happy and content to keep yourself company, and confident to put yourself out there and meet new people along the way! One of my favourite solo activities in Athens was to eat at one particular restaurant close to where I was staying in the city. The owner would always warmly greet me and wave me indoors. While dining, I was always treated like royalty and provided extra treats at no extra fee.
What are some of the fears travel has helped you overcome? I would love to hear from you!