It’s OK to be scared to travel.
Traveling, whether for the first or umpteenth time, can be very scary, especially if you haven’t done it for a while.
I get scared before I travel, almost always. In fact, it seems like the more I travel, the more fear I have. I don’t know why. I remember setting off on adventures around Europe with friends when I was 19 and 20 years old, without so much as a second-thought or ‘what if’ passing through my mind.
Struggling To Challenge The ‘What Ifs’
Not that I am now very old or wise in my 25 years , but I feel like I am less carefree and, perhaps, less naive about the world as I embark on new adventures, unsure about what the next few days, weeks or months will have in store for me.
What if something bad happens to me, or at home, while I’m away? What if I don’t like where I’m going? Will it be worth it all? Am I running away from responsibility? Will people think I’m just avoiding reality by travelling so much? Will I be able to make enough money on the road to sustain myself? What will I do if I run out of money?
These incessant nagging worries run through my head before every trip. I worry whether I am making the right decision. I worry that everything could fail and I’ll have to come home with my tail between my legs, admitting that I took the wrong decision, or that I wasn’t able to sustain myself, or that it wasn’t what I had imagined.
I have had these fears of travelling as recently as two months ago, before I set off for Santiago, Chile from my hometown in Ireland. A 33-hour door-to-door solo journey lay ahead of me. I was going, as usual, for an indefinite amount of time, unsure of when I would see my family again, and I had little more than a few hundred Euro in my bank account. Foolish? Maybe. Irresponsible? Probably. Scary? Definitely.
Thankfully, I didn’t see quitting as an option. In the end, there were too many good things that overshadowed any fear I had. However, several times right before a trip I have thought of quitting; of running away and wishing to just go hide under my blankets, safe and warm in my childhood bedroom. Nothing could harm me there. Nothing could go wrong. Even as a 25 year old woman, I still feel this irrational longing when I let fear overcome me.
Safe at home in Ireland, I will not be forced out of my comfort zone. I will not be challenged…I will not do anything. And that’s the problem.
Stepping Out Of Your Comfort Zone
It’s so easy to stay in your comfort zone, especially when you’re faced with insecurity, uncertainty and fear. When I am feeling scared, I try to remember previous trips; the wonderful memories, the people I’ve met and the experiences I’ve had. No one ever regrets travelling. I try to remind myself that, usually, from the moment I step outside my front door, the fear slips away and excitement takes hold. I just need to summon the courage to open that door and close it behind me.
Everyone tells you; ‘Stop being afraid! Just go travel!’
I do one of these two things; I travel, but I don’t fully let go of my fear. Instead, I let my fear motivate me. It keeps me alert and aware of the fact that something big is about to happen. It makes me feel alive again.
You don’t feel fear sitting at home watching television, because you are not pushing yourself to experience the world.
Yes, travel can be scary and that’s ok.
Fear causes stagnation in life, love, travel and careers.
Fear takes hold when you stop moving, when you stop living and when you stop challenging yourself.
Fear takes hold because you allow yourself to think about what could go wrong, instead of what could go right.
Fear paralyzes you, until one day you wake up and realise it has stopped you from living out your dreams.
Fear ultimately causes regret
So just go. Go hand-in-hand with your fear, embracing it and using it to push you forward rather than back. But just go.
Because regret is something to be far more fearful of than fear itself.
Inaction breeds doubt and fear. Action breeds confidence and courage. If you want to conquer fear, do not sit home and think about it. Go out and get busy.
Have you ever been scared before a trip? What did you do to overcome your fear or has it ever kept you from traveling?
Photo Credit: Daniel Weinand