Today Casey Dugas from the Simple Travel Life talks about how sometimes our own fears can hold us back from seeing the world and what you can do to eliminate them.
Does it terrify you too?
You’re sitting there, minding your own business and planning your trip, when you glance down at your to-do list…
That’s when the panic sets in.
So many things could go wrong when travel is involved.
You have no idea what you’re doing—you don’t even know where to start! There’s too much to do and not enough money! Abort! Abort!
Deep breaths people.
Don’t let your fears get the better of you. You can conquer them and finally start planning that trip you’ve been postponing for ages.
The real reason most people never travel
Everyone assumes the hard part of travel is getting on the plane, but really, the hard part is planning the trip.
No one talks about how terrified and doubtful they were when they were planning their first trip.
And that’s where most people give up.
You have to overcome the doubts and fears that bubble up during the planning phase if you ever hope to get on that plane.
When people start to have these feelings about travel, the usual strategy is to do more research. They want to find all their answers by reading different websites and books.
But you know what the problem is with that strategy?
Why you should never do research first
When people first start planning for travel, their research is all over the place.
They’ll read just about anything related to travel—including things that they weren’t originally worried about (but they are now).
The problem with this type of research is that you’ll come away with more questions than answers.
This is because travel is almost entirely built off the unknown, which is one of the most nerve-wracking things travelers must deal with.
The unknown really shows up in your what-if questions. These are the questions that you’ll never be able to fully answer.
- What if I run out of money?
- What if I get pickpocketed?
- What if I hate the food?
- What if I can’t make any friends?
- What if I ruin my career path by traveling?
- What if I get homesick?
The list can go on forever and usually ends with a resounding, “I can’t do this!”
Traveling can feel somewhat pointless once you start thinking of all the things that could go wrong.
After all that research, most of your “answers” will just be large question marks.
Those question marks will start to convince you that you’re not ready to travel—I mean, you’re not even sure how much money you’ll need!
How can you leave now?
Clearly, you must put off travel until you’re ready—when you have more time, more money, and more answers.
But, that time will never come—the problem isn’t that you need more.
The problem is that you’re scared.
You need to understand the fears that keep you from moving forward with your travel plans.
The real first step to conquering your travel fears
Fears can have a huge impact on how we live our lives, and half the time we don’t even realize what we’re scared of.
This is especially true of travel fears. We all know that travel can be scary, but what, specifically, about travel scares you?
The first thing you must do is make a list of your travel fears.
Spend some time writing down everything you’ve ever worried about while travel planning. And don’t just say “I’m scared.” That’s not enough. You need to go deeper than that and be specific.
Our what-if questions would be a good place to start—your list could include the fear of running out of money or the fear of being pickpocketed.
Try to get as many on paper as you can. Got it? Alright, now let’s take a closer look at those fears.
How to eliminate irrational fears one by one
All of those what-if questions can send us into a panic, which leads us to thinking irrationally and turning simple things into insurmountable fears.
The worst part is that we don’t even realize we’re thinking irrationally—everything seems legitimate.
Most of the fears on your list are blown out of proportion.
Take a look at one of the fears on your list. Is it really good enough to keep you from traveling?
For example, should the fear of possibly being pickpocketed keep you from traveling?
This was something I worried about all the time before I moved to Peru. What if they got my phone? Or my wallet?! I need those things!
But then I realized that having my phone or wallet stolen really wouldn’t be that bad. I mean, sure, it would be upsetting, but I would survive.
It’s the same way I feel about running out of money. I would be upset and have to cut my trip short—but I still got to see a new country, didn’t I?
Isn’t seeing a different part of the world worth the risk?
I think so.
I had to accept that it’s a little scary, but it didn’t matter—I was going anyway.
As you go through your list of fears, decide whether or not it’s really enough to keep you from traveling.
If not, stop using it as an excuse to stop planning.
How to minimize the chances of your fears coming true
Now that we’ve looked at all of our fears logically, we know that they’re not as scary as they seemed.
But some of them are still at least a little scary.
This is where our beloved research comes in.
You’re going to use research to tackle each one of your fears. This gives your research a focus.
Now there is one important mind-shift that you need to make regarding travel research.
You’re not looking for answers—those what-if questions will never have answers, remember?
What you’re looking for are prevention strategies—things that will decrease the chances of your fears coming true.
I can never be 100% certain I won’t be pickpocketed.
But you know what? I bought a really nice anti-theft bag that makes me a less-likely target for pickpockets.
And that makes me feel better.
Same thing goes for the fear of running out of money.
I researched how much my trip would cost, added a little more as a cushion, and then created a daily budget for my time abroad. I knew exactly how much I could spend each day to ensure that I had enough to complete my trip.
At the end of the day, all you can do is be as prepared as possible for your fears. And that makes them less likely to happen.
So, are you ready to start traveling?
Maybe your fears are still keeping you from chasing your travel dreams, but you know what?
Traveling will always involve some risk—everything important does. If it were easy, it wouldn’t be fulfilling.
The only true way to get yourself to travel is to have faith in yourself and your abilities.
Faith that you’ve done enough research and have made the right decisions.
Faith that you will survive—even if everything doesn’t go according to plan.
If you continue to let every little fear keep you from travel, you’ll never visit that place you’ve always dreamed of seeing.
But if you look over your fears and realize that you still want to travel—no matter what—you really only have one choice.
You must gather your courage and start traveling.
So brush your fears aside and take the leap.
You’ve got a plane to catch!
Bio: Casey Dugas is a world traveler who will help you fulfill your travel dreams. Check out her blog: Simple Travel Life.
I don’t know how people travel without doing their homework. I mean, yeah, I want to be surprised, but this is bound to happen, it’s a new country/city, right? I won’t book plane tickets and make a hotel reservation hoping for the best, I’ll look for great restaurants, less known places to visit, mostly things most first time tourists miss. My first trip abroad was to Mexico and I had everything jotted down and I’m sure this made for a memorable trip.
Wow, great post Casey. Specially the part of over research. I remember that when I was planning a trip to Bangalore, Mysore and Wayanad, I skipped Wayanad which is always on my dream list as I researched that I might feel lot of problems while traveling to wayanad and because of that I never traveled to Wayanad.
Traveling always have some rise, its a part of life and this is the point which struct my mind while reading this post.
Thanks a ton…
Thanks for sharing this, Casey. I will remember this every time my fears try to talk me out of traveling this year.
I’m glad you found this helpful!
Casey, it’s true that fear is a big blocker of every dream we have, including travel. I like what you advice to combat fear: “You must gather your courage and start traveling.” because once you take the first step, it does get easier.
Yep, the first step is always the hardest! You just have to put on foot in front of the other and keep going.
Even as an experienced traveller I got a bit paranoid when I was going to the carnival in Sao Paulo after watching an episode of Scam City. The first 2 days in Sao Paulo I walked around thinking everybody was going to rob me… After a couple of days, I realised that there was no need to panic and eventually nothing happened to me, not in Sao Paulo and not in Rio. Something to remember next time, stop worrying and start enjoying!
I completely agree! It’s so easy to get caught up with what could go wrong that you forget to enjoy traveling! We just have to learn to move past our worries.