My Biggest Travel Fears (And How I Beat Them!)
Ahhh, a motivational post all about travel fears! Cheerful, huh? However, let’s be real for five seconds. A fear of traveling is very common especially among people who wanna explore the world alone. I have a lot of experience combating my own travel fears so I think I’m in a good position to help you if any upcoming trips are overwhelming you.
To start off, as a solo female traveler, I either hear that I’m a reincarnation of “Super Woman” who’s not scared a damn thing, or that I need to chill out and find a travel buddy ASAP. Reactions aren’t moderate.
So, unsurprisingly, I still feel apprehension before going on big trip, even though at this point I am a “pro” at the art of “traveling by myself.”
You’re probably wondering how I can help you. Well, in this post, you’ll learn all about my biggest travel fears and then how I combat them, effectively stopping dread from ruining beautiful experiences. I hope I can help everyone feeling anxious about an upcoming trip feel more confident in their abilities to enjoy each and every destination on their bucket list.
Onward and upward!
My Most Challenging Travel Fear: Flying
Haha, anyone who reads this website already knows what a terrible flyer I am. So I don’t think my “#1 Travel Fear” is surprising for you. Flying makes my passion a bit of a pain in the neck.
Now don’t get me wrong. I’d much, much, much rather travel with a flying fear than hang out in my apartment in New Jersey, but my eagerness to go abroad doesn’t mean boarding an airplane is easy for me. Actually, it takes a lot out of me, physically and mentally, to complete a long flight without freaking out.
For instance, I feel a crazy amount of pure relief, the kind that loosens your chest, upon landing at my final destination, and then sleep like a freakin’ rock on my first night. There’s no “exhausted” like “fearful flyer exhausted.” Even teaching at 7:30 in the morning doesn’t compare to it.
However, the trade-off (new experiences, yay) is worth spending my depleted energy. My fear of flying doesn’t slow me down at all – much to the confusion of some people in my life.
Sadly, my overall anxiety levels onboard planes hasn’t decreased much, regardless of how many flights, domestic and international alike, I take alone. Turbulence, for instance, still takes me by surprise and sets off alarm bells in my head – even though turbulence isn’t a threat in the slightest.
As you probably guessed, my flying fear is challenging, because I logically know the odds of a commercial plane crash are non-existent. I also know it’s impossible for turbulence (ugh, my enemy) to bring down a plane.
Let’s face it. All odds point at a crazy NJ driver running me over rather than planes falling out of the clouds.
… Which reminds me: my upcoming flight from Milan to Newark will be one of my longest nonstop routes, clocking a little over 9 hours. Wish me luck. I’ll need it.
Defeat it! — How to Stop a Fear of Flying
Honestly, stopping a fear of flying is more complicated than writing an 80 page essay on power dynamics represented in Shelley’s “Ozymandias.” We all have different reasons to be scared of flying. No one is the same. However, here are some basic pointers for you to crush one of the most common travel fears.
- Start with Shorter Flights: You don’t have to be crazy like me and do international long hauls right out of the gate. Try a short hour flight alone for your first ride.
- Ask for Help: Talk to pilots and flight attendants on Twitter. Let the cabin crew know you’re an uneasy flyer when you board (they’ve heard it a million times and will help you). Perhaps mention your fear to a trusted therapist or doctor.
- Do Your Research Ahead of Time: Statistics don’t solve a fear of flying, but reading about the safety of commercial air travel and looking at numbers still goes a long way. Obviously, avoid any media with references to plane crashes or accidents. I used to watch Air Crash Investigation, which … I don’t recommend if you’re scared of flying. Seriously, don’t do it.
Read More: 43 Tips to Stop Your Fear of Flying for Good
Robbery, Assault, & Other Crime: Scary Travel Aversions
A lot of people understandably fear falling victim to a crime at their travel destination. You see scary stories in the news, as well as media such as television shows (“Locked Up Abroad”) and movies (“Hostel” and “Taken”).
And, yeah, I won’t lie to you, crime crosses my mind too! As a solo woman, I’m an easy target for criminals and pick pockets. Think about it. Criminals will avoid messing with large groups of people, because safety exists in numbers.
However, I don’t let the potential for crime deter me. Why? Because the odds are in my favor.
Truly, without a doubt, it’s more likely that you’ll encounter crime at home rather than overseas. It makes sense. You spend more time at home so the odds of falling to violence increase. Also, as a woman, statistics prove time and time again that I’m more likely to be hurt by someone I know rather than a complete stranger. Do I know anyone in Krakow or Vilnius? No? Then I’m taking my chances. Bye!
Defeat It! — Stop Worrying About Crime on Your Travels
You shouldn’t dive into your solo travels completely unprepared for the possibility of crime. However, don’t let fear consume your life either. If you’re too anxious on your trip, then you’re too anxious to enjoy and savor the beauty surrounding you.
- Accept You Can’t Control Everything. Okay, confession time, I’ve been scammed overseas once. In the glorious city of Prague, my friends and I didn’t ask for the taxi driver to give us a price ahead of time and trusted that he wouldn’t swindle us. As you already guessed, it ended well for my wallet. Did I have any control over the situation? Ehhhh, not really. So I let it go. You should too.
- Research Accommodation in Advance: Always read reviews of your accommodation. Is the neighborhood safe? Does the hostel/apartment have emergency exits and smoke detectors? Is the place clean? A lot of trouble can be avoided by reading reviews.
- Register with Your Country’s Embassy: If you’re from the United States, then register with the STEP program to receive text messages and alerts for your destination.
- Purposely Choose a “Safe” Destination: Still feel overwhelmed? Then use Google’s almighty help and find a safe place for your vacations. For example, destinations such as Iceland have an insanely low rate of violent crime.
Loneliness & A Fear of Traveling
“Don’t you ever feel lonely traveling alone?”
I’ve lost track of the number of times I’ve been asked that same question. Solo travel and loneliness are lumped under the same umbrella a lot. I don’t quite get it either.
After all, there are many ways to avoid loneliness on the road. Staying in hostels, for instance, makes it a million times easier to connect with people who are in the same situation you are. The best hostels will have events, such as Dinner Nights and Walking Tours, which will help you make even more new friends.
However, yes, you’ll have moments alone. Full disclosure. I used to feel bothered not having a new friend glued to my hip. Now I embrace my own company a lot more. Having to spend time with yourself shouldn’t be a deal breaker at all.
I mean it, guys. Don’t let the possibility of loneliness stop you from traveling. You’re gonna strike up a conversation with someone. Trust me.
Defeat It! — Don’t Feel Alone on Your Solo Travels
- Stay in Hostels: Don’t feel as if you’re too old for hostels either. Read the reviews, and I promise you’ll find social accommodation for travelers of all ages. I’m never the oldest person there, haha.
- Book Walking Tours or Day Tours: Walking tours exist in all major cities. In particular, check out the “free” walking tours and tip whatever you want for your guide’s knowledge. These tours attract a ton of solo travelers for you to talk to.
- Call Home!: Don’t feel bad about calling home if you’re feeling lonely. Apps, such as Whats App and Skype, make reaching home cheap (read: free) and simple! Just make sure your accommodation has a good Wifi connection.
Finally, the Fear of Not Knowing Your Place Anymore
Last but not least. An unlikely fear of travel is feeling as if you no longer quite “fit in” with your old environment.
I value honesty on this blog, meaning I’ll be the first person to admit that traveling so much has messed with my head a bit. I feel “on edge” when I don’t have a trip planned, even if my departure date is months in advance, and sometimes I find it hard to relate to others. For example, travel is such a huge passion for me that I talk about it all the time and occasionally bore people, making them roll their eyes and zone out. Whoops.
Needless to say, feeling “out of place” at home is a challenge and one of my most confusing travel fears. Furthermore, lots of people don’t understand that while you’re thankful for your travel experiences, you can still feel unsure of your role at home and be sad that a trip has ended forever. Post-travel depression is complicated and some people would rather not deal with their conflicting emotions period.
Why even travel at all?
Defeat It! — Embrace Your Home and “Real Life”
Keep your chin up. Returning home doesn’t have to be terrible or boring. Home is an important place with lots of beautiful memories. We should feel grateful for the quiet moments in our lives and not “waste” time spent with friends, family, or significant others.
- Do a Local Getaway: Honestly, local getaways are great, because you never know what cool things exist in your own backyard. For example, taking an impromptu road trip throughout nearby towns might reveal a surprise or two.
- Enjoy Quality Time with Friends and Family: Shove your travel fears aside and do something nice with a close family member or friend. Have you guys gone to a good movie lately? Checked out that new restaurant down the street? Then get on it!
- Plan Your Next Trip: It’s very unlikely that you’ll never, ever be able to travel again. So plan your next great adventure. Even if you need to wait another year, looking at gorgeous pictures and reading relevant blog posts will motivate and excite you about future opportunities. Indulge in some wanderlust on your computer. I promise no one is judging you. At least no one important.
What are your greatest travel fears? How do you stop them? Why do you keep traveling even if you feel scared? Share your thoughts in the comments.