There are a million excuses people use not to travel. As human beings, we are creatures of habit and comfort, and to many of us, the idea of throwing ourselves so far out of those safe zones is downright terrifying. But the benefits and rewards of travel are innumerous, and they’re too life-enriching to let something as trivial as unwarranted fear stop you from enjoying them. Here are some common travel fears, and how to get over them:
Fear of terrorism
There are many reasons individuals choose to target a particular group or region, and carry out violent acts of terrorism. Despite the debates and disagreements over religion, which often play a major role in terrorist attacks, the root causes are intolerance and closed-mindedness. One of the beautiful – and most important – things about travel is that it fosters human understanding, empathy, and acceptance of those who are different than us. Check out my recent article on why, after the attacks in Brussels, it’s more important than ever to keep traveling.
Fear of traveling alone
Traveling alone is not for everyone, but it has benefits you can’t get from travel in groups. Aside from full-fledged itinerary freedom, traveling “alone” affords you a better opportunity to meet new people, immerse yourself in local culture, and push your own boundaries. Your experience just might be life-changing. Plus, you’re never really alone.
Fear of theft/crime
Most cases of crime in travel are petty theft. Unfortunately, pickpockets exist all over the world, particularly in large cities – and even in the safest of areas. However, the reason they thrive is because people let their guard down – or are just plain lazy. Here are my tips for safeguarding yourself against theft.
Fear of disaster
I blame the media and disaster movies for hyping this up – but being afraid of a natural disaster or freak accident is basically pointless. Why? Because it can happen to you right in your own hometown. Worrying about things that are out of our control is common and easy to do. But it’s important to remember that not only is the likelihood of a disaster happening to you very low; there’s no sense in fretting about something that hasn’t even happened. After all, the only guarantee you have of having a terrible trip is worrying the entire time – or not going at all.
Fear of flying
According to The Economist, the probability of your airplane crashing is about one in 5.4 million, and other reports claim the odds are closer to 11 million. Translation: you are way more likely to be struck by lightning or attacked by a shark than you are to die in a plane crash. And you are 100 times more likely to die in a car crash on your way home from work! Still, aviophobia is a very real condition. If your fear of planes is strong enough to literally keep you from stepping foot in one, remember that you can get around the world on other forms of transportation. Trains are one of the most scenic and enjoyable ways to get around, while cruise ships keep you ensconced in a floating resort between Point A and B. And don’t rob yourself of a good car road trip now and then!
Fear of injury and illness
Again, in most cases, injury and illness are just as likely to happen to you in your own home — but there are some cases of increased risk when traveling. To offset your immune system being compromised by the stress and close proximity of travel, be sure to treat your body well: drink plenty of water, take multivitamins, eat fruits and vegetables, and get lots of rest. If you do catch a bug or virus while abroad, don’t stress. Remember that the locals in your destination get sick too; there are pharmacies, doctors, and hospitals if you need them. If you take prescription medication, be sure to bring plenty with you on your trip. I recommend bringing a signed prescription from your doctor for the generic form of your medication. Always check the vaccination requirements of the country you’re visiting and get them beforehand. And I always get traveler’s insurance before going abroad – it’s peace of mind to have that extra safety net. Just in case.