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9 Fears that stop you from traveling (and how to overcome them)

A lot of people dream of traveling the world. As you are following this blog, you are probably one of them. Only a small percentage of those people make their dream come true. Why that?

Because of fears that are holding them back.

But everyone has fears. The people who travel and the people who don’t. You are not alone in this. Making decisions requires courage, willpower and sacrifices. Some people make it work and you can too.

Don’t think if you are afraid of something, you shouldn’t do it. Instead consider it as a signal. You think of about it. You want to do it.

So do it despite your fears.

Don’t let these fears stop you from traveling, overcome them and make your dream come true.

Fear of being lonely

Issue: You don’t find anyone who will travel with you and you are scared to go on your own? You are scared to be lonely as you don’t know anyone. You are scared of missing your family and friends and having no one to travel with.

How to overcome the fear: I don’t say that you will never be lonely, there will be times when you wish to see a familiar face to talk to in confidence, wish to get a hug from someone who loves you. Homesickness will hit you at one point.

But I’ll tell you something. If you don’t want to be alone, you don’t have to. Stay in dorm rooms in hostel, join hostel activities, stay in the common areas, take part in guided tours and be open-minded. That’s all you need and I guarantee you that you meet people and won’t be alone.

There are thousands of people traveling solo and all of them feel like you and want to be among others. So put yourself out there, talk to them, be nice and open-minded and you will make new friends and enjoy the journey even more because the people you meet often make the difference.

Fear of being lonely

Traveling with a tour group in New Zealand

And if homesickness hits you, use Skype to talk with your family and friends, get out there and do something to distract yourself or talk to other people on the road. They often have already experienced the same, know how you feel and are able to help you.

Further reading:

Fear of ending up without money

Issue: You are scared that the money you saved won’t be enough to travel the world. You are scared that you end up on the street without having money to pay for accommodation or food.

How to overcome the fear: Always think what is the worst thing that could happen. If you run out of money, just book a flight back home and get a job there. Problem solved.

Keep track of your expenses and always observe how much you have available. Have an emergency fund, so if it should be the case that you don’t have any money, you still are able to book a flight.

And if you don’t want to go back home and don’t have much money left, do work exchanges that pay you with food and accommodation for a few hours of work or if it’s possible get a paid job in your destination. You don’t need to be rich to travel. Many people make it work without letting their parents pay their trip or starting their trip with heaps of cash on their accounts. They just make it work. Stay in dorm rooms of hostels, cook your own meals, try couch surfing, explore destinations independently so you don’t have costs for tours. Read the posts below to find more information.

Fear of ending up without money

Always keep track of your expenses (Source)

Seriously, don’t let this fear stop you. If you start with little money, stay longer in the places and do work exchanges. You will have very little expenses and travel more intensively.

Further reading:

Fear of getting robbed/injured

Issue: You want to travel to countries which are supposed to be more dangerous than your home country but are too scared of getting robbed or injured by anyone.

How to overcome the fear: Of course you can never be completely sure if something might happen to you. But this can happen to you at home as well. In fact a lot of places are safer than some cities in the US for example.

The chances that you get into those situations are small (if you don’t choose to travel to countries in war) when you take a few precautions. Make your research before you go, find out which areas of the city to avoid or ask the receptionist of your hostel. Avoid going out at night on your own. Don’t get too drunk as then you are an easy target and people who look for victims will notice that. Always pay attention to your surroundings. If you don’t feel safe, leave. Learn to trust your gut.

Some countries are easier to travel through than others. If you travel solo for the first time, go to easy destinations. There is an existing backpacking trail. It is mainly safe and you will always meet other travelers.

All in all, I can tell you from my experience of several long-term trips that most people are nice and don’t want to harm you. So please don’t let this fear stop you from traveling.

Further reading:

Fear of getting sick

Issue: You’re scared of getting sick on the road? Getting a cold might be the smallest issue. What if you have problems with your teeth, you break some bones or you have a serious accident?

How to overcome the fear: Very easy. Just think those things can happen to you anywhere. Sure, medical conditions might be different around the world. But they have good hospitals in a lot of places around the world.

It’s important that you get an international health insurance before you travel. I recommend World Nomads (worldwide) and Hanse Merkur (for Germans).

Fear of being sick

Being in a hospital while traveling (Source)

Also visit your doctors for check-ups and necessary immunizations before you go. In places where there is a chance of getting malaria or dengue fever, take the necessary precautions.

Further reading:

Fear of culture shock

Issue: You travel to a complete different culture at the end of the world and are scared of a culture shock.

How to overcome the fear: If you think you might get a culture shock, start your trip with an easy destination. Go to Europe, Australia or the US. Thailand is supposed to be an easy destination for first time travelers. Do some research and go to a country where you think you are most likely to fit. With time, you will get used to change and will enjoy getting out there in different cultures that make you leaving your comfort zone on a regular basis.

Fear of culture shock

Djemaa el Fna in Marrakesh

Another thing to avoid cultural shock is to learn the local language, at least the basics. This way it’s easier for you to talk to locals, ask for directions, buy some food or to eat out. You will feel more confident in your surroundings which decreases the risk of a culture shock.

Further reading:

Fear of getting lost

Issue: You have a bad sense of orientation and are scared of getting lost in an unfamiliar city.

How to overcome the fear: When arriving in your destination, ask your hostel for a map. Take it always with you as well as a business card with the address of your hostel. Learn to ask for directions in the local language. And if you are really scared of getting lost, take some cash, so you can catch a taxi if you don’t find your way back. This will calm you down.

Generally, getting lost is a good thing. Sometimes you should get lost on purpose. Put away that map and walk where your feet guide you. That way you will find hidden gems and places other tourists might not see. But always do your research which areas of the city are safe for that and which aren’t!

Fear of getting lost

Getting lost in Alfama, Lisbon

Fear of the unknown

Issue: You have never traveled that long before. You have never traveled on your own before. You don’t know what to expect and are scared of the uncertainty. What if you don’t like it? What if your dream turns out to be a nightmare you don’t enjoy? What if you fail?

How to overcome the fear: You will never know if you enjoy traveling if you never try. You might love it or you might hate it because you are homesick or you’re having a culture shock or whatever. But if you never try, you never know. And one day, you’ll regret that you’ve never tried. You will always think “what if I had gone traveling…”. Those thoughts and regrets are worse than any failure.

If you don’t like it, just go back to routine. Go back home into your old life. Nobody will blame you. In fact, it will just make you a stronger person, you will learn much more about yourself, about the things you enjoy and the things you cannot live without. Traveling makes you reflect a lot on your life and even though you find out that you don’t enjoy it, you tried it and won’t have any regrets.

Fear of others’ opinions

Issue: You dream of traveling the world, about quitting your job and leaving everything behind? But you are scared of others’ opinions. “Will they think I am crazy for leaving my job behind for an unstable and uncertain way of life?”

How to overcome your fear: First one thing: You cannot please everyone. Never. But that’s not a reason to do not do it. Talk with someone you trust about your dreams and plans first. Someone who is maybe similar to you and are more likely to understand your reasons. This way you get more confident about your plans.

Be sure about why you want to travel so you are able to explain it to the people that are important to you. I know it hurts when someone don’t understand your reasons. But every person is different. One person is the happiest when being in familiar places, never leaving the city’s cathedral tower out of sight. But others might be the happiest being in new places over and over again. Making new experiences and growing as a person.

Talk to people who have the same plans as you, register in online forums or Facebook groups. You will be more confident when you find out how many people have the same opinion and the same dreams as you even though the one’s around you don’t understand you.

And when you go traveling and people who are important to you notice how happy you are living your dream, they will understand you even though they can imagine that life for themselves. They will know it was the right decision and be happy for you.

And please don’t care of what people think who are not important to you. They might be jealous and don’t admit it. Do what makes you happy and nothing else!

Further reading:

Fear of going back

Issue: You are scared of what might happen if you go back. Will I ever find a job? Will my friends still be there? Thoughts like this eat your brain.

How to overcome that fear: Getting back is tough. You had a life full of experiences in most cases without a real routine. You had a lot of action all day long and saw new things on a regular basis. Getting back to “normal”, having a routine might be stressful at first. But you will get used to it. And if not: change something in your life to make it enjoyable. Don’t stay at home depressed that you are back. Travel in your backyard. Explore your own hometown as if you’d be a tourist. Get to know your country better. Make small trips to keep your travel lifestyle alive.

Fear of getting back

Getting back (Source)

And you will find a job. It might not be in a week but don’t worry to much about that. Nowadays employers are likely to understand people who travel. I heard a lot of people who went to job interviews and ended up telling stories from their travels as the interviewer was interested in it.

Travel doesn’t mean you don’t want to work. Explain that through travel, you gained flexibility and open-mindedness. You learned to deal with different and difficult situations. You can get around by yourself. You leave your comfort zone. Those are skills that are in demand on the job market. Point out those skills during the interview and you’ll be fine.

And if the person do not understand your reasons, it’s probably not the right company anyway.

If you’re still not convinced that travel can help your career if you do it right than do something during your travels. Do an internship in your field, take part in a language course or volunteer to have a big extra on your CV.

And about the friends thing…If your friends are for real, they will still be there. I worried about that as well. Of course you might lose contact to some, but those are probably the ones that weren’t really close to you. The ones who love you, will still be there when you come back and you will continue where you stopped.

Further reading:

Conclusion

I myself know a lot of those fear very good.

I’m afraid of lonely days.
I am afraid of ending up with no money in my pockets even though I work location independent. The uncertainty sometimes leaves me sleepless.
I’m afraid of getting into dangerous situations.
I’m afraid that people I love don’t understand my reasons.

But did all this stop me from trying to live the life I want for myself? Definitely not.

I always keep in mind what I can do when one of those fears will occur in reality. That way I can decrease my fears every time they come up because there is always a solution for each arising problem.

And you know why I started traveling even though I have those fears and why you should not let them stop you?

Because trying and failing is still better than not trying and living all your life with the what ifs in your head.

Do you have fears that stop you from traveling? 

4 thoughts on “9 Fears that stop you from traveling (and how to overcome them)

    1. Stef Post author

      Thank you Len. Yes not looking at other people’s opinion is something I have to learn more as well. Sometimes it’s really difficult but it gets easier over time.

  1. Shannon // Camera & Carry On

    Good advice, no one should let their fears stop them from seeing the world! I just wrote about some of my fears while traveling, they’re a little more odd ball, and out there, but I think making it funny helps 🙂 Check it out and let me know what you think. http://www.cameraandcarryon.com/travel-fears-and-crazy-thoughts/
    Shannon // Camera & Carry On recently posted…Honest to Goodness Fears & Crazy Person Thoughts I’ve Had While TravelingMy Profile

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