For some of us the idea of travel is great, in theory. But for a lot of people leaving the people and places you know to go somewhere hundreds of miles away is pretty scary and quite a big leap of faith to take. So in this post I want to outline a few ways to overcome the fear of travelling, and also some ways you can travel that are a bit less scary.
Test the waters
When I went travelling for my big trip I didn’t just jump straight in, I’d done smaller trips before and experienced what it might all be like. I can’t recommend enough taking this approach if you’re feeling a bit nervous about travelling. Think about what style of travel you might want to do and give it a go for a short while. Often with travelling you won’t know until you experience things, so getting a taster isn’t just great for overcoming any fears you might have, it could also be a great money saver for you in the future as you won’t waste money on things you’ll know you don’t enjoy. You might realise for example that actually having stayed in a 15 bed dorm, you now can’t imagine anything worse. So I’d advise do a short trip of 1-2 weeks in a similar style to how you’re thinking you’d like to travel, and you’ll come back feeling more confident and also knowing more what you do and don’t want out of travel.
Travel with people you know or in a group
A lot of people are a bit nervous about travelling on their own, I was and still am to a certain extent. Especially with places where I don’t know the culture too well, or that are known for being tough to travel such as India for example. So if you’re nervous about travelling on your own through a country don’t let it stop you, go with a group. I would never have travelled through Africa if it weren’t for doing it with a group, and in fact if I had done it on my own I wouldn’t have seen and experienced nearly as much. Travelling in a group is also a great way to meet people and have others in the same boat as you, who will find it equally scary not knowing anyone else at first. I’ve actually met most of my closest travel friends on group trips. An alternative to group travel, which a lot of people choose, is to travel with a friend or loved one which also acts as a bit of a safety net on being on your own.
Travel closer to home, or to similar cultures to your own
There seems to be a big misconception that to travel you have to go to the furthest most different places imaginable. I disagree. In fact, it’s a lot cheaper, easier and much less scary when you start to visit places close to home. When was the last time you did a road trip in your own country? Have you seen all that your own and neighbouring countries have to offer? If you haven’t then why not? If you visit places less far away you’ll be closer to home in case you hate it or freak out, and you’ll also experience great things. Not to mention often travellers from across the world will have come all the way to your country to see things you just take for granted, so you’ll likely come across other travellers along the way too.
Talk, Read, Watch – Gain confidence from others experiences
There’s nothing better for your confidence or to dismiss any fears you may have, than seeing people have done what you’re afraid to, and realising those fears were actually easily overcome. So talk through your fears with any friends or colleagues who have travelled and see what they say and what advice they can give. If you’re worried about approaching people, I can pretty much guarantee that anyone that’s travelled will be more than happy to nostalgically reminisce and give you advice based on their experiences. You can and should also read and watch material from other travellers, blogs are great for getting in depth personal experiences from a really diverse group of travellers. You’re not the first person who has been a bit nervous about travel, there are plenty there that are in the same position, and also that were and overcame it. You can also check out some good tv/film/documentaries from other travellers. A personal recommendation if you’re a bit nervous about travel is ‘a map for saturday’, which is a documentary documenting a travellers experience from start to finish. He takes you through the whole experience as he goes along, including the scary moments when you’re first on your own through to coming out the other side, and I can’t recommend it enough.
Get your trip planned in advance
I’ve always been an organised person. The idea of booking one flight and winging it for a year is really not my cup of tea. A lot of this fear here is admittedly FOMO, fear of missing out. What if I don’t see all I want to, or run out of money, or get stuck somewhere I hate, or look back afterwards realising I didn’t make the best use of my trip? But it’s also fear of just not knowing what the plan is and where I’ll be going, it kind of freaked me out. So what I did was, with the help of a friend who just happened to work for flight centre, booked all my flights and trip in advance. Not only did this take away money worries and make budgeting a lot easier, it also gave me a plan and let me know what I was doing every step of the way, which made me a lot less anxious about all the above. I had all my paperwork in advance and had made sure I was getting the best deals ahead of time paying for as much of my trip as possible up front.
Have you got anything that helped you get over the fear of travel?