Eleanor Roosevelt once said, "Do one thing every day that scares you." That phrase was never easy to fulfill until I started traveling. There wasn't much that scared me in my typical Toronto work, home, repeat routine. However, when I embarked on my first solo travel experience at 25, I unearthed a list of fears I never knew I had, and now, roughly a decade later, I find myself grappling with the same fears on every adventure I take.
I've realized that fear is a completely acceptable emotion to feel while traveling. And instead of trying to eliminate my fears, I embrace them and use them to make each travel experience a fulfilling one. The following are three recurring fears that bump up my blood pressure before every flight or road trip, and how I cope with them on every journey.
Something Bad Will Happen When I'm Gone
Every time I board a plane and leave someone I love behind, whether it's my mom, dad, daughter, husband, or friend, I get this undeniable fear that I'll be too far away if something bad happens to them. The truth of the matter is, that if something does go wrong, I'm typically no farther away than I was at home. It takes me a day to reach my parents' home by car, and it will only take me a day to reach them by air. I always arrange ways to stay in contact with the ones I love before departing, and I never forget that I'm only a plane ride away if an emergency occurs.
I'll Lose Something
Photo credit: Jeff Nelson
Some people are ultra organized. They know where their passport, driver's license, and all of their travel money is at all times. That's not me. I have to check the secret interior pocket of my backpack 15 times to make sure I dropped my passport in there, then half the time I need it, it's magically in a different pocket. I'm used to carrying my credit card and driver's license loose in my pocket, and it takes me awhile to get used to carrying cash in foreign locations.
To combat my fear of losing something, which I know will never be cured, I have copies of my passport available online. I also keep a secret stash of $100 USD in another secret pocket, which I refuse to move or use unless I'm in an emergency. Additionally, I travel with two debit cards and two credit cards in separate places throughout my bag. That way, I can access money if one of my cards is stolen and needs to be canceled. I've learned the hard way that it's not easy to have a new credit card mailed from Toronto to a small guest house in Koggala, Sri Lanka.
I'll Get Sick With Nobody Around
Photo credit: William Brawley
Nothing can cure an illness quite like my mom's chicken noodle soup. But Montezuma's Revenge and Bali Belly don't come with a side of mom's award-winning (in our family at least) cooking. Getting sick while traveling happens, and it's a fear that has become reality for me. However, facing the illness alone couldn't be farther from what actually happened.
A 24-hour stomach bug in Thailand is all it took for me to realize that you're never truly alone when traveling. The owners and employees of the guesthouse I was visiting supplied me with more than a day's worth of tea, bottled water, hot soups, and menthol nasal inhalers (the Thai cure for just about everything).
The bottom line is that you're not the only one with travel fears, and there will never be a truly perfect time for you to travel. You'll always feel stressed before you go, and you'll always be afraid that something bad may happen. All you have to do is buy the ticket, take the adventure, and discover that when you're a traveler, you're never alone, no matter where you are.
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