Your heart races, you start to sweat, and a state of intense fear overcomes you; this is terror. I’m one of those people who hate watching scary movies, I never go in haunted houses (thanks to some scarring incidents as a kid), and I don’t watch shows about ghost hunters.
Chances are that if you are contemplating taking a career break or doing long term travel, your journey to achieving your travel dreams are full of terror and fear. Sure, no one is calling you telling you they are inside of your house, but they just as well may be – the feeling is the same. The majority of people who leave their jobs, take a career break and do long term travel have experienced it. But the question is, will you let it stop you?
Everyone Experiences Travel Fears Sometimes
Read my original article from 2006 about my travel fears before departing on my around the world trip.
Fear is a vital response to physical and emotional danger—if we didn’t feel it, we couldn’t protect ourselves from legitimate threats. The key word here is ‘legitimate’. Often we fear situations that are far from legitimate life-or-death, and thus hang back for no good reason. This is why most people never take that long term around the world trip or career break they dream of.
Why People Are Scared to do Long Term Travel
If preparing to do long term travel was a haunted house, there would be 4 main rooms that’s you’d pass through on this creepy ride.
I don’t have enough money to travel for months, you have to be rich to travel.
What will others think if I leave my job to do long term travel – my family, friends and peers won’t be supportive.
I will ruin my career with a gap on my resume. Employers will think that I’m lazy and not serious.
It’s too dangerous to travel to foreign countries. What if I get sick, hurt, kidnapped, or my things stolen.
You may relate to one or all of these fears to varying degrees. But an important first step is to recognize that these hurdles and thoughts are really stories you have created about yourself. They are not necessarily true, but they can have self-fulfilling consequences.
It is 100% certain that your decision to take a break to travel will feel completely half-baked and you will think you will fail at it.
4 Ways to Conquer Your Fear of Traveling
1. Use Best Case Scenario and Positive Thinking
We dream up all of these horrible scenarios of never getting a job again, or being broke and destitute, being kidnapped abroad and the one we respond to is typically the one that is the most vivid and horrifying because it’s easier to imagine. Yet we push aside our less vivid fears – such as staying in a stressful job that slowly kills us or ruins our health.
It’s easy to imagine the worst, we do it all the time. However, I challenge you to think about “What if everything goes right?” for a change. That’s right – just close your eyes and think about those perceived fears and hurdles as opportunities.
A Positive Spin to Your Travel Fears
• Financial: I can learn how to better save money & budget which will benefit me/my family in the long run. I will also realize that I don’t need as much money as I think to be happy.
• Societal: Others will love hearing my story of following my passions and I will inspire others to do the same.
• Career: By traveling longer and more in depth, I will be more knowledgeable of the world and it’s cultures, a better communicator, able to work in a variety of environments, and demonstrate great flexibility that will make me stand out in interviews and cover letters.
• Safety: I will learn ways to remain safe no matter where I am in the world and will see that how people & places are perceived in the media is not necessarily true for entire countries.
There is always a way to over get hurdles – always. Positive thinking is just a start.
2. Remember that Time is On Your Side
Keeping your fears all bottled up inside makes them turn into irrational, horrific monsters. Simply confronting and talking about your fears over time is another way to climb over the hurdles.
3. Research the Fear
Another way to overcome the fear is to educate yourself. It’s easy to jump to conclusions; it’s hard to do research. Instead of letting the fears spiral out of control, stay calm, do some research, and see if your fears are real or not. Find out what it costs to do a year long trip. Find other people who have done what you want to do and contact them and ask questions. I get questions all the time about long term travel here at my blog.
4. Push Through Your Fear
The key is to get used to the sensation of fear. Because this won’t be the first time on this travel journey that you will encounter it. In fact, know that this is only the beginning. There is inherent fear in traveling, fear in being alone, fear that you will get sick, fear that you will be robbed, fear that you are lost, fear that you are running out of money, and in a cruel twist – you will even have fear in returning to your home when the travel is finished. Anticipate and embrace the inevitable sensation of fear. It’s not easy, but it must be done to get anywhere. You’ve been doing it your whole life from the first day you went to school, to the first time you dove off of the high dive at the swimming pool, to the first time you went into a haunted house by yourself; why can’t you do it now?
Don’t Forget (Or Listen to) The Naysayers
In addition to you holding yourself back, your friends, family, colleagues, and media will tell you that your plan won’t work.
Those people will also tell you to work your butt off until you are 65 and then live your life. If you think that’s the answer, then fine, believe the people that tell you it won’t work. But seriously – when did you start listening to what others tell you to do? You are no longer a kid or a young adult. You can make your own decisions, take your own risks, and craft your own life. Make sure that you surround yourself with people who think it will work and thinks it’s a damn good idea!
Don’t balk at the sensation of fear – push through it – it’s only then that you will realize that travel is not to be feared!
By Jared October 27, 2015 - 12:48 pm
Well said Sherry! I completely agree with the part about how most friends/family/colleagues will think you’re crazy. In my experience, most people have a response of shock and awe when you tell them you are embarking on a big trip. Not sure if this is jealousy or a warning!
I think a big obstacle is the planning aspect but of course that’s why Meet Plan Go exists!
By Daniel P Unger October 28, 2015 - 5:52 am
Getting very close to one year since we met at the beach. You have become my favorite wordsmith. The clarity of your direction in stating things I already have thought of but never verbalized is SPOOKY and a bit scary too. Boo! Did you the moon last night?
I know you have never visited where I am at now. I know you have fear that it will not be what you need now. I am telling you that is a rational fear. Get over it!
By DeJavieur L Speller October 28, 2015 - 11:23 pm
Well said putting a positive spin on things is a great way to overcome the fears. I quit my job in 2009 thinking I was going to live abroad for 1 year that has turned into 6 years. It is fearful but also gave me the opportunity to look at things from a different perspective and the life experiences are priceless. Finding a job there will always be one around enjoying life and being healthy I’d rather be.
By Mary D November 1, 2015 - 10:57 am
It helps me to remember that the biochemical makeup of fear is closely related to excitement. Flipping the name makes it easier to get on with my plans and I find those around me respond positively to that excitement.
Your photographs are fantastic as always. The Spanish castle shot is my new, all-time favorite! It looks just like the frowny face emoticon a good friend uses. Thanks.
By Sherry November 2, 2015 - 7:31 am
Thanks Mary for your input! I love the idea of mentally flipping the name! We spend so much time worrying when we could be using that energy for excitement. Love it!
By Kanchan November 2, 2015 - 2:32 am
Great travel blog, there are so many types of fear while traveling. Many people has fear of traveling through air plane or fear of height. This is a interesting post for those who fear from traveling.
By Cest La Vibe November 10, 2015 - 8:25 pm
Love this article! Definitely some great ways to spin the 4 common travel fears!
By Lombok Wander November 10, 2015 - 11:32 pm
Wow.. The bus is very dangerous !
By Solo Female Travelers Over 40 | Adventurous Kate November 16, 2015 - 6:00 am
[…] Read: How to Overcome Travel Fears […]
By Gayla November 16, 2015 - 9:15 am
This is a great post! I like the idea of travel as a way of gaining knowledge and developing extra skills. There is so much to learn about out in the world 🙂
By Marcella Pearson November 20, 2015 - 8:18 am
What a great post! Amazing! I know few people who travel a lot. They don`t have jobs from 9 to 5 and they are perfectly happy. You are right that travel is everything that we need. Thank you for sharing your article! Best regards!
By Chillax Resort January 6, 2017 - 1:30 am
thanks for informative post. this really helps in cheap accommadations.
By Al July 31, 2018 - 3:52 pm
Interesting article and very uplifting!
I’m not from the U.S. but my biggest fear is encountering foreign hatred for where I’m from, because I’ve heard all my friends saying “everyone hates us” all the time and it’s made me really nervous about travelling abroad. It’s frustrating because I want to go to new places, meet new people and see what different cultures are like, but that fear of people holding historical grudges and hostility has made me hesitant.
Anyone got any thoughts on this?