Travelling turns you into a brave adventurer, whether you venture where no one has set foot before or stick to a more trodden route. But it’s easy to be put off exploring the globe with worries about safety, money or travelling alone.
Forget whatever’s holding you back: here’s how to avoid letting the ten most common fears stand in the way of your next adventure.
1. It’s too dangerous to travel right now
Threats of natural disasters, economic crises and terrorism might have you questioning whether you should be booking your next flight. But while various government bodies might warn against travel in some countries, the reality is that the vast majority of the world remains safe for travellers.
Get peace of mind by checking your government’s travel advice before departure, set up email news alerts about your chosen destination and identify the nearest embassy or consulate in case of emergencies.
2. I don’t speak the language
If you’re an English speaker, you’ve been gifted one of the finest travel luxuries: the globe’s lingua franca. Unfortunately, in places where this language doesn’t carry the same linguistic weight, communication is problematic.
But even without a common tongue, gestures and a smile are universal and learning the words for “please”, “thank you” and “I would like” can also make you sound polite – a guaranteed means of inspiring others to help you.
3. I won’t meet anyone travelling alone
The biggest fear for anyone embarking on a solo trip is that you won’t encounter others along the way. Given solo travellers now account for a quarter of all global trips abroad, there are plenty of others in the same boat. In fact, travelling is one of the easiest ways of meeting like-minded people.
Stay in hostels with large communal areas or put yourself into situations such as group activities or tours where you have no choice but to strike up a conversation. You’ll soon have an abundance of new travel companions.
4. Eating by myself? NOT my cup of tea
It might seem trivial, but the prospect of dining solo can leave even the bravest of souls quaking in their hiking boots. Don’t view it as a lonely lunch date. Instead, treat it as quality “me-time” and take a book or journal to plan the next step of your itinerary or write about your experiences that day.
Don’t be surprised if you actually end up enjoying it; the feeling of eating alone is a strangely liberating experience – once you take the plunge.
5. What if I get robbed?
When travelling with your laptop, camera and other valuables, concerns about being robbed are hard to dispel. While you can’t completely avoid this unfortunate possibility, travel insurance makes the worst case scenario more manageable. Remember to keep valuables on your person and expensive items hidden away in a rucksack so that your holiday doesn’t end up costing far more than you anticipated.
6. I’ve got a terrible sense of direction
We’re programmed to believe that knowing where we’re going at every given moment is essential, but part of the fun of travelling is getting lost – and realising that it doesn’t actually matter.
If you jump off at the wrong station or take a bus in the opposite direction than intended, who cares. Travelling teaches you to cope when things don’t go to plan and how to make the most of these unexpected mishaps-turned-adventures.
7. But everyone gets ill travelling
Delhi belly – whether you’re in India or elsewhere – is (often) impossible to avoid. In a new country, the cocktail of new bacteria in everything from the food to the sanitation facilities is a recipe for a bad stomach.
That said, you can still minimize the risk. Invest in alcohol gel hand sanitizer, drink bottled water (and use it to clean your teeth) and pick your dining spots carefully. If there’s a decent assortment of locals of all ages eating there, you’re probably onto a winner.
8. I can’t afford to travel…
One of the greatest misconceptions is that travel is expensive – but not all destinations cost the earth. Consider camping on a trip around Australia, make pilgrimage along the Camino de Santiago in Spain, road trip the length of the Americas or pick countries perfect for budget trips such as Vietnam, where you can survive on less than $8 a day.
9. …and I’ll run out of money
It’s easy to be frivolous with your money when you’re soaking up your newly-discovered travel freedom, but conscious control of your finances can prolong the fun. Plan a daily budget and a small contingency fund for larger activities, such as tours or entrance fees, and stick to it. Evaluating “luxuries”, such as your daily alcohol intake or souvenir expenditure, is an eye-opening, but ultimately money-saving activity.
10. Travel will change me
Does it matter? A little dose of life outside your own bubble is more often than not exactly what the doctor ordered. Facing up to your fears about travel will give you a liberal dose of satisfaction and prove that you should never be afraid to confront what frightens or challenges you – a lesson that we all need to be reminded of every once in a while.