5 common fears I face traveling and how I manage them

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travel fears

It still blows me away how afraid people can be of the world. I’m about to share my thoughts about #fearlesstravel. Dig in.

Maybe it’s just because we are force-fed horror travel stories and are told to have travel fears every day though online media that tells us we should be very very afraid, or everyone knows someone who had something bad happen to them traveling. Who knows. But for some reason or another we’ve come to live in a world that is portrayed as being dangerous, when the truth is, it’s not.

When I tell people I travel alone as a woman, you wouldn’t believe the crap I hear back and how I must be crazy.

I realized a long time ago that the world is not as scary as we are led to believe and to take what people say with a grain of salt. For me and based on my experiences, the good and positive travel moments and memories far outweigh the bad.

I wish we lived in a more positive world, don’t you?

travel fears

travel fears

Travel is really not that scary guys. And one of the most beautiful things about travel is learning to face your fears and overcome challenges on the road. At least for me, that’s one of the main reasons I love travel.

In some ways I’ve become super complacent when on the road. I’ve been traveling for so long I’m almost oblivious to the obvious fears now, which can’t be a good thing. Luckily my mother raised me to be mildly anxious all the time, so I’ve managed to establish a few key things I always do so I stay out of trouble, mostly. I’ve talked before about how I cope with fear on the road

I thought I’d go ahead and share with you guys some of the travel fears I’ve faced over the years (and continue to face, to be honest) and how I cope with them in the hopes that it might inspire you go explore the world too and be less afraid. Enjoy!

travel fears

travel fears

1. Losing something important

I’m really mostly afraid of losing something important like my computer or passport or one million cameras. I’ve never had a really serious theft or pickpocket moment in all my travels, so I am less worried about that or even about being mugged, but more about forgetting something, damaging or having something swiped when I’m on the road.

One time I had my GoPro nicked out of my bag on a train in Europe and then of course there is the famous Camel Incident of 2013. Goodbye brand new DSLR. Luckily right before that trip I invested in travel property insurance with Clements, which paid for itself with the cost of the repair. One of the smartest things I’ve ever done, and have kept my gear and valuables insured with Clements ever since.

I keep copies of my passport online and in paper and have multiple bank cards in case one gets swiped or stops working. There are a few little preventative measures you can take that can really protect if something goes wrong.

travel fears

2. Physical challenges

This is probably my biggest fear – I’ve never really considered myself a super physical person or an athlete but I love adventure travel that often involves getting my hands dirty. So it’s unavoidable.

I used to be a lot more adventurous than I am not, in terms of jumping off cliffs and doing generally crazy things. I was always the first person to go for it, and now I find myself crippled with anxiety that I can’t even place.

My approach to dealing with these fears is pretty straightforward. I tackle them head on.

For example after almost breaking my back in Jordan, I decided to go on a horseback riding trip in Mongolia to conquer my fears of riding animals. Best decision I’ve ever made.

travel fears

3. Feeling lonely

I’m known for doing a lot of solo female travel around the world, a fact that many people can’t really wrap their heads around. To them it seems that a woman traveling alone is an inherent risk, but to me it isn’t. I find solo travel super rewarding and I love it.

I don’t really have any fears around it anymore because I’ve traveled so much alone and nothing has ever happened.

My only fear around solo travel now is more personal – feeling lonely. I combat this by making sure that when I start to feel alone, I meet up with other travelers, readers or join in on group tours or pub crawls. You can travel solo and never really even be alone if you want. It’s great.

travel fears

4.  Feeling unsafe

To be totally honest, this is not a fear that I generally have when traveling because I tend to blatantly ignore it when people tell me a place isn’t safe. Pure stubbornness is one of my greatest character strengths.

And so many of the warnings we receive in the news or online can be completely biased. I tend to only listen to firsthand experiences and avoid war-torn countries.

For example I went to Turkey back in 2013 right after an American woman was murdered and everyone cautioned me against it. Turns out, Turkey became one of my favorite countries and I felt completely safe traveling there as a woman and I’m going back again in a few months.

My advice is to take what people say with a grain of salt, especially if they haven’t even been to the place they are cautioning you about.

travel fears

5. Getting sick

Without a doubt, getting sick on the road is one of the most annoying things you have to go through as a traveler, and trust me, it happens.

As it turns out, I’m currently recovering from a suspected case of Dengue Fever from my last trip overseas. Kill me now.

In general, I try to be careful when traveling about what I eat and getting bit by mosquitos but at the end of the day, most of the time the chances of something happening are slim to none.

What are some fears you face when traveling and what’s your best advice for overcoming them? What are your tips for #fearlesstravel? Share in the comments. 

travel fears

travel fears

Many thanks to Clements for protecting me over the years – like always, I’m keeping it real. All opinions are my own, like you could expect less from me. 

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148 Comments on “5 common fears I face traveling and how I manage them

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  1. Hi Liz. Great article. This is spot on. As a solo female traveler, I’ve lost things (my Go Pro and Kindle), I’ve gotten sick (also Dengue Fever in Costa Rica- 5 days in the hospital there was pretty awful), and yeah, loneliness does get to me sometimes.

    Losing things is a pain and I remember crying when it happened to me because I was so frustrated by the whole situation. But I agree with what Natalia said above, I remember thinking to myself “they’re just things and they can be replaced, it’s not the end of the world.” The next day, I was over it. I was actually grateful how long I had gone without losing anything of value and the overall benefits I get from solo traveling far outweigh any temporary frustrations.

    Getting sick was no fun, but I realized how important it is to have travel insurance (thank gosh I was covered) and well, I should wear more mosquito repellent. Do I regret going to Costa Rica because I got sick? Heck no, not at all, and I would encourage anyone to not let the fear of sickness stop you. Just do your best to take whatever precautions you can, but be practical and know that you are not invincible no matter where you are, even home. 7 months in SE Asia and I didn’t get sick once, except for a day or two of what I suspected was minor dehydration.

    Lastly, even though I can find other travelers to be around, sometimes I still feel lonely because I don’t find deeper connections. These can be harder to come by and often I immediately want to be around somebody who just gets me. If that is lacking, it’s amazing what an hour Skype call with a friend or loved one back home will do 🙂

    Whenever fear starts creeping in for me, no matter what it is, I close my eyes and remind myself: “The only thing we have to fear, is fear itself.”

  2. Great post, Liz. I was recently chatting with some friends of mine and I could tell that, while they think my travels are cool, they’d be very nervous to do the same themselves and in fact, seem to think much of the world (even relatively safe places in Europe) are scary. It shouldn’t be this way! The more you learn, the more you realize how little there really is to be afraid of when traveling, and that most of the world isn’t dangerous and is in fact full of beautiful places to experience. We should never let fear hold us back!

  3. Hi Liz! Absolutely love this blog post as I write to you from a café in Mexico City. Your writing has truly and profoundly inspired me over the years to pursue my dreams involving solo female travel. I moved here almost two months ago and loneliness can be the toughest part, particularly if you beat yourself up for feeling lonely or think you should feel something different. I try to remember that all emotions are beautiful (as cheesy as that sounds) and that we can’t always be happy/positive 100% of the time; we’re human. You’re so right: you are never really alone while traveling.

    What you’re saying about fear and travel is so crucial and important. If we listened to every negative opinion or worst case scenario, no one would travel anywhere. We’d be too scared to explore our interests and live our dreams. I love your perspective of tackling your fears head on because it reminds me that it’s completely okay (and understandable) to be scared. The best way to cope with those feelings is definitely to *feel the fear & do it anyway.*

    Thank you so much for writing this!

  4. I can definitely relate to this. I’ve only just started traveling solo but people really do seem to think it’s kind of a weird thing to do. I expressed my wish of visiting St. Petersburg and Moscow and my friend immediately started a rant on how unsafe that would be.. sigh..
    I think it’s a good thing to always be *a little* afraid because that’s just common sense and makes you think about what you do, as long as it doesn’t stop you from doing anything.

    1. Common sense is good but telling people how unsafe a place is unless they have firsthand experience there is ridiculous, one of my biggest pet peeves.

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