Being Afraid Of Travel And Why It’s OK

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Being Afraid Of Travel And Why It’s OK is a guest post by Dave and Vicky from A Couple Travelers

the unknown travel road

Yes, I’ll admit it. Sometimes the idea of traveling scares me. It’s not the whole danger aspect that your parents would have you believe. Although that scares me a bit too, I can get over that.

I know that the possibility of danger is an everywhere-possibility, not unique to travel.

I also know that, while we are going to try to go as off the beaten path as we can, the fact of the matter is that most of our destinations are pretty well traveled. In fact, sometimes I think everyone and their mother has backpacked through South-East Asia, but that’s another post entirely.

My fear is a fear of failure.

For the first time in a long time, at least two years, Vicky and I are trying something. In fact, we’re not just trying something, we’re going ALL OUT.

We’ve invested a lot of time into this travel; planning the trip, designing the website, connecting with other travel bloggers. I know we’re going to have an awesome time, but I can have an awesome time visiting friends for a weekend, and it requires a hell of a lot less preparation.

I’m looking to have a life-changing experience.

But what if it isn’t, like everyone says it will be? And trust me, everyone DOES say it will be.

“Wow, two years of continuous travel, that’s going to be a life-changing experience!”

Am I over thinking this? I mean, what if it isn’t?

What if we go to these places, have a good time, see some things, and come back (relatively) unchanged short of a few great stories to tell? Is that even possible – does that happen to people?

As silly as it sounds, there is a lot of pressure to have my life changed, people are going to be expecting insights that maybe we won’t have. It’s no guarantee, you know.

What if we miss the boat entirely? Ever been in one of those painful conversations where someone thinks your an expert on a subject and wants to talk on and on about it and it turns out they’re the real expert and your just a big phony?

Yea, it could be like that.

This is an added pressure that I wasn’t aware we’d be taking on until word got out, and I have no reassurance that we’re up to the challenge.

And that’s not all.

Yes, there are other, more tangible fears as well, particularly around the blog. Vicky and I are trying to run a successful travel blog. Now, I’m ready and willing to admit that there are varying degrees of success. You can define it pretty loosely, if you want.

Frankly, I haven’t really defined what mine is. Is it money? Is it fame? Is it the satisfaction of a job well done, or all of the above? Whatever it is, there’s both a degree of hard work and a degree of uncertainty that is going to factor into it, no matter how loosely you define it.

If Vicky and I don’t meet the standards we set it will be a huge blow to our confidence. At least, it will certainly be a huge blow to my confidence, because unlike that failed exam that you can brush off and say, well I didn’t study that hard (as all recipients of failed exams say) that is not an option here.

I’m well aware of the work that I’ve put in and have a pretty good idea of the work that it will take going forward. If we don’t “succeed” it will simply be because we weren’t cut out for it, and that’s a harsh reality, because it’s been a long time since I went out of my comfort zone like this, and it’s been a long time since I “wasn’t cut out for something”.

Oh, and did I mention the most obvious, overarching concern?

What the heck are we going to do when we get back? What’s the reentry plan here?

I think Vicky and I know that we aren’t going to travel forever – few can. Our plan is a 2 year plan.

If things went REALLY well, is it possible that we could extend it, maybe taking on South America and Africa in addition to Europe and Asia? Absolutely! Part of what keeps me going is the idea that it IS a possibility.

But there are limits.

At some point, and I don’t know what that is but I could venture a guess that it’s got an upper limit of 5 years maximum, we’re going to want to settle down into a more stable (eek!) life. Which raises the question…

Where do we go from here?

I don’t know. I don’t have a 5 year plan (yet). I have a 2 year plan, and it’s taking all of my time. It’s something we’re going to have to figure out on the road.

Last but not least, let’s not forget that this all rests on the back of a somewhat flimsy assumption that:

We’re going to enjoy traveling for 2 years

I mean, how can you really know? Can you extrapolate a 2 week trip in Greece to 2 YEARS on the road? I think not – but I have no hair left to pull.

So, wherein lies the “it’s OK” part that I eluded to in the title?

It’s OK because we’re taking a risk.

Like I said, it’s been a long time since we really took a risk. In fact, the last time I took a risk was almost a year ago when I tried stand up comedy. Hold that “cool!” that you may or may not have been thinking – I only did it twice, but it was a risk that I didn’t have to take and I do feel that I put myself out there. However, compared to this, that was nothing.

But I wouldn’t have it any other way.

Life is meant to be lived, to take risks. We’re young and the time is now. Insert your cliche here!

I’d rather have something worth being afraid of than just going through the motions.

A couple travelers
Dave and Vicky together

Bio: Having spent 2 years in the working world, Dave and Vicky are ready to exchange their briefcases for backpacks, dress shoes for sandals, and beds for sleeping bags. Starting in September they will be embarking on a 2 year journey across Asia and Europe. You can follow along at A Couple Travelers where you’ll find travel reflections, blogging resources and restaurant reviews.

What fears did you encounter when it came time for you to travel the world? Or are those fears stopping you?

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29 thoughts on “Being Afraid Of Travel And Why It’s OK”

  1. I think these are common fears. When I did my first 4-month road trip across the U.S., it wasn’t life changing. Just a really good time with lots of good memories. If you’re traveling for two years, though, how could it not be life changing? You’ll be a completely different person, much more enriched and enlightened, when it’s over.

  2. Funny, you sound like me about the planning. I can get so wrapped up in the what-ifs and thinking about what’s going to happen later on down the road, but really, you can’t try to figure out what you’re going to want to do 2-5 years from now. Being away from a traditional job for an extended period will totally change your perspective on it. Two years of travel will undoubtedly change you, but probably not in any way that you might be thinking of right now. Just enjoy the ride and take lots of pictures!

  3. I think (hope!) these are common fears. I certainly have them. Especially the fear of failing – failing to have the trip impact the way it ‘should’. Which sucks. Because then I think I’m failing by being worried I might fail. self-doubt is a wonderful thing. Ultimately, though, as you’ve said, better to risk it than stay home and wonder ‘what if?’ I hope your trip turns out as amazing as you hope! I’m sure it will.

  4. Honestly, this fear of travelling also bothers me even to the point of cancelling flights and on the last minute, pursue my travel plans. Thanks for this post and sort of reassures me enough to conquer my fears and face the future with so much prospects and promise.

    Cheers! 🙂

  5. I believe the key is not over thinking it. Just go. Don’t plan too much. Let the people you meet dictate your path. Some of the best experiences are to unexpected destinations you didn’t know existed, with travelers you didn’t know 2 days ago.

  6. Elle of Solo Female Nomad

    I think its good to not let your guard down too much whilst traveling, and having a little fear is healthy. As long as it doesn’t interfere with your enjoyment than it shouldn’t be a problem

  7. Hey Dave 2.

    A real man has gotta do his share of risk-taking. Success is relative and irrelevant at times. Set a standard for yourself and don’t mind what others think. Fail as many times until you succeed too. Cheers!

  8. I was once afraid to travel and meet new people. But there came a time when I felt something was missing. There I realized I want a new experience. Travelling is the answer. 😀

  9. I am scared of a lot of things that I regularly do. In some sense, overcoming the fears is a part of the challenge 🙂

  10. I get what Dave and Vicky are on about here COMPLETELY. I’m heading on my RTW next year, with the aim of growing my travel blog and trying to make it into a sustainable lifestyle. I get income from it now, but I also have a job that pays me a monthly salary – when I’m on the road next year that’s gone and, well, let’s just say that failure isn’t an attractive option and does scare me a little bit.

    I’m not sure that every trip can be called “life changing”, in the sense that you come to all these profound realisations – and that’s not something that everyone should expect on every trip. There’s no shame in coming back from a trip with nothing but a bunch of great memories, photos, and a belly full of food that you tried out for the first time.

    1. Tell me about it Tom – now that we’re approaching our lift off date (literally 1 mth away), the idea of NOT having a sustainable income is really starting to set in. Every little expense is beginning to drive me mad lol.

  11. I agree with how you closed the post, “I’d rather have something worth being afraid of than just going through the motions”. Fear is exactly here to tell you that you haven’t taken a risk in a year and there are lots of new risks now. It’s here to remind you how much you’re growing and expanding. It basically wants to protect you – yet can be used as an indicator to how amazing it is to expand your comfort zone. Ultimately, there’s a good chance you’re about to have a fantastic experience – whether it meets your expectations (or others’ expectations) or surprises you in ways you can’t even imagine yet. I hope you have tons of fun 🙂

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