There are many common fears that hold people back from seeing the world, and they all cause travel anxiety that manifests in many different ways. To me it relates with the fact that the majority of people are “afraid of the unknown”. On the other hand, some people might say, “fear of traveling”? “Who’s afraid of traveling”? It’s similar to “fear of success” in that it seems like the last thing a person could have a fear of. However, I can’t think of a better way to conquer the majority of your fears on a variety of subjects, than by conquering your travel anxiety. Because it encompasses so many of your other fears, that you might not even be aware of.
“Courage is a love affair with the unknown” – Osho
Main Fears That Cause Travel Anxiety When Traveling Abroad
1 What Am I Going To Do About Money?
The travel anxiety caused by the thought of lack of money is enormous. But not because the person is broke. But because they think they WILL be broke in the future. The fear of not having money far outweighs their desire to travel. Most people can not shake the travel anxiety caused by the aspect that rules most people’s lives. Money.
How to Overcome This Fear? Change Your Mindset
If you live in the US, realize that your money will go farther in most countries you are going to be traveling to. Even in Europe, where the Dollar is less valuable than the Euro (Currently .893-1), you will still find it very cheap to get around. When I traveled abroad in Europe for about 3 months, I still spent less than 5 grand. And I even splurged some days as well. If you are afraid that you will come back with no money, then brainstorm some other ways you can make money while you are over there. A few ideas are teaching English, working on a farm, or maybe even being a tour guide. There are a million different ways to make money. It’s easy to think that the current way we make money is the only way. It’s not.
If you want to prolong your travel, then eventually you will have to find a way to make money in whatever country you are in anyway.
My Biggest Fear
When I quit my job last year, this was by far my biggest travel anxiety. And it’s related to what I explained above. Not that I didn’t have enough money to travel (I could have traveled more on a tighter budget), but the fear of the future “lack of money”. What If I come back and have no money? When I got back, I’m happy to say that I did have some money in my bank account, and if that ran out, I had my 401K that I could cash out early. If that ran out, then I could sell my car, and get a cheaper one. I realized this fear of lack of money will always be there if you let it. But the abundance that I got from traveling abroad, outweighed the fear of not having money in the long run to me. A good definition I heard of abundance was “the ability to do what you need to do, when you need to do it”. I needed to travel, and I needed to do it at that time. At the same time, I had a slight transformation of this fear around money. I realized a lot of the things that I want to do, I only hold myself back because of the illusion that I don’t have enough money to do it.
2 What About My Current Job, And Finding A Job When I Get Back?
People have this mindset where they think if they quit their current job they will not be able to find another one. There are a million jobs in the world. You will find another one.
One thing that some people find very hard to believe is, “YOU ARE REPLACEABLE”. There are very few jobs that people have where there isn’t someone else who can do just as good of a job as you, if not better. But still, they think they owe it to the company, to work their lives away. And most of the time they don’t particularity like the job anyway. See Corporate Slave – Why to Avoid Working for a Corporation. The security that a job brings makes it tough for some people to leave at all. Or the question going through their head, “Where will I work when I get back home”?
Have confidence that there will be just as many jobs waiting for you when you get back (If you want them), as there are now. Nothing is going to change. They say our economy is terrible right now, but there are still a ton of jobs. The only people that don’t find jobs, are the people that believe there are none. If anything, you will be more qualified when you get back, because you gained some actual life experience, that you don’t get when you are sitting in a cube.
What is my family going to think? Am I living up to the expectations of my family? These are some thoughts that cause travel anxiety.
The Good Thing Is
This common fear can dissolve if you have good communication with your family. Let them know that you have a strong desire to travel extensively. Because most families consider travel as being a week long trip. Just because they haven’t traveled long-term doesn’t mean you have to feel wrong for wanting to do it. Communication with them is the key, but the problem usually lies with misunderstandings. I don’t know very many parents ages 60+ that just decided to go travel all of a sudden and quit there job. No, they are from a different generation. So it would help the situation if they can see where you are coming from.
How are you going to pay your bills when you are traveling abroad? What are you going to do with your car? What about your pets? This is another fear that causes extreme travel anxiety.
If you have a mortgage or a cell phone bill, water bill, etc…then why not set up an automatic withdrawal from your account before you leave. Some of my friends say they don’t want to get behind on their credit card payments. Why not setup an automatic payment for your credit card as well? Obviously, if you do have a mortgage, you are going to have a tougher time traveling. The ideal solution is if you leave at the end of your lease on an apartment, or you have enough money saved up where you can still pay your mortgage. If this isn’t possible then get creative, and have someone else pay the mortgage while you are gone. Rent out your place. If you do this you might even be able to make a profit!
What if I lose contact with my friends? What if I come back and my friends have moved on to bigger and better things? This is a common fear of traveling long term, because you aren’t going to be interacting with your established friends who are on a different schedule in a different country. People have an attachment to the routine of seeing certain people in their lives. Plus their friends help keep them on track, and add a little friendly competition for how well they are doing in life. I actually have a friend that texted me when I asked him about traveling that said, “This may sound silly, but I always get nervous about: What if I lose all of my friends that I have right now?” But despite how crazy this sounds, people actually have travel anxiety about this!
Everyone can Potentially be your friend
This fear comes from an attachment to certain people. But traveling has so much potential for growth, that you might not be as compatible with your friends, after you come back. I told my friend after he sent me that text, that I don’t think anyone would disown you for traveling. That’s silly. The bigger question is, are you going to actually come back, and want to do the same things you did before? Probably not. So it’s only a valid question from where you are at now, not where you will be after you are done traveling. And on top of that, you will meet so many different people while traveling, that you won’t worry about it as soon as you begin.
6 Culture Shock/Reverse Culture Shock
What is my country going to feel like after I come back from traveling? Will it still feel the same? Or will I uncover some truths about what I really don’t like about it? How will I adjust to the countries I am traveling abroad to? A common fear is the change of your worldview. Some people would rather stay naive to what the rest of the world offers. Family members that I talk to about travel, have no interest. And when you tell them about something that happened in Europe, they don’t seem to care. A few years ago, I had no desire to travel. Because I figured that the US was the best country in the world. Plus I was sucked into the idea of making tons of money.
You are going to experience some reverse culture shock regardless of if you still believe the US is the best country in the world. See Culture Shock Symptoms? The Real Psychological Phenomenon of Traveling. And since you now have something to compare the US against, your opinions will change on a lot of different aspects. You will appreciate some things more, and some things less. I gained a perspective on how much me drive our cars in the US compared to Europe. On one hand I appreciate the fact that we can sit in our cars and get somewhere quickly, but I also despise the fact that we are not even CLOSE to as active as Europeans are.
What will I do without all of the luxuries of home? All of the “I want it now” type of luxuries. What will it be like not sleeping in my own bed? How about not having a car to get around?
Enjoy not having these luxuries. It is a change in lifestyle for sure. But you will get over this type of travel anxiety real quickly. You aren’t going to be able to go get food at a fast food restaurant in Europe at 1:30 in the morning. And you will be walking long distances every day to get around. But enjoy the opportunity to get in really good shape and be more active. Luxuries can quickly turn into a type of suffering if they are overused, and I definitely think traveling shows you this.
A fear of traveling that a lot of people can relate to, is the common fear of not having that structure in their life. This goes back to how people in the US generally are. The US is a very linear-active culture which means we are very structured, on time, and have to have routines. We feel out of whack without routines. So naturally, the thought of traveling brings up the anxiety of, what am I going to do every day? And people from linear-active cultures do have a tougher time getting adjusted to the unpredictability of long-term travel. During long term travel you can’t predict where you are going to be on a certain day. Long term travel is mostly spontaneous. Sure, you can try to plan it out, but there are just so many different things that can derail those plans. The list below gives you a good idea how certain cultures are compared to others. It paints a great picture of why certain countries are how they are.
Go With The Flow
Learn to make less plans if you are from a linear-active culture such as the US. It is a lot less stressful. Some structure is good as well. But see what happens if you really let go and go with the flow.
9 What If I Fail?
People don’t like to fail. Failure is 100% going to happen to you at some point while you are in another country. If you are a perfectionist, this could cause major travel anxiety. How am I going to do, when I am wrong all the time? How will I feel about myself when I feel out of place trying to communicate with people in other countries?
Learn From It
This is the best part about traveling. You are learning new things, and failure is part of the process. The more you travel, the more you fail. The more you fail, the more you are okay with it. If you are really hesitant to travel from fear of failure, then travel is the best thing for you! Some of us are too wrapped up in our own comfort zone. Failure makes life exciting.
10 Is It Safe To Travel To Other Countries?
How safe are other countries? Do I need health insurance if something happens to me? How do they compare to the US as far as safety goes? These are all valid common fears, but definitely fears of traveling from people who haven’t traveled before. If it is your first time traveling, you will undoubtedly believe that your home country is safer than the countries you are going to. That is only because you are comfortable there, not because it is necessarily safer. This travel anxiety is COMPLETELY linked to being fearful of the unknown.
Research Before You Leave to Know
Most of Europe is as safe as the US if not more. They have had a few attacks over the past year (see Paris Attacks) I know they just recently had a terrorist attack in Brussels, but I had zero problems while I was over there. Take a look at this website to see how peaceful different parts of the world really are. Global Peace Index. This Index is from 2015, which should be mostly accurate. It’s the best interactive map I could find.
Do you share any of these common travel anxieties that are holding you back from traveling the world? If so, which ones? What would it take to overcome any fears, so you can travel long-term? Do you even want to travel long term? Let me know your thoughts below on this topic!