My Fears About Traveling

August 5, 2012


I’m scared. I have been mustering up the courage to admit this fact for a while now, but the time has finally come to let it all out.

September is almost here and so is the date in which I will be leaving my old life behind to begin a new one on the road.

I have been debating for some time how to write about this new transition in my life.  I considered writing about how leaving to travel long-term is the best and easiest decision of my life, and why you can and should do it too. I also considered writing about my new found freedom and exhilaration upon getting rid of my possessions and leaving my job to follow my dream.

But none of this would have painted the whole picture, nor told the whole story. So now we’ve come back to what I’m here to admit. The truth is…I’M AFRAID.


Photo by: LWPrencipe


Besides the actual fear of leaving everything I know behind, a whole host of new fears have overtaken me in the last few weeks, as the reality that I am leaving soon slowly sinks in. So, as I prepare to travel the world, I thought I’d share with you a list of just some of the things of which I’m terrified.

I’m afraid of…

  1. Getting sick in a foreign country and not having anyone to take care of me.
  2. Packing too much stuff.
  3. Having all my stuff stolen on the road.
  4. Running out of money and having to return much earlier than planned.
  5. Getting travel burnout and having to return much earlier than planned.
  6. Feeling lonely and missing my family and friends way too much.
  7. Getting abducted by a psychopath couchsurfer.
  8. Contracting some strange and untreatable illness.
  9. Getting ripped off by taxi drivers and/or other locals who think I deserve to pay five times the local rate.
  10. Failing as a travel blogger and coming home to take a job at McDonalds.

So, yes, I’m scared and I think I’ve come to terms with that fact. After all, the decision to quit my job, sell my things, and travel as long as my money permits is a MAJOR LIFE CHANGE. And don’t major life changes come with some degree of angst?

Consider the 45-year-old janitor who quits his job to go back to school in hopes of changing his career, or the 30-year-old obese woman who makes the long-term commitment to eat healthier and exercise every day. These people aren’t so different from me.

Irrational fear of the big bad wolf...

Photo by: ~Zoe~


Life-changing transitions like these take a certain amount of courage, but they naturally come with fear. Fear of the unknown. Fear of failure.

So I could sit here and preach about how travel is going to be the solution to all my problems or portray a glorified triumph of woman vs. mechanized Western society. But, in the end, this is only a major life change that comes with its share of excitement, joy, sorrow, courage, and FEAR.

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About Hannah

As a self-professed travel junkie, I have found that the only remedy to my addiction is travel itself. I am in the stages of launching an indefinite journey around the world with no goal other than to explore this small planet called Earth.

View all posts by Hannah

13 Responses to “My Fears About Traveling”

  1. Charu Says:

    I love the fact that you’re going to do something you’ve never done before–that in and of itself is a big first step. That move signals GROWTH. Yup, it’s definitely scary to set into unknown territory but remember to pat yourself on the back for every day that you DO do something new and brave. Remember there are a boatload of people in the world who never leave their hometown…you’re way ahead of them!


    • Hannah Says:

      Thanks for your comment, Charu. Though this isn’t the first time I’ve ever traveled, it will be the longest journey I’ve undertaken. While I’m extremely excited about leaving for my trip and starting this new adventure, I wanted to discuss some of the (down)sides of travel that people rarely talk about, including fear. I guess you could say that travel is a good teacher in that it makes you face your fears on a daily basis and overcome them.


  2. Bethaney - Flashpacker Family Says:

    Being scared is a good thing! If nothing else, it’ll keep you on your toes. It’s good to push yourself through things like this. “Feel the fear and do it anyway” was a motto I took on for myself on a solo trip through Asia. It’s ok to feel scared of jumping off into the unknown. I’m sure gradually the fear will make way and excitement will take over!


    • Hannah Says:

      I love your motto and your attitude in the face of fear, Bethaney. I agree that being scared can be a good thing sometimes – it gets the adrenaline pumping and creates more vivid and exciting travel memories. Traveling without encountering setbacks or fear would just be “blah.”


  3. Susan, Real Family Travel Magazine Says:

    I was right there with you just last year. Except I was SURE someone was going to kidnap one of my children, steal the jewelry right off our bodies and leave us for dead.

    Of course, none of that happened. We did an “all or nothing” leap without a backup plan. Maybe not the smartest thing to do with 5 kids, but that’s what we did. We did get sick, but nothing fatal and were able to get great medical care when needed. My husband did get the “gringo special” a couple times, but that’s all part of the learning curve. You will get ripped off, but it’s usually not that bad. The hardest part is when you’re in a hurry and can’t do the mental math fast enough. ALWAYS ask a taxi driver how much you’ll be charged ahead of time…and ask more than 1, if you can.

    One thing I wasn’t aware of before we left is that most long term travelers hit a point about 6-8 weeks in where everything seems to suck. Apparently this is NORMAL, so be prepared for it because you may hit emotions that make you want to run “home”, but they pass and you’ll be thankful you didn’t give in. Connect with other travelers…sometimes they’re a lifeline you didn’t know you’d need.

    If all this wasn’t worth it, you wouldn’t be scared. Courage is not having no fear. It’s being afraid, but going ahead and doing it anyway. 🙂


    • Hannah Says:

      I think it’s good to be aware of some of the bad things that could happen while traveling (and even be a little afraid) because it makes you more aware and prepared. I bet that because you were afraid someone was going to steal your jewelry, you probably took a few precautions and were the better for it. Having a bit (or a lot) of fear can be a completely healthy thing.

      I had never heard of the 6-8 week rule, but now that you said that it makes sense. I believe something similar happened to me last year when I was in the Middle East for several months. By the two month mark, I was really feeling homesick and second-guessing my decision to travel. I will try to remember that it’s completely normal, so that for my upcoming trip I can stay strong 🙂


  4. tyrhone Says:

    Hey Hanna,
    You have a great writing style. I have been on a long term for 6 or 7 months now, and can tell you that most of those things will probably happen! But, they really don’t matter that much. If you get sick, you make a plan and will always find someone to help you. And getting ripped off for small amounts every now and then, who cares! I have been ripped off loads by taxis and things, but it is only ever a few bucks.

    Travel burnout? Find a cheap paradise and lounge around for a month!

    Those things could happen to you any where, even at home. The difference when travelling is that soooo much cool stuff happens it wont even matter (except for crazy couch surfer people).

    It is not always easy, but after having done what your doing, selling up and shipping out. I could’nt imagine a better life than this.

    Have fun


    • Hannah Says:

      Thanks for your words of encouragement and wisdom, Tyrhone! It’s interesting to hear from other travelers and see how they deal with hardships on the road. I guess everything comes with its downsides and risks, and traveling comes with plenty of them.

      I don’t know how easy it will be for me to find a cheap paradise to lounge around at for a month when I get travel burnout, as I will be traveling in Europe in the middle of winter 😀 But I will definitely keep that in mind….


  5. Gina Says:

    I think it’s probably very normal to have some fears about such a big life change, but the important thing is that you’re taking a risk and doing something that you really want to do. I bet after a couple weeks on the road you’ll be having such an amazing time you’ll completely forget about these fears!


    • Hannah Says:

      It’s good to know that I’m not the only one having these fears….it’s also comforting to be part of the travel blogging world and read all the inspirational stories of brave people who have also left everything behind to travel the world (and have been doing so for years)! Even with some of my irrational fears, I am wholeheartedly excited for everything that lies ahead.


  6. click Says:

    Quite terrific publish. I merely found your blog post in addition to tried to declare that I’ve really cherished surfing around your site posts. Naturally My business is subscribing with your rss exactly what praying you’re writing again shortly!



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