Fight the Fear of Traveling – 8 Ways to Keep Yourself From Panicking Over the Trip
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Fight the Fear of Traveling – 8 Ways to Keep Yourself From Panicking Over the Trip

Three weeks to go. And my fear of traveling is slowly growing.

The big day is coming closer. All of a sudden, it’s less than a month until we are supposed to leave our cozy home, the beloved couch, the possibility to binge on netflix, our garden, children-free kindergarten hours. I won’t be able to take my favourite cereal or my espresso shots with me. I won’t be able to just close my office door if family life goes crazy.

Hope. Fear. Excitement. Doubts. An overwhelming “To Do” list. Packing lists. Knowing this would be the biggest journey of my life so far leaft me with a mix of opposing feelings. Even though we have traveled around a lot, this would be our first longtime trip with two small children.

Honestly, I had no idea what I was awaiting us and what I was going to expose my children to. What if they would miss their family and friends all the time? What if they wouldn’t eat Asian food? What if they got seriously ill? What if they missed out on things their peers would learn in kindergarten? What about their social skills?

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Hundreds of Questions and Insecurities

On some days it was no problem for me to just wipe those fears away. I knew that the children would learn much more about the world and socialising on the road than they ever could in kindergarten. If any one of us fell sick, we’d have a good insurance that would bring us back home in no-time. On other days I was full of doubts. Did we do any good for the kids and ourselves? What if the relationship between us parents wasn’t strong enough to overcome the difficulties of living closely together in a campervan for months? What if we wouldn’t be able to work online on the road? If we didn’t like traveling as a family?

Okay. I was panicking. I knew I had to find a way of dealing with my acute fear of traveling. Suddenly I wasn’t sure if I was just getting cold feet or if this was something more serious. Travel anxiety? But I had been the one who wanted to go on this adventure in the first place! I had been the one who convinced the whole family to accept this challenge!

And we had already come so far, I just could not let fear and doubts take over. For that reason I started to read about how to overcome your fear of traveling and how not to let fear as an almighty power paralyse you.

To break it down in one sentence:

All you need to Overcome your Fears is Trust in Yourself, Time to Calm Down, Acquisition of Knowledge and some Motivation!

This is what helped me to take control over my travel fears and to look forward to our big adventure. Even if I still had no idea where it would take us.

Define Your Fears

This is what I learned from a Tim Ferriss TedTalk. He advises to not only set goals, but more importantly to define your fears. In summary he tells you to first find the worst thing that can possibly happen (for example loosing your family in a big crowd) if you take the fear-loaded action (in my case: traveling the world). When you have defined that worst thing you take control by making plans either how to avoid it (don’t get separated, carry small kids) or how to handle if it actually does happen (equip kids with a ‘GPS tracker‘, agree upon a meeting place every hour, save emergency numbers on cellphone). This way, fear-loaded situations will loose most of their power.

Preparation is Crucial

Anxiety often stems from the feeling of not being in control. Being well prepared gives you the control you need. Plan your route and learn what to expect. Do some research on the net (there are way more than one million travel related sites out there). What is it going to be like at your desired location? Find out about the do’s and dont’s and where to get the best local food. Will you need to rent a car, will you and your kids need more immunizations? What’s the weather going to be like, are there going to be pickpockets or tourist scams? By knowing what’s expecting you, you can handle situations better. And with a well-planned itinerary you can relax and enjoy the experience much more.

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You Are Not Alone

Of course you know this, but sometimes we need somebody to make us aware of even the crystal clear facts. You are not the first and not the only person traveling in this world. And you are also not the only family traveling. More and more people are exploring the planet. There are traveler’s networks and communities for almost every kind of trip: solo travel for women, low and high budget travel, overland travel, family travel and so on. Just find the community that fits you most. Most likely you will also find travelers in your hometown. Go have a glass of wine with them and let them share their experience.

Risks are Possibilities

Foreign countries are dangerous? Let’s say, it depends – but you choose where you want to go! And if you don’t take the (small) risk, you will never know how great an experience it could have been! Years ago our planet has been completely mapped thanks to a couple of courageous men, and there are no more really truly unknown zones. Getting lost is not so easy these days (thinking GPS), especially if you are not exploring the jungle all by yourself. So if any kid can go on a trip around the world, why shouldn’t you? Columbus, Cook or Humboldt had good reasons to be scared. You don’t.

Trust Yourself

As I said, if any kid can do it, if I can do it, you can too! I know, younger people (not me!) seem to be able to do anything without fear, but they sometimes just don’t have enough experience to be afraid. Even if you have only traveled to a few places before, thanks to your experience of life, there’s not much more you need to know.

It’s all one world in this global age today and travel somehow is always the same: do your research on the net or with friends, book a flight/choose the route, check in to hotel or holiday home, live, adventure, explore! Because if you are able to handle your family at home, you will handle them on the road, too. They won’t get lost at the airport just like that. Look at where you are standing in life, what you have achieved so far, what your skills are. No need to hide. No need to doubt. And no reason why you shouldn’t be able to do whatever you are up to.

Imagine Yourself 30 Years From Now…

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..not having done it. That’s something that lets me overcome my fear of traveling over and over again. I don’t want to regret anything. I am sure, if you don’t at least try, you will regret this for a long time, maybe even for the rest of your life. You will never know how it could have been. You will never know how it would have changed you and the way you are thinking. How travel could have enriched your life and thus the life of your children. You will always feel you have given in to your fears. There are a lot of people in this world who are perfectly happy with living in one place, doing one job, leading a comfortable life without feeling like a desperate housewife. When you are reading this, you are obviously not one of them.

Responsibilities are Only Flimsy Excuses

Okay, so you have a family, children, a house, a job and two cars to take care of and pay for? So did I. Every single one of them is the perfect excuse for not going on this trip, and everybody will nod in understanding if you state them as a reason to stay at home. Still your possessions are a burden, only holding you back. Go minimalist. Just think about selling your car – and not having to pay for it any longer. Don’t you feel a little lighter already?

It will of course be a bit of work to sort things through and decide what to do with what you own – it’s admittedly not as easy as I put it here. But it’s what we did and if you put your mind to it, you will find a way, too. It takes only a letter and a talk with your boss to quit the job (or work remotely). It takes only an ad online or a real estate agent to rent the house for the length of your stay abroad. Think about it. Feel the breeze of freedom.

You can Always Go Back

There is absolutely no shame in having tried and decided it’s not the right way for you. In fact, I think that’s pretty much the bravest thing one can do. It’s the same as with food. Julian can be pretty picky when it comes to trying out a new taste. We then implemented this well known rule: taste everything that comes upon your plate before saying you don’t like it – you might miss something great. In trying it, you already do more than most people. Trying something out and finding it’s not for you has nothing to do with failure at all, it’s simply one of many possible outcomes. Life consists of trial and error. It’s the errors we learn from. In fact going back is something we did along our way, too.

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Hope I could reassure you to not let the fear of traveling take over control. And of course, these guidelines are applicable for almost any concern you are facing, not only in case you’re getting cold feet before starting a big journey. Just take the “big journey” as a metaphor.

To Be Honest:

I myself have to reread this text every once in a while, because to be brave I sometimes can use a little support. It takes courage trying new things. Especially with small children. Although I have to say that the fear of traveling sometimes even results in good things. For example being grateful and more aware of the beautiful things you are able to see or showing respect for people and country. There always are two sides of the same coin.

Today I told myself: don’t feel nervous, don’t feel overwhelmed, don’t be afraid. Stop doubting yourself and your decision. You are just as capable as anyone else. There is a world ahead of you to be explored. This is what you’ve wanted for a long time and thought of for years. Don’t give forfeit on the last metres before the finish. Just because of two cold feet. Don’t let the fearful side of you win.

Jump in at the deep end!

That’s what we just did. Off we are to the other side of the world! I’m sure we won’t regret it!

How do you feel about going on a big trip? Fear? Excitement? Both? Have you started already or are you still wondering if you can do it? I’m sure you can – share your thoughts, joys and doubts down below!

1Comment
  • Caroline
    Posted at 01:47h, 02 December Reply

    Great article, thank you! The only things to add to it is a quote from Jim Rohn:
    If you really want to do something, you’ll find a way. If you don’t, you’ll find an excuse.

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