Facing Your Fears While Traveling

Written by Avid Traveller

Topics: Personal Development, Travel

Many people never leave the USA (or their home country) because they allow their fears to control them. They feel anxiety when they consider expanding their comfort zone. Others might travel, but only in groups and to a generally controlled environment, such as an all-inclusive resort or other area that is largely filled with tourists.

Don’t get me wrong I don’t think there is anything wrong with that type of vacation at all — in fact sitting here in single digit cold weather on the East Coast, it sounds mighty nice — but I think many people would like to go somewhere “exotic” but are too worried about what could go wrong.

And even those intrepid souls who have no qualms galavanting around the globe, when presented with the idea of traveling solo, will stop and think twice before considering this. When you travel with someone else, you have someone to watch your back (and your stuff), you are less of a target for theives, you have someone to help you if you if you get sick, and knock on your door before you when you forget you have an early flight.

I admit, I even succumb to these worries and fears myself on occasion. In the past few weeks when thinking about my trip to Peru the following stuff has entered my head:

  • Getting pickpocketed or robbed
  • Becoming Ill/Hospitalized
  • Losing my passport
  • Attacked by wild and/or rabid dogs
    There are quite a few roaming/wild dogs in Cusco and the area surrounding the Inca Trail
  • Falling while climbing/hiking
    Huayna Picchu is very steep and one bad step can send you a long way down to the Urubamba River
  • Missing a flight
  • Food poisoning or forgetting to not drink the water
    You cannot drink the water in Peru
  • Earthquake
    Lima and Cusco are both on major fault zones
  • Altitude Sickness

This last one bothers me the most. Most of the time it is just a mild annoyance but it can be fatal if left untreated and it escalates. In this case to prevent a bad situation becoming worse, I would have to abandon Cusco prior to seeing Machu Picchu. However, the majority of the time, it is not an issue and at least there are several ways to limit any problems.

Anyway, there are lots of things to be concerned about, or even afraid of, but most — or maybe all — will never happen. Most of them you can prepare for and have contingencies. Sometimes there is nothing you can do, but remember, if  you stay home all the time then bad things will happen to you at home as well.

Making my contingency plans helps settle my mind with regard to these fears. For example, as I go down the list, I could create a response to each as follows:

  1. Don’t carry more than a days worth of cash; have a decoy wallet; keep an eye on my stuff
  2. Wash my hands frequently; have travel insurance that covers medical situations
  3. I have a list of the American Consulates at each location
  4. Avoid where possible; locals recommend throwing rocks to scare away overly-aggressive dogs
  5. Be careful; don’t take unnecessary risks
  6. Worst case, there is always another flight – but it will cost me
  7. Be mindful; follow general rules regarding food safety; bring Imodium AD
  8. This one is up to fate! Since I cannot control it, I wil not worry about it
  9. Acclimatize to the extent possible (see above link)

Even if one or more of these things does happen, it is part of the travel experience and it will be completely overshadowed by the good things that happen on the trip that I will likely remember for the rest of my life: a conversation with a fellow traveler; experiencing a different culture; seeing the sun rise over Machu Picchu; or feeling good about communicating with someone in a different language.

So like the old saying goes: Feel the Fear and Do It Anyway


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