Pre travel fears

For the most part of this year I have been travelling Europe.  In May this year I will depart again through Europe, and onto Moscow, where I will board the trans-mongolian express to Beijing. When I talk about my latest travels and forthcoming venture from Europe to Asia by rail, the first question that many people have asked me is “are you not scared?” This question is asked by people even more so when they find out that I travel predominantly alone, as a solo female traveller. My response to their questions are usually the same, “nah, I’m used to it”,  or something along the lines of “you’re never really alone when you travel as you always meet people and make new friends along the way”. These two statements are mostly true, especially the latter one, but to be honest, there is a fib in there. I am actually scared. I always get a bit of pre travel nerves or fears before I go on a new trip. Especially if I’m going somewhere I haven’t been before, and where the laws and customs may be very different to what I am used to back home.

I’m not sure why I keep these fears secret so much. It’s only natural that you would prepare mentally for a trip into an environement that is foreign to your own, so you can deal with any event should something bad happen. In fact, I think it’s rather sensible because it’s those sort of pre travel jitters which remind you to take out good travel insurance, to always carry a mobile phone in case you need to call for help, and to follow common sense rules whenever you arrive into a new place amongst other things. So why don’t I admit to these fears when people ask me that question? Sometimes I feel that as a travel blogger, and someone who does this as a profession, I’m supposed to have this all together. I’m not supposed to have any problems. I’ve been around the block, and then some. If I’m scared, then what chance has a newbie traveller got?

The truth is, I get scared too. In fact, I probably worry more than newbie travellers do as I’m a worrier by nature. That”s just me. The only difference is, that despite all my fears, and pre-travel nerves, I choose to ignore those in favour of experiencing travel. I’m not saying this to look brave. In fact, some people might even call what I do stupid. I just wanted to highlight this issue as I see a lot of people everyday who choose not to travel because they worry about what will happen to them, or the fact that the “world is a scary place”. These horror stories that you see in the media time and time again don’t help either. The show one really bad thing which happened to one person somewhere, and don’t put it into context which is to say this is something which doesn’t happen often. The fact remains, you’ve more chance of getting knocked down by a bus or getting injured in a car accident that you do having some of the terrible things happen to you which are portrayed in the media. I know that doesn’t help if you are the one person who happened to be unlucky, but if you let fear rule your life you’d never leave the house!

The fact is, everybody gets scared sometime. I don’t know anyone who hasn’t felt nervous before departing on their first backpacking trip. I’ve been travelling for 4 years now, and I still get those nerves and thoughts creeping into my head sometimes about “what if <insert bad thing> happens to me”, but isn’t life about taking chances?

You’re life is what you make of it. It’s not for me to tell you whether you should or shouldn’t go travelling, as travel is not for everyone anyway, but if you are out there wondering whether to take a chance and hit the road alone, or head out on your first backpacking adventure, my advice would always be take it! Take it with both hands and don’t look back! You don’t want to look back on your life and wonder what if. That’s something I’m more scared of than anything that travel could ever throw at me.

4 Responses to “Pre travel fears”

  1. Claire says:

    I couldn’t agree more, Jane. You might die from a gas canister exploding, or some equally unromantic domestic accident, while hiding out in the safety of your home, thinking about how dangerous travelling alone is. Personally, while worrying is something I identify with (and about mundane things, like missing the train) I don’t experience fear when I travel. It’s sad to say – and my own exaggerated fears are partly to blame – but I feel more nervous walking down a dark street or sleeping in a room without an alarm system in my own city, Cape Town. Ironically, moving back home at the end of a an overland journey there will require more ‘facing my fears’ than travelling ever has.

  2. uner says:

    i guess i cant comment much on this since i’ve never travel alone so far. but of course when i think again, there are so many things to consider when soon i want to set my first step traveling alone. things like what if i lost my all cash-cards-phone, how do i survive in a place out of town and people?

    • jane says:

      Hi Uner, that exact scenario happened to me whilst I was in Amsterdam. If you lose all your cash cards and money, your best bet is to go to the police station. They’ll give you a police report for your insurance, and you can also ask to use a phone there to call home and arrange for someone back home to send you money to a Western Union.

  3. Dylan says:

    I feel your pain. The sheer unpredictability of life alone is enough to keep your knees trembling, but to actually expose yourself to danger may seem irrational and irresponsible to many people. But then, you gotta live life to the full.

    For an adventure traveller like myself, I’m frequently quizzed as to whether or not I’m scared when I do things like bungy jumping. My stints of hitchhiking have always been preceded by a lot of grilling from scaremongers and seasoned travellers alike; though I make no attempt to mask my fears – yes I am scared, but then if I’m not then I lose the fundamental survival mechanism that are my instincts. So as to rephrase that: if I don’t feel the need to be frightened then I’m pretty much screwed.

    Trans-Mongolian sounds epic – pretty sure you’ll have a great time. And keep your fingers crossed for me for the Grand Canadian Hitchhike will ya? 😉


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