Days leading up to a trip of a lifetime, I laid in bed trying my hardest to fall asleep. My chest felt tight from the excitement but also from the fears that ran through my mind, day in and day out. I knew I had to go – to see what was out there and to get out of the rut I was currently living in. Never did I think travel would shape me into a different person by helping me overcome my fears:
1. Fear of the Unknown
How will I get around? What if I get lost? If I visit France, will they hate me because I’m American? I don’t even speak their language! What about crime and safety?
These were all thoughts and many more that took over before my trip. When I was overseas, I realized people were kind and helpful when I got lost. Your intuition also naturally starts to develop on what looks safe or not. After having to read maps and navigating the roads, you become self-sufficient, independent, and fearless.
Travel taught me to be flexible and adaptable on the road, to learn and let go of things you can’t control.
There were times when the bus broke down in Laos, where I missed my flight to Hong Kong, and when I turned the wrong way on a street. Even though things didn’t go as planned, I was able to learn from it or to take a deep breath and accept that I couldn’t change the situation. Looking back now, it’s taught me to handle challenges and embrace uncertainty that comes my way. I definitely deal with them much better now, compared to years ago.
2. Fear of Being Judged
It’s hard when you choose to break away from the norm and have an unconventional life. People started to judge me for being different, which made me doubt myself even more. I learned it came from a place of ignorance and sometimes jealousy, not hatred. Instead of being bogged down by the thought of “I can’t travel,” I powered through it and started planning instead.
I realized if I have a dream, I need to make it my goal and be willing to make sacrifices for it no matter what others think, whether it be working longer hours or cutting back from eating out. If I can do that, I can find ways to make any other life goals happen.
Travel teaches you to clear and build your own path and do what works for you, not what works for others.
Moments where I felt invigorated through experiences such as scuba diving and seeing the underwater life made me realize this is my life and I get to choose what I want to do with it. More importantly, it taught me to encourage others to go for their dreams.
3. Fear of Not Being Good Enough
Low self-esteem. Self-consciousness. Awkward. Anxiety. Do any of those ring a bell to you? How do I approach people and start a convo? How will I make friends?
When you travel, you encounter like-minded people and are surrounded by a community who support what you do. As you make everyday decisions on your own, you become more confident of yourself and of your capabilities. You see that everyone is in the same boat as you and want to make friends as well! People get more drawn to your new energy as you grow into your own skin. You have the feeling that you can conquer the world now.
4. Fear of Regret & Failure
I felt like it took a lot of strength, courage, and blind faith to overcome this one. What if I failed? How embarrassing would it be to come home much earlier than expected because I lost or ran out of money? What if this was all a waste of time?
Life’s too short, but most of us don’t realize it. I channeled that fear as motivation for me to keep going and to make it happen. It’d be a failure to me if I just didn’t take the first step into that airplane. What if I didn’t go? As I mulled over this, it dawned on me that I’d regret it and would live with what-if’s and should have’s – and that would hurt even more in the long run. Travel makes you feel unstoppable and that you can get to dreams and goals you’ve been putting off.
5. Fear of Losing Everything You’ve Worked So Hard For
Even though you want to break away from the routine 9-5 work, eat, and sleep cycle, it’s hard not to think if the stability’s worth losing. If you have a career gap of unemployment, will future companies think you’re non-committed? That you’re running away from your problems with travel? In this article, it shows some of the top regrets of the dying include: I wish I’d had the courage to live a life true to myself, not the life others expected of me. I wish I hadn’t worked so hard. I wish that I had let myself be happier.
Now, think about it. Would you want to create the same mistakes as they did and wished the same on your own deathbed?
Travel gives you an overall broader perspective on life.
You’re no longer boxed in from doing the same tasks over and over again at work. You meet people from different backgrounds who are happy, and in turn you realize that there are open and endless possibilities for your future and happiness.
Before, you were stuck in a box but now you realized the box was opened all along. Travel makes you more innovative and creative as you’re exposed to new experiences, stimuli, and inspiration every day. You can compare it to being a chef. Once she learns all that she can at a restaurant, she moves onto another one. Because of this, the chef learns new techniques, experiences new flavors and cuisines, and finds better ways on how to run a restaurant.
There is a quote that resonates a lot to me: Life must be lived forward, but it can only be looked back on.
After many hours on planes, trains, and buses I was able to reflect and take in all that I had seen, done, and accomplished. Travel makes you realize that you too can conquer your fears. It forces you to think and get out of your comfort zone, where you’ll grow and change. However, it doesn’t happen overnight, but rather gradually overtime. Whether it’s to explore the world, build confidence, or overcome your fears, I can assure you that travel will help you discover it and bring it out of you.