Why fear should never hold us back from travel

fearkhBrave New Traveler, one of the sites in the Matador Network, recently posted an essay on fear, specifically, on how fear can hold us back from our travels. In the piece, “Fear and Loathing: How Risk of Injury Can Inhibit Travel Plans,” the author writes that after she was badly injured in a bike accident, she worried that she would be too afraid to venture far from the familiar in the future. She wondered if the fear of being injured away from family, friends, and Westernized medical care would keep her tethered close to home.

If it was so easy for her to get seriously hurt in a first-world country, how much more likely would she be to suffer pain or illness in a remote place, she questioned. Her logic wasn’t without merit. There are some dangers we are more susceptible to on the road, simply because we are in an unfamiliar place. The routines and safety nets we stockpile at home can provide us a with a false sense of security. When we travel, we are stripped of most of those safeguards. We may not speak the language and we might stand out as foreigners. We’re not on home turf, and the same things make that exciting can also make it more dangerous.

But, it’s important to remember that while misfortunes can happen on the road, bad things can happen at home, too. People who take unnecessary risks may have more chances to get hurt, but those who take every precaution can still be injured or fall ill in other circumstances.  

The author concludes with the hope that her new fears won’t keep her from traveling but that they will help her be prepared, even though there will always be things out of her control, because “tragedies can happen to even the most careful people.”

Her final point is one reason why we should never let our fears keep us from exploring outside of our “comfort zone,” from taking chances, and from challenging ourselves. Because even if we don’t – even if we play it safe every day – we can never have complete control over our fates, and some experiences are worth a little risk.

[photo credit: stuant63 via Flickr]

Posted by | Comments (4)  | October 28, 2009
Category: Notes from the collective travel mind, Vagabonding Advice

4 Responses to “Why fear should never hold us back from travel”

  1. Travel-Writers-Exchange.com Says:

    Fear can paralyze you, if you allow it. Most people do not like being outside of their comfort zone because they venture into unfamiliar territory. You can either embrace the unknown or run from it. Embracing it means you risk discovering things about yourself or trying things you would never have done before in your life. Running from it means you may end up having regrets. That’s no way to live.

  2. Michael Lynch Says:

    Great writing, Katie. Greet fear with a grin or a smile!

  3. Deja Says:

    I’ve had the scariest experiences of my life while traveling alone, yet that intensity is what made my experiences so profound and meaningful. Fear is definitely not always a good thing, but it does have the ability to teach you important lessons about the fragility of life and the nature of your own spirit.

  4. Katie Thomas Says:

    I’m writing an article about girls going through scary things whilst travelling. Would it be OK if you told be about your experience?