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Travel is scary, and that’s the way it should be

I’ll admit, I’m a little nervous.

Tomorrow I leave Australia, the country where I’ve spent the last 27 years of my life, to live on the other side of the globe.

On the way, I’ll be visiting an entire continent I’ve never set foot on before.

I’ve had to be immunised for seemingly every disease on the planet. From all the warnings I’ve been given by doctors and fellow travellers, I half expect to step off the plane and immediately contract hepatitis, malaria, and food poisoning.

I’ll be entering countries where my local language skills are limited to saying ‘hola’ and ‘si senor’, which seem pretty darn useless in the grand scheme of things.

I’ll be attempting to hike the Inca Trail, a 4-day trek, and to be honest it’s freaking me out. I’ve barely trekked for more than a few hours before, and can confidently say that camping is far from my favourite type of accommodation.

And on top of all that, I’m not the most confident flyer (lets just say turbulence and I do not get along), yet I’ll be taking 9 flights with a total flying time of about 38 hours.

Travel is scary, and that's the way it should be

Hobart, Tasmania

So why the flip am I doing all this if I’m so afraid? I keep asking myself, am I insane?

It’s simple, really. Sometimes, fear is the one thing that drives us to get more out of our lives.

It’s ok to be nervous, scared, or fear the unknown. We don’t have to suppress it, or feel as though we should be fearless. Fear is totally ok.

What is not ok, is letting that fear stop you travelling.

Paris, France

Paris, France

I was nervous before I went backpacking through Europe too. I’d never stayed in a dorm room before and had no idea whether hostels would be dirty or crowded or full of seedy people.

The longest I’d ever been away from home was 5 weeks, so leaving for 3 months felt pretty damn scary.

I went over in the middle of winter, completely unaware of how I would survive the snowy weather and freezing temperatures.

And I’d be stepping foot in countries that have somewhat of a ‘questionable reputation’ such as Russia, Ukraine, and Slovakia.

But even with all these fears, I intentionally put myself in a situation way out of my comfort zone, and I’m so glad I did, because I came out the other end a more confident and enlightened person.

Hosier Lane

Hosier Lane, Melbourne

Many travellers appear to be fearless. They volunteer in third-world countries, trek the worlds tallest mountains, skydive and bungee, and do all sorts of things that you’d never dream of doing.

But I’ll tell you a secret – they’re just as afraid as everyone else.

Everyone is afraid of the unknown. People who seem fearless are not in fact fearless at all – but what they’ve learnt to do is not let it get in the way of a possible life experience.

Yes, things will go wrong on your travels. I can count many travel days where I’ve had a shit time, but I can count a helluva lot more that were awesome, amazing, incredible, or just plain nice.

It’s ok to be afraid, because travel is scary. All you need to do is be brave, and realise that if travel wasn’t scary, then it wouldn’t be nearly as exciting.

Ashlea Wheeler

Blogger & Photographer at A Globe Well Travelled
I'm Ashlea, an excitable Australian who loves photography and exploring the world. Find out more about me.

30 Responses to “Travel is scary, and that’s the way it should be”

  1. MissLilly

    Thanks for sharing this, it’s always good for us to listen that it’s not always easy nor brave as it seems 🙂

    Reply
    • Ashlea Wheeler

      You’re welcome! I’m sure that some people don’t realise that everyone else has just as many fears as they do 🙂

      Reply
  2. Julia

    I’m exactly as scared as everybody else is, but, the difference is is that I push myself to just get out and go 🙂 Traveling is scary for sure! I moved to Paris, France from Los Angeles, CA at 17, and honestly leading up to it I’d say to myself a thousand times a day, “What have you done?”. But lo and behold, this year has been the best of my life. Taking the risks almost always ends up being worth it in the best way imaginable. 🙂

    Julia

    ExploresMore.com

    Reply
    • Ashlea Wheeler

      Absolutely! Well done for placing yourself way out of your comfort zone Julia! These are the times when travel is the most rewarding 🙂

      Reply
  3. Monika

    I often ask myself “what the heck are you doing?”, but in the end, the best things happen when you get out of your comfort zone 🙂

    Reply
    • Ashlea Wheeler

      It’s funny isn’t it, I do the same thing! The things that go through my head before I travel are often along the lines of ‘Why am I doing this?’ and ‘Oh god it’s too late to change my mind!’ but once I get going, all those fears dissolve away 🙂

      Reply
  4. Petra @ The Global Couple

    Thanks for sharing, Ashlea. We all have fears yet only some of us are brave enough to voice them! Best of luck with your adventure – I’m looking forward to keeping up with your travels! 🙂

    Reply
    • Ashlea Wheeler

      Thanks Petra! I think it’s important to voice these fears so that we don’t feel alone in feeling them. I’m very excited for the trip! 😀

      Reply
  5. Megan | Traveling Nine to Fiver

    Thanks for sharing. Very inspirational. While it isn’t travel currently dealing with some choices that are feeling very frightening and needed the reminder that its a good thing.

    Reply
  6. Katie

    Good luck! I am terrifyed of travelling solo in Alaska this summer and spending 3 1/2 months away from my fiance. I’m also excited. We need to push ourselves out of our comfort zones and although bad things can happen, they can happen at home too so the fear shouldn’t stop you from living your dreams 🙂

    Reply
    • Ashlea Wheeler

      Thanks Katie! I can imagine you would definitely have some reservations about your trip, especially spending so long away from your fiance. But getting out of your comfort zone is never a bad thing, and I’m sure you’ll be proud of yourself at the end! 🙂

      Reply
  7. Justine

    So true Ashlea! If travel wasn’t scary and challenging it wouldn’t be nearly as rewarding. Sometimes I think I’m a little insane for all the of weird and difficult situations I’ve gotten in over the years, but all of my travel experiences have been so worth it. So South America, huh? That’s so exciting. Save travels 🙂

    Reply
    • Ashlea Wheeler

      Absolutely! Some strange (and sometimes dangerous) situations do happen during travels, but in the end its these experiences that make up who we are. Thanks Justine!

      Reply
  8. Lizzie

    I love this Ashlea! I’m exactly the same – I always get a heavy case of the nerves before I travel, regardless of where I’m going and what I’m doing there. I push myself through it though, because I know it’s going to make me a better person for doing so. Good luck with your trip, it sounds amazing!

    Reply
  9. Rebekah

    This is so true- People always think I’m brave for traveling…. but I’m always scared before I go do crazy things and its good to push past that fear and to have the lovely adventure. I can’t wait to read about your travels!

    Reply
  10. Erin

    Good luck on your adventures! I totally relate to the fears of traveling, especially not speaking the language. I’ve been living in Japan for 3 years and I’m still barely conversational. When I go abroad I always try to learn a few phrases in the local language through iPhone apps. Maybe you could download a Spanish one and get some good practice in during your long flights? It always makes me feel a bit better if I at least make an effort with language!

    Reply
    • Ashlea Wheeler

      I usually try and learn a few phrases, but after my travel through Europe I stopped bothering as I was changing languages every few days and it almost didn’t seem worth it! Thanks for your comment Erin 🙂

      Reply
  11. Charlie

    Thank you for sharing this, I moved from Australia to Canada when I was 20, in the lead up I was scared, my first night there I got lost and ended up almost having no where to stay. I cried myself to sleep, then got up the next day found where I was supposed to be staying and started the most incredible 3 year adventure of my life that completely change who I am as a person. I was terrifying, but so amazingly worth it

    Reply
    • Ashlea Wheeler

      I think it’s those first steps that are the most terrifying, but well done for pushing through and having such a wonderful experience!

      Reply
  12. Anita Monson

    Inspiring post! I’m dealing with a few fears in regards to travel that I’m trying not to let paralyze me. Thanks! I needed this wake up call this morning.

    Reply
    • Ashlea Wheeler

      I think the most important thing to remember is that everyone gets these feelings, it’s entirely normal! I hope you’re able to find your confidence Anita 🙂

      Reply
  13. Sabine

    What an interesting post! Traveling is truly scary, but that’s the fun of it! You face your fears and learn a lot. I traveled a lot and many years ago I volunteered in Ghana. Last year I moved from tiny Holland to the big scary world of Colombia. Totally out of my comfort zone 😉 And I learn so much every day! Your trip sounds very exciting: enjoy!

    Reply
  14. Erika

    Amen, girl! I’ve found that the scariest things in the life tend to be the most worthwhile!

    Reply
  15. Talia's Travels

    Wow – you just got it in one. Even though, as a traveller myself, I understand that I am scared of things, but I always find myself being wowed by the fearlessness of other travellers, but I hadn’t ever thought of them feeling just as vulnerable as I do. Thanks for the reminder that we’re all human!

    Reply
    • Ashlea Wheeler

      Of course, Talia – I think it’s so important to remember that everyone is human. When you might think you’re alone in feeling something, it might actually be something on everyone else’s mind too 🙂

      Reply
  16. Ebony Meadows

    I was in Africa for a month and there were many scary moments but I wouldn’t trade the experience. Good read. The world has too much good to offer to let something as little as fear or a few bad experiences stop you for taking it all in.

    Reply
    • Ashlea Wheeler

      I completely agree, Ebony – we need to take in as much of the world as we can! I’m glad you were able to experience Africa, I’d love to go there someday 🙂

      Reply

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