Fear of Traveling: 8 Phobias That Stop People from Seeing the World

Fear of traveling - F*ckity bye - funny travel blog

For many, the idea of traveling the world is an incredible sounding opportunity that if presented with they would jump at. For others, the idea of traveling the world sounds exciting, but fighting against their sense of adventure is the scourge of humanity - FEAR.

Now don't get me wrong. Fear can be a powerful tool in a traveler’s toolbox.

Fear helps us make smart decisions that allow us to stay in one piece so we can explore for way longer  than that crazy dude who throws caution to the wind because he’s a bad-ass and WHOOPS...  That crazy dude just did a front flip off a 100-foot waterfall and landed on a rock...

He was hoping to get a cool Instagram video out of his stunt but he’s dead now and Boost Mobile has crap service 6-feet underground so good luck uploading, bro.

Being afraid can be helpful but when it’s keeping you from following your dreams, it’s debilitating.

To help you understand that you're not alone in your fears and that you don't have to be controlled by them, here are the top 8 fear of traveling phobias I’ve heard from reader's and some perspective on each of them.

1. "My Friends and Family Won’t Support My Decision to Travel"

Not everyone will be as happy about your decision to see the world as you. Sometimes, family and friends won't get it and will ask things like "Why would you spend all of your money traveling?" "What’s wrong with where you’re at now?" "Are you aware of how dangerous things are out there?", etc. etc. etc.

I’ve even heard of family members outright forbidding world travel.

From what I’ve observed, most of the time when a loved one refuses to bless your adventurous spirit, it’s because they’re worried about your safety.

If safety concerns are the primary fear of traveling phobia your family and friends have, my suggestion is to do everything you can to wash away the negative perception TV has cemented into their heads by showing off some research.

Let them know that your home country doesn’t have any serious travel advisories against your destination. Let them know how many travelers visit where you’re going every year without issues. Let them know that on paper your destination is just about as safe as where you live now (usually true).

Once you have your friends/family on the ropes with your case on why they shouldn’t worry, it's time to show them your passion!

You’re not traveling because you couldn’t think of anything else to do. You’re traveling because you:

  • Feel incredibly curious about the world around you
  • Want new experiences in your life that will make you a more cultured person
  • Want to improve your ability to empathize with people from other places
  • Want to prove to yourself that you’re brave enough to exit your comfort zone

Bottom line: If you have a real passion for what you’re doing and share it truthfully with the people who love you, that passion should move them.

If your loved ones still won’t give you their support despite your reasonable guarantees of safety and massive passion then you have a duty to yourself to realize that you’re your own person and you can’t let other people dictate the quality of your life.

2."I'll Get Sick or Injured"

NEWS FLASH: You have the same odds at home of having an accident, getting assaulted or getting food poisoning as you do in most places you're thinking of traveling to.

The idea that every place except where you're from has sub-standard safety is a myth. 

But hey, I'm all for preparing for the worst! To be proactive, go ahead and Google “safety tips in [your destination]" and “What to do if I get sick or injured in [your destination]” so you can increase your chances of avoiding problems and know what to do if they find you anyway.

3. "I'll End up Locked up Abroad"

TV has forever ingrained in some people the fear of traveling phobia that is getting locked up abroad. This can happen in one of two ways:

A- Law enforcement has deemed that you’ve violated the rules of the area and you have legally been put in prison.

B- You’ve been kidnapped. (writing that feels dramatic, but sure - it could happen)

As with most fear of travel phobias, people who let the above scenarios keep them from traveling are taking extreme exceptions and using them to build an unreasonable case against doing something.

It’s important to understand that just because 90% of what you see in the media is bad, it does not mean that 90% of what is happening is bad. That’s called  “Mean World Syndrome” which essentially means believing that the negativity you see on social media, television, etc. is a direct mirror of what’s happening in the world.

It’s not. What you’re seeing is a bombardment of exceptions.

With that said, here’s some practical advice:

To avoid getting locked up abroad legally, reduce the already ultra-slim chance of that happening by knowing the basic rules of where you're visiting and not willfully breaking them. Simply Google “traveling to [your destination] what laws should I be aware of” and take note of anything that isn't common sense.

Avoiding being kidnapped can be accomplished 9.9/10 times by making sure you’re not traveling to an area where tourists are routinely being kidnapped.

Seriously, don’t do that. This is not a good time to go sand-boarding in Syria.

In addition to not traveling to places that are unreasonably dangerous, use the same common sense you do at home whenever you're out and about. Don’t stroll down dark alleys, do hang out in populated areas, don’t get into a car with a stranger and do mind your drinks at bars.

You know the drill.

4. "The Money and Time I Spend Traveling Won’t Be Worth It in the End"

Large sections of this travel blog are dedicated to impressing upon you the value travel can bring to your life and how to goal set to ensure that you’re getting everything you want out of your trip.

I will paraphrase those sections by saying travel is an investment in yourself, one that can push you well beyond the person you thought you could be. Travel makes you interesting, a better problem solver, it educates you in ways that no classroom can... Really, travel can change your life.

It’s normal to look at something you’re about to spend large amounts of money and time on and second guess whether or not it’s worth it. My recommendation is to do the legwork to prepare for your trip (understand the reasons you want to travel/set goals) and take the leap.

Your trip will be 100% worth it.

5) "Nobody Will Understand Me and I Won’t Understand Them"

The thought of being caught in the middle of a bustling city holding a map asking people where your hotel is only to have them shrug and not understand a word you’re saying can be a scary one (or the opening scene for an excellent romantic comedy! Cue the beautiful man with a fake accent giving you a lift on his Vespa). Fortunately for you, if you’re able to read this travel blog, you’re not going to have serious trouble communicating in most of the places you'll go.

People who want tourist money generally speak a functional level of English and a lot of people want tourist money.

Still scared? It doesn’t hurt to know a few words in your destination’s language. Words like hotel, airport, taxi, etc. can go a long way if you’re in a pinch.

Google’s translate app (ios/android) can be helpful on this front as well. Just be sure to download the language pack you need within the app so you can access translations offline.

6) "I'm Afraid of Flying."

Fear of flying to the point where I refuse to get on a plane had never crossed my mind so it was surprising when I found out that this was common fear of traveling phobia!

I can’t say much about this subject beyond what you’ve probably already heard but I’ll rattle off the usual pointers: Flying is an incredibly safe mode of transportation. Flying safer than driving. You drive every day without thinking about it but because the media doesn’t cover the ample amount of car deaths and does over-expose the very small amount of plane deaths, cars seem safe and planes seem spooky.

I get that being locked in a tube shooting through the sky can be unnerving but seriously, you’ll be fine.

If no matter what people tell you, you still feel uneasy about flying, check out this directory for information and programs designed to help or talk to a local psychologist.

7) "I'll Get Homesick"

It can be hard to not get homesick while traveling, even if you really don't like where you're at right now. I understand that the thought of being homesick can be spooky but avoiding that feeling shouldn't be you aim.

After all, missing something can boost your appreciation for it!

For example, when I left on my first trip I was done with hometown. When I came back, I was in love with it! That's because travel not only introduces you to everything that’s out there in the world but also makes you appreciate what you have.

If the thought of not being able to hear your mother's/father's/friend's beautiful voice every day sounds like too much to handle, the good news is that you still can! Almost everywhere in the world has phone and internet service. Call home regularly or feel free to video chat if you can get on a decent WiFi connection.

Having regular contact with your loved ones, feeling their support and sharing with them the incredible things you’re experiencing is not only the most effective way to keep homesickness in check but it's also one of the most beautiful experiences travel affords you.

8) "People Will Think I'm Running Away from Something"

Based on what I've heard, some judgmental people out there have been known to look at someone who chooses to fly to another part of the world for an extended period and peg them as someone who is attempting "run away from things".

This fear of traveling phobia is one I’ve never been able to wrap my head around. My question is always what things are you and the judgmental people in your life afraid you're running away from?

Faithfully working your 9 am - 5 pm job 5 - 7 days a week? Getting married by 27 and having 2 kids and a house before 30?

Maybe I’m just projecting here. Maybe "growing up" isn’t the concern...

Do you have a negative person in your life that you want to be a world away from so you can breathe again? Is someone chasing you with a hatchet? 

Both of those sound like valid enough reasons to “run away”. I don’t know… I feel like I’m rambling and that’s because I just don’t understand what’s so negative about all of this.

Look, if you want to make sure you’re traveling for the right reasons – I advocate for that. As a matter of fact, it’s one of the pillars of my Six Steps Till Takeoff course that’s free and waiting for you.

Understanding the benefits travel can add to your life and setting goals on what specifically you'd like to achieve by traveling is important because those things reveal to you the reasons  you’re wanting to leave.

So, is one of your travel goals, “Avoid getting married”? Is one of them "Avoid having to work?" What about “Get away from the man chasing me with a hatchet”? (You should probably call the police if this was really one of the goals you came up with).

And who cares if those things are your goals for traveling? I’m not here to validate the reasons as to why you want to see the world and newsflash, even if I was, who the f*ck am I to judge you?

Live every moment of your life in a way that moves you closer to happiness so long as it doesn’t unreasonably oppress other people’s ability to pursue the same thing. If that means running away from the stress of your current life to figure out if there’s something else out there - go for it.

Running away isn’t a bad thing. Just make sure you think before you start so you can move in a promising direction.

Wrapping Up Fear of Traveling: 8 Phobias That Stop People from Seeing the World

Above are the top 8 fear of traveling phobias I hear from readers but are by no means the only fears that are out there. If you're struggling with another fear of traveling phobia that's not listed here, let me know in the comment section below.

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