Many times I’ve met people who’ve told me they’d love to travel and see the world, but that they have these travel fears that won’t let them.
As a person who has traveled, I think it’s sad that people won’t go after their dreams just because they’re scared.
And though sometimes those fears may be justified, to me, they’re not enough of a reason not to pursue one of the most rewarding experiences of life.
In my last post I went through the first 6 travel fears and I gave some advice about how to overcome them.
In this second installment of my travel fears series we’ll cover the next six. So sit tight and let me ease you into making that choice and start planning today!
Travel fear 7: Offending the people and their culture
Does this sound like you? “What if I’m a complete moron and I don’t know how to act? People will look down at me because I’m a complete idiot!”
In my experience people in other cultures are just as curious about you as you are about them.
They are open to interacting with you, show you who they are and what they’re all about!
By doing some research beforehand, you’ll have some material to break the ice. First thing to learn is the basic greetings and words like thank you, please, yes, no, you’re welcome, where is the…?
People just love to hear you trying your best in their native language even if you’re making a fool of yourself.
It shows them that you respect them and their culture enough to make the effort of learning a few basic phrases. A phrasebook is a great tool in these cases.
Be sensitive to their history, if you’re visiting a place with a violent past you might not want to start a conversation with that topic.
But you should have some basic knowledge of the facts so that you know how to respond appropriately should the topic arise.
Research what hand gestures mean in that culture, the roles of men and women, the dress code, the general social rules and find out about their food and what it means to them.
You might want to find out in advance what the delicacies are and decide if you would be willing to try them in case you’re invited for dinner.
And lastly, make sure you are a good ambassador of your own culture. Maybe you come from a place where there are some stereotypes. Be ready to answer politely (and even humorously) to any remarks about your country.
People may be trying to push your buttons, but that’s no reason not to have a good time and take it all in stride. Don’t let narrow-minded comments ruin your trip.
Remember, stupid comments come from people who are ignorant about your culture. Don’t be ignorant yourself.
Travel fear 8: Not being able to communicate effectively
Does this sound like you? “Why would I go to a place where I don’t speak the language and end up making a fool of myself? People will look at me like I’m crazy”
Get a phrasebook to learn the most common expressions. If the language doesn’t use letters per se, try to learn some basic symbols to help you orient yourself and communicate better.
You can also get a couple of apps for iPhone or Android for translation. I use one called iTranslate ~ The free translator, which has more than 50 languages to choose from.
Worst case scenario, you type in what you want to say and show it to the other person on your phone. This app can even speak it for you!
Travel fear 9: Getting ill
Does this sound like you? “What if I break my ankle or have my asthma attack over there? Where am I going to go for medical service? What if we’re in an accident?”
A real and justifiable fear, no doubt. But you can minimize it but taking some precautions.
First of all, Visa and MasterCard credit cards offer medical insurance when you travel abroad, for up to three months.
You need to call them and understand what the insurance covers and what it doesn’t, the phone numbers you have to call in case of an emergency at your destination and the proper procedure.
Another thing is to call your current medical insurance company and ask them if they have coverage abroad.
Sometimes they don’t, but they allow you to pay any expenses at your destination, get receipts and then be reimbursed back home.
You can also be practical and buy some travel insurance for your trip. Though not particularly cheap, the peace of mind is priceless. There are many options available, so do your research ahead of time.
Also, just be mindful and take care of yourself during your trip. Make sure you stay hydrated, eat healthy food whenever possible and don’t overdo it with your activities.
Accidents can happen anywhere, but with some appropriate planning you can minimize the risks.
Travel fear 10: Getting lost
Does this sound like you? “I’m afraid I’ll end up taking the wrong bus and getting to some desolate street where somebody can kill me”.
This is a very common one, and yes, it may be warranted sometimes. Depending on your destination and your research, you can take measures beforehand.
For instance when in Venice, please do get lost! That’s the whole idea! To wonder the narrow sinuous streets and find some surprising new spot.
But maybe in Mexico City you want to take some precautions and find out in advance the safe places and how to get around.
Again, minimize the risk by doing some detailed research about the transportation system prior to your trip.
Travel fear 11: Being in danger
Does this sound like you? “Well, what if I get mugged, kidnapped or find myself in the middle of a terrorist attack?”
Of course, these are reasonable questions for some places in the world. Make sure you know the political climate at your destination.
Find out if there have been any safety issues with tourists. Contact the country’s embassy or consulate at home and ask for information.
In any case, beware that what you hear on the news may be greatly exaggerated. For example, I’ve been to Mexico City before by myself and I had no problems at all.
Colombia is another fantastic destination that gets a lot of bad press. Try to contact people in those countries and learn if it’s safe to travel over there.
As for being robbed, well, be a savvy traveler, don’t carry lots of money with you and be alert to people around you. Use your common sense.
Don’t be flashing your expensive camera and clueless expression around. Leave the jewelry at home and the wad of money at the hotel’s safe.
Travel fear 12: Not being able to afford it or running out of money
Does this sound like you? “Travel is for rich people, there’s no way I can afford that!
Have you detected a pattern yet? Most fears can be eliminated or at least minimized with prior research!
This one’s easy: first off, have your travel wish-list. Then make an overall budget according to the attractions you want to see, the time you’re going to be there and include food, lodging, transportation, etc.
Then, start saving! Once you have enough money, go!
I avoid using credit cards at all costs to travel, because in the end you’ll end up paying up to three times the cost of your trip!
There’s one exception, though, here’s what I do: I always purchase my plane tickets with the credit card.
Since I already have the money for the tickets saved up and in cash, I take that money to the trip with me as an emergency fund or part of it.
When I get back home, I pay my credit card in full with that same money (Fortunately, I’ve never had any emergencies).
Don’t carry your credit cards with you. Pay everything you can in cash. If you get robbed abroad, you may still have some room in your credit card to compensate for that and deal with payments later.
Ok, there you go, six more travel fears you can face head on with some planning and research!
Meet me here next time to finish this three part series on travel fears!
What do you think? Have you had any of these fears?
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