Fear stops people from doing many things. Fear of failure, fear of change, fear of the unknown; people spend their entire lives being comfortable because they are afraid of what will happen beyond their comfort. It’s an odd thought, considering the incredible things that happen when you step out of your comfort zone and allow yourself to be free to experience what the world hands you.
I’ve talked about making the best of a bad situation and I’ve talked about doing more than the “all-inclusive” down south, but let’s talk ‘fear’ and all the ways it finds itself involved in travel. Recently, I’ve heard several people make comments along the lines of, “I don’t want to travel because the world isn’t safe anymore.” I understand to an extent, but, when was the world ever safe? Places we now deem as ideal holiday spots were once amongst the most dangerous places to go. Take Ireland for example: “The Troubles,” better known as the Northern Ireland Conflict, began in the late 1960s and lasted through until the end of the 1990s. I’ve walked the streets of Derry and Londonderry in Northern Ireland where in 1972 thirteen unarmed men were shot dead on a day now referred to as “Bloody Sunday.”
Or look at Croatia, one of the countries that formerly made-up Yugoslavia which saw a series of conflicts spanning from 1991 to 2001. Around 140,000 people were killed, and the wars split one country into 7 new ones. Croatia, once a war-torn landscape, is now on many bucket lists because of its impressive architecture and beautiful clear blue waters.
The world has always had some places that are safer than others. Sometimes the places we deem safe have turned around and shown us otherwise. The world is made up of 7 billion people and you can’t guarantee their actions which means you can’t guarantee your safety in your own backyard, but that doesn’t mean you won’t sit on the back deck for an after-work beer, now does it?
There will always be people who are happier staying put and don’t mind fearing the world. But for those who love to explore, there are different fears that exist. We are a routine society. We work 9-5 jobs. We schedule in our workouts and make events on Facebook to hang out with our friends. The idea of not having a plan – of giving up routine, especially when going out into the unknown world – can be scary.
I like to joke that reading travel books is always dangerous for me as it reignites my sense of adventure. If you want to build your confidence in the “pack up and go without a plan,” department, pick up The Yellow Envelope at your local bookstore. It is a story about a married couple who quit their jobs, sold their worldly possessions and explored the world with little to no plan. I tell myself it’s impractical for me and it would take away from my love of planning, but truthfully, it leaves the door open for the unknown, and the unknown is scary.
With that being said, I didn’t have much of a plan when I went to Australia. I bounced around from city to city, staying longer when I met the right people or found the right beaches. I came home feeling the most laid-back I’d ever been in my life, a feeling that went away rather fast with the go-go-go life we live here. Nevertheless, I think that’s one perfect reason to choose freedom over routine – and over fear.
There is a fear I have, much greater than the unknown, which happens to be my greatest fear of all. There are close to 200 countries in the world and I fear that I won’t see every one. With an entire world of history and architecture, of culture and tradition, how can someone make time for all of it? There are many places that are safe to travel to, but there are also a number of places that would best be avoided – especially for a female. I spend hours planning itineraries and trying to figure out how to fit each country into my timeline. I stress about getting older, not because of the number of years but because of the number of places I’ve seen. It may be a silly fear, but it exists constantly.
Fear itself exists constantly when we talk about travel. When I was 18 years old, I packed up two weeks after high school ended and went on my first trip around Europe. I was scared. My parents were surely scared, but they didn’t stop me. In fact, they encouraged me. I think they knew the value of travelling and wanted me to know too. I’m glad they didn’t build me with fear, but rather with possibility because my life changed after that trip. The independence and resourcefulness I gained from that trip was not something I would have experienced had I remained in my bubble.
I adore talking to people who have travelled; people who have overcome the fear of the unknown and love nothing more than to share their experiences with others. There’s an instant connection that exists – an appreciation for the life experience and the adventure that only comes when you make the decision to step out of your comfort zone. After all, being so afraid of travel that you stay put and miss out on a world of experiences; now that is the scariest thought of all.
Emily Meyer is still relatively new to the wonderful city of Medicine Hat, having moved here in May 2016. She was born and raised in Ontario and lived in Australia for a year and a half. Emily has visited 33 countries and will share some of her experiences and advice for globetrotters of all ages.