A lot of people aren’t good at calculating risk, especially when it comes to travel. Common travel fears include flying, shark attacks, and issues surrounding food and cleanliness. Some people even allow their day to day fears to influence their travel plans, however irrational and seemingly mundane they may be.
Whenever unrest crops up somewhere around the world and travel advisories go up, trips are frantically canceled. These fear-based cancellations can sometimes come at a huge financial loss. Realistically, a country that just underwent a traumatic event is going to be more vigilant when it comes to danger, and will be, for the time being, even safer.
There are many personal benefits to be gained from travel experiences; benefits that could seriously affect your chances for success and overall happiness in life. Here’s what you could be missing if you let fear dictate your travel plans.
Greatly expands your comfort zone
Mitigating new experiences when traveling by hiding yourself in a resort or only participating in activities that include things you’re familiar with robs you of one of travel’s greatest gifts, personal growth. Your life is the total of all of your experiences. And, not just the ones you are comfortable with. Challenging yourself by trying new things pushes you to adapt and ultimately grow as a person.
Travel consistently and naturally exposes us to unfamiliar situations. When you try to limit or avoid that exposure you’re missing out on expanding your comfort zone and the personal growth that comes from doing that.
Understanding our world better
“To travel is to discover that everyone is wrong about other countries.” – Aldous Huxley
Do you believe everything you see in the media? Travel helps us realize how little we really know about the world. There’s a big difference in the concept of what we believe to be true and the experience of knowing something is true because we’ve seen or done it.
Travel gives us the opportunity to form our own opinions about a place. Our perspective can end up being very different from what we had been taught in school or learned from the media. Travel provides us with opportunities to learn the truth about places, obliterating ignorance, and giving us a better understanding of our world.
Really experiencing a destination
I think if you haven’t tried local cuisine, talked with local people, or made an effort to conform or respect local customs you haven’t really experienced that place. How can you say you’ve “been somewhere” if eat the same food and do the same things you do back home.
You need to do as the locals do to get a true feeling of a place. Learn some language, mix with locals, ask questions and try the things they love.
Learning the things you didn’t know about yourself
The more we learn, the more we experience, the more things we see and do, the more we learn about ourselves. Do any of us really know what we’re capable of? How can we, if we don’t expose ourselves to new things? My Mom always said, “You won’t know if like it unless you try it”. This isn’t just true about Brussels sprouts, it’s valid for everything in life.
Trying new things helps us learn important things about ourselves. It exposes us to things we would never have known we’d love, had we not left our home. Eat the food, learn the local dance moves, try the favorite pastime. You just might learn something amazing about yourself.
Numerous opportunities to build confidence and improve self-esteem
“Do one thing every day that scares you” – Eleanor Roosevelt
This is a systematic way to build confidence. When you apply this kind of thinking to travel the results can be amplified. You can face so many unusual challenges when you travel. Once in awhile, when you travel, take the road less traveled. Seek the unexpected and see how strong you can be.
The fact is if you want to improve your confidence, change your outlook, or do any kind of growing as a human being you need to be willing to be uncomfortable because you will be. Facing fears and trying new things , especially those things that are a bit outside your comfort zone, are two of the best ways to bolster self-esteem. Travel is fraught with opportunities to tackle things like these.
Confidence comes from knowing you can rely on yourself to solve problems or deal with different situations effectively. You build confidence like you build muscles in your body, you have to give it a workout from time to time.
Positive change, like many aspects of travel, is often a hard and a bit scary. Here are a few key ways you can avoid letting your travel fears get the best of your trip.
- Go out and do something different from your usual travel choices (even if it’s only one time). Contact tourism boards for recommendations: what the destination is known for or what cultural events are happening in the area while you’re visiting.
- Do your own research before you travel, ask questions in forums, visit expat sites to look for information outside news media and friend’s opinions.
- Choose things that help you meet locals – try to glimpse the place you’re visiting through their eyes
- Push the limits on your preferences. Do as the locals do – try the dance, try the local pastime, try the favorite dish even if you first believe “you won’t really like it”.