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Is “What If” Stopping You From Traveling?

Many people have fears surrounding travel. But with so many amazing places to visit in this world, fears that hold you back are limiting you from experiences more than they are protecting you. I’m here to help with my Fighting the Travel Fears series.

“What if” is a question that can stop you from doing a lot of things in life. It can make you freeze up and get stuck in the same place day after day. I’ve had a lot of experience with this fear, and unfortunately I let it keep me from deciding to do things I really wanted to do.

Is travel something you want to do? Are the what ifs holding you back? I can’t guarantee nothing bad will happen, but I can help you work through your fear and book that trip. I won’t deny that things could go wrong. But chances are, everything will go smoothly. Instead of leaving yourself with that scary, unanswered question, come up with an answer. Squash “what if” with reason, logic and planning.

What if I get sick while traveling?

Hopefully you have some over-the-counter medicine with you for minor things. If not, find a pharmacy and buy what you need. If your illness is something a little more serious, as your hotel’s staff or manager to help you find a doctor or even a hospital if it’s that bad.

Remember that people get sick in other countries too, and they have doctors to help. If you happen to be traveling to a poorer country that doesn’t have great medical care, do some research ahead of time so you know what your options are. I was in Southeast Asia last year, and I knew if I got really ill in some places, Bangkok or Singapore were good options for quality care.

Also, buy travel insurance that covers you for medical emergencies in the country you’re traveling to. Ask lots of questions to make sure you know what it covers. A good policy will cover the cost of transporting you to the nearest quality hospital if you aren’t already near one.

What if I lose my passport while traveling?

Before you even leave home, make at least two copies of the photo page of your passport. Give one copy to someone you trust who won’t be traveling with you. Take the other copy with you, and store it somewhere different from where you keep your passport. It’s also a good idea to scan a copy onto your computer at home and email the file to yourself.

Find out where the nearest embassy or consulate is to where you’re going. Have their address and contact information with you when you start your trip. If you lose your passport, they’re the ones who can help you get a replacement. Get in touch with them as soon as possible, and get the process started.

What if I hate it?

If you’re on your trip and find that you’re not enjoying yourself, ask yourself why. Do you not like the climate? Are you in a big city but would rather be at the beach? Is your hotel run down? Are you traveling too quickly?

If there’s something you can do during your trip to improve the situation, do it. Nothing says you can’t change your plans halfway through your vacation. If you can’t do anything to change your situation, at least finding the reason you’re not enjoying your trip will help you when planning the next one. If you realized traveling to northern Europe in winter is not your thing, pick a different season or destination next time.

Don’t tell yourself you hate traveling without really finding out what it is you hate and why. Chances are it’s not travel itself. It just means you need to adjust the way you travel.

What if I have amazing experiences on my trip?

is what if stopping you from traveling?Have you thought about this possibility?

Your vacation could turn out to be really fun and filled with amazing experiences.

You could see sights you’ve dreamed about for years.

You could taste delicious food.

You could enjoy gorgeous landscapes.

You could go snorkeling or take a hot air balloon ride.

You could learn interesting history about the place you’re visiting.

You could take a cooking class or learn a new language.

You could meet wonderful people who become friends for a day or a decade.

You could discover a new passion.

You could find the confidence that’s been hiding inside of you for years.

What if you missed out on all these things because you let “what if” paralyze you and stop you from traveling?

is what if stopping you from traveling?

Read more in the Fighting the Travel Fears series to tackle your travel-related fears!

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  1. George

    Great little article and often pointed out. The only thing really stopping people from travelling is themselves, but it’s hard for them to see that.

    1. Author
      Ali Garland

      Thanks George! I think sometimes people get stuck. It’s hard to see that they are fully capable of doing things even if it’s different or doesn’t fit their routine, and that breaking out of your comfort zone is often a wonderful and rewarding thing.

    1. Author
      Ali Garland

      I know what you mean Debbie! It happens to all of us, but as long as we keep facing “what if” head on, we’ll keep getting better at going for it anyway. Thanks!

  2. Jennifer

    Another great tip is to also scan copies of your credit cards, front and back, that way if your wallet is stolen you still have the numbers and telephone contact numbers to take action.

    1. Author
      Ali Garland

      Definitely, I made sure to do that before my round the world trip last year. Luckily never needed it though! Thanks!

    1. Author
      Ali Garland

      Thanks Neil! Exactly, sometimes you have to just go for it, and that’s certainly true with travel.

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  4. Andrea

    I’m going to go out on a limb here and say that, in my experience, bad stuff can happen when you travel. You could have a negative experience, or not like it, or have a rough time getting back into the swing of things when you decide you don’t want to be nomadic anymore. But not only can bad stuff happen when you’re at home in your day to day routine, really awesome, life-changing stuff can (and does, in my experience) happen when you travel. And that makes it all worth it. Frankly I’d rather have taken the chance than not challenged myself to the new experiences…and never having to say, “What if I HAD gone travelling?” is also wonderful for peace of mind.

    1. Author
      Ali Garland

      Bad stuff can definitely happen when you travel, or at home. But I completely agree with you, that wonderful life changing stuff that can happen while you’re traveling is so worth it. I’d rather take the chance too! Thanks for the great comment Andrea!

  5. Jade Johnston -

    Great post! I think one of the biggest “what if” fears that hold people back though is what if I kill my career prospects by taking significant time off… would love to see you address that one in your series.

    1. Author
      Ali Garland

      Thanks Jade! I’m mostly trying to encourage people who haven’t traveled much or at all to travel even for a week or two, so I wasn’t even thinking about that angle. But yes, I’ve definitely seen how taking a significant amount of time off or quitting your job to travel does NOT mean you’ll never find a job again.

  6. Kim

    I worried *A LOT* about getting sick while traveling. But now that I’m out here I see how easy it is to manage. Of course people get sick in other countries (slap my forehead) and when they do they go to hospitals that are generally a lot more affordable than they are in the U.S. I’m glad I didn’t let this fear stop me, for sure.

    1. Author
      Ali Garland

      I’m glad it didn’t stop you either! And I do love how much cheaper medical care is in most of the world compared with the US. “What if” can stop you from doing a lot of things that are worth going after, as you’ve definitely proven!

  7. Stephen S.

    Great post. I use “what if” in the opposite way. When I’m not sure if i’m on the right course I say “what if’ I don’t travel or “what if” I settled down. Then I look around and get my ass back in travel mode.

    1. Author
      Ali Garland

      Thanks Stephen! Asking yourself “what if I don’t do this” is definitely a great way to motivate yourself to go for it. I’d hate to miss out on a great experience because I was too scared.

  8. jill

    All I know is that I almost didn’t go for my scuba certification because I was afraid I’d drown :) – it was a very major ‘what if’ for me since I’m terribly afraid of water. But I’m glad it didn’t stop me. Thanks for the great post.

    1. Author
      Ali Garland

      Thanks Jill! I’m so glad you went for it, good to give yourself a push sometimes. I love snorkeling, but I’m sure scuba diving is awesome!

    1. Author
      Ali Garland

      Thanks! Fear, unfortunately, stops lots of people from doing lots of things, travel being one of them.

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