Before we started travelling we had lots of worries about how we would cope with life on the road. Plus fears about something bad happening to us. After 18 months of full-time travel, we’re here to tell you that many of your concerns as a first-time traveller are mostly unrealistic! Here are the most common travel fears and how to overcome them.
1. Staying safe
The media does a great job of feeding us horror stories about how dangerous the world is and often paints a disproportionate image of the danger many countries. We’ve travelled through Colombia and are currently in Mexico, both synonymous with serious crime and violence. But the truth is that as a tourist you’re very unlikely to get caught up in anything. And as for plane crashes, terrorist attacks and natural disasters, you are far more likely to get killed crossing the road on your way to work. We’re not blasé about our safety by any stretch, but what we're saying is take things you read with a pinch of salt. And, do your research before jumping to conclusions.
2. Getting sick
Becoming ill while travelling is a real concern and we can’t tell you it won’t happen because probably, it will. There’s always going to be that dodgy taco you ate or that mysterious bug you picked up. But remember people get sick at home too. All the time. Taking simple precautions such as washing your hands regularly, not drinking tap water and only eating at busy places go a long way. Make sure you get all the injections you need and cover up or wear repellant when mosquitos are about. But after that, realise that some things are just out of your control and make sure you have travel insurance to cover any medical expenses.
3. Language barriers
You are right to be aware that not everyone you meet on your travels will be able to understand you. But there are lots of ways to overcome this. First off, learn a few basic phrases for the countries you are going too. As well as being able to ask where the toilet is or when the next bus is, common courtesies such as hello and thank you are essential. Either carry a phrasebook with you or download a translator app on your phone. When we travelled in China the latter was invaluable. You will also find in many of the more touristy parts of countries many people will speak some English! Especially in busy places like hostels and restaurants.
4. Your stuff being stolen
This is another realistic travel consideration. But, it's definitely a risk that you can mitigate by taking some preventative measures. First of all, don’t invite people to steal your stuff by walking around with your phone in your back pocket! Or by leaving your expensive sunglasses unattended on the bar. Second of all, research the place you are travelling to. Are there any no go areas for tourists or places you should avoid after dark? Thirdly, don’t drink too much in unfamiliar surroundings or if you are having a big night out. Leave your valuables locked in the hostel safe. By being alert and informed, to date, we’ve travelled through 17 countries and never had anything stolen.
5. Missing home
The extent that you experience this varies from person to person. If you’re already worried about this before you set off on your travels the likelihood is homesickness will affect you. For us, it usually creeps in when we are having a crappy day or around the time of missing out on a significant event happening at home. But the power of the internet minimises it. Be in regular contact with your people through your WhatsApp groups. Schedule in frequent Skype or Facetime calls to family and keep in touch with your mates on social media. Take some home comforts with you too. Marmite and teabags are our go to when we are missing home.
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