We talk about traveling a lot—with each other, with our friends, with our families. Some of us have had some serious adventures (see my posts on Syria) and face questions when we return home: how could you have done that? How could you have gone there?
It got us thinking about fears that prevent people from traveling. So, we conducted an informal survey and here’s what people told us are the reasons not to travel, as well as our responses:
The risk of being in a plane crash is actually very, very slim. You’re much more likely to be in a car accident in the city you live in.
Are everywhere. As are treatments. Do a little research before you travel: get the appropriate vaccinations, bring along medicines, and look up locations of hospitals and doctors. A little bit of preparation can ensure that you have a fun, healthy trip.
I was in Thailand when I saw the sign: Feeding Area. Sure, it was in English, but I had no idea what it meant. Who or what was to be fed in this area? Could I be fed here? If I sat down, would someone bring me food? Or did the sign imply that this was a picnic area?
Language barrier is one of the most common concerns we heard. But there are certain parts of the United States where people don’t speak English (Head to Miami—you’ll find enclaves that are impossible to navigate without Spanish). Once you start traveling, you’ll be surprised by how little you actually need language and how much smiles and gestures work. We think the language barrier, a common concern, is less of a barrier and more of an illusion.
In the deep south of Thailand, where no Western tourist dares to go, and most of the locals don’t speak a lick of English, I made a friend. I stopped to admire her store, and this elderly woman patted the seat, asked me to join her, and I did. Without language, we communicated our ages to each other and she made it clear to me that she admired my skin and hair. We sat for a time without words. It was lovely.
In the rare instances there is an upheaval or unrest, it is unusual for foreigners to be targeted. Political turmoil is a local affair and typically it will not spread so quickly through the population as to prevent you from leaving the area, if need be.
What? Wild animals? Yes, this one surprised us to. Strike this one off the list if you’re headed to a big city. And if you’re headed into nature, well, just remember that wild animals are everywhere in the world. If you’re truly terrified, inform yourself before you go and avoid the areas that are full of the animal you fear.
Traveling doesn’t have to be expensive. It can be as expensive or cheap as you want it to be. On a tight budget? Try hostels and street food. Actually, we think being on a tight budget is an advantage… when you’re spending a lot of money you tend to be in a bubble of luxury or tourists. When you’re spending money like a local, you tend to be, well, around more locals. And that’s where the truly rewarding and memorable experiences come from—interacting with people, sometimes without language, and seeing that you are welcomed in the world.