How to Convince Yourself to Travel Somewhere You're Nervous To Go
Take a deep breath, put it into perspective, and book.
The world is a big beautiful place, packed with storybook moments and wild adventures, vibrant colors and interesting ideas - you just have to be brave enough to walk out the door and step into it. But every now and then you're going to run across a place that you're wildly curious to go see, but find yourself slightly hesitant to brush off the passport for.
You're nervous. You've heard it's not the safest, that there's no warm water, that you can get lost in a bazaar and never come out, that the street food will have you asking the hostel if you could just book the toilet for the night, that someone will push you into a chicken truck and you'll never be seen again - gah! But deep breaths, girl. Sure, mishaps can happen, but it's never as bad as we make it out in our heads.
So if you want to imagine yourself in a certain place but are slightly apprehensive of booking, here are six tips on how to get over that fear and pack your bags like you've wanted to.
1. Keep In Mind: You're Not The First Person To Go There
While it might sound scary to go explore a huge, dusty desert or end up in a humid Vietnamese jungle, or spend a night camping in a cave miles and miles away from roads, keep in mind this one fact: You're not the first to do it. Literally millions of people before you have tramped down those same roads, slept on those same beds, and rode on the same buses and trains to get there. They made it out in one piece, and so can you.
2. Weigh What You'll Get Out Of It
If you're bouncing back and forth between really wanting to go and too scared of actually being there, put into perspective what you'll get out of it. Will you experience eerily beautiful temples, walk through forests that the Grimms brothers weaved, hike through mountains that will grip you by the throat, experience moments that before you've only seen during monologues of movies? What sights will you see, wonders you will experience, memories you'll make?
Now, is staying comfortable worth more than making those apart of your life? Put it into perspective.
3. Research What You're Scared Of
If you're going to a "riskier" area and are worried how you'll fair there, research the crap out of it so you know exactly how you'll fair. Make the unknown known and you won't have to pass up an amazing opportunity because it makes you want to wring your hands.
For example, figure out how you'll get from the airport to the hostel, then how you can get around the city in a safe and easy way to all your sightseeing destinations. Look up what areas are safe to walk around in, and up to what times. Research costs of things like taxis, trains, and hostel rooms, and look up what are some common scams to avoid so you're prepared to take them down.
See what foods you can eat, and what usually makes travelers sick. See if there are tours you can book in town if you'd rather be apart of a bigger group, and read articles about travelers who've already been there, and learn about their experiences and insights to become familiar with the landscape and the people. Once you have all the information, the destination is no longer this scary, vague, dangerous place. It might not be as easy to maneuver as, say, Madrid or Dublin, but it's really not that far off.
4. Join A Community
You're not the first backpacker to hit the road, and because of it there are so many experienced, excited, and lovely people out there that are willing to help you climb off of the ledge. You can post a question on TripAdvisor and get feedback on other people's experiences and get detailed thoughts on what they would look out for and - more importantly - what they absolutely loved.
Or if you're antsy to start the trip alone, hop on over to the Couch Surfing forum or visit TripTogether and see if any other travelers want to meet up in the beginning and experience the city together. Plan to meet up for coffee or dinner before you commit to anything, but in reality it'll be the same thing as making random friends at a hostel. And now you already have a sightseeing group ready for you when you land!
5. Plan Out Your First Day To A Tee
I mean to a tee. Figure out exactly how to get out of the airport and to your hostel, whether that's with trains, buses, or taxis. Then look up sights you want to see, restaurants you want to eat at, and interesting streets you'd like to aimlessly wander through - along with how to get there via public transport or by foot. Have maps ready either in your backpack or on your phone, and have your routes already plotted out.
If you take the guesswork out of your first day there, it'll lessen some of that "oh my God I'm actually flippen here" anxiety.
6. If It Gets Too Overwhelming, You Can Always Turn Back
Say the jungle in Vietnam isn't for you - you've tried the mosquito nets, the symphony of animal sounds throughout the night, the sticky heat, the cold showers and it's just not as romantic as you thought it would be. Well, pack up that backpack and go! You're the one with the pencil that writes out your schedule, so if you're not feeling something there's no shame of turning back and trying out something else.
All that matters is that you tried - no one ever put you down on a contract to love it. On to better things!