The New Year is a good time to take a step back and be honest about the issues that are standing between you and great travel. Travel fears may start small, but they can take over and quash the very spirit that inspires us to explore the world. Here are ways to manage some of the most common fears associated with travel, from flight phobias to the specter of food poisoning.
Fear of Flying
It’s unsurprising that so many people fear flying—on a very primal level, strapping yourself into a metal tube hurtling through the air at 35,000 feet seems crazy. But flying is among the safest forms of transportation, and air transport empowers us to get around the world quickly and efficiently, so the fear of flying is definitely worth working through.
If your fear of flying is truly debilitating, you should consider enlisting professional help. There are therapists who use cognitive behavioral techniques, meditation and relaxation, and even hypnosis to help people manage their fear of planes. Travelers with less intense flying phobias may find small rituals, such as doing breathing exercises or reading a celeb-gossip magazine during takeoff, help to ease those first fearful minutes of a flight.
Fear of Traveling Alone
Loneliness is a powerful emotion on its own, so when you pair it with homesickness and the sense of unfamiliarity in a new place, the thought of traveling alone can feel impossible. But it doesn’t have to be lonely. In fact, solo travel can open you up to a new culture and its locals in ways that people traveling with companions miss entirely.
The rise of the sharing economy, in particular, is a boon for solo travelers. It’s easier than ever before to find locals with whom to explore a city or enjoy a meal. Choosing accommodations such as hostels (the trend of upscale hostels adds appeal) that foster community can be another great tool for solo travelers. And if going totally solo and independent seems too daunting, there are always group tours, many of which help solo travelers dodge single-supplement fees by pairing them in rooms.
Fear of Not Knowing the Language
Imagine this: You’re totally out of your element, in a new place, and suddenly someone is in your face yelling at you in a language you don’t understand with an alarming urgency. It’s a scenario that, quite rightly, fills many travelers with panicky dread. But by shifting the focus from helplessness to problem solving, these inevitable communication challenges can become part of the sweet adventure of travel.
To tackle this fear, you’re going to need tools—some mental, some physical. Patience and the ability to not take these situations too personally will serve you well. Add to your arsenal Google Translate, a phrase book, and a few polite key phrases memorized in your host language and you’ll have everything you need to make it through these tense moments.
Fear of Germs