There are a million excuses one can come up with on why not to travel. Even just the other day, my Mom said, “If you think about anything too much you’d never do it. Take travel for instance.” And, she’s right, which is why so many people don’t travel. Traveling around the world can be a daunting thought, but that’s no excuse not to do it.
This, I feel, is especially true for those living in America. When I travel, and tell people that I’m American, they always respond with, “People from your country don’t make it over here too often.” Which may seem to be a generalization, but in many cases I see it myself. Rarely, anyone I meet abroad is from America, instead the vast majority of people seem to be from England, Ireland, and Australia. In fact, in February, CNN reported that only 30% of Americans even have passports.
Part of the problem, I think, is that we are too comfortable at home. America is full of diverse landscapes and people; drive a few hours north, south, east, or west and the differences are vast. But, to stay at home is also to be close-minded. People are afraid of other countries, cultures, traditions, foods, and religions. They are afraid of what lies outside their comfort zone, but what’s the point of living if we don’t break out of it? When I was leaving on my adventure to South East Asia, I often got sick of hearing, “be careful” and “stay safe.” I knew I’d be fine, what was everyone else so afraid of?
I realize that the world is a big place, and there may be many aspects of it that can be feared, but that goes for what happens in this country as well. You’re no more in danger abroad than you are at home. You need to be smart when you travel: listen to warnings from the embassy, stay away from riots and large groups of people, and stay away from activities that have increased risk values or that look dangerous. But, aren’t these guidelines one should always follow, no matter where they are?
That being said, you shouldn’t be afraid to travel. While it may be overwhelming at first, I guarantee that the experience will all be worth it.
First of all, it’s healthy to break out of your comfort zone.
There is nothing to be afraid of. Life is different in other countries, but it’s supposed to be, that’s what makes this world such an amazing place. Clifton Fadiman once said, “When you travel, remember that a foreign country is not designed to make you comfortable. It is designed to make its own people comfortable.” And, that is how travel should be. You should explore and experience a new culture and a new world. The initial feeling of being out of your comfort zone can be quite, well uncomfortable for lack of a better word, but in the end, it’s worth it.
Second, most of the things you are afraid of aren’t going to happen. Chances are you will be safe throughout your entire journey, which is hard to believe when we seem to live in a country that surrounds us with fear. It’s normal to let you mind go running with what-ifs, but half of what you imagine in your head isn’t worth worrying about. If you are smart and aware of your surroundings, you’ll be as safe in another country as you are at home.
Finally, throughout your journey, unforgettable experiences will unfold, experiences that aren’t possible in this country. I’ve laid down on tigers, trekked through rivers on the back of an elephant, hiked through the jungle in Thailand to reach a waterfall, went white-water rafting in a river in Chiang Mai, danced traditional dances with villagers in Fiji, drove through the desert and observed volcanoes in New Zealand, and that’s just the tip of the iceberg. Yes, our country is a magical place, but so is the rest of the world, and we are much smaller in comparison. Why only allow yourself to explore a small piece, when you have so many other places to see?
Travel breaks down stereotypes and generalizations about people and countries, and in the end it’s all worth it. Try to break through your fears and break into the world of travel because I promise you won’t regret it. And, if it helps, take my mom’s advice and try not to think about it too much.