It never ceases to amaze me how much fear people have about traveling. I’m tempted to just roll my eyes and think, “silly ignorant Americans,” but then I realize I too once shared that fear of traveling. We fear the unknown and for most Americans, the unknown is the rest of the world.
Of course we can thank the media for some of that fear. If we were to believe everything we see on the news we’d never leave the house. Apparently airplanes crash regularly, the entire world hates Americans, the French hate tourists, terrorists are everywhere, and a woman can’t travel alone for fear of being kidnapped and turned into a sex slave.
Like I said though, I was too in this situation. I was 23 when I booked my first ticket to Europe with a friend. I wasn’t too nervous since I had somebody to accompany me but he had to cancel his trip about two days before it was set to begin. Suddenly I was alone with no itinerary, a bad weather forecast and a news report that a bomb was found under train tracks somewhere in France.
I was scared as hell. I stayed up all night before my early morning departure. Packed and ready to go, I sat and weighed all the options. Really, there weren’t any. Either go, or don’t go and eat the $600 I paid for my ticket.
In the end everything worked out well. The weather was clear as can be, the exact opposite of the forecast. No trains blew up and the French were actually pretty cool and respected my semester of college French that was so bad it should have been laughed at.
I’ve been reading a great book recently by Seth Godin called Tribes. It’s not about travel, it’s about marketing in this new digital age but yesterday it started to make me think about the fear I see all the time with people who have not done any traveling outside of their comfort zone.
Talking about the workplace or various positions of leadership, Godin says that fear is the biggest obstacle slowing or stopping people from succeeding. Most people are very comfortable doing their same, often meaningless, job for years on end if there is no risk. They fear thinking outside the box, doing more than is required from them, or speaking up when their opinion not popular.
Could you imagine if that wasn’t the norm?
Overcoming the fear
How does Godin recommend for overcoming the fear? While he is talking about the workplace, these same concepts can be applied to anything in your life, especially travel.
First, talk yourself out of being afraid. It’s amazing what some positive reinforcement can do, even if it is internal.
Second, understand that fear will always be there learn how to recognize it. This is often more difficult to do than it sounds. Do you act differently when you are afraid? Maybe you stutter, start sweating, or simply give up under the pressure.
Third, once you accept that fear will always be present, learn how to drown it out. You know how to recognize it, now learn how to ignore it.
Are you ready?
Probably not. Are we ever ready for anything life throws at us? That doesn’t mean you have to be afraid of the unknown though. Embrace it, live it, and enjoy it.
Get Tribes: We Need You to Lead Us by Seth Godin
—Former U.S. senator Bill Bradley
Buy Tribes: We Need You to Lead Us at Amazon