The Fear of Travelling

Last week I was reading a Blog post about fear and anxiety. I listed a lot of things that I fear including small spaces and insects. The response to my comment took me by surprise:

“…but you are not afraid of travelling!”

I read the comment twice before I realized that there are people who are genuinely afraid to travel. Today you can drop me off almost anywhere in the world and I will not be scared.

But, it wasn´t always like that!

To this day I still remember the first time when I left South Africa for a holiday “overseas”. It was six months after my divorce and I was on my way to London to start a 21 day trip across Europe. This was not a normal vacation or trip. It was a journey of self discovering and healing. I was hoping to put all the broken pieces together and find peace.

I was excited, nervous and scared.

The cabin crew announced our decent . The lights dimmed and a restless silence filled the Boeing 747. I was desperately looking for a hand to hold. I was surrounded by businessmen who were in a hurry to get to their appointments. I have never been to an International Airport and I had honestly no idea where to go to. The man next to me offered to walk me to immigration but then he had to leave. I gladly accepted the offer.

I told myself not to panic because I have arranged for somebody from Contiki to meet me at arrivals. Imagine my horror when the doors opened and nobody was there. I walked up to the Information counter and asked them how to get to the Royal National Hotel. They couldn´t help me. I thought this was insane! How on earth could they not help me? Hello…London is not your home town, Nelieta! They called the police, not to arrest me, but to help.

They pointed me in the direction of the shuttle that runs into the city. The driver knew immediately where it was and took me to Russel Square.

My horror was far from over. I sat at the hotel for 4 hours waiting for the Contiki tour to start. Eventually a girl came up to me and asked me what I was waiting for. Duh, the tour to start! I felt like crawling into a hole when she told me the meeting is tonight and the tour will only start tomorrow morning. I had the day free to do what I want. She gave me a map and recommended Madame Tussauds Wax Museum.

It turned out this girl was also from South Africa and did a lot of travel on her own and with groups like passports.com the student travel agency. I envied her!

I remember running back to her with great pride when I came back from the Museum. Not only did I find the museum but I also managed to use the Underground. A very first for me! We don´t have metro´s or undergrounds in South Africa. She looked at me strangely and all I could do was laugh. I was so proud of myself.

Regular travellers might shrug their shoulders and laugh it off. For me it was a BIG deal. I am not scared any more. Now I am the complete opposite. I cannot wait for the aeroplane to lift off and to take me to my destination. I don´t care any more if I take the Metro or bus and go in the wrong direction (yes that happens a lot). I am not shy to ask for directions. I still cannot read a map and laugh about it when people point it out.

What changed? I call it travel confidence. No even better. Self- confidence with the ability to laugh at myself.

“We must travel in the direction of our fear.  Berryman, John

Date: March 2004

I have been fortunate to have done quite a bit of travelling over the last 10 years. By heart I am an adventurer and I love exploring new places, cultures and food. Travelling can become stressful and expensive. Over the years I have learnt to travel as cost effective as possible, simply by travelling more clever. Nelmitravel.com is a Adventure and Budget Travel site where I review Airlines, Accommodation, Transport, Restaurants and give helpful travel information.

36 Comments

  1. Good for you! When we travel, we don't go to discover places. We go to find our best and truest selves. Sounds like you did. And the best part: you're not done yet. There's more of you to find "out there." So keep going!

  2. Wow, what an adventure! This is a milestone, Nelieta. This experience led to all these wonderful trips, photos, and blog posts that we now enjoy and learn from. 🙂

  3. Yes Nelieta, I know what you mean…in the past 13 years I've had many instances of doing a new thing for the first time (including international travel alone), and the greatest thing I've learned, like you is "…self confidence with the ability to laugh at myself". When we travel we discover new places, but we also discover ourselves. It sounds like this was a wonderful beginning for you…keep traveling and enjoying the journey…there is always more of ourselves to discover!Thank you for sharing your experiences with us!

  4. You took me back to our first trip Nelieta. Yep, a real learning curve. But these days I admire young travellers who set out on their first adventure because that ability to face up to the unknown will stay with them for life…it's called courage.

  5. I've done much traveling alone but it did take a while for me to build up my courage. On my first out of the country I locked myself In my hotel room and ordered room service meals for 2 days lol. Looking back I can understand what caused my lack of courage back then – a strict upbringing. I still love to travel alone but I'm more cautious than I was in my youth – maybe what goes around comes around lol. I've Stumbled you 😀

  6. Very Good post Nelieta .Its always nice to remember the travel experience .Wow its might be a awesome trip and how was that wax museum ?? I m waiting for my first travel through flight !! Wonder when it happens 🙂

  7. Thank you Greg! That self discovery is one of the biggest adventures of them all. I have found myself through travelling and like you say, the journey is far from over! Thanks for the visit 🙂

  8. Hi Alfandi, travelling is such an amazing experience! I am sure you will be seeing more and more places in the near future! Looking forward to seeing your photos 🙂 You are always welcome to join me on another travelling adventure 🙂

  9. I've always loved travelling…it's my mom who gets afraid that I travel alone…geez!I missed my plane two years ago in Malaysia and spent two nights with a stranger (my cousin's lady friend)… I guess aside from cyberfriends, God also blesses me with angels. I liked how it was written by A, he called them treasures…they surely are :)There's a lot of things we can learn out there… and they will surely stay in our hearts forever :)Happy travelling Nelieta… we are all pilgrims and I'm glad to be co-journeying with you…Take care :*

  10. Hi Becky, thank you for your lovely comment. It is true, there is so much in the world to discover! I have noticed that I always chose places that healed "healed" something inside me..maybe those places chose me 🙂

  11. I think the learning curve is very important Jim. I also take my hat off to these youngsters who hop on a plane and discover the world. If I could have my life over I would certainly do just that!

  12. Hi Mari, I had to laugh about your first experience! But isn´t it remarkable that you have also overcome a fear. Now we can laugh about it but back then it was something terrible. I think as you get older the more cautious you get. There are definitely thing I won´t do now that I did 10 years ago! Thank you for sharing your experience with us 🙂

  13. Thank you Jessica! I never really thought about it until I sat down to write this post. I knew I changed a lot as a person and people at my work always commented on the fact that I am not scared to travel. But I guess they never knew me or the fears that I carried inside me. When I look back I can clearly see the change in my photography, my writing and my outlook on life. I am proud of myself 🙂

  14. Hi Sheril, this is one thing I never wanted to forget. I still need to write about Madame Tussauds. I have seen it in London and also in Amsterdam. I will get round to that I promise – just for you! I am holding thumbs for you…I am sure you cannot wait, my Friend! Where will you be off to?

  15. Hi Melissa, that is the one thing that has never happened to me Thank God! I guess I will really start to panic if I miss my plane. I am a very punctual person and I always make sure that I am at least 30 minutes before the time for an appointment. I don´t mind waiting.I always believe that God has travel Angels that keep an eye on us….xxxxx

  16. Thank you David! Travelling is so important but yet a lot of people don´t see it that way. I become so restless when I cannot travel. I often take the scooter and visit towns nearby and look for something new or maybe something that I have missed. I guess it is in my blood now 🙂 Travelling changed my world, my outlook on life and me. That is why I started this blog, to preserve these memories 🙂

  17. Kudos to you for overcoming your fear of traveling and exploring all the world has to offer. I have done a decent amount of traveling and those memories are priceless, I feel sorry for people who prefer to stay home and not broaden their horizons. The world is a remarkable place that must be seen, felt, smelt, and tasted in person!! Often getting lost or unexpected incidences produce the best memories 🙂

  18. Thank you Sailor! I think we often forget the feelings that we´ve had before we went on a big adventure. It was good for me to remember it and see how far I have come. LOL..fearless yes I think I am 🙂

  19. Thank you Bob! What you are saying is so true! We get used to it or we stop…I like to get used to it and never want to stop 🙂 Bob, I tried to visit your site but it wouldn´t load. I will try again and would also like to leave a comment on your posts.

Thank you for visiting. Have a fabulous day!

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