First off, travelling is a privilege. Due to financial and social realities, not everyone can. But, if you are lucky enough to be able to able to travel but fear is standing in your way–here's your wake up call.
Since finishing school, I’ve travelled to four different countries and have been lucky enough to never feel nervousness beforehand. I’ve met people from each side of the equator. I’ve experienced cultures from all around the world and tried food that I still dream about. I’ve never regretted any of my travels–regardless of some of the bad memories that have come from my trips, I’ve learnt more abroad than I had ever learnt in school.
While I consider myself in the lucky camp, fear of travelling is a very real thing, with its own name, hodophobia. The fear can stem from being unorganised, being scared of a culture shock or just the act of being so far away from home.
Like anything, different people experience hodophobia differently and there's a real range of how bad it can be. If it’s only a minor case of travel anxiety, don’t dismiss it, but also be aware of its severity. You shouldn’t completely ditch a trip away just because of a few second thoughts. Plunging yourself into the deep end can be completely and utterly rewarding and you need to trust yourself to do that, even if it’s your first time. However, if it’s a serious issue that’s stopping you from venturing out of your home town, consider speaking to a mental health professional.
If the fear stems from being alone, know that there are so many ways to meet people abroad. Staying at hostels is the greatest piece of advice I can give you. In hostels you're thrown together with like-minded travellers who are often also alone and it's inevitable that you'll find a travel buddy or two. When I backpacked around Vietnam for a month I was with friends but we met so many people that there were times where I was hanging out with complete strangers while my school friends were having a nap. We also didn’t have any rigid plans most days and booked accommodation and tours only days or hours in advance–it was completely liberating.
I’m about to head out onto a Europe trip, with no return ticket. I can’t wait to travel day-by-day, with no plan, while learning to be truly independent and finding out who I am without all the baggage that comes with being at home.
Travelling is a big jump. It's something that you need to think carefully about. But, all of your insecurities about traveling are probably going to fade away as soon as you get in the world.
Stepping out of your home town bubble is such an important life experience and one that everyone should be able to take part in.
Acknowledge your anxieties, know that the reality of travel isn't all peachy then take a deep breath and jump on that flight.