Traveling means a little something different to everyone, and everyone does it for their own reasons. For me, traveling was a way to push myself out of my comfort zone and to become a better person. It allowed me to learn about new things and how other people lived.
That’s not the only thing travel can do, though. I asked some fellow women travel bloggers how travel helped them overcome some of their deepest fears and how they became a better person because of it.
Esther at Trip to Adventure
At the beginning of this year I had some free months between two job positions, so I though on doing a long trip for employing this time properly. By coincidence a friend of mine was moving to Australia for some months, so I chose this big country as a destination. Neither my boyfriend or any of my friends had enough time and money to join me for the trip, so I was finally going alone. Although I was not nervous during the previous months, the day I took the plane from Barcelona to Sydney I got really nervous and I started doubting about any decision I took around that solo trip, particularly the fact of going alone. Finally, it resulted to be only a bunch of nerves of the first time of doing something and I had a wonderful 6-week trip around Australia where I even found multiple travel partners to share the experience with. The great thing is that I left the fear of doing things alone, particularly traveling, in Australia.
Suzanne Wolko at Phila Travel Girl
I actually didn’t choose to be a solo traveler but my friend abandoned me in Paris on Valentine’s Day back before the mobile phone and internet so I had to choose to stay in Paris alone or fly home early with my (now former) friend. I chose to stay and explore the city on my own.
There was a lot of gestures and pointing at the pain au chocolate. I was involved in a marriage proposal during a day tour to Mont St Michel and learned to figure it out and be on my own.
Thus began my 20+ year love affair with traveling solo (and pain au chocolat) and exploring the nooks and crannies of a city on my own schedule. When my parents picked me up at the airport (I was in my 20’s and living at home) they were at first shocked that I stayed alone in a foreign city and never called home, then pleased that they raised me to be a strong, independent woman who could take on the world. Finally, they were sad that they were losing parts of me that had relied on them to help me solve problems.
Since then, I’ve had to overcome the questions (“Where is your husband?”) and the preconceived notions that the world isn’t safe for a solo traveler and the the fears of others.
You can connect with Suzanne at Phila Travel Girl.
Lavina Dsouza at A Capricious Compass
I was in a road accident a couple of years ago. Although most of it was cuts and bruises all over the body, the major effects happened a year later. I used to face extreme dizziness in the night. I couldn’t sleep. The doctors thought it was heartburn. I underwent treatment for heartburn for a month, the symptoms didn’t change, didn’t improve. I went from 1 doctor to another, till a neurosurgeon finally diagnosed it as Vertigo – at the age of 21. Extremely rare. Apparently it had happened due to the accident.
The dizziness continued for 2 years. I lost my self-confidence. I cancelled my plans to pursue further education abroad.
My friends convinced me to start traveling again, which was the only thing that made me happy.
Slowly I started venturing out on weekends. The fun, coupled with tiredness, resulted in me getting sound sleep whenever I stepped out. Something I started realizing a few months later. My love for everything including traveling was re-ignited again. Sleep was just 1 of the benefits, extreme happiness to globe-trot was the other.
I still suffer from vertigo, it’s something that will never go all my life.
But traveling has helped me overcome my fear, to step out, do strenuous stuff and even get some sleep!
Jordan Iverson at Explore Go Places
Since the age of 4 all I wanted to do was swim. I used to sleep in my suite using my towel as a blanket before swim meets. For over 17 years swimming was my reason to get up in the morning, do my homework, and keep myself healthy.
I spent my college life as a Division I Athlete. To some this would have been an amazing accomplishment, to me it was my logical next step, an inevitability.
Dead set on achieving my goals, I turned a blind eye to everything else. That’s when something began creeping into my blind spot.
By the beginning of my junior year I knew something was wrong. I was miserable. I would come home from practice crying every day. At night I couldn’t keep my meals down. I started hoping I would get hit by a car on my way to practice. Eventually I reached a point where I couldn’t swim more than 5 minutes without throwing up.
I was in constant pain from overuse injuries and my inconsolable stomach issues. Fed up, took a step back to see what was causing my relentless agony.
I looked no further than my beloved sport. My coach and team were toxic.
Over 2.5 years competing for them I developed biceps and triceps tendentious, two pulled ligaments in my knee, a sprained ankle and a few other injuries. Through the team and coaches mindset I was forced to ignore these injuries and train through the pain. The stress led me to develop severe anxiety leading to an eating disorder.
Every new injury was ignored by the coaches, pushed aside as an excuse to not practice. After several untreated injuries my body started to rebel against me.
My body was fed up with me not taking care of myself. I finally started to listen to it. I gave up the sport I loved to become a healthy, fully functioning person once again.
The pain didn’t stop after I quit. It worsened. I lost the thing that was my reason to get up in the morning, the thing that drove me to want to excel in all areas of my life.
It’s at this lowest point in my life that I buried myself in my major, tourism. I graduated at the end of my junior year, left the country, and visit my sister in Asia for a month.
I wandered the streets of new cities, immersed myself in new cultures, and allowed myself to feel small and insignificant in the huge crowds of strangers around me.
Eventually I reached a point where I felt at ease. Like I was beginning to understand my place in the world. From half way around the world I could see my life more clearly. Just as I began to relax I realized something. My anxieties stemmed from fear. Fear of failing. Fear of getting injured, AGAIN!
Fear of not living up to my potential. Fear of falling short after 17 years of work and sacrifices.
I had been so scared that I had made myself sick.
Emotions washed over me as I sat on the bed in my room. I started sobbing uncontrollably.
I thought that that by removing myself from the situation I would magically get better. But I wasn’t better. I was still holding onto it. Removing myself from what was causing me pain wasn’t enough. I had to accept my fear of failure; because guess what, I had failed. In this big wide world of ours, it did actually matter.
Suddenly I stopped. I wiped the tears from my face, looked out my window at the people going about their lives, and I took a deep breath.
In that moment I wasn’t injured or worried about anything. I was in a new place. All of those things I were afraid of were literally behind me. I had an opportunity make new memories to replace the painful ones of the past.
Maybe it was the countless Thai massages, the hours spent sitting on a beach in complete silence, or maybe I was deeply moved by visiting the magnificent Buddhist temples, all I know is I had changed. I was no longer that fearful girl leaving the States for the first time, running away from her past failures. I was now moving towards new experience, places, and cultures.
I stepped away from the window, slung my backpack across my shoulders, and went back out into the world.
You can connect with Jordan on Instagram.
Thanks so all these lovely ladies for their stories. Have you ever overcome a fear from traveling?