Overcoming Top 3 Fears of International Travel

After hours of watching the news, it’s all too common for our minds to run amok with imagined fears. Usually we know they’re overblown, but international travel can feel so different from our normal routine that we let them hold us back.

But it’s also important to remember as people who love travel, we don’t want to look back on a life of missed moments.

Luckily, it often takes just a little research to put things in to perspective and help us see that many of our fears aren’t really a big deal at all. From years of travel experience, here are our tips for calming some of the most common worries.

Fear: Unexpected Disruptions

Convinced your cruise ship is going to end up like the Costa Concordia? Your plane will be the next to vanish from the radar? You’ll be pick pocketed or part of a new terrorist attack?

High school sports kill more Americans every year than terrorist attacks, and the same goes for pedestrian and bike accidents. According to the State Department, the number of civilians killed overseas as a result of terrorism between 2001 and 2013 was 350. – From Boston Globe.

If that’s the case, then why are we so afraid? Because the news doesn’t put a bike accident on every channel 24 hours a day for a week, but they do with any unexpected disruption to daily life. Our brains remember it and we begin to imagine the whole world is far more unsafe than it really is.

Not only that, but we’ve ridden a bike or crossed a street. These seem simply like unfortunate incidents, compared to information about a place we’ve never been or seen. It’s harder to put aside your fear when it’s coupled with the unknown.  A few good ways to resolve this:

  • Seek out friends who have been there for advice
  • Learn more about your destination (travel blogs are an awesome tool!)
  • Consult a travel agent specializing in that destination or travel style – they will be on top of all the most recent news and can provide expert advice
  • Find ways you can be more aware of your surroundings and situations that make you feel confident, not afraid
  • Consider all the the news stories you see at home of accidents and crimes, but would still visit those cities

Fear: Lack of Communication

Worried that you won’t be able to speak to anyone or read a sign for that matter? Congrats you were lucky to be born an English speaker and the world is currently catering to us. I am consistently amazed to find that the majority of people you’ll encounter in restaurants, tours, etc have wonderful to passable English as it’s part of their core curriculum in school.

In the few instances where someone doesn’t speak English, gestures usually get across your meaning…we all understand drinking and the pee pee dance. Pretend it’s a game of charades and when all else fails, they will usually point you to someone who does speak English.

In more remote areas this may not be the case, but if that’s your style of travel then you’ve likely been practicing the language and rocking your Google translator! The ExuseMe app is also a great tool for getting some of the basic phrases for wherever you’re traveling which will help you and is always appreciated by locals.

Worried about not talking to those back home? It’s easier than ever now and doesn’t require you to pay for International service.

  • Download WhatsApp which will allow you to text using Wifi
  • Rent a mobile Wifi hotspot so you can social media and text your heart out
  • Use Skype or Facetime for video chats

Fear: Mystery Food

No idea what to expect from the menu or indeed what the menu actually says? Great news, this too can be easily remedied!! After a lot of overseas travel I have found a few things that seem to be pretty universal:

  • Pointing to an item total works if there is a language barrier 🙂
  • If you let them know about food allergies they will help you pick appropriate items or adjust items (be sure to say allergy and not just dietary preference, the second doesn’t get you very far)
  • Download Global Eater Food Dictionary which will translate almost any menu item so you know for sure whether you’re eating cauliflower or cockroach
  • Download Yelp to find reviews and search by certain foods or types of food you’d like to enjoy
  • Part of experiencing a culture is trying their food, so be open to trying a bite of this and that!
  • Read up in advance to know if you should drink the water or stick to bottles

Carry some chewable Peto tablets, the jet lag alone could make your stomach feel a little off.

Part of the thrill of travel is new experiences, it’s venturing in to the unknown (though armed with some knowledge) and letting go of our normal routines. Don’t let media hype hold you back from seeing the places you’ve long dreamed of.

Find a local travel agent to help plan all the logistics and keep your trip on track!