Travel is scary, isn’t it? What about the food, the train crashes, the thieves, ………..I saw somewhere once, that some ______ was robbed in ______. Has scary things like that happened to you?
Maybe it’s like the adrenaline you get when watching a scary movie, or maybe it is self sabotage……. a way for people to reassure themselves that travel is in fact dangerous…….. and scary, so they are not missing out, by not doing it. I think it’s both, people just want to know the worst, scariest moment I have had traveling. And the truth is, yes, I have been scared. However, more importantly, I have been shocked by kindness and generosity many times more. Here are some things I learned on the road.
People are generally good. I once lost my camera on a small Thai island, only to have it returned to me in the city, after a kind man searched the island for someone who knew the girl in the pictures. At a night market in Phnom Phen, a Cambodian literally punched a thief attempting to pick pocket me. In a world where the media loves to highlight the bad, it is very important to not loose sight of the fact that people are mostly good.
The same rules apply. The streets of Mumbai are no more dangerous than those in Los Angeles. People aren’t scared of Spain, yet it has one of the highest rates of pick pocketing. Don’t forget the same rules apply; safety precautions should be taken wherever you are in the world. Going out at night alone probably isn’t a smart idea. Looking for drugs will surely introduce you to some shady characters. Usually, as long as you don’t go looking for trouble, trouble won’t find you.
Live and Learn When looking back to some scary moments, I can see how my behavior unintentionally put me in those situations. The only day in India I decided to wear a short sleeve shirt and ankle barring pants, (I was out of laundry and it was REALLY hot), was the only day I had a man force a kiss and some undesired grabs upon me in a mosque. When I got myself into a bad situation with some creepy border officials, it was the only time I thought I could get by okay crossing the Cambodian boarder right at closing, in the dark. Although both situations panned out fine, in retrospect, it was my stupidity that put me in these situations in the first place. Live and learn.
Hostels are Fun not Scary You wouldn’t believe the looks I get when I tell people I travel both domestically and internationally using mainly hostels. Sadly, I think this is in large part, an isolated factor for Americans, partly because hostels are rare in the US, and partly because we are just so damn blinded by our media. We tend to limit ourselves because of what we see in movies (Hostel) and hear on the news (CNN). I beg of you people, hostels are fun! They provide social events, promote international friendships, unforgettable memories, and a clean, safe, affordable place to lay your head.
Just Because it is Different, Doesn’t mean its bad Yes I eat street food, its cheap and delicious. Yes I ride motorcycles, everyone there does. Differences like these tend to freak people out that don’t have much travel experience. Being different, shouldn’t make it bad or scary. Experiencing differences is what travel is all about; challenging your cultural norms, seeking new food, learning a new transportation system or even better, a language is where all the fun is at. You would be surprised at the simple joy of getting a cup of coffee in another country, everywhere makes it different! Stop comparing, (or criticizing), and embrace difference.
So is travel scary? 99.9% of the time, no. Travel is thrilling, incredible, inspiring, and the biggest gift you can ever give yourself. With a little common sense and a good attitude, it will, no doubt, be one of the best experiences of your life. Jump in!