One of the biggest reasons I hear from people who say they can’t travel, other than financial reasons, is that the idea scares them. They think they will be robbed, run out of money, or kidnapped, (thanks to movies like Taken or Hostel.)What this really breaks down to is a fear of breaking out of your comfort zone more than anything. People are scared of the unknown and are afraid to take a leap of faith to do what they really want to do.
This fear can lead to regret later in life. Almost everyone I have ever met says that they want to travel more but few actually do. The older people who I have met who chose to stay in their protective bubble and not venture out into the world seem to have the most regret. It was fear that kept them in their same routine their whole lives.
I can say from personal experience though that things have a way of working out on the road. Sure,, things go wrong but you will find that if you simply stay calm and use your head you can almost always find a solution to the problem at hand. I have found myself at customs with an expired visa, on the road when I found out I was coming back to town without a house to stay at, lost tickets at the airport, and so much more. Every time something has gone wrong though nothing truly disastrous has ever happened as a result of it.
Out of all of my experiences though the luckiest I have ever gotten was on a trip back from California in 2010. I was spending a week visiting Southern California and Las Vegas for the first time. I had been there for a week and was flying back into Pittsburgh International Airport, an airport about 3 hours away from my house. My older sister was supposed to pick me up around 6 pm and then we had to go straight to pick up my niece from school. Unfortunately for me my plane had arrived late and came in around 6:30, my phone had died, and I had no money left to get a hold of anyone.
So there I was standing with my luggage at the airport pickup with absolutely no idea if I had a ride or not and no idea how to get a hold of anyone to see if I had a ride coming. I started to get a little nervous that I would be stranded there for a while. But I simply took a deep breath and figured my family wouldn’t leave me stranded at the airport so I hunkered down and began to wait. Not five minutes had gone by when one of my close friends pulled up in his van. I was so happy to see him that I ran to the car, opened up the door, and hopped in.
ME: “Hey man, who told you to come and get me?”
FRIEND: “What are you talking about bud?”
ME: “Did my sister call you or something?”
FRIEND: “Dude, my brother gets off the plane from Maine in like five minutes I’m just here picking him up.”
ME: “Oh well, can I get a ride back home then, I’m kinda stranded here.”
FRIEND: “Sure bud, I’m going that way anyway.”
I then used his phone to call my sister and tell her I had a ride back to my hometown. This was by far the luckiest I ever gotten on a trip, and that’s including room upgrades, last-minute ticket price cuts, and so many other things that have happened.
My point is not that if you just stay calm the universe will make good things happen, because that just wont always be the case. Things will go wrong, bad things will happen, and some things simply can’t be controlled when you’re traveling. But as long as you use common sense, stay calm, and don’t get stressed out you can find a way out of your problems.
Sure I got lucky and had a ride appear out of nowhere, but even if that hadn’t happened I could have asked to borrow someones phone, walked to a store or hotel to use their phone, or even gone back into the airport and asked someone if they had a phone I could use to call my family and find out what had happened. At the very least I could have simply stayed there sitting on my bag until my sister picked up her daughter and showed back up. The one thing that would have made it worse was being afraid. Being afraid never makes anything better. It only makes things worse because you aren’t thinking straight when you are afraid. Think rationally and use common sense when traveling and everything will work out.