Easing Travel Nerves


How much of life are we kept from by our fears? What do we dream about doing but never do because we’re convinced our excuses carry more merit than is good for them?

When you spend time in foreign countries, there is much to keep your mind not only occupied, but petrified. It’s why all your travel gear includes secret pockets and protective coverings. You don’t know these people and it’s safer not to give away your trust too eagerly. If we allow it, fear can hold us at living a life only half full.

I say, let’s tell fear where he can go.

The Mindset

There’s a scene in “We Bought A Zoo” – a fantastic movie about courage and risk – where Matt Damon is recounting to his girls about how he first met their mother, his late wife. He smiles as he speaks of how beautiful she was and how out of his league he stood in comparison. There they were, complete strangers, and would have remained so if he had given into his fear. But then he says something to his girls, something to remind them of fear’s proper place:

You know, sometimes all you need is twenty seconds of insane courage. Just literally twenty seconds of embarrassing bravery. And I promise you, something great will come of it.

There are those moments in our lives when our fear rears up and stares us down. Right here in this moment it is with us. In these moments we need that courage. We need to remember we are strong. We need to know we have what it takes to overcome, lest we are perpetually kept from seizing a more abundant life being offered us.

It may help to recognize that absolutely no one in all of history has been exempt from fear. We all face it. The ones who seem fearless are the ones who embrace every opportunity to choose courage in the face of their fears and so gain small steps of mastery over what would bind them. No matter what stage of travel you are in – buying the ticket, committing to volunteer, learning a new language, stepping off the plane, moving to a new city – take it in twenty second increments.

Twenty seconds of insane courage can make all the difference.

And twenty seconds of insane courage could very well change your world.

The Awaiting Danger

Our fear sneaks up on us. He hides in the darkness and fakes left before going right. He’s wily and sly and unpredictable. At times.

Other times, he’s waiting for us in the same spots he always waits for us, pulling the same tricks he always does, and dang if he doesn’t get us every time. I guess that’s why he keeps going back. He knows it works.

As far as it’s possible, it may be helpful to prepare in advance for what you know is coming. The practical way this plays out dwells in the realm of our control. Are you nervous about getting pick-pocketed? Sew a pocket inside your pants. Are you fretting about missing a bus? Make reservations, double check your locations and times, and have money ready. Worried that your stuff will get stolen? Buy a PacSafe or a lock and be smart about keeping your luggage in sight and secure.

What else can you do?

No need in worrying about the things you cannot change. If you let worst-case scenarios rule your mind, would you even function outside of bed? At the end of the day, you are your most valuable resource and will be able to face whatever comes your way. Everything beyond this moment is unknown and it’s all a bit scary for each of us, you’re not alone in that. But the other way our preparedness plays out is through a less tangible, but possibly more important avenue.

Our expectations.

When our ideas of how our day or how our journey or how our lives will look are set impossibly high, there can only be disappointment waiting for us after the fall. Give your all, strive for good, hope for the best, but know that whatever comes is what you have, whether you want it or not, whether you thought that’s how it would look or not. The quicker you can accept that reality, the better you’ll be at handling the situation. Know now that life doesn’t take orders from you and won’t always play out the way you hope.

That’s not to say we won’t receive exactly what we need in order to be exactly who we were created to be.

The Promise

If we spend too much time mulling over our past, allowing those experiences and voices to shape our courage, or conversely, dwell in the void of future’s unknown, we miss out on the beauty and brilliance of this moment. For those who do it well, life is always lived right now. Anything else is veritable thievery.

Fear wants to rob us of the joy or wisdom or compassion or connection of this moment.

Alas! Be not afraid, for we bear the promise of being loved and supported and are in the presence of those who are standing with and cheering us on. We are not alone in this life, no matter what lies fear may spew to the contrary. It may be a more difficult reality to grasp when we’re thousands of miles from home, but those who care for us and want to see us succeed are many. Fear wants to keep us feeling alone so that we despair and give up or give in.

But we can see through those falsities. We have family and friends and the Divine who are invested in who we are becoming. They want to see us overcome our fear so that we might embolden others, freeing them from their own fear.  We have an untold multitude who are counting on us to live brave and strong so that our influence for good spreads to far corners.

Our courage, like our muscles, needs to face adversity in order to be strengthened. Oftentimes the instinct is to run from what scares us, but there is seldom greater strength than standing our ground. We can decide to be those people. We can overcome whichever fear is determined to keep his grip in us. And the only way for us to do so is to seek opportunities where our courage is put to the test.

The promise being that when we do, we will not be alone.


Fear will always find a way to sabotage what we’ve got going. He’s a jerk like that and it’s helpful to know it beforehand. But fear only has the control over us we allow him.

Travel has the tendency to expose and introduce us to some of our worst fears. Or is it that travel has the incredible ability to grant us any number of opportunities for courage? Easing our travel nerves may simply be a matter of perspective, of trust, and of knowing our true identity.

That we are strong. That we can choose courage and conviction. That we refuse to live a life only half full.

Even if that means we live twenty seconds at a time.


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