How to Finally Overcome Your Fear of Traveling

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GoAbroad has the remedy for your fear of traveling...

Inspired by all of your friends’ Instagram travel accounts and mesmerized by those exotic sunsets on the Travel Channel you watch from your couch—but can’t quite muster up the courage to buy a plane ticket and leave for a few months? It’s okay; you’re not the only one in the world that doesn’t pounce fearlessly upon study, teaching, volunteer, or intern opportunities abroad. 

Though you should. 

Good thing that there is an easy solution to solve the problem of travel-inspired cold feet (aka hodophobia)... and it doesn’t involve woolen socks or purchasing new shoes. In fact, it requires shedding a few layers of misconceptions and leaving the baggage of mental reservations behind. Here are a few ways to overcome your fear of traveling:

white neon this is the sign youve been looking for on dark brick wall

Pretty self explanatory here…

Quite simply: just go for it!

To go forth and have the most wonderful travel experience of the world, a similar technique to taking a dive into cold water is used (but with a much more pleasant immersion): just take a breath and jump. Stop waiting for the perfect moment, throw away all of the excuses, pack your favourite teddy bear into the suitcase, and take a leap of faith into the unknown. 

I know, letting go of anxiety when traveling easier said than done—at least, the first time. After that, it becomes the most addicting adrenaline imaginable. 

If adventure isn’t part of your DNA, there are probably several common doubts flashing out at you. For instance: 

Why leave my comfort zone? 

Maybe, at times, life seems a bit mundane at home. However, it can’t be denied that it’s a safe kind of routine: favourite watering holes, lifelong friends, a comfortable house. Why leave this behind? This is especially potent if you’re scared to travel alone for the first time. What if you go away for educational adventures abroad and come back to find the house burnt down, the boyfriend with a new girl, and your job taken by someone else? 

That’s right, to overcome that innate fear of travel and change, write down all of the worst scenarios and figure out what the consequences would be and how you could fix it. It’s a little thing called fear-setting. More likely than not, the benefits of going to monkey temples in Colombia outweigh theoretical Worst-Case-Scenarios.

[Get matched with your perfect program and leave your fear of travel at baggage claim]

But I don’t know what’s out there!

Bingo! That’s the whole point of leaving the hometown and doing some educational service abroad: to discover what lies on the other side of the ocean. Life itself is our biggest teacher, and the experiences we will have in a foreign country greatly outweigh anything we could learn inside the classroom—but it sure doesn’t have hurt to have that classroom in a different country. 

Try to turn any anxiety when traveling into excitement by focusing on all of the wonderful things that you will come into with: new people, situations, languages, skills, ways of thinking. Embrace the differences and take each “New Thing” as a growing opportunity, which will only make you a more well-rounded person and global citizen. Calm any remaining doubt with some research to put rumors down: no, you don’t have to eat snails for every meal in France, you don’t need to find a pair of Ledderhosen that look flattering on you in order to intern in Germany, and you can still study abroad in Egypt if you are allergic to camels. 

Morning mountains in Slovakia

See, nothing so scary this beautiful view now, is there?

Wait a minute - a new language? I don’t speak français!

Maybe you don’t— yet! But, I bet that after a couple of months of cultural and language immersion in Côte d'Ivoire or Guadeloupe, your grasp on the new tongue will be better than all of your classmates’ that sat through two years of high school language classes. 

Brush up on some simple phrases before heading out and make an effort to learn a new phrase or two every day to help quell any language-related fear of travel. The learning curve is rapid; after the initial several days of mute observation, new words and intonations will be flowing out of you. Accept that you will make silly word blunders (these actually turn out to the some of the best dinnertime stories) and have a practice-practice-practice mindset.

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But, what if I don’t have enough money?

Newsflash: most of the people studying or volunteering abroad don’t have thousands of dollars in their pockets. However, once you decide that you want to enrich life a bit by venturing abroad, you can start saving and working toward a goal—a mere $100 a month put aside will get you to a great program within a year.

Even better: you don’t need to save up thousands of dollars. If you are studying abroad, research relevant scholarships and start applying like crazy. If volunteering abroad, open a FundMyTravel account, where others can financially support your good cause. If you want to intern abroad, look for those that pay (or at least cover housing and transportation expenses). If working or teaching English abroad, you will be making money, and, depending on the country of choosing, the cost of living may be significantly lower to what you are used to. So, in the end, you will come back with fantastic experiences, new skillsets, and some money saved up!

[Keep reading: Why the Ugly Sides of Travel are Just as Important

If your hodophobia and inner Negative Nancy has been quieted enough to move on, take a peek at some of these great programs abroad that will make the transition from At Home to Traveling that much easier. Most of these organizations come with a helpful support staff, plenty of authorized reviews, and extensive safety checklists that calm down even the most anxious of us who are scared to travel alone. 

10 programs to help you say “STUFF IT” to your fear of traveling

Your fear of travel isn’t unfounded, but with the help of 24/7 support and logistical coordination, you can relax while you travel (and learn a ton!) instead of stressing over the little details or your fears themselves. We 1000% recommend traveling with a program, and here are some great ones to jump start your search:

hot air balloons, Cappadocia, Turkey

Although, if your hodophobia is paired with acrophobia… this balloon ride in Turkey might not be ideal.

Volunteer Abroad

love volunteers

1. Love Volunteers

Without corporate offices and with local community ties, Love Volunteers is a low-cost volunteer association focusing on developing areas throughout the Globe. With an easy online application, consistent onsite program staff, thorough safety and health orientation procedures, and a great heart behind the cause, this is the feel-good deal for new (and veteran) volunteers.

african impact

2. African Impact

If playing with big cats and hopping around the savannah sounds like your idea of fun, consider this top-rated volunteer placement that really packs a punch of adventure into the philanthropic crusade. Not only do you get to contribute to environmental conservation, perform data analysis, and protect endangered species, but you also get to see some of Africa’s best-kept gems in the process.

[Browse all volunteer abroad programs]

Study Abroad

Aegean Center for the Fine Arts

3. Aegean Center for the Fine Arts

If you’re an artist, ACFA is your gateway to paradise, with classical education in picturesque Paros, Greece and Tuscany, Italy. With a focus on classical studies, delicious food, a close connection to nature, and a climate that encourages creativity, these artistic programs are sure to get you over any artistic block (and give you a nice tan to come back home with).

isa

4. ISA (International Studies Abroad)

One of the leading study abroad programs, with certified programs on all five continents and a course list that will inspire every field of education, ISA is perfect for both high school and college kids (and those gap year cats as well!). Study abroad has never been so easy before, with personal advisors for all applicants and on-site tutoring opportunities in foreign (er, native) languages.

[Browse all study abroad programs]

girl with backpack standing at rocky edge of water

Tell that anxiety when traveling where it can shove it!

Teach Abroad

ita logo

5. International TEFL Academy

As the leader of TEFL certification (which, we all know, is the golden key to the best teaching jobs abroad) across the globe, International TEFL’s certificates are recognized in more than 80 countries. Not only are all of the employees alumni of the program, but there is hands-on training and a job placement guarantee upon completion.

geovisions

6. GeoVisions

If you value cultural immersion and one-on-one relationships, GeoVisions is a great choice to teach abroad. More than just classroom instruction and TEFL certificates, this ambitious organization offers private tutoring, au pair, language camp counsellor, and other effective language teaching methods.

[Browse all teach abroad programs]

Intern Abroad

ies internships

7. IES Internships

This non-for-profit organization is stellar when it comes to knowing what recent graduates want: more hand-on work practices, help with resumes, interview practice, relevant placements, and helpful guidance throughout the entire process. Whether you want a couple of productive weeks during winter break or a part-time internship while studying abroad (double ka-chiing!), IES Internships have the flexibility to fit your need.

absolute internship

8. Absolute Internship

With internship placements in Europe and Asia, Absolute Internship has won all sorts of awards from global media publications (Forbes, BBS News, Financial Times… just to name a few). With included housing, transportation cards, and weekends trips, you have less to worry and more time to enjoy the experience.

[Browse all intern abroad programs

Mountain road in Italy

The road isn’t always straight, but you shouldn’t let fear of traveling stop you from having meaningful experiences abroad!

Language Schools Abroad

languages abroad

9. Languages Abroad

With over 90 cities, 35 countries, and 19 languages to chose from, there is bound to be a language immersion program just for you. If not, no fret; these guys are known for their tailor-made programs for both individuals and groups. Most of these also come with an optional extracurricular component, so there will definitely not be any time for boredom.

edu inter

10. Edu-inter

For all aspiring Frenchies, this is the language program abroad that you never knew you needed. With accurate language level placements, small classroom sizes, a quaint location in Quebec, and an impressive history of satisfied (and successful!) alumni, Edu-inter offers French language learning opportunities for both beginners and advanced, teens and adults.

[Browse all language schools abroad]

Don’t let your fear of traveling hold you back

Taking the first step toward education or work abroad may not be the simplest thing to do, but once you see yourself from the other side of the world, you will be amazed at the person you left behind. With every adventure abroad, there is a depth of maturity and fearlessness that is difficult to gain otherwise. That’s not even mentioning the few extra pounds gained by eating tasty, new treats every day and the air of confidence that is woven into the patchwork of your aura. 

And, trust me: the next time an opportunity comes knocking, you will jump on it without a second thought.

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