Who’s afraid of the big bad wolf? Fear and travel

Small scream

Well your GTG knows there’s nothing like having people’s worst nightmares put into words to motivate them to up and go but globetrotters, doing what we do it’s only natural to have certain things that can mentally get in the way. In fact, it’s easy to stretch as far as to say many people never buy the ticket due to being overcome by these fears. This week we list a number of fears that stand between people and the joys, education, trials and tribulations of travel. The trick with these fears as with any others is once acknowledged an action plan can be developed. The GTG has today attempted to look at these fears, break them out in the open and discuss a few ways they can be managed in the interest of a successful trip.

Fear of flying

This is likely to be one that many people experience but persevere through none-the-less. The fact of the matter is that flying is a lot less likely to end in tragedy than your average Sunday drive (except in relation to the environment of course, to be covered by a subsequent GTG entry) which should give those suffering the anxiety some relief. Others options include hypnotherapy, relaxants (prescribed or natural), sleeping medication, deep breathing, and meditation.

Fear of robbery

As would make sense, many of us who are able to travel are more commonly than not from first world countries that have left us with a proportionately large supply of both funds and possessions. Our work is financially rewarded in a way many people can never expect to be for theirs, which is useful to keep in mind when meeting people from different places around the world either at home or away. Unfortunately for tourists (and to a lesser extent travelers), opportunists have become aware of the access to this wealth that visitation to certain places provides. The following are a few simple ideas that may reduce the risk of a robbery catastrophe:

  • Keep your travel funds in more than one account that can be transferred to another
  • Separate the cash you are carrying into bundles
  • Keep a certain amount of cash on your person
  • Lock some cash away in safety deposit boxes
  • Avoid cash being visible wherever possible

Bottom line is remember money is replaceable, and within a short time of working and saving, a whole new trip may be possible.

Fear of Disease

Again many of us will not have immune systems that are resistant to some bacteria and diseases we may be exposed to through travelling. Judgment calls are of course necessary as you go along throughout any trip but here are a few basics to attend to when it comes to protecting  your health:

  • Check multiple sources for the recommended health precautions specific to the area(s) you will be visiting
  • Keep your vaccinations up to date
  • Keep some hand sanitizer with you
  • Try lots of things but make sensible decisions with the food you eat
  • Keep some diarrhea tablets handy
  • Drink lots of water

Important to remember here is that many illnesses will seem greater away from home but minor ones such as an upset stomach will pass before long.

Identity theft/fraud

Identity theft is quite a personal crime and can complicate the smooth proceeding of your trip. A quick worst case scenario analysis before going will shed some light here. Something like “if this were to happen, what could I do?”. The most important thing in solving these dilemmas will be to have alternative ways of proving who you are so photocopies of all your important documents (as recommended by your GTG in ‘departure checklist two’) left with someone you trust at home may give you quick and ready access to your lost details. Many banks if notified in a timely fashion will be able to resolve issues of CC fraud in a satisfactory manner. Ironically, the only person I can think of who has been in this situation was fully reimbursed and just as keen as ever for a good trip. Also contacting your embassy or consulate will provide assistance and a way forward to solve the problem.

Assault

While there must be exceptions, the majority of cases of assault will be related to robbery so the same suggestions apply. Also worth mentioning is that going along with your assailant may minimize the amount of physical abuse you experience. On a separate note, a good rumble is part of any night out in many of the places I have lived/visited so this may be nothing out of the ordinary or unique to travel.

Rape

While a fear almost only felt by women, this can effect anyone through concern for a friend or loved one. While inhibitions may be lower away from home, rape is still rape and should be reported. In the event of a rape concern for your physical health should be the first priority. Don’t forget to have yourself tested for STD/STIs that may have been contracted. Some ways to lessen the likelihood of this occurring would be:

  • If you go for a night out/to a party, go with a friend you trust.
  • Avoid walking home alone
  • Let people know where you will be
  • Avoid walking through high risk areas alone
  • Be aware of potential sexually provocative behavior
  • Aim to neither anger nor encourage passers by that may approach you
  • Have an idea of how you might get home before heading out
  • Asses the safety of certain travel methods such as taxis relevant to your location as part of your trip preparation

Scamming

NOT A TAXI !

NOT A TAXI ! (Photo credit: Narisa)

Well one fun fact here is scamming can occur at any time of your trip. From the first booking you make (especially independently online), do a quick search and see what feedback is available on any of the services you plan to use during your trip. It also helps when going to some places, to have some things pre-booked, or at least have an idea of which options you would lean towards for transport or accommodation, this will mean you are less likely to be persuaded into a scam.

Being left stranded

Well the first thing to do is remember some people do this for fun, especially for the sake of reality TV or a movie… The next thing to do is remember this is likely to be a temporary situation, focus on what you do know (e.g. if there will be a bus sometime or a tour group coming to the same spot etc.). Make sure your immediate needs are met such as food and water then go from there, at the very least you will have a story to tell.

Missing flights/transport

Well there will almost always be another flight, another bus, another day so that’s the good news. On the other hand, the more open you leave your itinerary, the easier it will be to work around these situations and the less inconvenient they will be.

Injury

This may be the instance in which good travel insurance is the most essential. How you manage injury will depend on where you are and what medical care you are entitled to. Depending on the seriousness or type of injury your embassy or consulate may be able to help connect you with the appropriate care.

Dehydration/strain of natural pressures/altitude sickness

This kind of worry is mostly associated with extreme conditions but can also happen anywhere. For any trip, a dedication to your level of fitness before hand is advisable all around. You will have more energy, you will be able to do more, and you’ll even look better in the photos amongst other good news. If you are planning a specific adventure like trekking, you will likely be in some form of physical training but the best move is to be aware of the advice from people who have done the same trips before you which will often be readily available. In the age of digital travel we are spoiled to have this info readily available at the touch of a button.

Running out of money

Exchange Money Conversion to Foreign Currency

Personally having been there and knowing many others who have been in this situation, it’s never the end of the line. The most important thing to ensure Is a valid ticket home (which hopefully you will have had before this point). Many airlines/agencies will allow at least one flight change free of charge so knowing your specific guidelines with your ticket will be useful. Also having a plan B, a loan you could take out in a hurry or from a friend may get you out of a tight spot.

Culture shock/hostility from locals

Whether the discomfort if coming from yourself or being projected by a local community, remember you are privileged to be visiting there and supported by their infrastructure. Most obvious ways to avoid this will be explained with a bit of light reading before hand. Another idea here is for your first trip, make it somewhere as close to your home culture as possible (e.g. Aussies in London come to mind), there will still be lots of difference to experience.

Running into your ex

This fear was brought to my attention by a friend and then I got to thinking that there would be a couple of places I would wait a few years to go to for sure… Luckily the world is a massive place, your GTG would recommend a healthy dose of alternative travel i.e., try somewhere that you wouldn’t expect them to be, other than that, at the same time, no one can make the world any smaller, a hearty laugh and a good “what are the chances?” should do the trick.

"Only a Benny Would Say...I Always Relax ...

“Only a Benny Would Say…I Always Relax When I Travel” – NARA – 513950 (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

Some general tips would be to have a good travel insurance policy that covers your main concerns. As mentioned previously, many of these concerns are just as likely to occur at home, and support is often readily available when they do occur. In times of trouble on the road remember that others have gone through the same thing and come out better for it. Travelers themselves are often more than willing to help out fellow travelers in a spot of bother. For information on cautions in specific countries (especially for Australian travelers) visit  www.smartraveller.gov.au/

We leave you this week with the slightly altered catch phrase ‘the world  is your oyster shell, so tread carefully’, till next week.

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