Stephanie Spitler
Updated Mar 18, 2014 @ 3:47 pm

Fears. We all have them (some of us have more than our fair share). If you can think it up, chances are someone will be afraid of it. There are all the big ones: fear of heights, fear of public speaking, fear of failure, fear of success, fear of dying…the list goes on and on. But these past few weeks have made me consider my travel fears, those very specific fears I have around all things travel-related.

You might be surprised to hear that I even have travel fears, but you shouldn’t be. While I’d love to claim to be a fearless adventurer, bounding off into the unknown without a second thought, that’s not the case at all. Travel is like everything else in life; while there are parts of it I absolutely love, there are also things about it that scare me, deter me and make me reconsider my itinerary sometimes.

We’ve all been hearing about Malaysia Airlines Flight 370 for a few weeks now. It’s been all over the news, with new theories and twists coming nearly every day, and yet there’s still no sign of the aircraft. This is a terrifyingly inconceivable situation. How does a huge jet full of people disappear so completely in this age of GPS and radar? It seems impossible, and yet it’s happening.

I never thought I’d have to worry about getting on a plane and the plane disappearing, but it looks like a new fear can be added to my list. It’ll take its place alongside my other serious travel fears, like plane crashes and hiking accidents and getting robbed. There are also my more mundane fears like losing my passport, losing my money, getting lost and ending up in a less-than-safe neighborhood and getting food poisoning.

As you read through the list of fears above, you might be surprised that I ever leave the house. Sometimes it surprises me. But the reason I do leave the house and travel around the country (and the world), is because my love of exploring is greater than my fear. The thrill I get stepping into a new country and memorizing the sights and sounds and smells that surround me is infinitely greater than my fear of ending up in a bad neighborhood. The excitement that comes with discovering a new town, with its quaint cafes and cobblestoned side streets, will always trump my fear of getting mugged. In every equation, adventure is greater than (never equal to) fear.

Having said that, fear is a powerful thing and it shouldn’t be disregarded. It’s a feeling that should be examined. Why are you feeling this way? Is there a specific danger you’re reacting to in your immediate environment or is it a generalized fear? Is the fear regarding something you can control? I find that taking a deep breath and asking myself why I’m feeling what I’m feeling can really help put things in perspective. Fear and intuition are valuable tools for keeping us safe, but they can also hold us back from doing what we love.

How do you handle your travel fears?

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