Heading Overseas? Getting over First-Time Traveling Fears
I think a lot of people avoid traveling due to common fears associated with going to a different, unfamiliar place. Here are some of the most common concerns I have encountered when talking to people about traveling:
What if Nobody Speaks English and I Can’t Communicate?
Believe it or not, most locals in the big tourist cities (Rome, Paris, Phuket, etc.) speak some English. It is imperative for them to do business, so fear not. Whenever I plan on going to a new city, I usually like to look up a few key words or phrases beforehand (please, thank you, how much is it, etc.) and write them down. Then I will look them over on the long plane ride over or in the hotel room so that I can put them to use when I get there.
What if I get Sick and Need to Go to the Hospital?
This is one of the biggest fears people face when thinking about going abroad. I once got heat stroke while running around Barcelona, Spain trying to find my cruise ship (yes, I missed getting back on the ship). I was horrified when I knew I had to get myself to the hospital. The thought of being treated in a foreign country where nobody spoke the language was frightening. But honestly, unless you’re in a third world country, you really have nothing to worry about. The hospital in Barcelona was pretty modern and they spoke just enough English there to figure out how to treat me. Everything worked out fine in the end and it wasn’t as bad as I imagined.
What If my Wallet/Bag/Passport gets Stolen?
Unfortunately, I have experience in this department first hand. On a train ride from Prague to Vienna, my purse, along with my camera, passport, phone, and some cash, was swiped right from under my nose. Hey it happens. The next day I had a flight to Athens at noon, so I had to go to the local US Embassy in Vienna early that morning to try to get a temporary passport in order to be able to continue my travel. I was amazed at how fast and easy it was to get another passport. They really are efficient there. Tip: always make a photocopy of your passport and email it to yourself so that if something like this happens, you can go online and print it out so that they can easily look up your information. Also, make sure to buy travel insurance before you leave home so that things like this may be reimbursed (unfortunately, I learned the hard way). Lastly, keep an extra credit card or cash in a different location so that if one gets stolen, you have a backup. I was lucky I had another credit card in my backpack!
Being a well-versed traveler, I have experienced a few hiccups on the road. It’s inevitable if you travel a lot and it’s bound to happen at some point. The key is to be prepared and know what to do in certain situations. Prepare before you go and you will feel more at ease if something bad does come up. In the end, you will find that it is well worth it to step out of your comfort zone and open yourself up to experience something new. Don’t let fear prevent you from living your life to the fullest!