Overcoming The Fear of Travel… Maybe

Twenty years from now you will be more disappointed by the things you didn’t do than by the ones you did do. So throw off the bowlines. Sail away from the safe harbor. Catch the trade winds in your sails. Explore. Dream. Discover.

Mark Twain.

When  people ask us why we travel so many answers come to mind. Though rarely spoken, my initial thought is always the same, “How can I not travel?”

Travel is light to the spiritually blind. Travel is sound to the adventurous deaf. It’s the taste of a thousand things you’ll never experience if you don’t take that first step.

It’s everything great in the world simply because it includes everything great in the world.

It throws you out of your comfort zone, lets you walk a thousand miles in someone else shoes and then lets you realize that every human being has similar wants and needs regardless of race, class or spiritual inclination.

Travel lets you see that beauty exists everywhere in the world and it’s just waiting for you to experience it first hand.

To tell someone all that after a simple question would leave their head spinning and them questioning my sanity.

A picture of a scarlet sky in Ko Phi Phi, Thailand

The world is a beautiful place

To be honest, most people are interested in practical things. How can we finance travel? How can we leave everything behind and just go? How can we take the kids away from school, their friends, their lives? How can we live out of a backpack for months on end never having a place to call our own? How can we leave our job never knowing if we’ll have a job to come back to?

Those are all great questions and answering sometimes helps them wrap their heads around how and why we do what we do.

Others simply wave the question away before even letting me answer. They’ve dismissed travel (especially long term travel) as something that’s impossible, beyond reach or not really for them.

What holds most people back  from spending more time abroad comes down to one thing. Fear of the unknown.

When you define traveling to new destinations, how can you not be surrounded by the unknown? Who knows what might lie beyond that turn in the road, beyond that forest you’ve never passed, beyond that hill that you’ve never climbed? Who knows what people you’ll meet, what foods you’ll try, what locations you might find yourself in? Maybe they’ll be great, maybe they won’t be, but I can guarantee that your view on life will grow with every step you take into the unknown.

Maybe your job will be waiting for you or maybe you’ll find something better when you return. Maybe the money you saved for that new car will let you travel for a year or more. Maybe your relationship with your kids will grow stronger every day you travel. Maybe their friends and toys will diminish in importance as they explore new sights, new places and help define their own views on the world.

Maybe temporarily leaving all your possessions behind will make you appreciate what you already have all the more. Maybe it will make you realize that maybe you don’t need as much stuff to be happy as you thought you did.

Maybe you’ll find that someone to be your life mate. Maybe you’ll find a place that lets you be the person you’ve always wanted to be. Maybe you’ll learn a new language or discover a new outlook on life that will forever change your perceptions.


Nah, never mind, that’s too many possibilities. Stay home, stay safe, stay in your “comfort zone” regardless of how comfortable it truly is.

Go on believing that travel is for the brave and the reckless. Let those of us who have seen the different colored grass and tasted the different flavors of the world go our own way and you go yours.

Unless… unless of course you’re curious to know what I know, seen what I’ve seen, tasted what I’ve tasted. Maybe everything I’ve said will come to pass, maybe it won’t.

You never know unless you try. Maybe…


28 Responses

    • Charles Kosman

      Thanks Deej! I believe that a fear of travel is a fear of change. People hold onto so many things and their conceptions are the hardest to let go. Break the chain, end the cycle and be forever liberated. Wow, that’s cheesy even to my ears… 😉

  1. ren

    Every word in this article is true in my case. Traveling shud be compulsary in School and colleges too. Im from bombay india. I find most trouble going europe etc but even then i travel.

    • Charles Kosman

      Ren, more and more schools in Canada are encouraging kids to travel for one reason or another. Whether for sports or for learning or as cultural exchanges.

      My niece, for instance, traveled with her high school class to numerous countries and cities as part of her learning experience and even helped build wells in Africa. It’s amazing what some of them get to see and experience. I firmly believe that each and every one of them will be a better global citizen and a better human being for it.

      Good luck in your travels and don’t let anyone stop you from experiencing all that the world has to offer!

  2. Nomadic Translator @latinAbroad

    “What holds most people back from spending more time abroad comes down to one thing. Fear of the unknown.”

    Yup, that’s it! People that look for excuses such as kids, work, family are either ignorant of all the possibilities (i.e. haven’t been reading our blogs 😉 haha) or simply looking for scapegoats in order to cover the truth: Fear of the unknown. Some people just don’t want to travel and be nomadic forever, though. So I’m really just talking about the ones that say “I would love to travel so much, but…” 😉

    Great post! Loved the different perspective

    – Maria Alexandra
    Nomadic Translator

    • Charles Kosman

      This post is about opening up to the idea of travel and how it just might change your life for the better. Maria, I wrote this post to try to convey how travel makes me feel. I realize that it’s not for everyone and some truly can’t afford to go far but as you know, traveling is about more than just jumping on a plane and heading to some exotic destination. It’s about letting go of your inhibitions and trying something new. It could be as simple as driving to the next town or making that cross country trip you’ve always dreamed about. It’s about taking time out of your hectic life to let go of yourself and embrace the possibilities that the world puts before you.

      As the great Walt Disney once said, “If you can dream it, you can do it.”

      Thanks for the comment!

    • Charles Kosman

      Maria, why come up with something new when someone has said it so well before? 🙂

      I love it because it is both inspiring and vivid. I can’t read it without imagining myself on the deck of a boat leaving land for the first time to explore the unknown. My mind races with the possibilities of the things I would see and discover. Definitely a great quote!

  3. Ali

    Wonderfully written post! One of the reasons I love encouraging people to travel is so that they can experience all the things you talked about here. So many people just don’t understand what it’s like, and just as you said, they’re afraid or think it’s an impossible dream. I love all your maybes too, really great post!

    • Charles Kosman

      Thanks Ali! To be honest I was a little nervous posting it. I thought that it might have been a little too poetic for a post but then I realized that this site is whatever we make of it. Similar to peoples fear of the unknown, how can we grow as writers if we don’t go outside our comfort range once in a while.

      Glad you enjoyed it.

    • Charles Kosman

      Thanks Tanned Traveler. I was in a poetic mood that day and found that I actually had to tone it down a bit before posting it. I guess where there’s passion, there’s poetry and as you can probably guess from this post I’m passionate about travel. 🙂

  4. Bret @ Green Global Travel

    That Mark Twain quote is definitely one of my favorites, and conquering fear through travel has been a frequent topic for us as well. There are so many personal issues that I believe can be conquered by simply stepping outside our comfort zones, embracing the unknown, and exploring a life of adventure!

    • Charles Kosman

      Bret, you got it so right and it’s nice to see you guys not only talking about it but living it as well. Good job and keep up the fight! Hopefully someday everyone will understand the benefits of travel.

      Thanks for the comment!

  5. Abby

    Yay Charles! Glad you came around! Hey, my mom never, ever traveled, and always said it was us kids holding us back. I always thought it was an excuse. Then, wouldn’t you know, the second my youngest brother was out of the house, my mom has become QUITE the jet-setter. Just finished a month in China!

    • Charles Kosman

      Hi Abby. I don’t recall ever having a fear of travel myself per se but definitely put off a round the world trip for years simply because I didn’t want to go alone and couldn’t convince my friends to go with me. Only once I met Micki and we took off traveling for that first year together did I realize that there are so many single travelers out there that it’s not even a question that I would have made a lot of friends on my journeys regardless if I had done it alone or not.

      That being said, my only real regret concerning travel is that I didn’t start sooner. There’s an old saying out there that goes along these lines. The best time to plant an oak tree was 20 years ago. The second best time is today. I think that can apply to traveling just as much and if this post gives even one fellow human the push they need to go out and see the world for themselves then I’ll consider it a huge success!

      Thanks for the comment and I’m glad to hear that your mom is learning the joys of travel.

  6. Turtle

    So well put! I’ve never understood people who are scared of the unknown. Life has so much to offer, the world has so much to explore – so why not want to find some of that for yourself. I get it, if you don’t want to end up uncomfortable in a developing country if that’s not your thing. But travel has so much variety there’s always something for everyone!

    • Charles Kosman

      Michael, you’re so right. When it comes to travel there is no right or wrong way to do it. Just get out there, find what works for you and enjoy what the world has to offer! Thanks for the comment.

  7. Stephen S.

    That quote by Mark Twain is one of my favorites. One of my favorite things about traveling is that it throws you out of your comfort zone. I personally have never been afraid to travel. But it is a question I do get asked a lot and my answer always is I would be more afraid not too.

    • Charles Kosman

      Stephen, this post is for all the people that put off traveling for one reason or another. Mark Twain got it right. Sometimes you just need to throw caution to the wind and get out there and see the world.

      Thanks for posting!

  8. Richard

    Amazing journey, you guys are on. God Bless.

    BUt, still the question of money still remains. How do you manage the finances. Air travel, stay, food, insurance, local travel, sickness, saving? With the kids coming, their finances for education?

    Quite curious..

    • Charles Kosman

      Hi Richard, not sure how your comment flew under my radar so sorry for the late response.

      Most things in life seems to come down to money. How can I make it, how can I keep it, how can I use it to make my life better. Unfortunately there is no simple answer.

      For us we have several sites (including this blog) that help fund our travels however this post was never intended to address that. It was simply to urge people to get out and see the world.

      They don’t need to make travel a full time job or fly to the remote corners of the world. Simply get out there and see what else the world has to offer. If you’re that strapped for cash, that can even mean just going to a neighboring town or some place a few hours away.

      For a lot of people money is just a convenient excuse for not stepping foot out their door. The real issue is that they’re unwilling to go out of their comfort zone. In terms of money, if you make it a priority in your life you’ll be amazed at how much you can put away to travel.

      What most people don’t realize is that the first step is the hardest and you never know just how far that first step will lead you. For many, it’s life changing.

      Good luck on your quest and realize that while it’s important to plan for tomorrow, sometimes you need to live for today.


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