How to Overcome Your Fears

bunging jumping off the cliffFear. It’s what keeps us from living our lives and achieving our dreams. And it is the most common reason why people don’t travel.

Whenever I talk to people about long-term travel, they tell me they wish they could do what I do. They tell me all their travel dreams then they come up with common excuses as to why they can’t realize them:

They fear not being able to afford the trip.
They fear they have too many responsibilities at home.
They fear they won’t be able to make friends on the road.
They fear not having the ability to handle it.

With all that fear, it’s much easier to stay at home in our comfort zones than to break out and travel. So most people simply stay at home, held back by their own fears, wishing they could travel but never doing so.

One of the most common emails I get asks about whether or not someone should travel the world. Do they quit their job and go for it? Are they in the right stage of life? Will everything be OK if they leave? Will they get a job when they return? These emails are peppered with nervous excitement over travel’s endless possibilities, but there is also always one underlying tone to the emails: “Matt, I want to go, but I’m also afraid and I’m not sure what to do.”

Dropping everything to travel the world takes a lot of courage. While many people claim “real world responsibilities” are the reason for not traveling, I think fear of the unknown is really what holds people back. It’s easier to live the life that is familiar and stick to our routines than to venture out into the unknown. There’s a reason why people always go with the devil they know. But, looking at these fears logically, they have no substance:

You aren’t the first person to travel abroad.
One of the things that comforted me when I began traveling was knowing that lots of other people traveled the world before me and ended up just fine. If some 18-year-old from England on a gap year came home in one piece, there was no reason I wouldn’t, too. You aren’t the first person to leave home and explore the jungles of Asia. Columbus had a reason to be afraid. You don’t.

You made it this far.
If you already have one foot out the door, why turn back now? What will you regret more later in life — that you let your fears keep you home, or that you went traveling? Sometimes you just have to go for it. Everything works out in the end. Don’t turn back halfway.

You are just as capable as everyone else.
I’m smart, I’m capable, and I have common sense. If other people can travel the world, why can’t I? What makes me think I lack the skills? I realized that there was no reason I couldn’t do it. I’m just as good as everyone else. Don’t doubt yourself. You get by in your life just fine now. The same will be true when you travel. Trust yourself.

Responsibilities are a false crutch.
Everyone uses “responsibility” as the main reason to avoid travel. But that is just your fear telling you that you have things at home that can’t be let go of. However, those responsibilities are simply chains that hold you down. When I quit my job, I didn’t have to work anymore. When I cancelled my bills, they disappeared. When I sold my car, the payments were gone. When I sold my stuff, I didn’t have any. We think this is all very complicated, but, with a few phone calls, everything that held me back was gone; taken care of. Suddenly, my responsibilities disappeared. Vaporized. It is easier to cut the cord than you think.

You will find a job.
Another reason people get held back is the belief that when they go overseas, they will become unemployable. They worry that employers will see a gap in their resume and not want to hire them. But in this globalized world, having experience with foreign cultures and people is a real asset. So is showing that you are independent, courageous, and capable. After all, no one makes it around the world without learning these skills. Employers realize this, and now look at travel as a positive thing that teaches intangible personal skills no business school ever could.

You will make friends.
People always ask me how I make friends on the road. They tell me that they’re not very social and that it’s hard for them to meet strangers. The truth is that when you travel, you are never alone. There are many solo travelers out there in the same boat as you. You’ll find people who will come up and talk to you, even if you are too scared to go up to them. I used to be nervous talking to strangers, but the fear subsides as you eventually realize that everyone wants to make new friends. And one of those friends is you.

You can always come back.
If you make it three months into your trip and decide that long-term travel isn’t for you, it’s perfectly okay to go home. There’s no shame in cutting your trip short. Maybe traveling isn’t for you, but you never would have known if you didn’t try. There’s no such thing as failure in the world of travel. Getting up and going is more than most people do, and if it isn’t for you, at least you tried it. That in itself is a major accomplishment.

Fear is an element that affects everything we do. Yes, fear is a healthy biological response designed to make sure we don’t do foolish things. But, in many ways, fear is the reason why we never succeed. It’s scary leaving everything you know and heading off into the unknown. However, once you look at why you are afraid of doing it, you’ll realize there’s no reason to be. You can travel. You are capable. It’s not as hard as you think.

Don’t let fear win.

  1. Thank you so much for writing this article….I think fear is what keeps holding me back and I don’t quite know for sure, how to break away from that just yet, but I know I’m getting there. :)

  2. I totally agree with the notion that if you already have one foot out the door and you let fear or any other excuse keep you from traveling, you will undoubtedly regret it. When I finally decided to listen to my gut and just go for it, my life changed for the better in ways I couldn’t have even imagined.

  3. Mika

    What about those of us with college loans that we can no longer postpone? If you are debt free, I believe it is really easy to travel. But what about the people who aren’t? Any tips for them? How do you travel when you have bills that can’t go away? I would love reading an article about that!

    • NomadicMatt

      I’m still paying off my student loans. You just need to budget your money. If your loans coast 200 USD per month, than you need to factor in an extra 2400 USD in your trip to cover your loans. Debt is all about money management. It requires you to save money and spend less. When I left in 2006, I had 50,000 USD in student loans. I simply tucked enough extra away to cover the loans.

  4. George

    Thanks so much for writing this. I’ve always been afraid to travel because I am very shy. I have always had this fear of not being able to rely on myself or enjoy myself because of my timid nature. After reading your piece I think maybe I could just go for it and see what happens.

    • NomadicMatt

      I think we all have these fears. Everyone is afraid of the unknown- it’s human nature but look at all the people who did it and came out just fine! You can do it too!

  5. Matt, well put. I discovered after I ‘cut the corporate cord’ my biggest obstacle was always myself. Once I really started really doing what I wanted instead of hiding behind fears, wow, I finally found the green grass… It’s wasn’t always ‘easy’ (the trip, the return, the next trip ) but it’s best decision I ever made…

    stay adventurous, Craig

  6. It’s amazing how pushing through a little nervousness or fear can open you up to a world of awesome travel experiences. When I was in Cairo, a few friends and I accepted a ride home from some Egyptian delivery guys we met at the restaurant we were eating at. It was three to a moped and the other moped got a flat tire. It was hilarious, a little nerve racking, and awesome. I now share that story a lot with my friends.



  7. In addition to some of the fears mentioned above, I had to overcome my fear of pulling my kids (then 8 and 11) out of school and taking their education in my hands, as well as worrying about their homesickness. My husband faced the fear of jeopardizing personal and professional relationships by leaving his job. We both feared re-entry into the community after a year away. Happy ending: The year of nomadic round-the-world living was worth it, the kids transitioned back to regular school just fine (and with a global perspective and love of books they didn’t have before), and we’re starting a new business that (fingers crossed) is working out. Now if only I could conquer my fear of flying. I still hate airplanes.

    • NomadicMatt

      I have yet to conquer my fear of flying. I’m fine except if there is a little bump and then I’m thinking about how we are all going to die. I especially hate small planes.

    • Sarah, sorry to jump in here but I just wanted to say I love the perspective you’ve brought to this discussion. I often tell my friends at home that having kids doesn’t preclude travel, but they’re understandably wary (especially, um, since I don’t have any). But it’s great to hear of your successful re-entry and how it’s propelled you and your family forward to new projects. I’m just going to have to send those friends your way to see for themselves :)

  8. I know I need to break out of my comfort zone and finally travel abroad like I long to do. Easier said than done. After my last trip outside Scandinavia, in 2007, I came home with a debt (because I didn’t keep a budget and borrowed money). My biggest fear about traveling is that I will repeat the same mistake. Even though I’ve learned since and made progress when it comes to money, that fear is still present.

    As I see it, some of the best ways to prevent running out of money are to lay a stable foundation (online business etc) so one can earn money while traveling, believe in one’s ability to save and generate an income, learn how to bring in new business, set and follow a budget, and turn fear into love. And now I need to follow my own advice!

    Also, savings. How much savings one needs obviously depends on the where, what, when and how but it can be challenging to set a minimum amount and then just go for it when that target is met. But how much is enough?! That’s a question I’ve tried to answer for quite a long time.

    • NomadicMatt

      Erica! You can’t be going into debt to travel! Save money and do a web search (or read my book you have) about different country costs and that can help you plan so you don’t run out of money! You don’t need a lot to travel but you need to be smart about how you spend it!

  9. It´s interesting how we all have our own fears that we need to conquer. On the one hand, as a longterm traveler, I don´t hesitate to hop on the next plane or cross a border into unchartered territory; however, I´ve always shied away from creating my own website because I didn´t feel I would be able to create it with ZERO background knowledge of webdesign and coding. I finally just decided I´m going to do it and purchased Matt´s two ebooks on how to create and monetize a travel blog. Fast forward to the present, I´ve got just a month left on my 18 month backpacking trip and already the skeletal framework of my site is up! I can´t wait to launch it in July and I feel confident it will be successful because of the advice and tips I received from these two ebooks along with some follow-up independent research. I´m excited because I´ll finally have a platform to share the over 30,000 travel photos, 300+ youtube videos and other articles I´ve written mostly for just family and friends. Anyhow, just wanted to mention here that if you´re facing FEAR about creating a travel blog I highly recommend Matt´s books! It´s given me the blueprint on how to not only create a blog but how to make it successful. Now it´s up to me to get down and do the dirty work to manifest it into reality. Thanks Matt!

    • NomadicMatt

      Samuel, I’m glad you enjoyed the books. Looking forward to seeing your site evolve as you put the tips into action!

      • Thanks Matt,

        I recently read your biggest travel regret article. I certainly agree with you that I wish I would have started traveling earlier and if I could go back in time I would have done at least half of my university degree abroad on exchanges; however, my biggest regret by far is that it took me this long to get a travel blog started! I should have been doing this years ago :) Regardless, I can´t wait to launch in July. I´m getting some video and photo projects done while organizing some of the writing I´ve done over the years during my last few weeks in Thailand. When I do get it going soon I certainly won´t have a lack of content 😛

  10. When I was 38 I sold everything, quit my Executive Director job, ended a bad relationship,grabbed my 2 suitcases and two cats and got on a plane to Italy with no visa or Italian friends or job. I managed to make it for two years including working. When I was 49 I ended my successful thriving business, sold my lovely home, walked away from my 6-figure income, and moved to France to marry my French fiance, now husband. It took guts both times but I overcame my fears for the love of something new and better. Having said all that, I must admit I also paid the price financially, security-wise, retirement-wise and in a few other ways, so it’s not all warm fuzzies and joyful moments. There have been plenty of difficult and lonely times so it’s important for people who want to go this route be aware of the pros and cons and be realistic.

    • Jennifer

      Thank you for this post. I met the love of my life 4 months ago and I leave in 1 week, unfortunately he’s unable to come with me. My fear is losing out on the best relationship of my life, but as they say if he’s the one he’ll be waiting for me :-)

      Panic mode set in a few days ago, I hope it gets easier!

  11. Kellye

    Thanks Matt for this inspirational post! At 22 and living in a boring town (outside of Niagara Falls, NY), I’m itching to travel the world but I’ve always had a fear of going alone or what if situations. Within the last couple months, I said “screw it, I’m going to travel! Whether it be with friends or alone.” So I got a second job, I’m paying off past debt, and have a separate account for travel. Reading this post, just confirmed that everything I am doing is the right thing for me. Thank you again!

    • NomadicMatt

      If I waited for my friends, I’d never go anywhere. You have to just do it and it’s good to see you are too! Congrats on taking the leap!

  12. Great article, Matt. I recently resigned from my well-paid corporate job in April and am currently selling everything that I own in order to travel. My fear changed from the normal ones you mentioned above to the fear of being on my death bed and NOT having seen the world. All of a sudden, this fear was worse… You know the saying, “We most often regret the things we DIDN’T do, rather than the things we did!”. We only have one life and I am seeing the world :-)
    Take care, thanks for the great post!

  13. Rubin Pham

    The most important thing you can do to be a world traveller is to have an open mind.
    Do not stereotype an entire nation as being rude or savage.

    • Are you still going on about how I don’t like Vietnam? People don’t need to like every country they visit in the world. Some places you just don’t like. It’s like how I love sushi but some of my friends won’t even look at fish. Different strokes for different folks. I know people who HATE Thailand. I think they are crazy but everyone can have their own opinion.

      I respect yours. Please respect mine.

  14. I can attest to the fact that travel will not hurt your career. If anything, it will only make you a more attractive employee! I travelled round the world for nearly a year, and it took me no time at all to find full time marketing employment again (albeit only a contract position – I’m not finished travelling yet!). No one I interviewed with even batted an eye about the gap in my CV – they asked a few interested questions and that was it. I was also able to use experiences from my trip in my interviews as examples of my skills, especially for things like tenacity and adaptability and learning new things quickly.

    • NomadicMatt

      Thanks for this comment. it only highlights the point more with a real life example! Awesomesauce!

  15. Michelle

    Thanks for writing this! It’s definitely a post I want to pass along to my friends who are hesitant when it comes to traveling. I had a teacher who once said that you’ll never know what you’ll miss unless you do it…and I’ve never looked back on that mentality since!

  16. NomadicMatt

    Whenever I go home, my parents always ask me why I have to keep them up at night by going to all these “dangerous” places. I counter by saying there’s a lot that can happen in the US and if we turn on the news we could find lots of killings and thefts and rapes. It’s a good rebuttal. Bad things can happen to you anywhere!

  17. Great post. I think fear really holds a lot of people back – they assume every place in the world is dangerous because they heard some random story about a person going missing, or about a drug war or whatever. Often they don’t realize that their hometown is probably more dangerous than their travel destination! Bad things can happen to you anywhere, so why let that fear stop you from having amazing experiences on the road?

  18. Alex

    Now that I think about it, I’m not really afraid of travel, its just that I’m not one of those impulsive carpe diem types that can drop everything and go. I plan on traveling in about 2 years, I want to get a job, work for a while and save up enough money while doing copious amounts of research. Then when I come back it will be easier for me to start working again. If I do this, then i’m doing it right.

    • NomadicMatt

      You would be surprised. Most people can speak the basics but not knowing languages has helped me learn to spot non-verbal cues and communication. Plus, miming out what you need can usually do the trick too!

  19. I wouldn’t say it is always about fear. Often, it is simply that travelling long term is expensive, as not everyone can have a successful online business (which means that while travelling, their income is simply 0). The only ‘responsibility’ that can never be cancelled or sold away is the one which we have towards ourselves in the future. We cannot just travel and earn nothing (or earn and spend) and then end up destitute in our old age without savings.


  20. Hi, Matt!

    I’m Jo from the Philippines and I’m at the throes of having a change of heart from furthering my career as a physician to travelling and seeing the world. I really love the inspiration this blog about fear stirred in me!

    Thanks! =)

  21. What a great post, I was very tempted to quit my job and travel many years ago before I had children, but I managed to work around it with my boss and worked on the move.. time difference was the only problem I had, but with a laptop and skype it was fairly easy to keep the money coming in albeit 50% less than I was earning.

  22. Jo

    Hi, Matt!

    I always find myself going back to this article of yours when I feel wanderlust attack. Such a fantastic read for someone who’s thinking of long term travel! =D

  23. Pascale

    Hi Matt !
    I am presently working on my application to study abroad in UK next year.
    I am really excited by this opportunity, and I also understand that travelling can be fulfilling as much on a personnal than on a professional perspective. Even though, I fear I won’t adapt well to the new environment or make new friends. Your post just made me realise that I need to be confident in myself and not to be afraid to try things out of my comfort zone. After all, you remember much more something when you have this strong sense of accomplishment!!
    Thanks again for this wonderful post!

  24. Lindsay

    wow, this article is amazing. I am due to leave to teach abroad in a week, and I am terrified. I already quit my super secure tenured job in the US. Next step is selling the car. Somedays I get really excited, but other days I want to call my boss and tell him to take me back!!! Thanks for this great article. :)

  25. I agree for the most part, but certain people do have responsibilities that they just can’t get away from. If you have kids and no money saved up, then exploring the world should not be at the top of your list no matter how amazing it could be or how well it COULD turn out.

    Some people just need to get into a good position financially before traveling. This does not mean a big house, every new xbox game for your kids, luxury brand clothes for the family and a flashy new BMW. Everyone can get in a position to travel as long as they don’t live a wasteful life.

    People must choose between a life of possessions or a life of experiences.

  26. John

    I love your post, it is really spot on and it’s funny just how difficult that first step is so difficult. When I look back I’m glad I overcame the fear because the rewards are immeasurable. The benefits are deeper than the mundane can fatham!

  27. Marcie

    I always hear of fear in business or achieving some goal, but I never hear of it regarding travel. This was different. And I like the comment about having experience with different cultures. That definitely makes you better candidate for opportunities. Thanks for enlightening me.

  28. hi Matt,

    interesting topic you have chosen for debate. I agree with you that fear is keeping us away from many positive experiences. Once you overcome your fears you find the doors open: alternatives, solutions. I would add that one must have will and desire; if you have these in your blood then you can also deal with fears (which are natural, it would be a problem if you hadn’t felt them:))


  29. ally

    Its early morning here in my country, but i just could not resist but to continue reading your blog that i found just last night. I agree with that fear thing. We have to overcome that fear when travelling, I ever read one medical article about fear, fear is evil.. i travel to Manila some friends are skeptical about my trip as i am a lady traveller and one friend even ask me not to be so friendly when i am there, but i just can change myself being friendly to unfriendly, but….it was a fun trip though. What s important is how to bring and blend with the locals. Thanks for this beautiful blog.


  30. kiwigram

    Travel is one of this worlds greatest experiences. As for being lonely, all I can say is to be open to the “local” people. Most of them just can’t wait to talk to a “foreigner” and find out about your home country. I also look at my daughter and am constantly amazed at what she has achieved in her life. She traveled the world for 12 years with me. Never mind this missing school. She has no “Graduating Class” or Prom. But she does have a broad understanding of the world and a wonderful job that still allows her to travel.

  31. I think a lot of what you say is true but it is a lot easier when your young and single. Being older and worried about pensions is a big problem otherwise I would be on a very long trip to Italy where I would try and stay at least 3 months which I think is all you can stay there at one time without special papers.

  32. I think that being young, it would be easy to ‘sell all that you own’, because you have not amassed enough memories and ‘stuff’ yet. At 54, and 4 grown kids later, i have memories that i could never in a million years part with, travel the world or not!

    Plus, i’m a collector at heart, like a crow. It would literally HURT to sell my collections. And even now, during my Arctic adventure (i left my partner, house and cats for a year to live in Yellowknife, NWT), i’ve started collecting Inuit Art! Just what i need… another collection! But i am in LOVE, and these souvenirs will bring the Arctic back into my heart, every time i see them!

    But.. i still plan on moving to Thailand next January (crosses fingers that chaos doesn’t reign TOO harshly before then)… leaving my little house stacked to the ceiling (figuratively) with stuff.. and my partner and cats.. again.

    I too, have the fears, but i’m a ‘jump into the fire’ sort of girl, so… we shall see.

    It saddens me immensely that my partner can’t/won’t go with me (he IS mired in that fear you’re talking about).. but on the other hand, it sure is handy to be able to leave my stuff in his capable hands! :-)

    Amber… the GypsyKat

  33. Its funny how many times I hear ‘If only” or “I wished” or “you are so lucky to be travelling with your family” – yet they too can be doing the same.
    Its a matter of getting over the fear, and getting out there! Live a little and the fear will be gone.

    There is so much to travelling that is helping our boys to grow – from meeting new people, to new experiences, new outlook on life and so much more. It has now become our way of life and I cant image any other way of living :)

    Make fear your reason why, and you will soon be living a simple lifestyle – at least that is what we are trying to do!
    Great article

  34. Amit

    Great Article Matt! It really is true how fear just bogs people down into living lives that have been “prescribed” to us.

  35. Bianca

    Hi Matt!

    Great post! I read everything here including all the comments. I don’t have any of the fears you mentioned here. I can even live with just a few bills in my wallet and not get worried. But I do have some fears you haven’t mentioned (that keep me from traveling the world) and I would like to know your opinion on how you face this.

    1) I fear if I ever got sick or have a bad accident and needs hospitalization, how can I afford to pay the bills (especially I’m the type of person who loves adventures including skydiving)? Is there an international insurance which cover almost everything (medical/health insurance, accident insurance, etc.) which is also applicable even in developing/far-flung countries where medical care is not as developed as other nations?

    2) I fear when I get old, I might have less energy/strength to do the things I love doing and to work. No one knows. In this case, I would like to know how do you prepare for your “pension” and pay for your medical expenses (just in case) in the future? (especially important for long time travelers who plan/might be single for life)

    If I can only face and know what to do with these 2 hindrances, then I’m off to go to see the world. Looking forward to your opinion/advice.

    Thanks Matt in advance! (^_^)

  36. Hi Matt,

    Love this post. I too like Bianca, read the whole thing and the comments and when I got to Bianca’s…was amazed to see that one of my fears was the same as hers. So, would love to see your response to it. My fear is that what if I get sick or injured? I also have a disability, and this ties into the getting injured part.

    I kinda have the same fear as her second fear, because I am already 43 years of age. I don’t think I am old, but I am not 20 anymore and there is a difference in my level of activity now obviously compared to when I was in my 20’s. Looking forward to reading more.

  37. Wendy

    Oh my God! I cannot believe that I have stumbled across this web page. I am 48 years old and have, for a couple of years now wanted to take the plunge and travel abroad. I have handed in my notice and am selling all my belongings, but for the last week have been arguing with myself on whether I am doing the right thing, especially at my age. Thanks to all of you, I now realise that I WILL go for it, and hopefully never look back

  38. Bravo bravo bravo. i am Zahid from Lahore Pakistan. i appreciate you for this unique and really informative website.
    Hope someday i will see you in lahore Pakistan.

  39. Ghazanfar

    I have travelled around 4 times in the last six years but still feel the same anxiety and fear whenever i plan to travel again. Is this normal or requires any medical treatment?

  40. Tina

    I suffer from Hodophobia, I only found out that name about 2 hours ago, I am 53 years old, I have had this fear for about 4 years now. This is now totally controlling my life, I work approximately a 10 minutes bus journey from my home and I can become anxious within a couple of minutes after getting on the bus. I can cope with my life as it is, I dont want nor need to travel any where, but I have just started a new relationship and the guy lives approximately 30 minutes away and Im struggling with the car journey. He is now saying that my bad reaction to HIS driving is putting him off, Ive tried to explain that this is my reaction, my fear, but I suppose him keeping to a steady 20 mph and me covering my eyes in the front of the car is not helping. I know I need help with this and was wondering if anyone knew the best way to try and tackle this problem.

  41. John Wadden

    interesting to see how many pl. don’t give a sh1t about the environment and planet Earth..well many probably give ‘lip service’ to environmentalism, but the practice of flying around the world in jet aircraft is highly destructive to the ozone layer..but it’s something you like to do so it’s OK, then., just make a token effort to recycle the occasional Coke can & it all “evens out’ right? :)

  42. Megan

    I love travelling but was in the work dilemma, good job but not liking it anymore. Just wanted to go travelling again.I kept thinking .. once i knew what i wanted to do i would ask for a year off .. and i never figured it out. Finally I just asked for the year off, got it and the year of travel fell into place and was brilliant. It always works out cause you get the space to just relax and see what happens. I have heard work described as a ‘venus fly trap’ … it sucks you in with the sweet nectar of $, you want a big break but you don’t do it .. then one day the trap closes and you are there till you retired. NOW THAT SCARES ME!

  43. I had similar fears before going to South Korea to teach English- but am so glad I did, as it was a truly amazing experience, even will all of the ups and downs and challenges I experienced!

    Now, I am planning on where to teach next and I can still relate to some of the fears- not being good enough is one of them- thinking I lack certain skills to do well in one of the schools I’ve applied to. I must remind myself that this is what it’s all about after all- the challenge and growth that would come from this experience!

    I just blogged about my final choices for where to teach next and the process of deciding which one to choose.

    This post was very encouraging to me to remember that I can do this and not to let fear sway any decisions!

  44. Hey Matt!

    This post has inspired me to do something I have wanted to do for a very long time. To start travelling internationally. I have travelled a lot in Canada, but never to Europe or the States for that matter.

    I am moving to Germany in the fall on my first working holiday visa. Currently, I am revamping my personal blog and converting it over to be more resource/forum oriented.

    Thanks for your advice and safe travels,


  45. Great article, I’m always trying to get everybody around me to face and conquer their fears. I’ve always felt that facing our fears brings about the best change and growth within us.

    I think my first travel leap into the “scary” world was the most difficult. After I did it once that is all I can now think about. Slowly, I’m getting rid of my possessions and finishing paying off my debt to make the permanent nomadic transition!

  46. Matt, really good article. Its not as possible for me to “drop it all and go” you see I would be arrested. I am in the military on active duty and deployed. Plus good old “Uncle Sam” doesn’t like to let go of its property (me, an Army Officer). I do however get the chance to see places through my job, not the nicest places all the time, but places lol.

    Anyway, I usually try and do an overseas trip once every 2 years and shortly I will be traveling to Sydney and New Zealand for a little over 2 weeks. Any tips from your experiences there?

    My other question, I have built a small travel website and blog and would love to hear a few tips to achieving some success with it. Don’t want to make any money from it just get a small base of followers? Appreciate it and great travels! Larry.

  47. It is true.. the more you ‘ponder’ or think about something the more excuses you will come up with on why you shouldn’t do something.

    I remember rafting the Nile river in Uganda in 2009. I hate rivers and the Nile is a pretty big one at that. I didn’t think about it and went.. had a good time! But if I had thought and pondered it I would have never gone. Its fear that holds us back.

  48. Fear can be a good thing sometimes but we all don’t have to quit our jobs to travel. But if you want to give it a shot you could either use up all your vacation time at once and see how it feels or see if you can take some time off other then vacation from your job. Sometimes it is a good idea to test the waters before you jump in then if you like it and there is a way to sustain a lifestyle of travel then go for it.

  49. Karli

    Matt- I am planning my trip right now and I am curious about the best way to go about employment when you travel. Is it better in your opinion to save and not work at all when you travel or save money & hop from job to job as you wander and explore. Thank you! This site is amazing by the way- I’ve been reading your articles for like 2 hours!

  50. Man, I faced ALL of these fears before traveling and living abroad. Speaking of, that bungy looks familiar. Is that the Kawarau Bridge in Queenstown, NZ? If so, we conquered the same jump 😉

  51. Anna

    Thank you for the reassurance! I have recently decided to drop everything (including a very good job) and I’m returning to the Mothership to save for 8 months and then just GO… I don’t know exactly where, but I will travel until the money runs out! I have just told my friends and family about this, to a mixture of reactions – but 90% baffled, skeptical faces that scream ‘you’re running away and shirking responsibility!’. I will continue to reread this post every time someone attempts to put a doubt in my mind. :)

  52. Hey matt,

    I found your travel blog a couple months ago and it was just perfect timing. I met someone I love very much in Amsterdam a year ago and finally made the decision to permanently relocate there. I’ve visited twice and feel at home there. This weekend is my last weekend before I depart on Monday and i just woke up today with fear. Not fear that its the wrong decision, but just generalized anxiety. I saved money, quit my jobs, and leaving everything familiar behind. Its a daunting decision, but thanks for your blog. I’m believing when I land there, i can get a job/visa to stay. How do you tell fear to just back off, how do you shake it! Just curious, i refuse to allow anything to hold me back! :)

  53. Fear is THE factor that holds me back when I even contemplate traveling. In spite of everything that I have survived in my life, I still get overwhelmed with the idea of making travel a priority. I just keep traveling to the same city over and over again, and I don’t even do anything there except walk in the parks and talk to kids and vendors. I really would like to expand and build on this experience, but fear holds me back.

    Your post makes me think. I hope it pushes me out of this rut.

  54. I love this post! Far too many people are held back from their fears – I used to be one of them before I finally broke free 18 months ago and I’ve never looked back!

    My advice – just go for it! What’s the worst that could happen?

  55. Thank you so much for this post! My husband and I are leaving on an around-the-world journey a week from today and my stomach has been in knots with anxiety. I’m still nervous, but your post reminded me that we’re far from the first people to do this, and that we’ll be just fine. It doesn’t help that so many people (our friends, family) think we’re a little nuts to go to some of the places we’re going…but I guess they just have less of a sense of adventure than we do. Cheers Matt!

  56. sarah

    Wondeful! Matt what about working for stay and volunteering along the way? Do you have any experiences with that? I’d like to take atleast a year to travel the world help people, meet people, and not have to spend very much living too pricey. Any suggestions or good direction to look for fun work along the way?

  57. Darini

    Hi Matt,

    I want to travel to London for a week, just to visit and sight see, I have a some good old friends and cousins i want to catch up with in addition to sight seeing. I’m a foodie, and some of the must sees for me are the Tate Gallery and The Natural History Museum. Do you recommend any web sites and a nice b&b place to for me to stay in for couple of days? I am aware this trip will be a bit expensive because of the exchange rate and pound sterling, but I’m travelling on a budget and this is my first visit out in a,most 3 years! I’d appreciate any advice, thanks!

  58. Wendy stout

    Thank you so much for writing this article.. Thanks to your writings , I am headed to Israel in a couple weeks. Solo.. And quite excited.~~

  59. Kerry

    Wondering if you could help me out…

    I grew up in a frugal family. I can’t help but view travel as a non-essential expense. I know that sounds miserable, but the resistance inside is so strong. Even though part of me wants to see places, it feels as though it has the happen for some other reason, i.e., anything but my own volition. It must be some requirement…be part of some obligation…my mind just doesn’t seem to comprehend travel for travel’s sake. I think, what if, my parents suddenly need money, or I have kids in the future whose education I would like to pay for? Saving for a rainyday mentality… The (dumb?) thing is I have enough savings to quit my job and survive for > 5 years. So I’ve definitely got enough to travel.

    And also, I have a slight disability which means walking for long periods of time is a pain (in the lower back) and I can’t walk as fast as the normal person – so I find it hard to look forward to backpacking. That leaves me with the more commonly taken option (I assume) of working full time and travelling in my holidays (20 days a year). But then that’s more expensive! And I imagine, probably much less immersive.

    Then, there’s an adventurous part of me that just wants to buy a plane ticket somewhere and explore for myself without reading ANYTHING about the place. Because honestly, I HATE reading up on a place…it feels a little like it defeats the point… I don’t enjoy the pre-travel ‘work’. But obviously, though that may be more fun/exotic/pure, its more dangerous, or at least, I could get scammed out my wits!

    Another part of me wants to live somewhere else. But I should visit the place before I go right? Can’t just pick somewhere random I’ve never been before. Sigh.

    In a mess about this…been reading tons of your articles. Trying to focus on the idea of not living with any regrets…but…gah still not enough… Because ultimately, I tell myself that if I’ve not seen so-and-so, well so what? There are plenty of people who grow up not even having anything near the relatively good and comfortable life I’ve had so far. And its not as if I’ve never been travelling. So far I’ve been to (a few) countries in Europe, America and Asia and I’ve used couchsurfing both ways. I feel as if I’m not really in a position to complain. Still…on one hand I tell myself that’s just an excuse, on the other, I say it’s actually quite reasonable…


  60. Rhoda

    I have one question that is more related to the technical side of travelling than the actual leaving; and that is my fear that I won’t handle myself in the airport. Imagine I get there in time but just not know which are the steps to follow for checking-in, which is the right gate.. things like that. With such immense airports, I fear I will get lost and never find the way through that airplane’s door. I’m really curious what advice you’d give for this ‘airport anxiety’.

  61. Thank you Matt for writing this. I came on this article via your newsletter – 11 mistakes ….
    It is so amazing to see that no matter at what stage of travel we are on, we all have the same stops. Those who overcome them go ahead. I used to plan my travel down to each day. Now I have stopped doing it and there is a whole lot of freedom now.

  62. Ross

    Great post topic. What I hear all the time is people thinking that they wont find a job when they return. From my experience employers actually prefer when people have done this as it means that they will be less likely to do it in the future now they have ‘got it out of the way’.

  63. Kimberly

    Thank you for writing this article! Im miserable in college, I’ve been thinking about doing study abroad and then traveling. But im scared about parents and everything, this article makes me excited for the future! — Sorry about the randomness of this post!

  64. NK

    Amazing article! I feel that this article is not only applicable to travel but also life decisions (i.e., moving to a new city, starting a new job, launching a new business). Excellent work!

  65. Jeff

    Hey Matt,

    Just stumbled across your site, have been seriously thinking taking a year off and travelling the world. I am 35 and have been working full time since graduating college and just feel like I need a new perspective. I have 30,000 saved is this enough to get me through the year on a modest budget, with flights etc included?

  66. Thanks for sharing superb post with us. I was also one of them who was having fear to travel abroad but after gathering my confidence i traveled and it was just an awesome experience of my life till now.

    Keep posting more topics like this..Cheers!

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