Facing my Fears: Afraid to Travel

| October 15, 2012 | 68 Comments

We are strong believers that slow travel is the best way to see the world. We don’t like rushing through every city and country gathering stamps in our passport.

That’s why we choose to work abroad while on our adventures. It allows us to travel for longer. It is why we lived in Jasper National Park for a year before choosing our European base in Edinburgh.

Edinburgh Castle Braveheart Scotland

Our original idea was to stay a few months in different places to experience a part of the globe before skipping off to the next destination.

That was two years ago.

Before I knew it our temporary destination has become our home away from home.  The driver on my bus to work knows my name. I recognize people in my local supermarket.

And now that we are facing the possibility of leaving I find myself scared. I am too attached to leave, but don’t really want to stay.

I am afraid to travel.

How did this happen to us? When did we forget our travel purpose of being temporary residents in a city?

In hindsight I made a few mistakes.

I found a really good group of friends. I am in a job I really enjoy and could easily see myself here in five years time. I have even scoped out a local coffee shop with a gorgeous chocolate cake on the menu.

Cake Edinburgh, Love Crumbs
Cake Edinburgh, Love Crumbs
Cake Edinburgh, Love Crumbs
Cake Edinburgh, Love Crumbs

In essence I have made myself a life here. And now I feel like I am going to be leaving home for the second time.

But as I sit here writing this post, I can see our motivation in the background. A giant map of the world. And I am reminded that Edinburgh is a very small part of that world. There are so many places I still want to see.

World Map

And moving isn’t all that bad.

Moving to a new place is exciting. Exploring new neighborhoods, eating at new restaurants and finding secret views for the first time.

It can be so easy to lose sight of your travel goals. That is why travelling as a couple is so great. We can remind each other of our purpose.

Cole is great at cheering me up when I start to get sad about leaving. But all it takes is a small reference to a city on my bucket list dream list and I am dreaming of the future in a new destination…

Three Valleys Sunset

This might become our next temporary home.

So as I finish this article I am happier than when I started writing. I cannot call myself a traveller if I am not facing my fears and I am reminded that the world really is our oyster. We have so many great adventures ahead of us to experience.

While it will be hard, it will be worth it.

All we have to do is take the leap.

This is a post from a series called Facing my Fears. It helps us to step outside our comfort zone, in comfort. Check out the rest of the series here.

Tell us about how you Face your Fears when moving to a new destination in the comments.

About the Author ()

Adela is one half of the New Zealand Adventure Couple who have been travelling since 2009. She loves the outdoors and has a real passion for Snowboarding, Mountain Biking and Surfing (apart from being scared of sharks). She loves food and writes all our food posts. Consider following us via RSS Feed, Twitter, Facebook and subscribe to our Newsletter.

Comments (68)

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  1. It would be hard to leave a place once you feel happily comfortable, especially hard to leave that cake! But, you are right, there is a whole big world out there to see :)
    Annette | Bucket List Journey recently posted..A Silent Photographic View of Barcelona Street ArtMy Profile

  2. As fellow slow travelers we completely understand that comfortable feeling of having a temporary home on the road–and the reluctance to leave it! We’ve begun house sitting (which we love–post on that going up this week) and we’re currently back in Nicaragua at a friend’s house enjoying the comforts of home (doing laundry! cooking food!), at least for now. It will be hard to move on again, but exciting as well–especially with batteries fully charged by a period of non-travel. Can’t wait to hear where you guys are off to next!

    • We keep looking at house sitting for our next option. Applied for a couple of them but then when it has come around to finalising the details we haven’t been able to make it. Next time for sure.

  3. Victoria says:

    I can relate to this. It’s hard when you find somewhere you love, but I guess you can always go back if you want to. I think it’s also important to not feel too much pressure to see it all. Staying for longer than you thought in somewhere you love isn’t always a bad thing. It’s a tricky balance sometimes. On another note, your next temporary home looks colder than Edinburgh! Do you brave the jandals in such cold climates?!
    Victoria recently posted..The best of our superpower interviews, plus some changes…My Profile

  4. Laurence says:

    It sounds like you have a great life up in Edinburgh – but you’re right – the world is such an amazing place and there is so much out there to see! Change is always going to be a scary thing, however many times we do it – but I think you’e on the right path :D
    Laurence recently posted..Taking some time to relax with @Naturaki in Costa BravaMy Profile

  5. Vera says:

    Adela -I left Rotorua although they had THE BEST chocolate brownies EVER on the weekly night market, and so can you;)!! …I’ve had a few places that I didn’t feel like leaving, because I didn’t have the feeling I was ‘over with it’ yet (and then I just got stuck there until I got more excited about leaving than I was happy with staying). I think that it is actually pretty awesome that you have had such good experiences with making friends, loving work, being greeted by the bus driver – and finding THAT chocolate cake! Locating good chocolate cake is never a mistake, it’s a talent, and you shall take it with you, to your next destination, so don’t be afraid;)!
    Vera recently posted..Taking some time to relax with @Naturaki in Costa BravaMy Profile

    • Thanks Vera, you are right I do look back on my time here with really fond memories which is great. And you are so right about not leaving a place and getting stuck there! And I have high hopes for finding a new coffee joint :)

  6. Does traveling mean never going back or retracing one’s steps? Is a place the same place once moved forward in time? I really enjoy revisiting places, again and again, for new art shows and architecture, to see what has changed and what hasn’t, just to enjoy what pleased me before: the food, the weather, a favorite painting. I get around pangs of travel regret by consciously saying ‘next time’. And surprisingly there nearly always is a ‘next time’ even if I don’t plan for it. Happens more often than not, even if it takes years. Love Scotland, it’s definitely on my short list for a revisit.
    Lesley Peterson recently posted..ArtSmart Roundtable: Miami Art Deco architectureMy Profile

  7. Andy says:

    The old notion of the hardest step is the first one was never more true. It is extremely difficult to move sometimes especially if we have been stationary for a while. The longer you get to moving, the easier it becomes. Thanks for the cool post! Keep traveling and living the dream!
    Andy recently posted..Live HappierMy Profile

  8. Jenna says:

    It’s tough to leave a good thing, no doubt! Though sometimes it helps to remind yourself that things rarely stay the same. The friends you have could leave, the job could change its home base, and the coffee shop could turn into a nail salon :) I don’t mean to say you should expect the worst, but rather appreciate the moment without attachment, as Buddhists say. You have the rest of your life to move back if you choose!
    Jenna recently posted..Drop everything for the captivating Geiranger-Trollstigen National Tourist Route of NorwayMy Profile

  9. Just remember that great big wide world that’s out there waiting for you and I think you’re gonna do just fine. :)
    Raymond @ Man On The Lam recently posted..Cliff Diving (and Fear-facing) in Wadi Shab, OmanMy Profile

  10. Trudy says:

    Good luck with your next move – where are you off to next? We are leaving Holland in December after over a year and I’ve got mixed feelings. I’m totally ready to go but it takes this amount of time to really know a place and we have such good friends here. It’s hard also if you have a job you love cause that’s always something that’s hard to find. I’m glad you love Edinburgh though, I think it might be on my future home list!
    Trudy recently posted..Reader Tale: A Trip To Karimun Jawa, IndonesiaMy Profile

    • You should definitely put Edinburgh on your “to live in” list Trudy, its a great city :) We have a few options in mind for our next destination; France, Berlin or maybe even Spain. Holland will be great though – good luck with the move I am sure you will do great :)

  11. Juliann says:

    I love moving to new places. Until I met my husband, I moved every year or so. But he likes being near family, and I’ve come to value that more and more, too. Now we just take move vacations to quench my wanderlust. But if he ever says, “Let’s move,” I’ll have our bags packed and ready to go within minutes.

  12. Pete says:

    I think we all have the same feelings at times, but for they immediately disappear once I step foot on that plane, train or whatever and know that I’m going somewhere else. It’s the challenge that I strive for. Staying put for too long and having a routine is what scares me. Best of luck and hopefully our paths will meet up sooner or later :)
    Pete recently posted..Pinching, Poaching, and SmokingMy Profile

    • The act of travelling is definitely a great motivator to keep on moving. We have just become too relaxed with our slow travel way of life. Need a good kick up the a$$ to get going again!

  13. I always get a little sad whenever I leave a place — whether I’ve been there a short time or a long time. But I get excited as soon as I think about the adventure ahead! However, that chocolate cake does look like it might be just enough reason to stay in Edinburgh. Happy travels!
    Cathy Sweeney recently posted..Art and the Wild WestMy Profile

  14. Laurel says:

    I like having a base too and exploring from there. Looking forward to seeing where you next adventure takes you.

  15. Mikeachim says:

    I love travel…except when I’m about to do it. There’s something in me that digs its heels in and has a Little Madam (Little Mister?) hissy-fit. Confuses me no end, because once I’m off, I almost always love it, partly because I have no choice by that point, but partly because of the excitement you mention…

    I’ve concluded it’s not travel that I’m afraid of, it’s uncertainty, and the more predictability I have in my life, the more difficult I find it to handle leaps into the dark. When I’m ready to move, my mind is coming up with all sorts of excuses as to why I need more time. I haven’t got x done. I haven’t taken advantage of the local delights of y. I haven’t properly said goodbye to z. But what I’m really fighting, I think, is my mind having grown accustomed to predictable routine. It’s not the place – it’s the certainty of being here tomorrow, and the day after, etc.

    Wherever we stop, we are surrounded by routines. People making grooves in the world by doing similar things day in, day out. This is how societies survive and the world would fall over if people didn’t set down habitual roots like this (travelers being freakish in this respect. If everyone decided to hit the road, governments would collapse overnight. Discuss). And it’s not about “good” or “bad”, it’s how almost all of the world works. And partly because of that, and partly because of thousands of years of cultural conditioning, we settle into routines so very easy, and we grow comfortable with predictability.

    (Disclaimer: I may be talking out my ass, you’ve met me, you know what I’m like – but also, I’m reading a very good book called “Uncertainty”, by Jonathan Fields. Much food for thought on this topic).

    Here’s a really interesting read on travel and stability – where the author is making a case for constant movement being as difficult to get out of as constantly staying in one place: http://www.ribbonfarm.com/2011/07/31/on-being-an-illegible-person/
    Mikeachim recently posted..Blogging Masterclass – Your Questions Answered, AwesomelyMy Profile

    • Brilliant points Mike. You should probably start writing or something as I think you have a great way with words…

      Totally nailed it though and it is amazing the comfort we all get out of having a set routine. Whether it is being able to visit your local coffee shop every morning or knowing that the Formula 1 is on at 2pm on a Sunday, it just works. I guess that is why we love travelling so much. We love to step outside our comfort zones, but I think humans can only handle so much unpredictability for so long. It is why everyone suffers from some sort of “travel burn out” after a while.

  16. Sweet ski photo near the end of the post … where’s it located?

    No worries guys, I’m sure you’ll find aspects of your new destination that will hook you just as you found those things about Edinburgh that appealed to you…

    Facebook is a wonderful thing … you and your new friends will make plans to link up again, somewhere in the world, before you even realize it! :)

  17. This is definitely one of my biggest concerns with venturing out long term. I’m afraid that every place I’d land would start to become home. But you’re right…they’re just small pieces of a big world that needs exploring…
    D.J. – The World of Deej recently posted..The United States Capitol – Picture of the WeekMy Profile

    • Nowhere will be exactly like home, but when you get into a routine it is really hard to break it! I guess that is why so many people don’t find the time to travel ever in their lives!

  18. I have moments like that, usually about a month before I am due to leave until my first day traveling. Once I land in a place I have never been all those feeling are replaced by the amazing feeling you can only get while traveling. That being said I challenge anyone not to spend a long time in Edinburgh and not want to leave.
    Stephen Schreck recently posted..StonehengeMy Profile

  19. Peter Lee says:

    I think it is really difficult to move from your comfort zone to a another place. But it all depends on you, if you like changes than it would be the best thing you can do yourself. Moving to a new place is great way to meet new people, experience their culture and explore new places.

  20. flip says:

    moving to a new destination is exciting for me as I’m motivated in seeing new things and trying new stuff… but after being on the road for quite some time now (18 months).. i’m thinking of staying put in just one place for a few months to rest and just to chill and do nothing :-) thanks for sharing your insight on this topic…

  21. I can understand getting comfortable in a place and attached to friends, favorite hangouts, the daily routine. I hope that your fears soon give way to the excitement of exploration you describe. Best of luck and enjoy!

  22. Angela says:

    I understand your fear of traveling and leaving the places you love, I have it too sometimes, but the fear of not traveling is bigger ;) Probably the most painful time for me was when I left China, I’m almost afraid to go back because I don’t want to feel the pain of leaving all over again!
    Angela recently posted..Sustainable tourism in Sardinia, exploring Agriturismo ArchelaoMy Profile

  23. Lijiang says:

    I also love to travel from one place to another places, that is so exciting. Always imagine about next destination. I like relaxing pace, not to rush.

  24. I understand your mixed emotions. Traveling the world is great … but it’s also good to have a home, to see friends regularly, and to have a job you enjoy (though this can be on the road, too!). We recently moved from the U.S. to China for at least a year. There were mixed emotions as we had to give up a lot and bid farewell to a lot in order to come here, but we’re very glad we did. And I’m sure in a year or two when it’s time to move back home, we’ll face similar emotions about moving back! Good luck with your decision, guys!
    The Time-Crunched Traveler (Ellen) recently posted..When travel loses its lusterMy Profile

  25. Ali says:

    No matter how exciting change can be, it’s usually scary too. I like the comforts of home too, but I know I *need* that change. You keep in touch with friends and make new ones, and suddenly you have friends all over the world even if you can’t see them often. Good luck with the next step!
    Ali recently posted..Is a Fear of Getting Sick While Traveling Holding You Back?My Profile

  26. I can relate to your fears. As an adult, I’ve never lived outside of the Atlanta area. For now, Bret and I both function best when we have a stable home base with friends, family, and our dog Huckleberry. Unfortunately, having a permanent home base has it’s drawbacks as well- more expensive to live, more expensive flights, less time to explore a new place. Good for you for facing your fears and moving on to the next phase in your travel life. Best of luck!

    • I never knew you had a dog called Huckleberry! Cute :) We do like having a base, and that is part of the reason we have enjoyed living in Edinburgh so much. We can pack up for the weekend and in 2 hours be in another country with different cultures, food and adventures. Makes life very simple. But we do need another challenge now I think ;)

  27. We’ve had similar feelings on our RTW, but the excitement and anticipation of seeing a new place outweighs the thought of staying put, at least so far.I guess in the end you just have to do what feels right to you. I think travel is turning us into unstoppable nomads.

    Cheers,

    Michael

    • Totally agree with you there Michael! You will reach a point one day where you will feel burnt out. That is when you realise you need to slow down. It happens to everyone, no matter how many years you travel for ;)

  28. CreditDonkey says:

    Hi Cole and Adela,

    Every travel blog I read fuels my desire for travel. Fear is in there too, and I have yet to take my first step but once I do, I also plan to take it slow like you do and savor the experience.

    Best of luck in your new adventure!

  29. Abby says:

    It is never a mistake to make great friends!! I love moving and thrive on that excitement. But I have now stayed put for two years myself. It is amazing. It was a fear I needed to get over, and I can’t believe how much I’ve learned about myself during this time period. It’s strange where life can take us!
    Abby recently posted..Vegas to Grand Canyon excursion worth the early riseMy Profile

  30. Steve says:

    It’s really hard to leave the place which you have fallen in love with. You’ll miss the place, people, cuisine and culture. This makes us afraid to travel and try something new. Just be brave enough and think that something better is coming!
    Steve recently posted..The Alluring Charm of New South WalesMy Profile

  31. Yum.. CHOCOLATE CAKE! You know.. I think I suffer from the opposite – fear of staying put. The last year, all we’ve known is travel and being on the constant move. I always admire those who can stay in one place and truly absorb it all in but am afraid that I’ll want leave the moment things get comfy. Let’s trade places and conquer our little fear together, shall we? :)
    Kieu ~ GQ trippin recently posted..Purikura and Pretty FacesMy Profile

  32. I am in Asia atm and those pictures of chocolate cake are just too much!

    I know what you mean – it’s hard to leave somewhere you’re so attached to, especially as you know you’ll probably never live there again. At least if you stay in Europe you know you can pop over for a visit! I’m thinking of making a base for myself next year so it’s good for me to hear the perspective of someone who has done it. Good luck with the move!
    Maddy @ I’m Not Home recently posted..Four images to make you fall in love with CanadaMy Profile

  33. I think it’s really natural to crave familiarity and a sense of routine which is probably why you’re so afraid of moving on. But I think you can get that “familiarity” on the road too – you just have to travel more slowly. I find after I’m in a place for a couple of days, I start to feel more “at home”. You’ll be fine!
    Reena @ Wanderplex recently posted..The world’s smallest camera tripodMy Profile

  34. There are some sities in Europe where I know I could live, but I know there are some places that will be more interesting. So – constant search! :-)
    Victor Tribunsky recently posted..Russian Castle Muromtsevo. Almost Buried WonderMy Profile

  35. Alexandra says:

    I’m nearing 20 months on the road with the longest in one spot my boyfriends home of Germany. It’s funny I never really feel at home here I actually feel more homesick when I have a base that isn’t my home. Maybe I’m crazy but I’m happier when I am on the move! Less than a month to go before another crazy 6 months of RTW travel and at least 13 new countries to visit!
    Alexandra recently posted..Mexico Research Directory – Central America BlogsMy Profile

    • Totally agree with you Alexandra! When we are travelling I often find we are too busy to think about home because we are having so many adventures! But as soon as we slow down and stop for a bit, that is when we get home sick.

  36. Teresa says:

    I completely understand how you feel. I have been back home for a couple of years and am planning to head off again in the next few months. I did it before so I know I can do it again – rent out my house and go – but… I didn’t expect to be dragging my heels (which is what I am doing). It is important to remind yourself of your goals and the reason why you are living this type of life.
    Teresa recently posted..Potato ParadiseMy Profile

    • Well said Teresa! There is a much bigger picture that we sometimes forget to look at when we start staying for too long in one place. Not that staying in one place is bad necessarily, but to achieve all our dreams and see the world we really need to move around :)

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