Common travel fears

Posted Date: 08 March 2016
Travel fears

We naturally worry about the unknown and there are a lot of common fears that can stop us from travelling. Franklin Roosevelt famously once said that “we have nothing to fear but fear itself”. He probably wasn’t talking about travel, but try not to let fear stop you from booking that holiday you’ve been putting off because you have concerns. We take a look at some of the most common travel fears and how you can overcome these.

Being robbed


There are too many thieves and muggers out there, it’s just too dangerous to travel!


Travelling  always carries some risk, but a lot of problems can be easily avoided with a few simple tips and tricks:

  • Know where you are going and how to get there. Figure out your route before you leave the hotel, have the address written down in case you need to ask a shopkeeper for directions, make sure you know how the public transport system operates , and download local maps to your phone to help you navigate your way around.
  • Ditch the jewels and designer pieces – keep your valuables out of sight, or locked up in a safe. Blend into the crowd so that you’re not a target to thieves.
  • Approach officials if you have any questions, such as tourist information centres, transport operators,  and hotel staff, rather than strangers in the street. They are likely to be more trustworthy.
  • Don’t hand your passport over to anyone unless you’re at an airport, the hotel reception, border crossings and at the request of a police official. It should not be left as a security deposit if you’re hiring a jet ski or checking into a hostel. A driving license should be used instead as it’s much easier to replace.
  • Avoid revealing where you are staying to strangers. Avoid walking alone in quiet streets, especially if you’re not familiar with the area and especially at night.
  • Even at home there are neighbourhoods that you might not feel safe visiting. The same applies in any country you visit, so do your homework before you travel.

For more information on outsmarting pickpockets and scammers, check out our article on how you can avoid theft overseas.

Getting lost


I might end up somewhere that isn’t safe. Or I could get so lost that I can’t find my hotel or miss my flight.


Travelling around an exotic destination can be one of the most challenging parts of your trip, but there are a few simple things you can do to make your life easier.

Start with knowing where you’re going and have a good map to get you there. You could try using a navigation app on your device, such as Google Maps. Just make sure that you have downloaded any local area maps before you depart, otherwise you may not be able to access these without Wi-Fi or you could incur hefty mobile data bills.

It may be nerve wracking to find yourself lost in an unfamiliar place, but try to stay calm, find a nearby shop or restaurant and ask the owner for directions if you’re still having trouble finding your way.

Getting lost doesn’t have to be all bad. Some people love getting lost when they’re exploring a foreign place as it means they discover places they might not have planned to visit.

Fear of flying


Planes crash all the time, they’re not really safe!


It might help if you find out how a plane works, so all those strange noises don’t make you think the worst. You can also choose airlines with the best safety records to give you added peace of mind.

Don’t forget that with 10,000 flights daily, there is more chance that you’ll get struck by lightning than dying in a plane crash! If all that doesn’t work, you can always try travelling by boat.

Being alone


Solo travel is intimidating! You don’t want to be bored or miss out on having someone to share your experiences with.


All is not lost - there are plenty of tours for people travelling alone. It’s a great way to make new friends while you’re on the go. Alternatively, choose accommodation with shared areas where you could meet some like-minded people while making dinner. You also get the added bonus of safety in numbers.

If you’re still not sure about traveling solo, check out what solo travel blogger Brooke has to say in this video where she decides that traveling alone isn’t bad at all, you just have to own it!

Language barriers


Being unable to speak the language will make everything difficult, including asking for help if you get into trouble!


If you’re going well off the beaten track, you might end up in areas where people don’t speak English, but  you’ve got a few options.

Firstly, you can stick to English-speaking countries, or tourist towns where there’ll always be someone around who can speak English.

Alternatively, try a few simple gestures, be expressive with your hands and facial expressions and see how you go - who doesn’t love a game of charades after all? There are also plenty of great translation apps and language learning websites. Find out more on our foreign language survival guide.

Food poisoning


I’ll get sick if I eat foreign food or drink the local water.


Worried about having to eat the food in a foreign country you’ve never been too? Turn a negative into a positive and use it as a chance to broaden your palette.

Food is an exciting part of the travel experience and many countries have delicious local delicacies. If you’re heading to Vietnam, why not try their signature dish, Pho, a noodle and meat broth flavoured with cinnamon, ginger and star anise. If you’re jetting off to Paris and don’t like the sound of frogs legs, why not opt for something a little sweeter and sample their world famous macaroons.

If you’re concerned about spending your holiday holed up in the bathroom, check out our top tips on how to avoid getting sick overseas.

Natural disasters


Natural disasters are all over the news, so there’s a high chance it’ll happen to me.


We live in a nation affected by tropical storms, volcanoes and earthquakes! The weather isn’t always predictable but if you do your research and avoid places with warnings or impending monsoon or hurricane seasons, chances are you’ll have no problems.

It’s important to check Smart Traveller before you go, they track world wide natural disasters so you can avoid any trouble spots and ensure sure your travel insurance is valid.

Getting sick or injured


There might not be access to good healthcare.


Avoid trouble in the first place!

  • If you don’t ride a scooter at home, trying it in an unfamiliar place might not be the best idea.
  • Get vaccinated – ask your doctor what jabs you’ll need before you travel.
  • Wash your hands frequently and carry hand sanitiser.
  • Cover up if there are mosquitoes or you plan to spend a lot of time in the sun.

If you’re really concerned with the healthcare available, try choosing first world countries and staying close to major cities. You can check how good a country’s health care is at the World Health Organization website.

We operate a 24/7 Emergency Assistance helpline, which means that no matter where in the world you are, we’re just a phone call away. 

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