Why Everyday Life Scares Me More Than Travelling Does

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When I tell people my newest hair brained scheme (the last was to do a homestay in Guatemala for a summer, the next one is to travel from Beijing to Hong Kong on the Chinese trains on my own), the question I get asked the most -after how can you afford to backpack for so long?’ – is ‘aren’t you afraid?’.

I guess in a word; the answer is yes. I’m obviously scared that something bad might happen to me, when I’m in a country where I don’t know anyone. I’m worried that I’ll lose my passport, that I’ll end up in hospital (which given my track record is pretty much a dead cert), that I’ll get completely and utterly lost one day and never find my way. I don’t think this is travelling’s fault, however, I’m just generally a worrier.

And in my heart of hearts I know that I’ll probably be ok. I went to a foreign hospital every year for three years on the trot and it always got sorted out. I could fix a missing passport. I’ll probably get lost, but that’s part of the joy of travelling. I’m hardly going to disappear into an abyss, never to be seen again.

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Contrary to popular opinion, the idea of travelling alone actually calms me. When I disembarked the plane in Guatemala, I didn’t know anybody in the country. I wasn’t even aware of anyone I really knew in the USA at the time. I asked an airport attendant where the toilets were in broken Spanish and they didn’t understand what I was saying. I’d just landed in a very foreign country, I didn’t have a clue where I was meant to be going next, and apparently I couldn’t speak the language. And I felt completely liberated.

It felt like I’d just flown right into a blank canvas. This was my trip, and I could make this whatever I wanted it to be. I didn’t have a car, I didn’t have any expensive possessions on me, I didn’t have a job. I had enough money to feed and accommodate myself for seven weeks, and that was all that I needed. It’s weird to know that you’re only responsible for what is on your back, but it’s a great feeling.

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When I compare that to a normal day in the UK; which involves getting up, driving to work, working for eight hours, driving home, cooking dinner, going to bed, and rinsing and repeating the next day, I’m terrified. I agree with the whole ‘we work to pay for rent for a flat we don’t spend any time in’ argument – living this way just seems so fruitless to me, and frankly, it’s this that scares me most. I can’t contemplate the thought that this could possibly be it. Don’t get me wrong, I enjoy my job and I love cooking, reading and running; which are all things that feature in my daily routine, but planet earth has a radius of 24,902 miles. The idea of there being so much more out there, and the idea that all I do is travel 13 miles to go to work every day, terrifies me.

Normal life has so many scary responsibilities that you just don’t come across when you’re travelling. I got flashed for a speeding ticket the other day, and all I could think was ‘this won’t happen in China…’. Of course, if I rented a car there, I could probably get myself in all sorts of scrapes. But with the kind of travel I’m planning on doing; sustainable and involving lots of trains and buses, living out of a backpack and with the only expensive items I own having full insurance, I can pretty much guarantee that I won’t be forking out £100 for a speeding fine while I’m there. And if I miss my train, I’ll get the next one. It won’t matter.

When you’re on the road, you don’t really have these everyday anxieties to think about. You have less possessions and little is expected of you. Even the minor commitment I made when I was in Guatemala – to go to Spanish school for five hours a day – was only done on a week by week basis. I could have upped and left any Friday, if I wanted to.

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Relationships are different on the road too. You don’t have to conform to anyone’s idea of you, you can be your complete self without any judgement, and there’s no set schedule for how things must pan out. Leaving and saying goodbye might be sad, but you accept that these things are just inevitable. Then you run straight into the next phase of your adventure. You know the quote ‘you can’t start your next chapter if you’re too busy reading the last one?’ it’s much harder to dwell, reading your last chapter when you’re travelling. The pages of your adventure turn of their own accord, and you can only stay on one page if it’s absolutely where you want to and are meant to be right now. Things just happen when you’re on the road, and because of the lack of rules and restrictions, there’s no right or wrong way to do anything.

It’s these rules and restrictions in everyday life that freak me out. The fact that what you’re doing is either right or wrong. If you get a speeding ticket, if you have a bad day at work, or if you get dumped you feel like you’re doing something wrong. It makes you feel like you’re failing at life. And it can seem like you’re going to be in this situation forever, because of the repetition of routine.

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Travelling is different. Sure, bad things can happen on the road; as I previously mentioned, you can get ill, you can lose something important, or you could be in a place you don’t know enough about and accidentally wander into a rough area and have something bad happen. But the pace of travelling means that these things are extraordinarily easy to overcome. The easy going way of life that you adopt when you’re travelling means that these kind of things don’t matter so much. You don’t fall into the same pit of despair when something goes wrong, because you know in a week that everything will change.

Travelling enables you to be completely rid of normality, of routine, of excessive possessions. And do you know what you also leave behind when you get rid of these? Worry and fear. You start to trust your own intuition, you stop hypothesizing ridiculous situations and you start to live for the moment. You remind yourself that it’s ridiculous to think so far in the future and instead you appreciate what is around you right now. You stop putting make up on and don’t bother with your hair. You do so much walking around that you feel constantly fit and healthy, without forking out for a monthly gym membership. You stop caring about the way that you look or, more crucially, the way others think you look. You start realizing the inner beauty of humankind. You begin doing things that you never before believed you had in you. You’re living to the beat of your own drum and enjoying life in its purest form.

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How could this be scary?

Travelling isn’t scary – it’s just unknown. Not being educated about a place you’ve been to can be really daunting. I’ve definitely been there. But the more you travel, the more you realize that in the majority of countries, you can stay safe. Most people in the world are good, and want to help you out. And in the unfortunate circumstance that something bad happens to you? In most of these cases, a similar thing could happen at home.

Once you embrace the unknown, you can have it all.

As humans, we’re made to constantly evolve and develop. What way of doing this could be better than visiting new places and making new friends in all corners of the globe? I really don’t believe that we were made to stay in one place, work in one job and do the same things our entire life. And the idea that that might be it, that’s what terrifies me most.

I’m not saying that everybody should take off for a nomadic life; obviously everybody is different, and I know that the crazy schemes that I come up with definitely wouldn’t be for everyone. Likewise, there’s lots of people who have found their passion in their daily job; and that’s absolutely fantastic! Life’s all about finding and living your passion, and I just know that navigating foreign countries and cultures is mine, at least for now. One thing that I think is universal is that everybody should stop fearing the unknown; in fact, they should run towards it with open arms and say ‘I’m delighted to meet you’. Whatever your unknown may be.

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I don’t know if I’ll ever be able to settle down, if I’ll ever be content to have a routine and normality, and to settle for the idea that it might be that forever. Maybe I’ll reach a time in my life when I’m delighted at the prospect. But I think, even if I get a permanent base and have a family, I’ll always want to embrace the unknown. I’ll always have this phobia of a repetitive life of normality in front of me.

I might be apprehensive about what may befall me when I go travelling, but I’m also pretty confident that whatever scrapes I get myself in, I’ll be able to resolve them. I’m more excited about the unknown rather than scared. But the idea of staying in the UK, racking up speeding fines and buying countless material possessions that I don’t need at all – and that being all I do until the day I die? Well that absolutely terrifies me.

As always, these opinions are my own and I’m aware that some people may completely disagree. Which is great – the world would be a boring place if we all agreed, wouldn’t it?

If you want to read a little more about why I travel, check out Maybe I Lack Fulfilment, But I Travel to be The Best Possible Version of Myself. Or if you want to read a little more about my upcoming plans, take a read of My China Wishlist! Don’t forget to read over my Central American archives which will tell you about the travelling I’ve done so far, and take a glance about how I’ve been bringing adventure to South West England.

What do you think? Does the idea of travelling scare you, or does normality freak you out? Comment below and let me know! And if you enjoyed this article, don’t forget to share it and follow me on Facebook for more.

 

57 responses to “Why Everyday Life Scares Me More Than Travelling Does”

  1. Victoria says:

    I’ve never read anything that has hit home more. My boyfriend and I are going home after 3 months to regroup and save for the next trip. I don’t want to go home but I know he has a few things to sort out. This is very relevant right now.

    • Claire says:

      Hey Victoria, thanks for your comment, I’m so glad this applies to you and I hope you can sort your travelling plans out!

  2. Brittny says:

    Love this! I wholeheartedly agree. My husband and I are leaving for two weeks in Croatia next weekend, and I just had my little pre-trip panic attack, but then I remembered my desire to explore far outweighs any possible what-ifs my mind can come up with.

    • Claire says:

      Thanks for your comment! Yep that’s how I feel too- I’m just excited! Where in Croatia are you going? I’m heading to dubrovnik in July ?

  3. Yeah! i agree! Although i’m not scared of normal life, I certainly don’t want that to be my life. Never have. I want more than that. Travelling gives me everything that I’ve ever needed 🙂

  4. christine says:

    I agree!!! I was just talking to a friend about possibly going back to “real life” in Nov. The thought terrifies me! I don’t think I can ever go back!!

    • Claire says:

      Me too! I’m living ‘real life’ right now and I can’t stand it! Counting down the days until my next adventure…

  5. Elena says:

    I understand what you mean. Mere thinking of having to do office work from 9 to 5 up to the retirement age drives me crazy 🙁

  6. Will G says:

    Traveling does bring around a sense of adventure and appreciation for things that the typical “every day life” tends to close off. Thanks for sharing this post. <3

  7. Anne says:

    I really could not agree more. I’m in my early forties now and some days I am terrified but that endless routine but then I remind myself of my love of travel and my openness to explore new opportunities that I realise I am incredibly privileged to be in this position.

  8. Leasha says:

    This pretty much sums me up right now. Looking forward to the rush of adrenaline I get when I step on the plane towards my next solo adventure which luckily, isn’t too far away!

  9. Bob says:

    I agree! I love getting to a new place and just exploring. I usually plan out where I am going to stay for the first few days and then make a decision on where I am going and where I will be staying. Other than some loose plans on what I want to see the rest is pure exploration. I find it the best way to really to experience a new location and truly enjoy the trip.

    • Claire says:

      Yeah these are great ideas! I try not to plan too much, but it’s also good to ensure that you don’t miss out on any of the most important things to do!

  10. Marita says:

    I couldn’t agree more on everything you said. The thought of a 9-4 job with all that follows scares the shit out of me, and I would chose traveling to unknown places any day over a “normal” life. And luckily traveling is exactly what my boyfriend and I are doing over the next years, and it feels so good! Enjoy your travels and try to avoid the hospital 😉

    • Claire says:

      Definitely! I’m glad there’s so many of us that feel the same way 🙂 Haha I will try to, can’t make any promises though!

  11. I feel much the same way!

  12. So, well said! I love when you said the Earth is 24,000+ miles around and the thought of only going back and forth 13 miles each day terrifies me. Yes! Routine, monotony can certainly be much scarier than traveling!

  13. Ana says:

    I never get any panic attacks before or after my trip. I am always excited to explore new adventures!

  14. You know, you are on to something. I am a worrier here in the states over things that will probably never happen but when I am traveling, I feel free as a bird, too. Odd, I never thought of it before.

    • Claire says:

      Haha, I’m glad you agree Melody! I’m exactly the same, a bit of distance and I’m completely carefree!

  15. THIS IS SOOOOO ME! the Work to Live mentality, especially living in such an expensive city as Vancouver is KILLING ME! i have two small children who go to day care and i spend a fortune on it, just so i can work to pay the mortgage! I wouldlove to just walk away some days … other days are not so bad, i enjoy my backyard, i enjoy my friends, i enjoy my co-workers, but there is a BIG WORLD out there, and i do plan to enjoy every bit of it that i can!

    • Claire says:

      It’s so difficult, isn’t it, I can imagine it’s even harder with kids! I’m sure you’ll get to enjoy it Lindsay, where there’s a will there’s a way

  16. Bernard says:

    I can totally relate to it! am currently in my full time job and a super workaholic, but cant wait to travel!

  17. Psychic Nest says:

    Hi Claire,

    When you accept that traveling is part of your life and not as separate, it is when you will start experiencing different emotions. There are people who use vacation as a distraction and escape from their lives but really, the truth is that they put everything on hold. It is like they procrastinate but in the end, those issues will catch up on them.

    I really love your wonderful thoughts about traveling and how more liberate you feel. Thank you for this great post!

    Zaria

    • Claire says:

      Hey! Thanks for that insightful comment – I completely agree! It’s all about the mentality 🙂 I’m glad you like the post!

  18. Brianna says:

    I really like this article, Claire. I’ve had conversations with a lot of people who tell me they’re too afraid to travel- or they give me a list of “what ifs” that lead to their eventual death.
    My response is pretty similar to your line of thought here. All the “what ifs” listed can usually happen within your own hometown too. You just feel it is not scary because you are familiar with it. Once upon a time, you were not familiar with it, but you learned. That’s the same thing you have to do with travel. Go into it knowing that you aren’t going to know everything and make it your aim to learn. Then it is no longer frightening.

  19. Erika says:

    I completely agree. The monotonous 9-5 lifestyle with 2 vacation weeks a year is an absolutely terrifying prospect for me. I think that is the main reason I decided to ditch the prospect of a traditional office job and start a life in the skies working as a flight attendant. Sure, scary things can happen while traveling. But they can happen anywhere. Wonderful post!

    • Claire says:

      Being a flight attendant must be wonderful! That’s what I’m doing too, running into the unknown because I’m terrified of the 9-5

  20. Julie says:

    Claire! I can’t get over how much I relate to this post. Last night, I was thinking about how I’m more afraid of routine than I am of the unknown. Then today, I see this blog post. Wow. Everything you said is so on point. I think life is all about the adventure. Who needs normality?

  21. Tom says:

    You hit the nail on the head with the fear of unknown bit. That’s all it boils down to for people who don’t like travelling, they are afraid of what they don’t know. That’s why I find it weird when people are content to live a life of monotony, it’s not for me. Kudos to you for thinking the same way!

  22. Monika says:

    Life on the road is so much different, true – problems are different and the idea of moving constantly makes those problems less scary 🙂

  23. agree, a different post and subject concern. I am happy to read your post with some nice cool pictures.

  24. Lily says:

    Totally agree. Travel can be scary and nerve wracking but its so worth it and a million times better than regular everyday life! We need to face our fears and live our dreams.

  25. Phoebe says:

    So relevant! Everything seems so much clearer – you learn the difference between “want” and “need”. Suddenly your focus is on survival (where can I sleep? What can I eat?), and everything else is peripheral. Life makes so much more sense to me when travelling!
    I love your analogy about book chapters – very true! And what you’ve said about relationships, and the people you meet not having preconceived ideas of you. I love the sense of freedom about this – you can be your complete self without anyone saying “that’s not like you”.
    I’ve noticed, too, that my relationship with my boyfriend has gotten stronger – we’re travelling together, and I’ve finally stopped comparing myself to every girl that walks by, and am 1000% less self-conscious.
    Not to mention the incredible things you get to see/experience, which you wouldn’t if you stayed at home 🙂
    Fantastic post, Claire! Always a pleasure reading your blog.

    • Claire says:

      Thanks for your comment Phoebe! So great to hear that you resonate 🙂 Life’s just so much more carefree, isn’t it! Happy travelling!

  26. Gabby says:

    Adore this sentiment. Live life to the fullest, or you haven’t lived at all. <3

  27. Caroline says:

    All ’em feels!
    I know exactly how you feel and I’ve told so many people that everyday life scares me more than travelling but they don’t understand why.. I prefer diving into the unknown than diving into some 9-5 desk job.

    Thanks for the post! Absolutely love it.

    • Claire says:

      Yes, definitely, my biggest fear is living my life without knowing what else there is out there! Thanks for the comment <3

  28. Sometimes I really want a normal life, I want a steady place to live, a stable job, a relationship, a dog etc. But I’ve never had those things not even as a kid when my family moved every 3 – 6 months and I’ve tried and they haven’t come to me easily. And then I think well if I can’t have those things then why not make the best of my life and enjoy it as much as possible instead? And so I embrace my restless unsettled-down side that falls in love with people that are also leaving, that craves somewhere new, that has trouble committing to events because I don’t know where or what I’ll be doing by then, that never decorates an apartment because I know I won’t be staying there forever, even though sometimes I end up there for a year or two, some boxes still unpacked, nothing on the walls. I’m not afraid of everyday life. I just have no idea how to do it.

  29. liz says:

    Totally totally agree Claire!! Real life is waaaaaaay more daunting than travel for me too! Travel is liberating, fascinating, challenging and rewarding and whilst “normal life” of a 9-5 job, partner, family etc is rewarding too its a different reward. Its coziness, security and responsibility. If I won the lottery, I know what I’d choose! Happy travels!! :o)

    • Claire says:

      I know right – I’m glad you agree with me 🙂 They’re very different lives but at the moment, I have to do the one that scares me least 😉

  30. Why be afraid of travel? Seize life and each and every moment available to explore the world and express yourself.

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