The World is a Scary Place: Overcoming Potential Danger While Travelling
Let’s face it: the world is a scary place sometimes.
With all the potential threats that we hear about every day in the media and elsewhere, it is a wonder that anyone actually ventures outside, let alone goes travelling.
It is natural to be scared of the dangers out there and this fear may deter you from travel.
Obviously, there are dangers out there and they're worth considering for any aspiring travellers. What can we do to navigate the potential danger out there and prevent our fear of them putting us off our trip?
Let’s be honest. There are a lot of things that can go wrong while you travel.
I’d define danger as anything that can cause you some level of harm, whether that’s physical, mental, emotional, instantaneous, or delayed. This could literally be anything, right?
Theft, assault, sickness, injury, unscrupulous individuals, bed bugs, tuk tuk accidents, sharks, spiders, heat stroke, running out of money, street food, untreated water- the list goes on.
And what’s more, during your travels you’re a long way from home and loved ones, which makes the thought of something bad happening exponentially worse.
And, depending on where you are, there may be practical considerations too, such as reduced access to medical support or ways to communicate effectively with services.
Clearly, it's true that there are many potential dangers involved with travel.
Nevertheless, I’d discourage anyone from forgoing amazing opportunities purely for safety’s sake. Remember that there are a lot of dangers in everyday life too; it is unavoidable wherever we are and whatever we’re doing.
Decision making and Risk
Ultimately, decision-making and risk are like two key components to this travel obstacle.
Psychologists talk about a rational model of decision making that says we make decisions based on a sensible cost-benefit analysis of the options available. Simply put, we weigh up the pros and cons and depending on the outcome decide one way or another.
If potential danger is putting you off travel then, why not try doing this in a very practical way rather than in your head?
Try writing a list of the pros and cons (where cons are the potential dangers) and see how it turns out.
It might help set the risks involved in perspective, relative to the positives- seeing a substantial list of guaranteed good stuff next to a relatively short one of the potential bad is unbelievably reassuring.
Remember: humans are literally biologically programmed to avoid danger in the environment; it is natural to focus on what might go wrong.
In helping to shift the focus away from potential harm back to the positive elements of travel we get closer to overcoming this issue.
It is okay to be irrational too. Is there risk? Yes. Should this fact alone stop you travelling? Absolutely not.
We are all great at being irrational- how often have you decided to eat that slice of chocolate cake despite being on a diet, or to leave your essay until a minute before the deadline when you had the last three months to do it?
You want to travel? Sometimes you just gotta go.
It would be foolish not to be aware of the dangers involved with travel plans, so absolutely consider them seriously- just try not to let them cloud your judgement.
If it helps, think about the sheer number of people that travel every year- if the risks were so severe, travel would not be as popular as it is.
Finally, with all else considered, think on the practical ways of mitigating the risks involved with your travel plans. Here are a few ideas:
- Get good travel insurance
- Check with your GP for recommended and essential vaccinations
- Read government/tourist websites for the countries you wish to travel in
- Get a travel guide for health and safety considerations
- Stay up to speed with political situations in the countries you plan to visit;
- Keep an eagle eye on your possessions while you’re away;
- Take inconspicuous things to hide valuables in (e.g. an empty sun cream bottle for the beach);
- If in doubt drink bottled water
- Plan ahead & know the areas of town to avoid
- Know the emergency service number for the country you’re in
- Join a Facebook group for travel to ask questions before you leave
- Have a contact in country who you trust and can help in difficult times
- ...the list goes on.
There are all sorts of precautionary measures you can take but most important is to do research before you go.
A teacher used to say to me that ‘prior preparation prevents piss poor performance’- prepare for your trip and mitigate the risks involved.
Final thoughts then.
Danger is everywhere and so it is futile to try safeguarding ourselves from everything, always- an approach that is detrimental through lost opportunities.
In setting the potential dangers in perspective, in relation to the likely positives, we can make an informed decision to take the risk and commit to the travel experience we desperately want.
With sensible research and practical steps before and during your trip, the chance of harm can be substantially reduced too!
So, despite the danger, go travel. Be sensible, but know that more often than not the thought of the danger is far more debilitating than the danger itself.