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Dealing With Irrational Travel Fears

how to overcome travel fearsWe are on the brink of heading out for our longest vacation ever, three full weeks away from home. We’ll visit two different areas on the east coast and five different countries in Europe. To say I’m excited would be an understatement, but I’m also terrified of being gone that long and taking a trip that’s a big stretch for our family. I don’t ever want to miss out on greatness because of being afraid, so here is how I’m dealing with my mostly irrational travel fears. Feel free to laugh!

Fear #1: Being Robbed

No matter how much we try to blend in with the locals, I’m afraid my family will stick out like sore thumbs to thieves and pickpockets. I can see us stranded with no money and no passports. How will we ever get home?

Reality: I will scan copies of our passports into my email and keep a list of credit card numbers to call if our cards are lost or stolen. I have all of our train and plane tickets on email as well. We will also take more than one credit card and stash one in our luggage. Being robbed would be an inconvenience, but we’d be fine.

Fear #2: Our House Will Fall Down

Do you feel like nothing breaks in your house until you leave home? Why is it that water heaters, falling trees, and septic systems decide to wreak havoc the minute you set off on a trip? What if we come home to a foot of water and mold growing up the walls?

Reality: We just had our septic tank pumped, so that should be good for a few years. We will also have our neighbors check in on the house, maybe even daily. They will take care of any maladies that arise. It pays to have good friends and neighbors, but we could also have hire a house sitter to do the same thing if we didn’t have people to call on.

Fear #3: I Will Forget To Pay a Bill and Get Hit With a Fee

This is a legitimate concern. It would be easy to miss something between our home and rental properties that could lead to a late or missed payment.

Reality: We have most of our bills automatically paid by a credit card or bank draft. As long as I schedule the credit card payments ahead of time, this should not be a problem. We should also have internet access in most of the places we’ll be, so I can check into our Personal Capital account to make sure there are no surprises.

Fear#4: We Will Spend Too Much Money

I think this is a really likely scenario. I have planned and budgeted, but if in Paris and an opportunity to do something fabulous but unplanned arises, we’ll probably take it. That will cost money.

Reality: This is exactly why we work and save. Our travel savings account is well stocked for just this purpose. I hope to stay under budget. We’ve paid for as much as we can in advance, but I won’t beat myself up for spending more than planned if we all agree it’s a worthwhile expense.

Fear #5: Our Dog Will Forget About Us

We’ve never left our dog this long before. She will be in good hands with my mother-in-law, but what if she forgets us or worse, gets sick or hurt while we’re gone?

Reality: The in-laws don’t live in our town, but there are vets everywhere. Our Mo will probably be spoiled, but I’m sure she will love us just fine when we get back, especially if we feed her bacon.

Fear #6 My Family Will Starve

I’m not a terribly creative eater, but I’ve been on volunteer trips to some pretty rough places. After being fed a few really interesting things, I’m not worried at all about strange foods. Jim, however, might the most picky eater on the planet, and our daughter has never had the opportunity to try many international foods. She actually gets freaked out if there isn’t a kid’s menu.

Reality: It’s good to broaden your horizons. If nothing else, we can always eat bread and cheese, and if it gets really dire, I’m sure we can find a McDonald’s. I just won’t ever tell anyone we ate there!

As you can see, we are not seasoned travelers, but we are throwing caution to the wind for this trip. Here’s to hoping it all goes smoothly and my irrational travel fears are all for naught.

What tips do you have for novice international travelers? How do you get kids to eat unfamiliar foods? 




About Kim Parr

Kim Parr is a private practice optometrist, freelance writer, and personal financial blogger. You can follow her journey to 20/20 financial vision at Eyes on the Dollar.


  1. Well I can’t answer the kid question, but I always have pretty strong fears when I travel, mostly international and for a long time. But then usually once I get to the destination, I completely relax and forget what I was so worried about. It’s all about preparation and not rushing going into your trip, and it sounds like you did just that. Know that it’s OK to have these fears and try not to worry about having the too much. It’s going to be a great trip!

  2. I am SO excited for you guys to take this trip! Our 9 year old son has gotten good about trying new things because our agreement is always that he has to try it once, and we make sure that we have him try things that taste good so that he has a positive experience trying new things. Most of the time he likes what he tries which is great positive reinforcement for the future.

  3. Ha I ALWAYS feel like something will go wrong with the house. We were actually just talking about that last night. It’s been a nightmare since our home has been on the market for 5 months and no one is living there…

  4. Your trip sounds awesome!!! You guys will totally be fine too! When we travel internationally, we consider it an opportunity to step outside of our comfort zones and try all sorts of new stuff. That has helped a lot with the food aspect of things–we just try what the locals are eating and usually, it’s super tasty. We always worry that Frugal Hound will forget about us too, but she always bounds up to greet us and acts like no time has passed. Have a wonderful time!

  5. Shut off your water main just in case. If you have a well, unplug the pump.

    Be sure to leave your dog in good hands, it will miss you and not know what is happening.

    Have a great trip.

  6. One more tip. have a friend drive you to the airport, do not use a cab. the cab driver will know you are gone too. I do not think cab drivers need to have background checks. No that they are criminals, but a neighbor is a better bet.

  7. LOL, all sound like rational fears to me. 🙂 I hear you, Kim, especially on the food thing! If it were a domestic trip you could pack a cooler, but not so easy on an international flight. 🙂

  8. Actually, the thing that scares me the most is flying. As a kid, I thought it was so cool and I always wanted the window seat so I can look DOWN at the clouds! As an adult, well, I’m terrified of something going wrong during takeoff or landing (the regular coasting through the air doesn’t bother me). The last time I flew somewhere, I assumed crash position for both those periods, squeezed my eyes shut, and counted down slowly from a thousand until it was over. I believe watching the first scene of the film “Final Destination” was a terrible, terrible mistake for me.

    One interesting thing about the eating situation. I would honest to God make it a point to go to McDonald’s once on an international trip. Here me out here. In America, we don’t have authentic ethnic food. We have the American view of ethnic food. Take Chinese food for example; do you really think they all eat sesame chicken, fried rice, and fortune cookies? No, it’s America’s perception of Chinese food, not actual Chinese food. You can say that about any ethnic food (from German beer gardens to Middle Eastern shwarma places and halal carts, etc). One of the great things about international travel is not only the chance to experience the authentic eating experience of these countries, but also to get a perspective on how other countries view America. Seeing how a McDonald’s in France or China or Japan looks and tastes gives you the overseas view of America, and allows you to put your views on other countries in perspective. It helps cement the fact that our view of foreigners in this country is from that of an American perspective and not necessarily the way other people are. I think that seeing a McDonald’s (or any American-themed eatery) while overseas would be just as valuable of a cultural learning experience as immersing yourself in the local culture.

    Enjoy your trip, Kim! And I’m sure your dog will remember you and love you when you return! My dogs always remembered me whenever I came back from college.

    ARB–Angry Retail Banker

  9. Hello! Just stumbled upon your blog while looking for points based travel and fell compelled to comment. I really like your posts and feel these are legitimate fears to have. While backpacking across South America, my husband and I lost our backpack containing passports, green cards, SLRs, tablet, computer etc etc in a moment of distraction. We were shocked into fear, but quickly bounced back and continued our trip for a month more (wrote about it here: http://cravetotravel.blogspot.com/2013/04/protecting-against-loss-during-long.html).

    I was so glad we scanned everything onto dropbox (or other similar tools). We had copies of nearly everything except our boarding passes – which caused some issues with replacing our Green Cards, but even that we solved with some creativity (showing our airline mileage statement for proof of flying) and shouldnt matter to US citizens.

    We also split our credt card and debit cards between both of us, so we had money and a cell phone to access the internet. Not hiding our passports/green cards was the worst thing we did.

    We also backed up our photos on multiple hard disks and placed one in each bag. If we had lost our photos, we would have been heart broken!

    So, yes, please do prepare for the event you will lose your stuff and you can bounce back if it does.

  10. Oh man, I know exactly what you’re talking about, but no one should let their fears stop them from seeing the world! I just wrote about some of my fears while traveling, they’re a little more odd ball, and out there, but I think making it funny helps 🙂 Check it out and let me know what you think.

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