For many people, traveling is about trying new things and making inner discoveries. It’s a great primer for getting your mind ready for an adventure. While you’re having these unique experiences, why not take the opportunity to conquer a fear, as well? Here are some ideas on how travel can help you face your anxieties head-on.
Being afraid to fly is very common, and the best way to overcome your fear is to face it. While simply going to an overseas destination is a step in the right direction, why not go all out and try skydiving? Some of the best places for skydiving are the Fox Glacier in New Zealand, Mount Everest in Nepal, Cairns in Australia and Seville in Spain. If you’d like to start out smaller, zip lining can also provide an aerial adventure. You’ll be able to attach yourself to a harness, which is connected to a wire, and fly over tall trees and beautiful landscapes.The Ocean
This is a big one for me. During a trip to the Great Barrier Reef in Australia, I sat on the boat shaking as my guide fitted me for scuba gear. I watched jealously as my friends jumped into the ocean without a care in the world. However, my fears slowly drifted away as the instructor showed us step-by-step how to safely navigate the water. It ended up being one of the best experiences of my life. Some other great diving areas to explore on your travels are East Java, Madagascar, Raja Ampat and the Galapagos Islands.
For those who are afraid of spiders and other creepy crawlers, a trip to the jungle or rainforest will be just what you need. In places like the Amazon Jungle in South America, where you can see the world’s largest species, the Goliath Tarantula, you’ll find enormous spiders and unique insects you can’t find anywhere else in the world. And after you face these bugs, the average house spider will seem as harmless as a kitten.
For many people, not having a set schedule or itinerary can be terrifying. I actually used to be the kind of person who constantly planned out every detail of a trip and would get anxiety if something went off course. Help free your mind on your travels and try not making a plan. Simply pack a bag, buy a plane ticket and show up at your destination. Not only is it liberating to travel with a blank itinerary of endless opportunities, it’s a lot harder for things to go wrong when you had no plan to begin with.
Are you the type of person that shakes at the thought of committing to something for longer than the afternoon? Get over your fear and sign up for a volunteer project abroad. There’s usually a two-week minimum commitment, but to get the most out of the project I’d recommend going for a month or longer. Volunteer at an orphanage, teach English, coach sports, provide medical help or work with animals and help another community. You’ll not only get over your fear of commitment, you’ll also grow as a person.
It’s unfortunate that so many people are afraid of the dark, as there are so many great things that happen when the sun’s not around. One great experience to have is camping. You’ll be able to roast marshmallows over an open fire, sing songs, go on night hikes and feel how small the Earth really is through stargazing. One tip: it’s probably best to skip the scary campfire stories the first time around. Some great camping destinations include The Outback in Australia, the Inca Trail in Peru and Torres del Paine in Chile. Another fun adventure to have in the dark is black water rafting, or cave tubing. While it doesn’t need to be nighttime, you’ll be rafting through dark caves where anything is possible. It’s a lot of fun, and a very different experience from white water rafting in the sunlight.
Eating New Foods
While being afraid to try new foods isn’t too serious, tasting unique and “scary” dishes can open you up to new things and lead you to say “yes” to more opportunities. For some people, eating a food they’ve never had can be terrifying. The best remedy for this is immersing yourself in a unique food culture, ordering something unknown and asking what it is only after you’ve tasted it. In my opinion, the best place to do this is Asia, where they have some of the most unimaginable foods ever created. Some unique dishes to try include tarantulas, durian, smelly tofu and white ant eggs.
Death can be a hard thing for anyone to face; however, it’s also a part of life. Many dark tourism sites offer a look into the more morbid part of history, and usually leave you with an important takeaway point. Some of these sites include Dachau Concentration Camp in Germany, Napoleonland in France, and the slave castles of Cape Coast, Ghana. There are also less intense ways to explore death through travel. For example, there are some beautiful cemeteries you can visit like Recoleta in Buenos Aires, St. Louis #1 in New Orleans and Woodlawn Cemetery in New York.
There are many ways to overcome your fear of heights when traveling: high-altitude hikes, zip lining, hang gliding, parasailing and, my personal favorite, bungee jumping. The first time I bungee jumped was in Cairns, Australia, and I was scared out of my mind. After the jump was complete, however, I found myself laughing hysterically and asking to do it again. Some of my favorite destinations for the activity include Interlaken, Switzerland, Queenstown, New Zealand, and Puerta Vallarta, Mexico.
To really face your fears of the walking dead, the best thing you can do is visit a haunted site. There are tons of haunted houses, haunted castles, haunted hotels and creepy abandoned cities to explore. For your next trip, why not find out for yourself just how these sites got their reputation?
[photos via Alexander Savin, cheetah100, Jessie on a Journey, Jessie on a Journey, LIN HSIN YAO]