What a crazy year it has been for our world! After being home for a week now, I’ve looked back on our year of traveling and am amazed at the unusual events that took place. Maybe I was more attuned to world news than in the past since I was immersed traveling though it, but it still seemed like so many events were out of the ordinary.

It’s hard to believe the high number of plane crashes, bus accidents, deadly blizzards, earthquakes, terror threats, volcano eruptions, city shootings, and ISIS beheadings that took place in the past year. Not to mention the tragic Ebola outbreak in west Africa.

With this said, I might have seemed like a fearless, invincible travel robot this past year. I am human though and, of course, I’ve endured some fears while traveling abroad. I’m pretty sure I would’ve never left home if this stuff had happened the year prior to our departure. In fact, there were a few times while abroad that I said, “maybe we should just go home,” when hearing of yet another plane crash.

By the way, do you know the worse place to learn about a plane crash? At the airport! Just minutes from boarding our flight from Singapore to Australia, a news report came on the airport’s TV lounge of the Germanwings crash in France.

The Magic Bus, Istanbul

I was already super nervous about crossing over the Pacific Ocean so you can imagine how the breaking news didn’t help. Despite the fear, I still boarded my next flight.

Then there were things like ISIS that squashed our hopes of exploring eastern Turkey. I may have been overly cautious, but I still chose to visit Istanbul. Unfortunately, when I arrived at the hostel it happened to be on a street full of riots. Not only that, but someone broke into the hostel that night and stole guests’ entire belongings, including passports. Luckily, my possessions were spared.

I thought I would be safe in Istanbul! With the ISIS presence on the Turkish border and riots going on in Istanbul, I thought it best to get out of the country sooner than later. When finally leaving Turkey, I had a long layover in Qatar where I had the chills and fever the entire night. I thought about the last morning in Istanbul where I ate breakfast with a man who said he just returned from working in Africa.

I had decided to skip Africa mainly because of the Ebola outbreak, but it was still unsettling to watch a few cases spread to Europe. Feeling so sick in the airport, I couldn’t help but unreasonably and fearfully think, I might have Ebola! I avoided Africa and went to Turkey instead, where I probably got Ebola from the man at breakfast!! 

I didn’t have Ebola though, just a common cold and fever, in case you were wondering.

Selfie stick in Hiroshima, JapanI’ve also developed a fear of selfie sticks. I saw my first selfie stick two weeks into our trip in Japan when a family was using one in Hiroshima. I laughed at the weird device I’d never seen before and Mark snuck a picture of them using it. Unfortunately, the gimmick has lived on and, ever since then, I’ve seen it in every country we’ve been to.

Selfie stick in BangkokSelfie sticks didn’t necessarily pose any danger, but it did make me fear the self-absorbed generation we’re becoming. All around the world I couldn’t escape the over-excessive, narcissistic use of the selfie stick.  Once I watched a man at a beach take pictures of himself with a selfie stick for over an hour! He was sure to cover all his angles. That was pretty much his entire stay at the beach.

Selfie Stick, Travel, photography, travel photography, So why did I choose to continue traveling with all these fears I had? Why didn’t I quickly return to the safety of home with all the craziness happening in the world? Because I chose to not let fear dictate my life. At the same time, I wasn’t irresponsible. I was still careful while making travel decisions and there were times I had to learn to adapt in situations and contemplate the safest choices. I chose to not go home and did my best to not make stupid mistakes to avoid real danger.

I’ve learned that the comfort of home is wonderful, but the magnificence of the world is unmatched. Sure, I could’ve taken the safe way of wanderlusting such as exploring a destination via Google Maps. I’ll admit this is somewhat effective as I once took an extremely long road trip through north Finland within minutes by dragging the yellow man in Google street view. I also could’ve watched a documentary about a culture I was interested in, or scrolled infinitely through the travel category on Pinterest.

Doing so would be easy, but just not the same as actually traveling. After going to a destination in person, it meant that instead of triggering a Pinterest image I’d once seen, I could now recount a complete emotional and sensory memory of the place. Creating memories of unusual landscapes, stunning architecture and meeting people from all walks of life are the types of things that kept me going. If I’d let fear take over, I wouldn’t have so many of these fond memories I created this past year, which I now consider as my most valuable possessions. Fear is inevitable, it’s part of human nature, but we shouldn’t let it stop us from traveling. There are just too many precious memories to be made around the world.

Start creating your own memories today.

About The Author

Britnee traveled around the world with her husband on a shoestring budget for a year. A few of her favorite destinations include Scotland's Isle of Skye, Chile's Torres del Paine, Bolivia's Salt Flats and Nepal's Annapurna Circuit.

5 Responses

  1. Kristina

    I literally laughed out loud at the guy with the selfie stick. I am currently in Rio and the selfie stick is alive and kicking here!

    • Britnee Johnston

      Haha, we couldn’t help but laugh too when we saw the guy. Hope you’re having fun in Rio with or without a selfie stick. :)