An Open Letter to People Suddenly Terrified of Traveling

I have some unfortunate news for you: The world we live in is a scary place. There are terrible people out there who do not value human life, and it’s absolutely horrifying. Those people are everywhere. In fact, they’ve always been there. They did not just appear within the last month, but that’s a whole different issue.

Here’s the bright side: The world we live in also happens to be beautiful. It’s full of wonderful surprises, valuable wisdom, and thousands of interesting cultures. You deserve to experience that side of the world. Do not let anyone hold you back from that. Do not let your own fear hold you back from that.

I am 22 years old and I have traveled to 12 different countries in 2015 alone. Prior to 2015, I had never been outside of the United States. I still haven’t visited all fifty of the States. Therefore, before I was infected by the travel bug I was completely inexperienced. I had no idea what to expect. I can’t possibly convey the amount of anxiety I experienced as I planned trip after trip. Hours upon hours of research went into each one, but I was always nervous regardless. Still, I traveled to 12 countries.

Every time my plane took off I was anxious. Every time my plane landed I was anxious. What if something went wrong? What if I bought the wrong ticket? Am I even going to the right airport? Which train platform do I need to go to? Did I print the proper directions to my hostel? Still, I traveled to 12 countries.

Almost every day I saw a daunting news article about terrible things happening left and right. I received a travel warning that stated American tourists were frequently being targeted while I was abroad. A train station I frequently used was put on lockdown when a mysterious object was found (it ended up being nothing). Still, I traveled to 12 countries.

Things are scary and sad right now, but do you truly believe that eliminating travel is going to protect you from any and all harm? Life is weird. Just because you choose not to go to Paris right now doesn’t mean something terrible can’t happen to you at home. I know it seems awful for me to say that, but it’s the truth. Horrible people are everywhere, and there is no way to pinpoint them. You will not escape them by making lifestyle changes. Those people could be in your city, in your neighborhood, in your grocery store! There is no way to be absolutely certain that you are never in danger.

Important figures are trying to take advantage of your high levels of emotion right now, and I urge you not to allow this to continue. You deserve to see the world. You deserve to experience every bit of its beauty in and out of the United States. You deserve to experience different cultures, see incredible architecture, and fully understand what it’s like to be in a completely unfamiliar place. It brings me to tears to even think about how different my life would be if I hadn’t explored outside this country. Let yourself have that experience. Do not let your fear control you – I cannot stress that enough.

Right now our country is filled with arguments. We’re all angry at one another during a time when we should be uniting. I see it in the news, social media, and even in my classes. However, I think we can all agree on one thing: We do not know which day will be our last. Remember that. Think about it when you’re deciding not to get on a plane to see your family over the holidays. Think about it when you have the opportunity to take a business trip overseas. Think about it before you stop believing in the good in this world.

Take chances, because you never know how those chances you take will change your life. I’ve experienced that first hand, and that’s why I would never, ever give up an opportunity to go abroad. When things are bad, there’s plenty of good somewhere, too. You just have to look for it. I can’t be sure that you’ll always be safe, but I can be sure that you have to get out and about to find the good stuff in the first place.

 

 

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