Why is it that travel appeals to so many, and yet some are willing to live like the proverbial frog in the pond, content with the little ecosystem it finds itself a part of? I don’t know about the latter, because I cannot remember a time I have felt that way. I’ve always wanted to peep over the fence (not literally; it’s okay, future neighbours, I usually mind my own business) and find out what was on the other side. I’ve always looked forward to journeys, not as escapism, but as a way to expand my soul. For those who have just joined me here on Oh! Fernweh, yes, I am the wandering soul, and I’ll admit, also the owner of a wandering mind sometimes.
For many, the fear of the unknown can be crippling I suppose, what will it be like, what will people think of me, what if I don’t like it there? These are questions that trickle into the minds of the most intrepid of travellers at some point or the other, I’m sure. The difference between someone who decides to let unanswerable questions be, and those who let them be the barricade to their curiosity, is, I believe, the refusal to let fear win. Let’s face it, most of the questions we ask ourselves are unanswerable. All the ‘what ifs’ and the ‘what wills’, is there any way to predict such things? You know as well as I do, that no, there isn’t. Stepping out of the door every morning brings with it risk. Even just sitting at home is fraught with the possibility of likely accidents.
With more and more people bitten by the travel bug, it is easy to see why apps like AirBnB, Kayak, Skyscanner and Booking.com, to name a few, are so popular. Technology has taken a lot of the fear out of travel for the masses. With internet connections available everywhere, if not WiFi, even remote countries have something that is definitely a step up from dial-up connections. Even when travelling within your own country, GPS allows you to be aware of where you are, and to send your location to your loved ones so that they can sleep better. Similarly, scouring through hundreds of properties for you to stay at in a foreign country becomes less daunting when people have been there before you and left honest reviews.
It’s become one of my favourite activities to use the “explore” buttons on flight booking apps to see where I can realistically afford to go. To choose a departure airport and leave the destination open-ended, that just sends a thrill through me. It is like the dream you never thought possible materialise in front of you. Yes, somewhat akin to McDreamy strolling into the mall, walking right up to you and giving you that crinkly-eyed smile.
The truth is, McDreamy will probably never happen to you. And if you’re holding out for him, I hate to break it you, I think you should move on. But if your dream is to travel, then that can be so very easily arranged. If you don’t know where to start, get those travel apps. Get them, and see where your budget allows you to go, no need for a travel agent, and no need to feel self-conscious if your budget isn’t the most extravagant. Heck, I’d say you’ll travel better especially if your budget isn’t extravagant.
The fear – yes the fear – is always going to be there. It is something deeply ingrained in us from the time a wild animal snatched one of our brethren from our midst so many thousands of years ago. It is necessary to help us stay alert, aware and safe. However, it does not have to be the last thing we feel. It could be overcome to experience the joy of seeing the sun rise on the other side of the world, even as you know that it’s setting in the place you used to call home. It could be the first mouthful of some exotic, and maybe dubious looking, dish that gives you renewed respect for the sense of taste. It could be smile from a stranger, a lick from a puppy or a connection so deep that you wonder how you lived this long without it. That’s what is out there.
So, let me ask you, do you let the fear win, or do you tell it to shut its trap and watch you live a little?