Confronting Fears Abroad

Creative Commons via stuant63 on flickr

As frightening as some of my crazy, vivid dreams can be, I am always grateful for the times where they inspire me to write. I woke up 3 ½ hours after falling asleep for this one.

I have an ugly confession to make.

While many people tell me how strong of a person I am, I, Erica, have an unreasonable fear of many things. There will be quite a few hurdles I will have that I will have to confront when we embark upon our trip to Central/South America. Confronting fears is at the front of my mind.

“Erica! You are covered in tattoos and piercings! How can you be afraid of a little needle?”

Creative Commons via placbo on flickr

It is totally different. Tattoos are created through a series of pins entering the top layer of your skin and well the piercings, I had to go into a meditative state full of sweat from nervousness. I almost passed out one time while a nurse was giving a TB test because she refused to let me sit down.

While I lived from the vaccinations we have taken so far, I can’t say that I’ve gotten over my fear of needles. I even managed to have a panic attack on the way home from the travel doctors. Can we say wuss? We have our next set of vaccinations tomorrow. Joy.

  • #2 Claustrophobia

This one nearly killed me when we went to Burning Man. Having to have a mask around my face during a white out to an asthmatic is one of the most challenging things I’ve put myself through yet.

Creative Commons via QbiT on flickr

I want to go spelunking and get PADI certified. I will be staring claustrophobia down in the face.

As Dwight in The Office states:

In an ideal world I would have all ten fingers on my left hand so my right hand could just be a fist for punching.

Oh hell yes… bring it on.

  • #3 Heights

Traveling abroad has made me quite the adventure seeker/adrenaline junkie. This particular fear should make for a fun ride while we’re doing the World’s Most Dangerous Road. I’m also hoping to conquer sky diving at some point during the trip. As for bungee jumping, I’m sticking Shaun on that boat. No ma’am/sir.

  • #4 Bot Flies

So apparently I have issues with things entering my skin. The thought of something eating and living in my body is simply TERRIFYING. If you have no clue what they are, check it out here. Actually, I’m going to stop here because I start gagging.

Look for updates on me entering the mental hospital if a bot fly does happen to make a home in me.

  • #5 Creepy Crawlies in General

After seeing Abby’s post on The Jungle Princess in regards to My Favorite Photos of 2010: Best of Animals I had the realization that I’m just screwed on this one.

How do you confront fears while abroad?

50 thoughts on “Confronting Fears Abroad”

  1. Haha Love the Dwight quote. He is the MAN.
    Where is the world’s most dangerous road? Chile? Well good luck with that one! I’d suggest jumping out of a plane and going sky diving in order to conquer that fear of heights. It was one of the most badass things I’ve ever done! Plus, I had a man strapped to my back that jumps out of planes everyday, so, I felt sort of safe haha.

    Anyway, good look conquering those fears!!!!!! It’ll be worth it in the end when you’ll be in that present moment thinking, “Holey shit! I’m scuba diving in a cage and there are sharks outside of it (that’ll take care of the claustrophobia too haha) and biking down that crazy ass mountain and going to more kickass concerts!!!

    Kick that fear’s ass dammit!
    – LAUREN 🙂

    1. @Lauren: The most dangerous road is in Bolivia if I am not mistaken. 🙂 I do want to go skydiving as much as my mind tells me I shouldn’t. As a kid obsessed with Peter Pan, what a better way than that to experience flying?

  2. We have two in common – Height & Bugs. 😛 I once cried in a waterpark when we’re all the up there looking down. This lady in front of me was like don’t cry. I’m scared too. hahah I’m so embarrassed. I hope we all can get oevr our fears slowly.

  3. Having backpacked a lot, one fear that I have confronted is a fear of bugs. I hate bugs. I can’t stand anything that has more than 4 legs. The crazy part is I don’t want to kill them either (there are exceptions, of course) so poor Jack has to deal with hysterical me yelling, ‘Dont’ kill it, don’t kill it, just gently scoop it and release it back into the wild!! AARRgghh, it’s coming towards me!!!’ — anyway, you did ask for fear confronted, not conquered, right? 🙂

  4. oh i get it! mine is mice and rats! crazy freaked out by them and living in nyc had to confront it (but of course i’d still rather not!) ha ha. you may find you’re able to take baby steps toward some of these things and get over them while abroad, or maybe you’ll just successfully avoid them. but i guess we won’t be seeing any videos of you eating bugs! ;P

    1. @Lorna: You know, I’ve had rats as pets but it is different when they run out from under your fridge. I screamed like a girl and hopped on top of the stove faster than you can say [insert something funny here]. No videos of me eating bugs – anything I cannot handle I’m handing over to Shaun. He is going to gets lots of video time!

  5. I can definitely agree with you on the bugs – bed bugs being a bit worry when staying in budget accommodation! I also have a bit of a safety fear, namely kidnappings, choke and grab muggings, etc…I know it’s extreme, but I read too many bad stories about that stuff and I’d be lying if I didn’t say I’m a little wary of some of the places we’re travelling to in South America.

    1. @Andrea: Apparently bugs are the fear of choice! Bed bugs are going absolutely insane. I even have to worry about them here in Austin. As for the safety fear, if I was traveling solo I would be a bit more concerned but Shaun looks meaner than he is which keeps creepies away. If you run into any issues in South America, let us know – we’re about to start that way!

  6. Just when I thought I’d dealt with my fears, you introduce me to bot flies. Thanks. 😛

    We haven’t had to face too many fears on the road yet with the exception of maniac bus drivers, but expecting to have to deal with a lot more on our RTW.

    1. @Natalie: I don’t think I’ll be able to overcome he heights thing but I will definitely look it squarely in the face. I cannot bungee jump. I will die of a heart attack.

    1. @Zablon: I don’t think I would say that I conquer them – I would say that I deal with them sometimes. I’m definitely still very scared of everything I’ve listed.

  7. Even though I have tattoos and a septum piercing, I share your fears of needles. As for heights, well I love them!

    The weird thing is, I’m terrified of the spiral stairs like in that picture you had in this post. All due to actually falling from it when I was young.

    In the meantime, go face them head on. It’s fun to screw with your fears and show them who’s boss.

    1. @Staci: I’m glad someone else understands the needle thing. I also wish I could draw your strength when it comes to heights. Ugh. I get chills thinking about it.

  8. The bug sounds creepy indeed. I remember reading about a particular worm parasite that I forget the name. If you have it in you, at some point it will be mature (long) on your leg (not sure about other part of body). If a bit of body part burst out from our body (I forget it happens naturally or by cutting our leg with sharps), you can’t just pull it because it will break. Instead typically a stick will be used to hold the worm length that’s outside (and pull just a little), by coiling the worm to the stick. Everyday keep coil it longer and longer until the whole body is out. I forget it take days or months. Sorry for crappy detail, I read about this so long time ago.

    As for my phobia, it’s got to be walking on slope and slippery surface. The tiniest slope freak me out. This could be a problem in hiking and skiing. I still do the hiking, but sometimes slow if I’m scared. As for skiing, the only time I ski, I was too scared to continue sliding down the hill. So instead I took of the ski and walk slowly down the hill – took ages.

    1. @Dina: I think you are the only person I know with that phobia but it is equally as valid! I can imagine that hiking can be quite the challenge.

      1. Yeah, I haven’t met person with the same phobia either. I remember when we were in Ruapehu volcano, New Zealand, clambering up the mountain, there were a couple that were concerned because of my slow walking. They thought I was injured.

  9. Bugs are both our biggest fear! And even worse: SPIDERS!! We panic when we see one and we scream like little girls when there’s a cockroach in our hostel – which is why we always carry a huge can of bug & cockroach killer… and we use it a lot 😉 Bot flies sound pretty disgusting (we second Kieron here – thanks for introducing us to them 😉 ..) but I think it’s very unlikely to catch them. Traveling is a great way though to confront your fears and you’ll return much calmer from your trip 🙂

    1. @GTG: …You carry bug poison with you when you go backpacking? I think that is the most amazing thing I’ve ever heard! “Underwear!” “Check!” “Sun screen!” “Check!” “Bug killer…” “…CHECK!” ♥

      1. For real, we use it a lot. We might run out of some toiletries and wait a bit to replenish, but when the bug spray is out, we buy more asap. We might overspray a little, too, but in a dodgy place, doing a spray of the bathroom and around the beds brings peace of mind. Did you know that there are not just cockroaches, but something called cucarachones – which literally means giant cockroaches, here in Central America? Yeah, HUGE. and spiders? No ma’am, we might be veggies, but can’t deal with the big creatures.

  10. The biggest fear I have confronted abroad is threats to my wife’s health. She is an excellent traveling partner; ready for adventure, willing to jump into anything with me, loving and curious. But when she is at risk I get scared. Like when we were crazy ill in Cambodia and I could see all of her veins as she lay prone on a bed unable to eat. Or when we were in a moto bike wreck in Vietnam… it isn’t my neck that i am worried about, i am actually quiet reckless…but the thought of harm coming to her makes me shit myself.

    1. @Joshy: I can completely relate. I have the same fears about Erica. She will be the first to admit that she is extremely accident prone, but that never stops her from attempting risky new things.

      The first time she tried snowboarding, she had a really difficult time with the initial learning curve. I have skateboarded for most of my life, so I had no problem picking it up. I spent a good deal of time with her on the bunny slopes trying to coach as best I could, but it became very difficult to watch her attempt to learn. She must have literally been falling for hours and was crying (probably due to both the pain and frustration). In my most loving voice I suggested that she either take a break or try skis, but she would not have it. I learned at that point that way I could best contribute to the situation was to teach her how to fall without hurting herself as much. Although, after that pain-filled day, she did make progress. So much so that she tried snowboarding again at Xanadu in Madrid and made it down the entire slope without falling once. 😀

  11. I’ve been seeing a lot of posts about fears coming up lately, which I think is a good thing. So much of our culture is based on inculcating silent fear. Things that I believe control us without us really even realizing.

    When you drag it out and throw it into the light, I think many fears suddenly seem illogical. Not to say I don’t think that makes them less real, but it’s easier to stand up to a fear when you can tell yourself you don’t quite understand why you fear it. Or you can work through the logic of it and get past it.

    Fwiw, I’ve found the more I travel, the less things that used to petrify me even make a dent. I used to be all about the planning. I had to know what I was doing when. Not always an option while traveling. I’ll always be a planner, but now I’m able to put my efforts into areas where the planning actually makes sense.

    1. @Leigh: I think it is incredibly healthy to discuss fears. Today I did so much better with getting my second round of shots than I had in the past. I knew I would worry, I looked the other way, I was prepared – and no panic attack. Hopefully one day it will be a thing of the past but I’m super excited about baby steps.

      The planning thing is another thing that is going to kill me. I have my life planned out on my calendar for the next few weeks. While I am making this trip a non-planning adventure, I am not going to deny that it worries me just a bit. Hopefully I can be as positive about things as you are!

  12. I have claustrophobia too, Spelunking is something that is not on my list of things to do. I can’t imagine getting stuck in a narrow cave underground. It scares me just thinking about it. Good for you for facing your fears straight on!

    1. @Dave and Deb: I hate feeling helpless which is why I put myself in situations where I confront things I normally cannot handle. Being stubborn isn’t always a negative thing. 😛

  13. I can totally relate! During my RTW trip we camped a lot and I was forced to confront my city-girl squeamishness about insects. At first I was panicked at the site of geckos but after seeing them everywhere I have made a lot of progress 🙂

    1. @Leslie: The weird thing is that camping as a whole doesn’t freak me out – it is finding the creepy crawlies where you last expect to see them!

  14. Erica, those who have no fear are not the brave ones. It’s those who fear and do it anyway that are truly brave. Sorry, but I had a bit of a chuckle when you described your fear of needles (with your tattoos and all). Safe travels….

    1. @Jason: Needles are pins! They aren’t hollow and don’t go very far into the body. Not to mention, I worked in a tattoo shop for 3 years so I was able to become accustomed to the idea. As for the fear, good thing I’m stubborn and hate when things hold me back. 🙂

  15. Every traveler has his/her fears, no matter how much we might try to convince ourselves otherwise. While I don’t mind heights or being in small spaces or throwing myself off bridges and/or cliffs, I get afraid of silly things, too — like bugs and disease and having people not like me.

    But if we weren’t afraid of anything, where would be the challenge to traveling??

    I have a feeling you’re going to kick fear’s butt. Or, you know, at least squash a couple of creepy crawlies.

    1. @Amanda: Ooh – I’ve gotten much better about the fear of people not liking me lol. That one used to bother the hell out of me. Shaun’s main fear of the upcoming trip is the language barrier. I’ll know what is going on most of the time. 😛 Not sure if I can squash the creepy crawlies, I hate the feeling of the crunch carapace under a shoe.

  16. Haha. I’m also planning a trip to Central America soon. Should be exciting. I’m also afraid of needles. Had to get my vaccinations just a few days ago. My worst travel experience was not in any third world country but in Frankfurt, Germany when a guy attacked me at 3AM. I was coming back from a party and shouldn’t have been walking along the streets at that time. But anyways, I won the fist fight, as my friends sat by and did nothing. Apparently 3 years of boxing and 5 years of martial arts does serve some sort of purpose.


  17. Hmmm “confronted not conquered” ?
    Ok then i join you on heights, Claustrophobia, bugs, and… Flying !
    Wich is a problem for someone who loves traveling like me 🙂

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