Behind the Scenes: Fear

The Jet-setter’s

To truly travel is to take a leap. A big leap outside your personal comfort zone. Some trips might change your life forever. But what stands between you and the big adventure is often one thing: fear!

Fear can take many shapes and forms.

Especially while travelling, seemingly small obstacles can turn into huge issues. Just think of flying, boat tours, public transport, orientation in general. But that’s just logistics. What will happen if you don’t know how to communicate with the people around you, simply because you cannot speak their language? What if you injure yourself or get sick? Malaria, flu, Dengue fever – all perils creeping in the dark while on your grand adventure. Then, there’s also the danger of getting robbed, tricked or – especially as female travelers – abused or hassled in any kind of way. Natural disasters, hijackings and other threats suddenly seem more likely to happen, when you’re not in your hometown.


It doesn’t matter which fear you might address, one of us at Echoes Magazine has been there. As far as anxieties are concerned, the two of us are very different. Remember the »Olive Theory«, where one doesn’t like olives, but the other one does, which makes them a well-balanced team? It’s the same with us and our various travel fears, and that’s what makes us such a good travel duo.

While my hands already get sweaty as soon as I enter a plane, Marie grew up accompanying her parents – a pilot & a stewardess – on their many work trips, thus staying thoroughly relaxed in the air. And when she nearly goes postal by seeing a cockroach in our Charleston Airbnb or a spider on our Manchester houseboat, I couldn’t be calmer.

Nevertheless, we’re much alike when it comes to being cautious when exploring: we try to double-check every booking, flight or accommodation, take all our important medicine with us, download offline maps and try to avoid walking through dark & dangerous looking streets or risky areas of certain cities.


»When travelling, you need to embrace the unexpected, and that’s exactly what makes it both alluring and challenging at the same time.«

However, it already starts when choosing our future travel destination. If we’ve heard of too many incidents that have happened in a certain area or if people inform us that female travelers wouldn’t be safe in some part of the world, we wouldn’t go there. So, before booking a flight or planning a trip, we look into the whereabouts and safety of a country. But you can never know for sure, as I had to find out the hard way while spending the most frightening night of my life caught on Istanbul’s Atatürk airport during the 2016 coup, even though I was only there on a layover on my way to Thailand. When travelling, you need to embrace the unexpected, and that’s exactly what makes it both alluring and challenging at the same time.


But there are even more ludicrous fears that escape the realms of rational reason. I remember our first night in our pretty Joshua Tree cabin, when one of us (and I won’t tell who) was really afraid of a blood-thirsty, axe-murdering psychopath suddenly come knocking on our door in order to kill us. Another one of us hardly slept while in New Orleans, famously proclaimed city of the dead, because she thought that it was not a draft that shut the door, but an evil spirit. 

Such absurd chimeras hardly ever happen in your own hometown, they unexepectedly creep up on you while travelling. But especially with these kinds of fears, one can focus on the mantra that travel means to grow, and goes hand in hand with growing pains.

Fear is not always connected to big crowds – our first night in a lonely cabin somewhere in Joshua Tree National Park was rather sleepless.


When you are a female traveler, it doesn’t take long until you hear the phrases »you’re brave for a woman« or »you’ve travelled a lot for being a woman« or »do you really want to go there alone?«. The feminists in us are conflicted. It’s true – travelling is not the same for male and female solo travelers. Of course, there are similar risks that apply to situations at home, but while travelling you’re more exposed, insecure and often don’t know how to read certain signs and nuances. So – does that make female travelers braver? Possibly!

In our specific case, we’ve decided against going to certain countries, where other people whose opinion we trust have warned us against going, due to lack of security. Fear can be crippling sometimes, and we’ve always preferred to enjoy our trips carefree of such worries. But that’s just how the two of us roll – we fully believe, that each and every female traveller needs to make that decision on her own, not based on her gender.

»Travel is fatal to prejudice, bigotry, and narrow-mindedness.«

— Mark Twain


But why should we overcome all our fears when it comes to travelling (we won’t talk about the fear of destroying the world even more by booking flights etc. at this point, as we will save the whole travel-in-times-of-climate-crisis-debate for another article in the future)? Well, there are various reasons for it. Travelling makes you a storyteller, it creates memories. Travelling is the only thing you can buy, that makes you richer as they say. But what is even more important: Scientists found out, that it even changes the way your brain works. Especially, when staying at a place for a longer period of time and immersing yourself into the local culture, your brain activity is influenced. Impressions start gaining more intensity and creativity grows. Adam Galinsky from the Columbia Business School says: »Openness allows us to digest and take in new information without rejecting it or being defensive, and flexibility allows us to break out of entrenched habits of thinking – we can switch perspectives more easily. The ultimate consequence of this increased openness and flexibility is that people become more tolerant and more creative, as they’re better able to think more deeply and with more complexity.«


The baseline is: being held back by fear is never good. You should take pride in challenging your fears. Thinking about all the beautiful things you will be experiencing, instead of dwelling on the »what-ifs« helps a lot. What we found out for ourselves, having certain things planned out gives you a sense of control. And with time, as you’ve built up experience, your comfort zone starts to expand, and it becomes easier each time. Pro tip at the very end: What also helps the jet-setter’s jitters, is to simply breathe.