A lot of us have a desire to travel, but wait for everything to perfect - the perfect job, the perfect travel companion, the perfect amount of money. If you're not careful, you may spend your whole life waiting for the perfect conditions rather than getting out and living.
Jamie Bowlby-Whiting was a nervous child - even afraid of his own dog. Somehow, he managed to get out of his comfort zone and now travels around the world. Jamie writes about his adventures and anxieties at the travel blog Great Big Scary World.
We caught up with Jamie and got some advice for nervous travelers, as well as some memorable stories and adventures from the road.
How can traveling help someone open up to life?
As a child, I was afraid of everything from dinosaurs in my bedroom to germs on my hands when I was eating. This was rather concerning for my parents; and it wasn't until I was in my late teens that I started going out into the world and simply learning to deal with my internal issues.
What can an anxious person do to ease their travel nerves?
Personally, I knew traveling wasn't something that I would do naturally or little bit by little bit; so instead, I quit my job and made a promise to myself to start. When I hit the road, I was loving it so much that I couldn't stop. I only originally planned to hitchhike for a month, but I just kept on going.
What key lessons can be learned?
I learned a lot from the road and I continue to do so, but two of the most valuable lessons are that money is not as important as we believe it to be, and that experience and planning are not necessary for most adventures. To "test" these theories, Ibought a Â£30 bicycle and cycled it to Slovakia, then made a raft and rafted down the Danube (before being arrested). The whole journey cost almost nothing, and I had never even fixed a puncture before I left.
What would you say to people who are waiting for the perfect moment to get out and start seeing the world?
There is no time like now. One day, you will be sixty years old and regretting what you haven't done. We often regret what we don't do rather than what we do do, so get out there as soon as possible and do whatever it is that you want to do. If you don't like it, you can always stop.
Can travels change a nervous person's way of life?
Sometimes, changing your thought patterns is hard, but you can realign how you deal with things internally. For example, fear is a big thing for me - something I cannot overcome - but I have learned to deal with it in different ways. You can then apply this to anything in life.
I used to read a lot on psychology and hypnosis when I was younger; about ideas encapsulated in meditation, yoga, religion, and so many other parts of life that people don't even think about. Through these readings, I learned to manipulate my thinking. Even when I was young, I realized that there were things about myself that I had to change,
At the age of nine, I was pretty good at school except for sports. Despite feeling sick with anxiety every time I stepped onto the training field, I forced myself to play and now love many sports. Saying that, I am terrified of airplanes and always will be because I don't even want to address that fear.
What are some instances where action might NOT be the best method in the case of valid fears?
I like to conceptualize ideas; and in my first book, The Boy Who Was Afraid of the World, I conceptualized fear as a little pink ghost.
Fear is a little pink ghost that has the ability to change into any form more terrifying than your worst nightmares could even dream up. He can cripple you, taking everything. When he is around, you are falling constantly, a bottomless journey of no end. You have three choices of how you can deal with this little pink ghost. Firstly, you can run and you can hide. He will always be chasing you, he will always be looking for you. One day he will find you. Secondly, you can punch him in the face. Fear roars at you, you roar right back. It is a simple matter of who roars loudest. And lastly, you can embrace him and you can hold his hand. You walk with fear and you accept him for the little pink ghost that he is, always knowing that he is there, but keeping him in your sight.
Essentially, when I am afraid, I accept that I am afraid; and I be afraid, but continue doing what I am doing. Having no fear at all would be dangerous because you could hurt yourself and risk your life. I listened to an interview a while back where a girl actually had no fear due to something that had happened in her brain; it was scary to listen to her and how she had absolutely no concept of fear. She had been beaten by her husband and had many terrible things happen to her, but never really felt much about them. Thus, a little fear is important to keep us safe because life is great; without it, we'd be dead.
Some fears can be alleviated with insurance. What are some things people should look for in a travel insurance policy?
The only thing I ever look at on a travel insurance policy is the medical coverage. After breaking my back in a skiing accident and having a couple of other minor accidents abroad, I find it of the utmost importance. If I didn't have medical coverage, I would still be working to pay off my medical bills rather than continuing to explore the world as I do.
For more updates from Jamie Bowlby-Whiting and Great Big Scary World, like him on Facebook, and follow him on Twitter, and Vimeo.