When Tom and I decided to get rid of everything we own to begin traveling by bicycle, the trick was not to eliminate fear, but rather to embrace it as a natural human emotion.
Fear is ingrained in us for good reason. Fear kept our ancestors alive, and fear aids in our self preservation. However, in western society we seem to have let fear run amok. We fear strangers, we fear the unknown, we fear lightless nights, and the list of our cultural fears goes on and on.
Unfortunately, all of this fear keeps many of us locked into lives that are safe rather than lives that are fulfilling. This is often displayed in our professional lives. So many of us stay in jobs that require us to "live to work" because we are afraid to step away from that promised stability and pursue something we are passionate about.
Tom and I are not immune to fear, we both experience bouts of absolute terror over this huge leap we’re taking! Here is a list of our big fears, and how we are choosing to manage them:
What if quitting a good, stable job puts my future at risk?
This is a BIG one. I don’t hate my job. In fact, I am lucky enough to work with some of the most compassionate, skilled individuals I’ve ever met. I work for a small company that offers a decent benefits package. I will miss my coworkers immensely…… wait, why am I doing this again??
Here’s why: Even though I like my job, I spend a huge amount of time daydreaming about visiting far away places, about having more freedom, about working for myself and building something that is MINE.
So when this particular fear strikes me I remind myself that while I like my job, deep down I know there is something missing. I know that travel and new experiences are absolutely necessary for my sustained happiness. Thanks to a past successful business venture I also know that I flourish when my success lies solely on my own shoulders. It also helps to read travel posts that inspire me to pursue a life of travel!
Whenever my mind starts to spiral into crippling fear over quitting my job I remind myself that just about everything worthwhile requires some risk and a lot of work.
We’ll technically be homeless. How will that affect us, and what will our friends/families think?
This is a fear that Tom and I have mulled over, discussed, and pondered frequently since the first moment we dreamed up this trip. We are in the process of selling and donating just about everything we own to allow us to be completely nomadic, so how will that change the way people interact with us?
The reality here is that we are choosing to give up our home base in order to experience many tiny home bases on the road. Or, another way we like to look at it is that our home is with each other, not in one set location. “Home is where the heart is” as they say, and our hearts will certainly be along on this journey.
To add to that, we have yet to experience a negative reaction to the news of our travels. Nearly everyone we’ve told has asked loads of questions, and has expressed positive interest in our big adventure.
What if [insert catastrophic possibility here]?
The list of “what ifs” that could scare us out of travel is never ending. What if we have a mechanical failure in the middle of nowhere? What if one of us is injured? What if Indy needs a veterinarian when we are in a remote area? What if an axe murderer finds our tent in the middle of the night?! I could write an entire book of all these scary “what ifs”!
Instead of writing that book, we choose to use these catastrophic thoughts as helpful cautionary guidelines for our trip prep.
What if we have a mechanical failure in the middle of nowhere?
Tom is skilled in basic bicycle maintenance, I am learning, and we will both carry extras of the parts that are most likely to fail.
What if one of us is injured?
The first leg of our trip will be down the Pacific Coast in the United States, which means that medical care will be pretty easily available to us. Once we reach Baja, Mexico things get a bit trickier.
Tom is a retired paramedic, and we will carry a solid first aid kit including antibiotics in case one of us gets hurt in a remote area.
What if Indy needs a veterinarian when we are in a remote area?
I worked as veterinary assistant for many years, including a year at a pet emergency hospital. We will carry an extensive pet first aid kit with us including heartworm/flea preventative and antibiotics in case Indy needs them.
What if an axe murderer finds our tent in the middle of the night?
This one may seem ridiculous, but in reality ALL of these what ifs could just as easily happen in our front yard, or on a weekend camping trip. Driving my car to work every day is incredibly dangerous, but no one thinks that should scare me!
Focusing on anything and everything that could go wrong while we travel will only serve to keep us holed up in our living room for the next 20 years. So instead of bowing to our fears we are going to embrace them, and use them to help us plan more efficiently. It’s time to take a running leap!!
Have you chosen to let go of your fears and take a big leap? Tell us about it in the comments!