A lot of people tell me I’m brave for having travelled on my own for an extended amount of time, but I’m not completely sure why they say so. Maybe they simply believe it’s dangerous because they think there’s a high chance of getting robbed, assaulted or even killed when going abroad alone. Maybe it’s because they wouldn’t know what to do and where to go if they were by themselves. Maybe it’s just the scariness of doing something for the first time; going out into the unknown. I can’t really put a finger on what they mean, especially because most of those ‘scary’ things just require you to be smart and not necessarily to be very brave. What I was actually afraid of while travelling were completely different things. I’ll discuss the top three.
1. Something bad happening back home
My biggest fear while abroad was that something could happen back home – such as someone dying, to take the most horrifying yet realistic option – and I wouldn’t be able to go back immediately. Of course I didn’t spend all of my days worrying about such things, but being such a long distance away from everything back home does make you realise that it would be hard to return if needed. On top of that, I would be alone. While in the process of dealing with whatever was happening on the other side of the world, I would have to figure out how to go home as fast as I could, all by myself. I’m sure people would try to help out, but not being comfortably at home and with people you know can make difficult things even more difficult. I’m still grateful that I went through my 9,5 months on the road without having to deal with something like that. A lot can happen in that time.
2. Needing a doctor
The second thing I was afraid of quite a few times was the possibility of needing a doctor. What if I broke something? What if I caught malaria or dengue? What if my newly erupting wisdom tooth is growing the wrong way?! Whenever I felt a bit ill or hurt myself quite badly while doing something stupid such as using a rope swing, I was terrified of it getting so bad that I’d have to go see a doctor – without knowing the language, without knowing if I would actually be able to pay for the care and, again, all by myself. Like the first fear, it’s something that’s completely outside of my control, which makes it that much more scary. Luckily you can buy antibiotics without a prescription in Malaysia.
3. Losing my passport
Third in line I’ll put the fear of losing my passport. I wouldn’t care much about losing anything else – I’ve actually lost plenty of clothes, money and photos (it sucks) on my trip – but losing my passport would be something else entirely. My passport is the only thing that I really need to travel. Money may seem like a good second, but even if I lose all of my money I’ll be able to loan some for a while or ask people back home for help. They can’t help, though, when I lose the only thing that enables me to identify myself and enter or (perhaps more importantly) leave a country. Of course there is a way out of that situation since there’s embassies and all, and it generally all works out, but for the time being I’d have to stall my trip and be unsure about everything. If you lose your passport, you’re screwed – at least for a little while. That’s why I always checked about five million times if I still had my passport whenever I moved to a different place. Got to be sure.