Is it safe? Aren’t you afraid? But you’re a woman. And blonde. Isn’t it dangerous?
These are the same questions I hear over and over again when I talk about traveling.
There’s an overwhelming fear that something bad will happen if you leave home. And it’s not just about going to another country, but even to a larger city in the U.S.
People are afraid of being robbed. They’re afraid of being kidnapped or assaulted. And they’re afraid of being outside of their comfort zone.
I’m often told how brave I am. And it surprises me every time.
The interesting thing is that I typically feel every bit as safe traveling as I do in my own home town. Everyone’s always amazed to hear that.
I’ve had incredibly positive experiences when I’m traveling. People really seem to look out for me. They’re curious about me and what I’m doing. They want me to like their country as much as they do. It’s important to them that I’m having fun and safe.
My first solo trip was to southeast Asia. I spent five weeks traveling alone and never once experienced anything even remotely threatening. Of course, I use caution and common sense. But that’s important whether I’m traveling or not.
The people I met were incredibly kind and helpful. Even when we had difficulty communicating in our different languages, it didn’t seem to matter. There was an amazing feeling of camaraderie and trust.
I’d been home from my trip less than a week when I decided to go for a walk in my neighborhood. It was a beautiful, snowy night and I was home in Seattle. Sounds safe, right?
Unfortunately, I ran into three men who’d been drinking and began harassing me. One of them was particularly aggressive and didn’t leave me alone until his friends called him off. He had a look in his eyes that left me pretty scared and I don’t scare easily.
I was less than two blocks from home. Not half-way around the world, but in my own neighborhood.
While it may feel safer to just stay home than to head out and experience the world, it’s an illusion. You are no safer at home than anywhere else. That’s not to say you should be fearful at home either. Things can and do happen anywhere but it’s important to remember that’s not the norm.
So no, it’s not dangerous. I’m not afraid to travel. Actually, quite the opposite. I love the freedom of travel. It opens my mind and heart in ways that I can’t even begin to experience by staying safely at home.
Whether it’s in your own neighborhood or around the world, most people are just like you and me. They’re kind, helpful and generous. It doesn’t matter what part of the world we live in, we’re all much more alike than different.
So set aside those fears and spread your wings. The world is yours to explore!
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Photo credit: Digital Latte Photography