This is a tough one for me to write. But I began writing to inspire females—especially single traveling females—to not be afraid, to stand up for themselves, and to find themselves again after whatever it is that pushed them down, that made them fear. So here goes nothing…
For me, I had two major events that created that distinct fear of travel: I lost my father to brain cancer, and I discovered the person I once loved was no longer the person I fell in love with. All within eighteen months.
The first was obvious. He was sick for just over fourteen months before we lost him. I was traveling when I found out he was diagnosed. And I had a major solo across-the-world trip booked but had to cancel it when it seemed we were about to lose him. Travel was everything in my life, and was a big part of my discovery and my healing. But suddenly, the trips that I had booked to enjoy myself and discover new passions now had a sad memory forever attached to them. It was the first time that had happened, and frankly, it began to make me terrified to travel again, especially alone.
What would have happened if I was alone snowboarding when I found out about my dad, instead of with my best friend? What if I had left for across the world right before my dad suddenly passed? Being so far away from family suddenly felt all too uncontrollable.
Not to mention my anxiety had taken over when I did travel, whether for work or with friends.
Will my phone work?
Am I connected at all times?
Can my family get ahold of me?
Is everyone okay?
Am I okay?
Do I have insurance?
Is someone close by for my mother if I’m gone?
I had gone into this severe state of worry and couldn’t let go. Every time I got a text from a family member or my phone rang, pure panic rushed through me remembering the text from my mom that day:
“Where are you?”
There I sat, enjoying a drink at one of my favorite bars in downtown Breckenridge.
I text back confused, “I’m in Colorado, mom. You know that. What do you mean?”
“Can you call me?”
I walked outside, called, and dropped to the ground that was covered in fresh powdered snow. A beautiful scene turned into a disgusting nightmare. My dad was perfectly fine when I left. Now, I was being told he was going into emergency surgery and that I would be going straight to the hospital as soon as I landed back in Florida.
I never wanted that feeling again—the feeling of being however many miles away not being able to do a single thing. I felt selfish for being away from my family. I felt a lack of control. I felt my first fear of traveling.
The second was a bit harder. Not long after my father died, I got engaged. And to be honest, I don’t remember it. I was still in a fog, going day to day, quiet, not opening up, unsure of how I felt moment to moment. Looking back, of course I wish I had said no. But it was a comfort at the time, and I thought it’d maybe take my focus off things. It didn’t, and it just made it worse.
For months after that ring was on my finger, I still wasn’t myself. In fact, I was worse. I broke down a lot. But we traveled—me mainly hoping that the adventures would take me out of my state of mourning and would bring joy to my life again. First, a road trip around Ireland. Then a boat trip throughout Miami. Then San Francisco. Then Montreal. Then Cuba. Then NYC. The traveling brought more and more joy to me. But with each trip, the person traveling along side of me brought more and more pain.
More fights. More anger. More of his dark past being put on me. More of the loss of my father being put on him. It went from disagreements to screaming, to storming out of the house, to holes in walls. And then eventually, to bruises on me.
I thought I had met the one, so I figured once my mourning had passed, all would be good. I mean, we traveled together and that’s what I wanted, right? I had found a partner that shared my one true passion, who was hardworking and driven but wasn’t afraid to see the world. What I didn’t know was that all of that was more shallow than I thought. That the values, the beliefs, the family, the friends, the life I wanted and longed for were no longer there. The traveling was covering it all up. My fear of travel started to set in again.
Was I traveling to run away from the fear of what I had to experience at home? Was I traveling to hide the fact that I was so unhappy—hell, terrified—to be with this person? That coming home every day scared of what would happen next could be solved by distracting him and myself in a brand new city to explore?
I held on, I made a promise that day I said yes. But the love was fading away fast. I felt guilty for always wanting to explore. When he refused to go on trips longer than a week, I felt trapped because of the anger I knew would come at me if I went with anyone else and because of the jealousy I would get if I went out alone. I felt trapped because the life I wanted to live, mainly moving out of South Florida to explore something new, was no longer an option as I slowly started to sink into the life he had settled into.
I was terrified to travel once again.
I’ve come to peace with the loss of my father. And don’t get me wrong, the pain of losing him will never go away. But he is the one that sparked my love for travel. I have him and my mother to thank for taking me on all those trips to go explore. I have him to thank for getting me out on a boat to fish, to find my love of the sea and of adventure.
He wanted me to travel. He still does, because I know with each new place I discover, he’s with me there as well.
When I realized that I was the one who was choosing to be held down by fear—fear of losing someone else in my family, and the fear of the person who was supposed to be my partner—I realized only I could do something to overcome it.
As for that relationship that was killing my single greatest passion, I got over my fear of walking away and giving up. I got over my pride to stay and fix something I knew was far too broken. I stopped crying myself to sleep out of fear of him. I let go of the weight on my shoulders of canceling a wedding. I found myself again, and found what made me happy. For the first time in a long time, my soul felt at ease.
In just three short months since then, I’ve explored one new country on an entirely new continent for me and explored three brand new cities in the country I’ve called home for so long. My fear from travel is gone, and I’ve fallen in love again.
And now, it’s time to call a new place home for awhile. In three short weeks from today, I’m making the change I’ve always wanted to make but was held back from doing for so long.
I’m thrilled to announce… I’m moving to Indonesia!
If you’re interested to find out more about what I’ll be doing over there, to follow along, or to help out with my efforts, you can learn more here.