Traveling Alone: Taking the Leap

I'm just back from another round of tours and a rip-roaring good time in Europe. I've been going through my email and wanted to share a message about fear and traveling alone from a reader.I've written occasionally about debunking travel myths and countering travel fear. The world is never perfectly safe, but my personal feeling is that it's not nearly as scary as the media makes you think. Letting fear keep you away from realizing your travel dreams breaks my heart. This beautiful world is full of surprise and delight, I want you to see it too, to feel the things I've felt.It's easy for a professional traveler--a tall, scary, street-smart woman--to tell you that you should not worry. It might be easy to blow off my advice because I'm just not you, and I understand that. Because of that, I want to share the experience of a reader, possibly like yourself, who did take the leap.This message left me crying in my cappuccino. I often think I write just to entertain my cat, and it was so moving to know that my ramblings have made an impact on someone. I hope she will inspire you as she did me.

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Hi Sarah, hope you're well! I just wanted to thank you for your article about travelling to Europe during this time of terrorism. It helped me so much!I had a trip scheduled to The Netherlands and Belgium. As a big consumer of news, I was getting more afraid to go, especially since I was traveling alone. I travel alone quite often, but the thought of being affected by terrorism and being alone, really frightened me.I almost cancelled my trip, but then saw your post. It reminded me that Europe is a big place and the chances of something happening were quite small. Your words also confirmed for me that my love and "need" for exploration needed to be prioritized over my fear of the "what if".Next Friday I will have a surgical biopsy for possible endometrial cancer. This trip was important to me as a reminder that living life is important because you never know what the future holds.Long story short, I left San Diego for that trip to Amsterdam and fell in love! As I explored Rotterdam, took a cycling trip through the polderlands and windmills of Kinderdijk, visited small van Gogh villages, I took every kind of public transportation known to the Dutch and did just fine. Going to Bruges, as a precaution, I made four train changes to avoid Brussels, which I felt was a smart and prudent thing to do, to ease my anxiety. The changes were a lot, but I knew I was making the wisest choices to still continue on my journey.I enjoyed my short stay in Belgium, in and out, no problems. Now, with some jet lag, I am up early ready to head back to work.I am so grateful that I had this two-week experience, especially not knowing what my future health will look like. Thank you for the support, the nudge to have faith and take the chance. I was as safe as I could be, and I had a beautiful and fulfilling life experience.I thought about your words a lot, and I really wanted to thank you, personally. Safe travels to you! Enjoy, enjoy!

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The moral of the story....go. Go now. Traveling alone is just fine. Non si sa mai. We never know. Go see, feel, taste, touch and be a part of this world before it's too late.Many thanks to this reader and all the other readers who write and inspire me to keep up this crazy project. It's an honor, and the feelings are mutual.