Resolved Addressing your fears before traveling (1 Viewer)

Matt Derrick

Semi-retired traveler
Staff member
Aug 4, 2006
Austin, TX
Hey folks, I'm writing a brief section for my book about facing some of the fears people have before they go traveling for the first time. I'm curious, for those of you that haven't traveled before, what are your biggest fears? For those that have traveled, what were your biggest fears and how did you conquer them?

lastly, does anyone have any advice for people that are traveling for the first time and are afraid to do it (for whatever reason)?

I could definitely use the kick-start for this section of the book, so thanks in advance!
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I deleted myself
My biggest fears were being far away and having no way to get anywhere quickly if there was an emergency in my hometown. Think death in the family or another crisis. I wasn't really worried about my own well being but I was and still am worried that something will happen while I'm gone and I can't do anything from a few states away or across the country or wherever. Like if my dog got hurt or something while I was gone it would crush me, knowing it will be a while before I can get home is scary as fuck to me. This fear of mine won't go away I reckon. I just try to not think about it too much and make sure I keep in contact with friends and family. Tell everyone I love them before I head out. every once in a while I'll send a shirt home that has my smell so my pooch can sleep with it.

As far as advice? Realize that this shit isn't nearly as hard as you think it is. If you really wanna do it then you'll Learn to tackle whatever comes your way so pack a bag and fucking go. You don't have to go balls to the wall at first. I took 2 separate 2 week trips when I still had a place, then I got fired and the lease was up so I hit the road "for real". I had no money but I had my gear and by then I knew I could do it. If you think you can't do it then I guess you're right lol.


May 24, 2016
Starting out, my fears were all camp-based: spot location, law enforcement evasion, nighttime attack (whether it be animal or human). A year on, finding a spot still fills me with a fair measure of anxiety (especially as the days get shorter); but those other fears have not come to bear any fruit: camping smartly and steathily has drastically lowered the probability of being detected by law enforcement; nocturnal beasts have been kept at bay through a combination of sound, light, and piss; and the odd human visitor has thus far proven harmless.

Hillbilly Castro

Aug 22, 2011
Westernville, NY
I think sleeping was my biggest fear starting out. Especially in urban areas. Still not totally over it to be honest! Was raised to hate the city and to be scared of it, and that's tough to overcome. What helps is to travel armed, not carry anything of any real value, and to embrace the "no fucks given" element of punk culture hahaha. And to use modes of transportation that allow you to get out of the city quick, like bikes!

I also worry about little things that are kinda silly. Accidentally ingesting drugs, getting chased by dogs in rural places, having a disease that I don't know about because I'm too poor to see a doctor, impregnating someone who has no way to contact me again, accidentally becoming an alcoholic, getting detained in sketchy foreign borders. But all that shit I just sorta shrug off like, "meh, that's life. Be careful and assess risks as you go!"
Mar 11, 2016
Hebron, Ohio
Being killed.. 3 weeks into hitching did get a gun pulled on us. But once you get away from West Virginia your fears of that go away.. Most people we encountered were good, and you have to realize there's a chance in everything.. You can die on your way to work or just standing in line at a McDonald's, such a fear shouldn't stop you from chasing a dream or freedom.

Now my main fear is when the van might break down but even that doesn't control my life or keep me up at night.
Aug 17, 2016
There's security, there's a broader fear of the 'unknown', but mainly for me, it's my grandparents, they're still going but I don't know for how long. I'd hate for something to happen to them and me be uncontactable in the arse end of India with no funds to get home to see them or look after them.

That comes down to partly, that there's never going to be a 'right time', there will always be something or a few things holding you back I suppose and if you wait your whole life for the right time then you may never go. I don't know if that's a fear, a factor or just a reality?


Oct 24, 2015
Exeter, United Kingdom
like @wanderlovejosh I used to have anxiety about my vehicle breaking down in some remote location in Southern Europe : however now I have broken down a few times I realise that it's never as bad as you think it will be..... it always gets sorted - many people are happy to help and when you fix it yourself the fear starts to diminish - gradually you develop the skills and self reliance that enables you to stop worrying....

another fear was 'am I sleeping in a vulnerable place tonight ?' - even reasoning with myself that there was little to worry about didn't often help, so like many people I'd drink some alcohol and the anxiety would evaporate ! not the best solution but I'm a very light sleeper and frequently wake at the slightest sound... but over the years after many uneventful nights I rest easy now - I don't watch serial killer movies when I'm parked in the middle of nowhere though !

So to me, conquering any fears will probably take time for most people - we need the positive reinforcement that says 'I did this thing and I am still OK' ...

It's good that you're discussing these issues Matt - many 'travellers' put up a front that they're so tough they have no fears but often this is only due to the amount of drugs and alcohol they consume - strip this 'armour' away and reality bites hard - by dealing with fears and anxiety we grow as a person...

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plastic wingnut in a microwave
Sep 23, 2009
folks who know me have my #.
This may wind up to be TLDR, but clonked everything out the past couple of nights..

Matt, I've been thinking of this since you first know, there are always the basic fears..

the next meal, cold, a safe sleep, money, wild animals, shitty people, disease, accident, the next breakdown, cops, theft, betrayal of trust, etc. etc., etc..

in fact, the more you travel, the longer the fucking list gets..

i would propose, however, that it isn't fear which makes us *not* travel, but it is fear its very fucking self, which is why we do.

it is always the case that striking out on one's own holds a fear which is only allayed to a proportional degree of ones resources..
if yer 17 & have a $150,000 trust fund..
it's another thing if you're 17 & all you have is your coat & $50, as you start to hitch from eastern NY to the west coast..

the limits of resources are the main *tangible* concern, but there are things many of us are much more afraid of that *make* us travel..,

i fear.. i fear to the exit of my anus, & just a bit beyond, that i would desire survival so much that i would box myself up to the extent that i must cut myself off from existence, merely to keep the fears of my body at bay..

i fear that i might choose a way which grants me a greater certainty of my condition comfort, and even more so, of greater comfort, but which requires of me a more incomplete existence..

i fear, right to the tip of my piss, being a compliant mechanism in this civilization, rather than a resistive one..

i fear discomfort enough that i work to minimize it within reason, but i do not think the amount of comfort i desire can be intrinsically detrimental to my place in life, were i able to choose that comfort without the participation forced upon me within the machinery in which i am encaged.

i fear being more of a prisoner than i already am.

and so i say that for many of us, fear is what forces us to travel..

i fear not knowing trees..

i fear the loss of desert skies..

i fear the loss of rain in winter, demanding a greyness of profundity equal to any joy of blue..

i am not so hard core as some, though perhaps i should be..

i enjoy some things civilized, dearly, and i think without them my existence would be lessened, also, since they *can* be had without the absolute destruction which our economics methods demand for their creation..

how many machine augmented luxuries do we need, really?

in any case, think, too, that some might travel because of a fear of emptiness..
this is much of what goads me over the next hill, or is the insistent need to fill my perception with not merely beauty, but with meaning..

every moment of freedom means something.
every moment of slavery is pointless.

this does not mean responsibility is enslavement, but it does mean we are responsible for what we choose.

because of that it follows that traveling is not easy, and that is not only a thing we learn to fear, it is also, often enough, a disillusionment..

until we find out how terrifying the alternative is..

it may be that many of us travel not as a choice we would have chosen, since it was given to us without choice, & it is true too, that those whom are cast into homelessness are those least prepared, and for whom fear is not even a derivative of choice, but is a consequence of fleeing or being discarded..

& *those* fuckers, when they learn that traveling is what they *would* have done, had they been *given* the choice, are the hardest fuckers of all, because they have had to deal with being born into the world with terrors that make traveling seem a piece of ease..

a traveler with an honor beyond self-preservation, who shares their meager little, protects the belongings of others, and does their part to try and feed or care for those in need, is as strong and valorous as any honorable soldier.

How many travelers are at Standing Rock, for instance?

I am not saying all travelers need be there, but i am saying that if you look at proportion, the degree of courage becomes clear.

And that is the counterpoint, of course, to how we begin.

it is an ancient fucking truth..
courage is not the absence of fear, but the overcoming of it.

we may not sweat blood, but we often enough bleed it, after all is said & done, and we would do so again, if the choice were between between what we knew was a painfull freedom and what we knew was a safer, yet more dull capitulation.

& so, in the end, fear becomes translated into a pain in the ass, or a nuisance, rather than some kind of fictional abstraction.

much of that may depend upon having a bit of discretion..
i have never been so ballsy as to, say, piss on a cop's shoes, and am always meek, coming at first from an attitude of pity towards authority, because authority, in many, many ways, is usually indicative of stupidity or illness.

not always, but about 97% of the time..

obedience, however, when justified, is about trust & hope..

& frankly?

when i finally decide to disobey?
i want to go down eradicating as many assholes as i can possibly justify, existentially.

Nazis need to be killed.

stupid people need pity.

i, for one, am not brave enough to make the distinction, so for better or for worse, i continue to live...

i know for certain i have no mercy towards those whom do not deserve it..
& i am, in fact, first and foremost of those all, though i do repent of anything i ever claimed i knew enough of, but never actually understood that might make me hate another..

& i am glad i have something i should fear, rather than my sense of mercy, because all that would be is a statement of personal satisfaction..

and so i travel, in part i think, with a terror of what we actually are vs. what we try to be..

for cowards, honesty is a horrific breath to have to breath..

and i fear *it*, most of all..


i do not know if i am decomposing, or becoming flippant, to some extent, but i wonder if there is a contrast which might strike at the heart of the difference between what is discovered and what is, perhaps, just accepted..

although there is great joy in it, and when it goeth well, is surely enjoyable, i have heard it said that the height of lesson we should take is to "just enjoy life, and take from it as much we can experience.."

& i will say, here, that that has always filled me with a kind of dread, and as happy and cute and intentional disingenuous as it is, i have never seen it bear good fruit, when it is held to as a principle of fulfillment..

a bit of naivety can be forgiven.. or even declared a fundamental necessity.. something which though tempered, never actually disappears..

but to declare enjoyment is the ends of what life is for, seems only to be a statement of fear of responsibility..

i have seen so much damage result from people using denial as an instrument of convenience, then labeling it a principle of truth and using it to absolve themselves from what they would truly know if they were to admit that sometimes being good for others can require brutal pain...

& that, also, may be a great fear and a great cowardice...

and at least when we travel, there are fewer opportunities for us to make excuses between what we are & what we do..

I may miss it, in its entirety, but if it is that existence actually operates actually merely as a matter of how we approach it with our perceptions, i think that to be so shallow a proposition it is one of those things my ego would willingly and contrarily otherwise believe, as an actual choice against whatever truth there is to it.

it may be fitting, therefore, that i am damned to its consequences, but i would propose that rather than "just enjoying life" the real purpose of travel is closer to, say, the exploration of mortality..

i am not talking about distractions, or the differences between spacetimes or the mechanisms of perceptions or metaphysics..

i want to know
what we will die for,

& i want to know why.

i want to know what we would love so much that we would deny ourselves freedom, that it might live,

or that we know would be so important to us
that as precious & joyfull as it might be
we see as a poison to what we know we *must* be,

& therefore deny ourselves what we might love,
because we are so selfish
we love ourselves most..

& so maybe traveling truly *is* selfish, with fear being merely rooted in need, so that everything they say & think about us
is true, & that we have no courage, but answer instead only to our desires..

I cannot think, though, that any other than fools or cowards would call our explorations a useless thing, even if there is a damnation that comes with believing it is something more than just orgasm, or the next good show, or the cool place to be, or the best music yet, or even the most color that sunset has ever yielded to ocean..

when the stars speak, i want the Stars..
when Ocean tells me what does not kill me,
i want Her...

when i taste Wind,
i want Wind..

i want to know i am *like* them, and not merely 'experiencing' them..

i do not want to chase them, or for them to be accidental..

i want to be what i travel..

without it, there is incompleteness, and that is a fear that maybe.. just maybe.. most of us poor bastards are actually, actually born with..


Aug 28, 2016
When I first started camping wild on the south downs when I was 16, I was worried about mad roaming nutters in the wilderness attacking me in my tent. On one wet and windy night I realised that the only nutter out here is me and anyone out there attacking me should be as afraid of me as I was of them.
Course it never happened so later in life as I wandered through city and countryside inside park bushes, on rounderbouts in hills and mountains, it never really bothered me.


Mar 13, 2015
On the road
I've been traveling almost 2 years and I've learned which things are worth worrying about and which aren't. My biggest fear at first was money, how to pay for gas, pay for food, pay for dog food..etc. But I learned being a female alone I don't have to worry about any of those things, and I usually end up with way more than I need and giving most of it away. Also now I have food stamps so I never ever have to worry about food. Then, shelter- my van is a '76 so things could go wrong easily and then I'd be fucked. This is something I worry about a lot and am trying to save up money to fix things before it's too late. Food and shelter are my biggest priorities and as long as I can keep those two things good I don't worry about a lot of other stuff. Currently though I'm struggling with trying to not become an alcoholic, and the struggle is real. It's hard for me to be social without drinking, also I'm Irish and love booze so I just have to be careful to not day drink, and take breaks when my body says too. If you're not dumb, overtrusting, and pay attention to your surroundings you really shouldn't have too many problems. I think the problem with a lot of travelers is they don't give a shit about themselves or others, but still expect people to take care of them. That's not how life works, be a fucking adult and take care of your own shit. Don't leave your shit for other people to watch, feed your own dog, keep an eye on your dog, don't get drunk and be aggro and threaten to stab people, don't get butthurt when people don't share their tobacco and booze that THEY worked to get. It's not that hard. Bum up and be responsible for yourself.


Aug 3, 2013
Albion, NY
I felt afraid of my environment. That someone might be out to get me and do harm to me while I slept. I felt a fear of getting stuck somewhere with no way out, no one to help me. I held a fear of what friends/family I might lose because of my life choices to travel on the cheap and camp outside. Safety definitely played its part in keeping me settled in one place, but my fears delve deeper than that. Honestly, security was a big part of it in the beginning. Not having steady work all the time, steady income, having most of America look down on me because I looked different and wore a backpack. Another big one was comfortability, fear of getting caught in unfavorable weather, flash floods, blizzards, etc. All of this raced through me before I hit the road. Hope that helps a bit Matt.
Dec 30, 2016
Amherst Nova Scotia
this might sound stupid, but sometimes when I travel, i'm scared I will enjoy it too much and not want to go home to my family and responsibilities. I have always gone home after my travels, but sometimes the road calls me very hard......


May 19, 2017
my biggest fear was what would happen to me if i never hit the road at all. im an introvert, im pretty shy, and i face my own issues but forcing that first step helped me to overcome it. i always face the same crap mentally but i keep in mind that you can only really take one step at a time. i also took the saying "slow and steady wins the race." to heart my entire life. think it through. some have already mentioned thats its an easy life. only a part timer myself i can still see where the struggles really are and where i just psych myself out.


May 19, 2017
did anyone else have any fears that don't involve personal safety?
I fear less of my safety and more of keeping motivation and my drive when in the middle of nowhere states away from comfort. losing my will in society is one thing but losing it when stranded is another.


Aug 2, 2017
Western Maine
Packs of feral dogs scare me, and cops with dogs, that also scares me. But really there is danger everywhere. Maybe mentioning that there seems to be more a fear of doing than not doing. But think if you've lived your whole life never taking a risk can you really say you've lived a full life? Read my buddy LIam's book: Take Courage America. It's all about the danger of letting fear influence your important decisions and how Courage is like a muscle, the more you work it, the stronger it gets.


Mastering the Art of Houselessness
Staff member
Top Poster of the Month
Dec 12, 2014
Northern Arizona
Packs of feral dogs scare me
Dude, where you at you need to worry about that? Down Under, or the Rez? $

Man, fears..uh...first was personal safety. That I overcame by learning self defense and carrying a weapon.

Second was getting a criminal record. That is still one of my largest concerns, but I'm careful, and hnestly, start in to give less and less of a shit as time goes on. But shit I do have an seasonal job that a have to play nice to keep.

Third, not being able to find a place to camp/sleep. Expecially when it's raining, and the sun is going down....and it's 35 degrees. Fuck, how do you overcome that? I guess try not to roll into places you don't know either right before, or during night. Also, do your research via Google maps on new areas

Next would be, and I didn't understand this until after I had traveled, is how my "reputation" would be impacted in the "real world". People fucking look at you funny when you explain a bad ass travel story to them and then the go, "so wait, you were HOMELESS, and sleeping ILLEGALLY, TRESSPASSING, didn't take a shower for a week, didn't have a dollar to your name, and just got drunk every day? What a loser"

To that, I have just learned to say, "Fuck you, take your classism and shove it"

Food stamps and kitchens cured my fear of starving.

Shelters and temp jobs cured my fear of freezing to death.

Now. Now I have fears I would've never though about originally. Such as

"what happens when that Steelie finally catches up with me? I don't have insurance for medical bills"

"What happens when the road consumes me, and I no longer fit into any part of society, or can no longer hold a job?"

"Why the fuck do I keep getting OLDER?! Just chill the fuck out Father Time, and leave me alone!"

"Will I ever be compatible with a Female who accepts my way of life? Cause it sure as fuck hasn't happened so far"

I also am just getting into hopping freight, and that brings about a few other fears that I will not get into, lest being labeled as a pussy ::bag::

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Fuck yeah, Tucson. Hello, 18 rack of pabst.
Barreling through the Arizona desert on an intermodal freight train, eating peanut butter with a fork. The only thing that could improve this situation would be chunky peanut butter. Other than that I have no complaints and life's pretty good.
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Yeah not being on the road right now is kind of a bummer, but actually having the space for a kit again is really getting that serotonin goin'

Holy shit I missed playing drums
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Still broke as a joke in Morocco, but got a job as a director of a school, so hopefully that real adult money will start rollin in soon. There's a rainbow gathering in the desert at the end of next month. I want to go, but I need to start working and this school opens next month.

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