Nomadic Lifestyle Tips

Nomad Notes: Pushing Past The Fear

You’re asking and I’m answering! In a new series called Nomad Notes, I’m addressing your most frequently asked questions on nomadic life so you too can figure out how to realize your dream.

Consider these bite-sized blogs calorie-free treats of travel knowledge. =)

Pushing Past The Fear to Adventures Unknown

I get e-mails all the time asking me how I do it. How do I continue to travel to all these new and scary places? How do I get over the fear of the unknown (or potentially the fear of the known) in order to have these experiences? Don’t I get scared? How do I conquer my fear and just do it anyway?


The answer’s simple…

I don’t.

Most of the time I travel, I’m terrified. In fact, I tend to cry at least once a trip (if not once a week). If you were familiar with my psychological state during my travels you may in fact be convinced I am an emotional wreck.

It’s not pretty. Especially when there’s no make-up or sleep involved.

I am constantly questioning what I’m doing and why I’m doing it. There are very few things I ever do that don’t scare the bejesus out of me.

Traveling solo is hard. And going to unknown places and doing unfamiliar things is scary.

But holy crap, do I feel awesome after I’ve done it.


I don’t consider myself an incredibly brave person OR incredibly self-reliant. I love people, love the familiar, and love having my security blanket. So traveling around the world is terrifying.

But it’s also incredibly gratifying.

Lynsey Dyer, an extreme skier, gave a Tedx Talk on what she loves most about skiing off the side of mountains.

Her takeaway? “Sometimes the best part is when it’s over.”

I KNOW. Shocked me too. But it’s totally true.

After she’s conquered the cliffs she can count her limbs, realize that everything’s okay, and look back on her adventure with thrill. But up until then she’s just going through the motions and praying she doesn’t die.

This is kind of my approach to traveling. I tend to take a lot of photos and try to find the meaning in every challenging and fear-inducing moment (much like a Seventh Heaven episode). But sometimes it just doesn’t wrap up like that. So sometimes I cry and am afraid.

I’m not sure who I’m going to meet. I’m constantly having to trust myself to know my limits. Sometimes I hate it. But I still do it. And then sometimes I get to do cool things like feed kangaroos and life doesn’t seem so scary.

kanga feeding

I have been told by an awesome reader that bravery isn’t the absence of fear; it’s moving forward because you have a purpose greater than fear. So let’s consider travel just that: a purpose and adventure that’s worth fighting for.

AND as an ADDED bonus, after each experience, hardship, or adventure, I realize that I’m capable of handling more than I thought. I’m no longer just a girl from Las Vegas with no ‘real world’ experience. I know I can climb up a volcano and then board down it. I can handle getting pummeled by the waves. I have bonded with people who don’t speak my language and stared down lions.

Memorable Photo

But it all started by me accepting my fear. And then doing what I wanted to in spite of it.

So do what frightens you. And don’t think you’re doing it wrong just because all you’re trying to do is get through it.

Have the adventure and then decide how you feel about it. Forgive yourself for the breakdowns and panic attacks and moments you don’t enjoy. Because in the end, these things are just a part of life, regardless of where you are or what you’re doing.

Besides, the way I see it, if you’re going to experience these highs-and-lows… Why not do it with a view?


Have a question on nomadic life or professional adventuring? Leave it in a comment below! Let’s discuss. =) 


  • Reply


    July 26, 2013

    Dear Nomad Grad,

    I am sure you get asked this question all the time, but how do you afford these adventures? I don’t want to be a travel writer, but I do want to travel. How does one make that happen?

    Your reader and friend in LA,

  • Reply


    July 26, 2013

    I can completely relate :)
    I’m the biggest scaredy-pants out there, but doing it (traveling/expating alone) anyway has taught me to allow myself to have the confidence to do whatever it is that I want.
    … except for that one time that I was scared of apartment hunting (I know! I still haven’t done it!) for my upcoming move and booked a month-long trip to Europe instead to buy time. I mean, that totally never happened… *side glance*

    • Reply


      August 1, 2013

      Hahahaha! Would you believe that apartment hunting is a fear of mine too?

      Do you think we have avoidance issues? I mean, do you need a travel buddy? ;)

  • Reply


    July 28, 2013

    Adventuring solo definitely cranks it up a notch or two. I want to do some adventures but to do so will mean leaving the wife alone for a time. I always felt it was selfish to consider them. I think I’ll talk to her about it.

    Thanks. :)

    • Reply


      August 1, 2013

      I don’t have much experience in the relationship department with solo travel, but I have met a lot of couples that do it. What tends to be a good compromise is if you both go to different locations at the same time. That way, you can do what you want and have fun and have a TON to tell each other when you get back together. =)

  • Reply


    July 29, 2013

    Great new series! I love your blog, I can’t wait to see what people ask. I’m also glad to know that it’s not uncommon for other fearless/not fearless traveler-adventurers to break down on magical trips. I took a solo trip to St Petersburg last week and at one point I was in the Vitebsky Railway Station trying to find a train to Pushkin/Tsarskoe Selo and I came close enough to breaking down in tears in the middle of that glorious nouveau building out of sheer helplessness at not understanding what to the Russian ticket people seemed like clear directions. (They were NOT clear but) what makes me break down like this is frustration and that feeling that I’M the problem and I don’t understand why.

    My question for you is how do you handle language barriers (books or apps?) and the occasional temptation to shop vs pushy vendors? I don’t want to be rude but I really end up having to be to get the distance I need.

    • Reply


      August 1, 2013

      Thank you so much, Andrea! I am so happy to hear you love my blog!

      And that certainly sounds like a frustrating situation. I have had a few language barrier issues myself (particularly in Austria) and know how difficult it can be.

      While I will plan on doing a full explanation in a future Nomad Notes post, the first thing I try to do is learn a few choice sayings before I leave. But I always try to make friends with (and keep around) someone who is familiar with the language. I’ve been lucky to have that most of the time. However, if all else fails, it’s important to remember that you’re on a journey and these things WILL happen. And just to think about how you will tell this story to your friends (and bloggers :) and be able to laugh about it later. =)

      With pushy vendors, I learn my choice sayings to say, ‘No’ and take a lot of deep breaths. I try to put myself in their shoes and see how they view tourists. I try to remember that they are only doing what they know and not try to take it too personally. But I don’t do much shopping abroad for that reason.

  • Reply


    August 12, 2013

    Great idea to share your experiences for other people who travel or want to travel, especially solo and/or for long periods of time. I have a lot of fear, too, so it’s good to know that others deal with it, too.

    • Reply


      August 13, 2013

      Thanks so much, Jenna! I feel like everyone shares the good moments but tends to keep their lows to themselves. Since we all go through it, I feel we should talk about it! It’s nice to know there are others out there who feel the same. =)

  • Reply


    August 15, 2013

    great story. i don’t usually travel alone any more but did do it a bit a while back. excitement and fear are similar emotions for me…i was always far more exhilarated by the unknown in the end.

    • Reply


      August 17, 2013

      Thanks so much, Lola!

      And thank you for sharing. I always love hearing what emotions other travelers experience. And I totally agree. =)

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About Me

About Me

Hey fellow adventurers, my name is Hilary! After being rejected from grad school, I took off on a solo journey around the world. Now I constantly challenge myself to take on new experiences. This blog documents my journeys from Europe to Fiji, swimming with sharks and living with tribes, to becoming an accidental beauty queen and working for one of the top national media outlets. If you like what you're reading, please subscribe! Here's to the next great adventure!

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