For those of you who are thinking of embarking on their first big backpacking trip, and those who have got their mitts on their first long haul flight, there can be a number of worries and trepidations running through your mind.

You’ll be jetting off far from loved ones, depending on yourself, carrying your possessions on your back like a turtle, responsible for your own safety without mum’s knowing advice and heading off into an unknown world that’s big and hairy.


It might sound full-on, but there is darn good reason why so many go off traveling and are reluctant to come back. Sure, I could spiel off 100 reasons while traveling is great (or how about 100 things backpacking has taught me?) and it could inspire you to throw up your middle finger to the fears that roly-poly in your mind late at night, but I’d rather address the fears head on. And help you minimize them to small thoughts that are easy to crush.

Here are some of the top fears we can feel when we travel – I have certainly met several of them – and how to deal with them.

1) What if I miss my flight?

This is always a terrifying thought of mine. I mean, just imagine: all packed, bright-eyed, bushy-tailed, tickets clenched in your hand, but then the train/bus is late or stuck in traffic and you arrive at the airport to see your plane leave without you! It’s a despairing and crushing scenario which (touch wood) I haven’t experienced so far.


The fear of it though means that I’ll aim to get to the airport ridiculously early to ensure that my booty gets in that seat on time. I usually find myself bored out my brain at the airport as I’m so early, but boredom sure beats adrenaline and terror and sprinting. Always make sure you plan your transport time to the airport well and don’t schedule yourself to arrive half an hour before the check in desk closes. Be early for peace of mind as it’s a holiday, not a race!

And if it happens anyways, don’t beat yourself up! The worst you can do is being angry at yourself right now – but let me tell you: it could hit anyone, even long-seasoned Travelettes. And there is always a solution.

2) What if I get lost?

Venturing out of your hostel alone to explore can be intimidating. There is the chance that you’ll get wildly lost and never find your path back to home again! But instead of going all Hansel & Gretel in your adventure (where the heck did those breadcrumbs go?) take a few precautions for some peace of mind.

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When arriving at your hostel, always make sure you grab their business card and keep it on your person. It will have the address clearly on it so if you ever do find yourself in a labyrinth, hail down a cab and just show them that card to get you back. If they don’t have a card or if you’re in a country that you can’t even imagine how to pronounce street names, ask the receptionist to write it down for you and don’t lose the scrap of paper.

Exercise your orienteering skills! Grab a local map and navigate the small streets whilst keeping an eye on the twists and turns. Mark where your hostel is and take note of certain landmarks to help you successfully explore!

Of course, Google Maps is a savior too. If you want to save on roaming charges, open your maps in WIFI and allow it to upload your location. When you’re out and about, it will provide a map that will track your movements with GPS despite not being connected to the Internet. But if you end up terribly confused, just activate your internet as it will be worth it to get yourself found.


3) What if I don’t meet nice people?

This is always a worry when traveling alone, as it could very much happen! You might find yourself in a place that just isn’t harbouring others with a similar mindset to you or those who have different agendas of their travels.

I find it frustrating if I’m hanging out with people who just want to get crunkin drunken all the time and looking for a hot body to take home. Ew. That comes hand-in-hand with extremely touristy places that focus on nightlife and not culture. I’m not saying that I don’t like to party, but there is more to life!

If you find yourself in a place that isn’t settling well with you, travel on. Look up on blogs, ask in forums (like our rad Travelettes Facebook group) and swing your bag on your back into the sunset. Or maybe even change hostel to see if you just picked one with a bad vibe!

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When (not if) you meet rad people on your travels and you’re enjoying their company, why not see if you can join them for a bit on further journeys? Everyone’s keen to meet new people, and the joy of travel is that you can adjust your route accordingly. You never know what you might discover by joining these new partners in crime!

If you don’t gel with certain people, don’t take it personally as everyone is different. Just be nice, and move on – and don’t be afraid to put yourself out there and strike up conversations with strangers! Everyone does it while on the road.

4) What if I’m homesick?

If it’s your first long haul trip, you should expect to feel pangs of homesickness, especially when you’re tired and overwhelmed. When you’re not feeling strong, these thoughts can pop up and strike hard, but use it to your advantage. It will reveal what you really appreciate in your life at home and what makes it special. Whether it’s a BFF, your mum, your bed or your luxurious bath, take note of it and be sure to appreciate it when you return.


Homesickness passes the longer you travel. You need to remember to live in the moment and remember that you’re doing something awesome. Don’t let the stunning scenery, the interesting culture and new friends pass you by because you’re hankering for a cup of tea in your home country. Your travels will come to an end and you’ll find yourself being travel sick (opposite to homesick) and yearning to be on the road again when you realize it’s all over. To read more about how to fight homesickness, check out Kathi’s article from some time ago.

5) What if I get properly sick?

Ouch. This is a toughie. Unfortunately, it will happen and it could happen anywhere in the world. It’s something that could strike you down in Europe, South America, Asia, Australia, anywhere really! Whether you’re pooping like there’s no tomorrow, spewing a never-ending stream, constipated beyond comprehension (yup, that’s happened to me) or zapped by a mystery bug, there’s only so much you can do: Rest.

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Be sure to take a basic first aid kit which contains electrolytes to hydrate you (replace those bodily fluids!), Imodium (in case that pooping is terrifying and you have a bus to catch) and painkillers. If you’re bedridden, ask a friend to get you some supplies, such as water, salted crackers and plain rice meals, and ride it out.

If you want to avoid getting sick, be sure to follow basic precautions:

– Drink bottled water: make sure the seal isn’t broken.

– Avoid dodgy looking street vendors:  don’t eat there if no locals are eating there.

– Avoid ice: could be frozen tap water.

– Avoid restaurants poorly mimicking food from your home country: eat food traditional to the culture.

– Follow your gut: if you’re feeling weak and a bit dodgy, immediately rest and take it easy. Don’t push yourself.

Read more about how to cope with being sick while you travel here.

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6) What if I lose my bank card?

Eugh this has happened to me. It wasn’t stolen but it was eaten by a Thai card machine. Luckily I was with a Thai and the bank machine was attached to a bank, so I was able to go in when the bank opened and get it back. Still, it was pretty scary.

In case your card gets swallowed by a machine or if it’s stolen, be sure to have an alternative bank card stashed somewhere. If one card goes AWOL, at least you’ll have a back-up card with some cash on it to tie you over until you get it sorted. You’ll need to ring your bank ASAP and sort out where they can send a new one. Yes, it’s a massive pain in the arse but it could happen!


Be streetwise with your stuff. Don’t keep large quantities of cash on you at one time, use the hostel/hotel safe, wear a bag that can’t be snatched easily and have a back up plan. I always carry some British pounds or US dollars with me incase shit hits the fan and I need that £20 exchanged stat!

7) What if I’m attacked?

Awful. This is always a scary thought, especially if one is traveling alone, but again you need to be streetwise. If you’re in a dodgy area and don’t feel safe, then move on. There’s no point staying somewhere that terrifies you and holds you back from exploring.

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If you want to take precautions, take some self-defence lessons before you leave so you know some basic moves to disarm and defend, and even carry some DEET mosquito spray to use as a legal pepper spray. There is the classic technique that we were taught as kids: hold a key between the base of your fingers so the spiky part sticks out when you clench your fist. This could pack more of a punch if you actually have to swing to defend yourself.

Of course, if you are mugged, your life is far more valuable than your camera or passport. Don’t try and fight for your possessions – get out the situation quickly and head to busy bars or shops for help. It is shocking if this does happen, but it occurs rarely. I’ve heard more stories about handbag snatchers than full-on mugging and attacks, so be sure to carry your bag across your body, not dangling off one shoulder.

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When I’m traveling alone, I ensure that I don’t get blind drunk. I like to have my wits about me as I’m the only one who I can depend on and I need to take care of myself. I also trust my gut. If I’ve met someone who I just can’t trust, I assume there’s good reason why I’m feeling this and politely remove myself from the situation. It’s better to spend an evening with your own company than with someone who keeps you on the edge of your seat.

1) What if I get scammed?

Unfortunately, this comes with traveling and is just something that you have to grit your teeth and bear. As a tourist in whatever country there will always be some kind of scam that you’ll fall prey to no matter how much you research and prep yourself for. Sure, it’s uber annoying, especially when you see it coming a mile off, but there’s not much point allowing it to get your blood boiling.


In developing countries, you need to take a step back and get some perspective on the situation. If you’ve been scammed into paying an extra 300 Thai Baht, quickly convert it into your home currency and you’ll see it’s not much at all (about £6). It may pay for a night in your budget hostel or two cheapo dinners, but perhaps the scammer needed that extra Baht more than you, so just let it slide and don’t dwell on it.

Learn from each time you’re scammed and it may help you from avoiding it in the future as if it happens 5 more times, than that really does add up!


As you can see from this list of common worries, it’s pumped full of WHAT IF’s. You need to avoid thinking in this way because if we all did think this way about everything, we would never leave the house! To get on a flight and take life (and the world) by its balls is the first big step and everything slots nicely into place after.

IF these things did happen despite you taking maximum precaution and being street-wise, then you have no one to blame apart from Lady Luck. That bitch. Getting shafted or robbed is just luck of the draw and one of life’s dramas, but it happens to the best of us!

All photographs by Sophie Saint (except no. 7, by Elle Croft)

Sophie Saint was one of the original travelettes, from 2009 – 2017. After fleeing the UK with ink barely dry on her graduation certificate, she traversed the world with a backpack and spent a few years living in Melbourne – one of her favourite cities in the world.

She finally returned to the UK after a few years where she now whiles time away zipping off for European escapes, crocheting and daydreaming of owning her own hostel somewhere hot to live out eternal summers. See what she’s up to over on her blog and instagram: @saintsonaplane