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Don’t Let Fear Be The Parking Brake That Keeps You From Traveling

Last month, my parents drove their camper down from Wisconsin, and joined us for some warm, sunny weather in Arizona. It was the first time since just before I moved to college 25 years ago that we’ve spent 30 straight days together. It was interesting for all of us, I think – while we’ve always known each other, living so closely provided different insights and let us see each other in new ways.

Don't Let Fear Keep You From Traveling From the Pet Travel Experts at GoPetFriendly.comOne of the things that really struck me was how much time my mom spent being scared. She was afraid to drive in places she didn’t know … afraid that the truck might break down … afraid of getting lost … afraid even to return by a different route because it was unknown. It broke my heart to learn that, while she’s traveling, she lives in a constant state of fear.

All of this was brought to the surface when I had coffee with two separate women last week. The first had purchased a little motorhome and actually drove it up to our meeting to show me. It’s a sweet little RV – everything a person and her furry travel companions need to get out on the road. She was attending a conference about 100 miles away later in the week and had planned to take the RV, but was about 90% of the way through talking herself out of it.

The second woman had been dreaming of buying a travel trailer for herself and her two dogs. She already had the vehicle to pull it and had done a lot of research – narrowing it down to the brand she knew she wanted. Then her brother-in-law told her that she wouldn’t be able to learn to maneuver a trailer, and she’d nearly given up on the whole idea.

What is it about fear that gives it such power over us? These were both capable, smart, strong women who’ve had no trouble taking care of themselves for years, but they’d both nearly let fear be the parking brake that stopped them from living their dreams – much like my mom would do if  my dad weren’t so absolutely determined to see the country. What would it take to learn to use our fears, plan for the situations they breed in our imaginations, and then move steadily forward toward our goals?

Sometimes sharing seem to be enough. I’d met with these ladies without any idea that they were both teetering on the edge of letting their dream fall way. But as we talked over our drinks, I told them my story. When we started out, I was afraid, too. RVing may look easy now, but it wasn’t always that way. For the first 25,000 miles, I was too afraid to even drive the RV – and that was when we had the little motorhome! It took a long time to learn, experience, and build my confidence that we could do this – that no matter what popped up, we were going to be okay.

New 2013 Itasca Meridian 36M

Traveling is like anything else – it’s scary in the beginning. But the only way to learn is to get out there and do it! So, the first woman I met with took her RV to the conference, and has already reached out to let me know that the trip went great. The second woman was planning to rent a small U-haul trailer and ask her neighbor to teach her how to connect, disconnect, and tow it. They’re both moving forward, and all it took was a little bit of encouragement.

So, if you’re also teetering on the edge of letting go of something you really want, let me remind you:

  1. We all start out scared. You will learn, and as you do, your confidence will build.
  2. There are a lot of people out there already doing what you’re dreaming of – and they are no smarter than you.
  3. Use your fears as a tool. Think through what you’d do if the “catastrophe” you’re imagining actually happened, then make a plan for it, and don’t let yourself dwell on it.
  4. Remember that we’re hard-wired to imagine the worst. Make yourself also imagine the best – and realize that reality is much more likely to resemble the best case scenario.
  5. Don’t let what other people think stop you. Most of the time these comments are not coming from a genuine concern for your well-being, but a desire to dampen your enthusiasm.
  6. Surround yourself with supportive friends. Look for groups of people who will provide advice and help you get started.
  7. Setbacks will happen – don’t give up because there’s a little bump in the road.
  8. Start small and build momentum. Releasing the metaphorical parking brake is often the hardest part – once you start moving, you’ll see it’s not as hard as you thought it would be.

Looking back, I’m so grateful that Rod and I didn’t let fear be a parking brake that stopped us from traveling. Just look at all we’d have missed! And, if our story can help you reach for your dreams, nothing would make us happier.

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  • YAY!! It’s so funny, because I never know what’s going to resonate with the blog readers, but I don’t have the opportunity to have coffee with everyone … so this was my way of sharing the same information on a wider scale. I’m so glad it helped you – I can’t wait to see where you’ll go!

  • That’s an excellent stratgy, Fran – and how nice that your ability to adapt was pointed out to you in such a nice way! That had to help build your confidence that you’d be able to figure things out and succeed new situations.

  • Exactly, Cathy! For my mom and the two ladies I met last week, the fear to be conquered revolved around travel, but we all have our things. I still have to tell myself, “People no smarter than you are driving RVs bigger than this” every once in a while. New situations create anxiety, but that’s not a reason to avoid them.

  • It’s really unfortunate that our minds create these scenarios that stop us from moving forward, Pamela. Just realizing that reality is never as bad as we imagine is the first step, and often the hardest one to take. Thanks for your note!

  • I agree, Peggy – the “what if” thinking is only useful if you’re going to use it do build contingency plans – otherwise it’s draining your energy and your courage. Thinking about all the wonderful experiences that await is much more fun! =)

  • Peggy Frezon says:

    Give your mom a hug from me. I so understand her fears. Travel is difficult for me. But your tips are spot-on. We need to stop that “what if” thinking that leads us to imagine the worst, and start thinking of all the great experiences we’ll have.

  • Great post, Amy. And one that lots of people need to read.As we’re hearing the wind whip up around the boat and anticipating gusts of over 40 mph, I can confirm that nothing is as scary in real life as it is in your mind while you’re lying awake thinking about it.I can’t wait to see all the awesome things people do with your encouragement to not let fear be a brake.

  • Cathy Armato says:

    What a great post! You’re so right, fear is often the thing that keeps us from our dreams whether that dream is travel, buying your first home, or starting a business. Putting fear aside & finding courage isn’t easy, you really have to get out & try it!Love & business,Dogs Luv Us and We Luv Them

  • Fran Heslin says:

    Wonderful article. Although in the U.K. I do get a bit apprehensive when driving my car to somewhere new, but when I joined the Nursing Profession in the British Army, I was once told by our Sister Tutor, don’t be scared of new things, you seem to not like change very much, but once you get used to the new environment you settle and cope very well.That is so true of me, I am not keen on change, but when I go new places now with my Daughter and the fur babies I think of the last trip and the enjoyment, so I am more comfortable on my travels.

  • Thank You! I so needed that. If you wrote this saying “If this even helps one person I’ll be happy”…. be happy. Parking brake going off. <3

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