First Flight-A-Phobia: America’s List of Excuses for Not Traveling
By ASTAR via OffTrackPlanet
Browsing travel sites, clicking through friends’ amazing travel photos and hearing people talk about their international adventures gets all of our travel juices bubbling. Some let themselves boil over, drop their jobs, let go of cars, apartments, pets and other material bullshit and hop on the next flight out. Others…well you tell us. Why haven’t you taken that first flight?
An illness that strikes everyone at all aware of the world outside of themselves, caused by a fear of the unknown, irrational perception of impossibility and lack of nice, round cajones. Travel jealousy is the only, terribly painful, symptom. If not properly treated, it can lead to a lifetime of mediocrity, regret and mind-fucking-ness.
The pursuit of the “American Dream” is holding you back, convincing you that money matters most, that it is unsafe outside of your comfort zone, instilling fear of hostels, language barriers, creating unrealistic health risks and the perception that travel is a waste of precious, corporate-ladder climbing time. The Dream can wait (besides, it’s not so dreamy at the moment) while you take some time to discover the true meaning of really living. Let’s get the elements that lead to your phobia squared away:
Chances are your bank account, right at this moment, is hanging out in “broke as a joke” territory, dwindling down to that overdraft line for some time. Guess what? We’ve all seen the bottom of a Cup-O-Noodle, more than once. So how can you afford to travel? You see, Americans conceptualize travel as a luxury, something reserved for retirement when you can afford to stay at fancy hotels and take cruises. It doesn’t have to be that way. In fact, the less cruising you do the better. It all comes down to that first flight out of the country. So going to Australia may be out of your range (about $1400 round trip depending on the season) but there’s no reason why you can’t afford getting down to Central America (you can find flights to various regions for under $300 round trip). Even parts of Europe are relatively affordable to fly into at times. And once you’re there, holy shit do you have options. You can pilgrimage through Spain for Semana Santa (being fed and housed by nuns along the way), learn everything about tango in Buenos Aires, catch some karma at the Chao Phraya temples in Bangkok (or pay your dues at the nearby Penis Shrine) and fill in those pesky tan lines at clothing-optional Greek beaches, all for free. What can you do at home for free?
Kidnappings, murders, rapes and robberies happen, everywhere, all the time. Check out how many rapists live in your neighborhood. The truth is, America’s violent crime rate is much higher than that of other industrialized countries all over the world. Let’s crunch some numbers: According to FBI statistics (2008), the U.S. is at about five homicides per 100K people. Places like Ireland, Germany, the Netherlands and Norway are at about one. Sure, if you go to war territories in the Middle East or stand around aimlessly in the border towns of Mexico, shit will go down. But people live relatively peacefully around the world and while it is possible you may get your iPod stolen if you flaunt it, who cares? Cure your fear with knowledge and read our safety guide.
Your biggest travel health concern is diarrhea. You CAN have a fatal case of the shits if you don’t properly treat it but c’mon, diarrhea is something we’ve all had some experience with. The true fear here lies in the crap our media drills into our heads about foreign bird viruses and poisonous animals crawling into our ears at night. You won’t get AIDS, malaria or cholera the moment you step on African soil or instant food-poisoning from trying a new cuisine abroad. If you get the flu, break your arm, suffer a heat stroke or just feel plain shitty, every country has a hospital, clinic or pharmacy that will take care of you. Read our Health Guide online to work out your international germaphobia.
Your parents may think that traveling is a huge waste of time, all about getting drunk and partying (and some of it should be), but it has real value that your lame day to day at home just can’t match. Let’s see: Add up your morning commute, time hanging out on Facebook chatting with people about how much you hate your job/school, prolonged lunch breaks and those days you’re just too bored with life to get out of bed. What’s that equal? A whole bunch of empty time. Every minute of travel is a change, an opportunity to learn something new, at the very least, it makes you feel alive. You can really milk the value of travel by volunteering or studying abroad (adding value to your resume and college applications). Plus, if you’re a hedonist, you can volunteer in Greece and never even have to leave the beach.
Sounds like a bunch of dirty, disease-spreading halfway houses, inhabited by crackheads and Asian women with infected eyeballs? Despite what America tells you, hostels are generally safe and fun budget accommodations around the world that expose you to fellow travelers where you can exchange travel stories, cook meals and, if you get sneaky, have the sexytime. Screw mints on your pillow; make friends for life instead.
Need we remind you that we all had to learn to speak at some point. Before then? Well, there were a lot of hand gestures and noises to get the point across. When you travel to places where you don’t speak the language, you can resort back to your baby body language and get by just fine. Additionally, speaking only English means that a good portion of the world will at least somewhat understand you. If you want to stay clear of the “I don’t speak your language” douchebag territory completely, you can tutor English to local college students in exchange for help with their native language or take a few formal courses while you’re there.
So much is yours for the taking if you just get over that first flight hurdle. Get a backpack, book a flight, order a drink and stop being a pussy; there’s no such thing as first flight-a-phobia anyway.