What is your biggest travel fear? The fear that creeps under your skin when you lay in your bed at night? When your tough looks and YOLO attitude have vanished. At this moment, you might actually hear the questions full of fear, asked by random people. Questions like: “Won’t you be lonely, travelling all by yourself?”. Usually followed by: “Good for you, but I couldn’t do it. I’m too afraid to travel“.
Well the truth is, I’m scared shitless to travel. Literally. My biggest travel fear? Not making it to the toilet in time and having to go when there is no place to go. That is my biggest travel fear. Basically my biggest fear when leaving the house. Why you ask? I have Crohn’s disease. I can manage the stomach ache, the flare ups and the medication induced moon face on a daily basis. You can read how I prepare for a road trip and pack my medication when flying in previous posts. But the urgent need to go to the toilet when there is none available is my biggest travel fear.
To show you, how different travel can be, for somebody with a chronic illness like Crohn’s disease, I took a survey.
Biggest travel fear survey
I posted a question with a survey on a Facebook group for female travellers. I thank all the lovely ladies who were willing to answer my questions and click the most appropriate option. I also posted the same question to a Facebook group for people with Crohn’s disease and UC. The outcome:
Biggest travel fear for Female Travellers
Many of these answers are coincidently also on Kirstin Addis’s list of top 10 common fears, on Nomadic Matt’s site.
Biggest travel fear for people with Crohn’s disease or UC
Results of the Biggest Travel Fear Survey
As you can see, over 50% of people with Crohn’s disease and UC are afraid of not getting to the toilet in time. And I am one of them. This is set off against 2% of healthy female travellers that fear of having to deal with public restrooms and 7% that are afraid of their health.
Should I be scared shitless to travel?
As this is just a very informal survey, I took it too back up my story a bit with some numbers and some fancy pie charts. But now what? Should I be scared shitless of travel? Can I do something to overcome my biggest travel fear? Here are the things I do and tell myself in order to calm my nerves.
My Tips for always finding a toilet in time
- Go as often as you can. Have a toilet break when possible, never leave a facility without using the restroom.
- When travelling to developed countries, research the toilets via the website sitorsquat.com or use one of the toilet finder apps on your smartphone.
- Request a Restroom Access Card for quicker use of toilets. You can get one from IBDlife.com
- Ask local shopkeepers where you can find a toilet and learn this question in the local language.
- Ask the staff of a restaurant or bar if you can use their facilities
- Learn how to squat in case you’re in the country side (still work in progress for me)
- Imagine the worst case scenario and imagine you’ll never see those people again.
The worst case scenario for my biggest travel fear
For me, I do not have to imagine this. I was getting back from a river rafting trip in Nepal and the bus was slowly moving against the early evening traffic of Kathmandu. I took in a lot of water during rafting and my bowls had turned into liquid. I was in excruciating pain because my insides where doing saltos. We were slowly moving along the suburbs of Kathmandu and I envisioned myself asking the bus driver to stop the bus as I had to go along the side of the road. The whole bus watching me and all the by passers being disgusted with my actions. I silently cried because of this humiliating scenario.
As the bus stopped again for a holy cow crossing the street, I noticed a taxi standing at the side of the road. I grabbed my bag, rushed towards the taxi and said to him: toilet, fast. The poor man understood the emergency and rushed behind the wheel. He drove his taxi quickly through all kinds of little streets and managed to drop me of at a fancy hotel where I could use the facilities. Just in time.
My biggest travel fear. What is yours?
When I first told the people around me I was going to travel solo across South America, I got all kinds of questions. Are you afraid to travel solo? Are you afraid to be lonely? Is it safe? I shrugged all these types of questions off. I’m not going to tell those people my biggest travel fear! But here you have it: I am afraid.
Although I use all these tactics mentioned above and I try to prepare myself as good as possible… I’m still afraid. But I’ve learned a lot. If it happens, it happens. I know I cannot help it and I will survive the humiliation and disgrace. I will just have to live what a bruised ego but if that’s the worst that can happen?
Read the story about the bad ass traveler who travel with Artritis and Crohn’s disease.
What are you afraid of? What is your biggest travel fear? I shared mine, please share yours. I know we all want to come across as fearless travel divas but maybe we don’t have to be. Share you travel anxiety in the comment section below!