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The Courage to Travel

Updated: Nov 14, 2023

I wasn't born with it, and it didn't come all at once.

Turquoise ocean and mountains in Muscat Oman
Muscat, Oman

One thing I get asked a lot when talking about my travel plans is, “Aren’t you scared to travel alone?” Nowadays, my answer is usually an emphatic “no”. My courage to travel abroad solo, and heck, the courage to do all the crazy ideas I have in my head, comes from 3 simple things.

1- My faith in God.

2- Past experience.

3- My experiences with God.

girl traveling abroad with backpack
Heading off for my round-the-world trip in 2015

Faith:

I was not born a spontaneous, courageous, globetrotting woman- and I didn’t become one overnight. I’ve had my doubts and fears, especially of the unknown, just like everyone else. I’ve found myself in some sketchy situations; lonely, lost, sad, scared, frustrated, and worn out. But I’ve been able to get through those times, most notably, due to my faith in God. It is in these times that I cry out to Him and petition Him through prayer, over and over again like a broken record. When I feel that I can do no more, I give up my own efforts to become utterly reliant on HIM. I invite Jesus into my deepest emotions and fears, and He is always meeting me there, in that moment. I’ve never felt abandoned or truly alone in the world, because I know that God is not just watching over me, but an active part of my situation. Now when I set off on a new adventure, I ask God into every aspect of the trip. For safety, for travel mercies, for meeting the right people, not getting sick, absolutely everything I can think of- starting at the beginning. I pray about my Uber to the airport, my flights, taxis, buses, hostels, and so forth. I want God in EVERYTHING. When you include God in your travel plans, you can never be alone.


Past experiences:

Traveling is a bit of a skill- if you practice it a lot, you can get better at, and more comfortable with it. The first time you go somewhere, you freak out about all of the details. For example, I used to always worry about how to get to my hotel from the airport. The thoughts of navigating public transport, finding a safe taxi, not falling victim to scams, and dealing with a language barrier can be downright DAUNTING. But I’ve come to find that it’s rarely as difficult in real life as our imaginations make it out to be. Now I know to not to ruminate on the minutiae of every piece of the puzzle. I do a bit of research, and then decide to just show up and figure it out when I get there. My past experiences have laid the groundwork for my current practices, and I know that things usually end up okay (see faith section above). I also now know what I am capable of, because I have done it. And of course, I’ve learned from less than ideal situations, and apply those principles to the next trip. Such as- I’m cool with taking trains in India, but I will never again opt for the cheap and sketchy looking bus in order to save a couple bucks. And along those lines, I probably won’t take the $4 hotel room again either. Experience is valuable teacher.


Experiences with God:

I cannot separate God from the travel experience. He is WITH me, everywhere; and I wholeheartedly rely on that fact. He created this amazing world with such a variety of people, cultures, and natural beauty, and I think He wants us to explore it. As I mentioned earlier, I’ve felt all kinds of fear and insecurity when traveling- but over and over again, God comes through for me. The flights I didn’t think I was going to make; the dangerous bus rides, the times I just needed someone-or the right person- to talk to. I know from my experiences with God that He wants to be a part of it all, and that bringing God into the everyday enhances the travel experience. I distinctly remember when I booked a solo trip to Guatemala last year; it was last minute, I was a bit concerned about the coordination of flights with the buses, safety, and just the general details of how things would all work out. But I shut my laptop lid down, decided to stop worrying, and said  “Well, it’s just me and you Lord, and we’re on this adventure- together.” So as I become a more seasoned traveler through my experiences, I also become a more steadfast Christian. He literally helps me climb mountains. There is no alone in this world when you are with Christ.


Psalm 121

A song of ascents.

I lift up my eyes to the mountains—

   where does my help come from?

My help comes from the Lord,

   the Maker of heaven and earth.

He will not let your foot slip—

   he who watches over you will not slumber;

indeed, he who watches over Israel

   will neither slumber nor sleep.

The Lord watches over you—

   the Lord is your shade at your right hand;

the sun will not harm you by day,

   nor the moon by night.

The Lord will keep you from all harm—

   he will watch over your life;

the Lord will watch over your coming and going

   both now and forevermore.


Put it all together and you get: Courage to travel, increased faith

God uses travel and the fears and frustrations we experience in it, to grow our faith and learn more about Him. For more faith lessons learned abroad, check this post out.

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