This is the second of a two part blog I wrote in the plane. The first blog was on the feeling of excitement.
So what’s the other side of the coin then? I’m not going to lie and say that there isn’t a lot about this trip that does really scare me. Perhaps its therapeutic to write it down, perhaps others can relate to it. There could be any number of things to write about here, but here’s 3 which are at the top of my mind.
Safety – I fully intend to complete this trip in one piece. And it’s the thought of not doing so and the consequences of that for my parents in particular which really scares me. It’s a funny thing being scared about safety when you travel. It’s somewhat irrational but still you can’t shake it. Some places just sound scary. I don’t know why, but Uzbekistan & Turkmenistan just sound problematic and I know its not really based on any statistical evidence. I try to play this fear down by looking at the numbers game and thinking logically. There should be no reason why I’d be more likely to be knocked down by a bus or caught in a terrorist attack on this trip than there is in London. The chances of being kidnapped are statistically very low in indeed, and even though the road safety of many of the countries I’m going through is worse than in Britain, statistically the chances of being involved are still very low. However, it’s the thought of the unthinkable happening, and being away from those you love which does mean that the notion of fearing for your safety is always there. I hope that because I’m aware of it, I can make sure that I’m not putting myself in any unnecessarily stupid situation.
Loneliness – I’ll be meeting people all the time when I’m away. I’ll be communicating by twitter, facebook, skype and email regularly. But fundamentally I’m scared I might be lonely. I’m leaving behind friends and family who I love in pursuit of the ‘excitement’. Although ‘dromomaniacs’ have often been accused of not prioritising their friends and family, this is not a particular trait that sits easily with me. Maybe one of the things I’ll learn is that I just fundamentally don’t like the nomadic lifestyle involved with a big trip. Previously whenever I’ve travelled extensively before I’ve had a permanent base for at least a few months – somewhere I’ve been able to call home for a while. From there I’ve been able to make proper new friends and have my parents and friends come to visit. This won’t happen this time, and yes, I am scared that I might well find that such a nomadic 7 and half months just isn’t for me. We’ll see.
Technology – This might seem like a strange one to put, but I am actually a little bit scared by technology. Specifically I’m scared of 2 things: 1) whether I have the time and skills to make the best use out of it. 2) whether the whole thing might actually wreck my trip. Let me explain.
The fact that you are reading this is because of amazing advances in technology over recent years. That I can connect with so many people and tell you how I’m feeling in almost real time is just incredible and obviously has many advantages. It’s also going to be fundamental to the success of this blog, how much it gets read, and how much money it can raise for Guy’s Trust. Further, the prospect of launching Dromomaniacs from the road would have just been completely impossible only a few years ago.
However, the thought of harnessing the power of technology scares me. Firstly, I’m scared that I won’t have the skills to use it correctly. I only got a smartphone last month and it’s been a steep learning curve. The myriad of options (or apps) for improving your photos, enhancing your battery life, translating words and sharing on social media is quite mind-boggling. Why do there have to be so many options? Take social media for one. To really promote your blog it seems that you need to be active not just on facebook, but also twitter, pinterest, Google+ instagram, Flickr, etc. etc. This goes for promoting Dromomaniacs too. I’m confident that I can produce good material, but I’m scared that I won’t be able to get it to enough people for it to achieve what I want (raise lots of money for Guys Trust and build a solid online membership base for Dromomaniacs)
I think more than not being able to use technology correctly though, the thing that really scares me is the time that it might take to get the most out of it. I spoke to a well known travel blogger about building their blog following and they recommended 4 hours a day just on promoting the blog. Actions would involve commenting on others blog posts, joining twitter conversations etc. etc. Well, I’m just not sure I actually want to do that whilst I’m travelling. I don’t want to be fiddling around on my iPhone or laptop all the time instead of actually experiencing things.
It’s not long ago that I’d have been writing letters home, sending the odd postcard and showing printed photos upon my return. I think there was actually a certain romance to that – of not being connected all the time, of having a new story to tell when you come back., of not having to worry about sharing an experience instantaneously and just enjoying it for what it is. I remember reading some advice from the acclaimed travel writer Paul Theroux who said that one of his 10 rules for travel was ‘not to take a phone’. I just hope that I can find a happy compromise between having meaningful experiences and still achieving my online goals with the blog and Dromomaniacs.
In general I think that these fears are heightened more before you start as opposed to when you are actually on the road. Thinking about anything to much as opposed to ‘doing’ always seems to be more stressful. There was a nice phrase which Michael Palin used in his forward for Dromomaniacs: ‘to see the world for yourself is to fear it less and to understand it more ‘. I’m hoping that this will prove true as I continue on this journey.