Is Travel Risky?

I have a secret:

I’m not really a very brave person. At least I don’t think so.

If you travel a lot, especially alone, you hear the phrase “you’re so brave” so often the words lose all meaning. It comes from non-travelers mostly, who are under the impression that traveling especially for an extended period of time takes some sort of intense inner resources (or foolishness) that normal people don’t possess.  But is travel risky?

Run along the Edges - Is Travel Risky?
photo credit: h.koppdelaney

I don’t know though, I don’t feel like a particularly brave person. I’m scared of a lot of pretty stupid things: answering the phone for example, or squirrels (hey, don’t judge me). I’m not scared of traveling the world though because I don’t think it’s a particularly dangerous activity.

On the one hand, the risks of traveling abroad are greatly exaggerated. Thanks to ridiculous movies like Taken and Hostel, where young travelers meet grisly fates simply for having the audacity to visit Europe, there is this idea that by leaving the country you’re taking your life into your own hands. Couple that with news reports of violence around the world, and it’s not surprising people think traveling abroad is a dangerous activity.

On the other hand, it’s true that when you travel you do take on a certain amount of risk. You do any time you step outside your front door and engage with the world. When you travel you are moving around a lot, trying new things like zip-lining and street food. When you put yourself out there, there is always the risk of something going wrong. Which is of course why all good travelers try to mitigate that risk by buying backpackers insurance, being aware of their surroundings and storing their belongings safely.  So is travel risky?  Yes and no.

Ziplinning through the Trees - Is Travel Risky?

There is a difference between good risk and bad risk. It’s the line between being adventurous and being dumb, and sometimes it’s hard to know which side you’re walking on. Doing things that scare you are important, and a step to self-discovery, but sometimes fear is a real indicator that something’s wrong. It’s a fine line between living life to the fullest and doing something regrettable. It’s something that everyone has to learn and I think travel is just an accelerant for figuring that out.

What do you think: is travel risky?


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Is Travel Risky?

This post was written by me, sponsored by Insure and Go

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29 thoughts on “Is Travel Risky?”

  1. When I read your title, I thought, “Is life risky?”

    I feel like I’m in more danger of personal attack in my own country than I ever am when I travel, and that’s the sort of attack most people fear happening to women (espeshally young women) so no, travel’s no more risky than live (perhaps a little less so, or maybe I’m lured into a sense of false security, who knows…)

  2. I am a solo female hitchhiker and when I tell people how I travel, they think I’m crazy. Well, that I am indeed, but I don’t think traveling is risky. As long as you use your common sense and trust your gut feelings – you’ll be fine 🙂

  3. I am planning to travel solo next year and I get the ‘you’re so brave’ comments all the time. I’m not. If anything, I’m an absolute wuss! I don’t have enough experience under my belt to challenge these comments yet but I have read so many articles saying a similar thing that I don’t feel particularly worried. I know I will need to be cautious and look out for myself but I would do that here in Dublin on an average day too. I think there comes a point where you just have to get over the fact that, yes, things can go wrong and accept it as a part of life. Otherwise you’ll never go anywhere!

  4. You don’t even have to step outside your door to take risks. We face them everyday, you just need to be prepared, aware of your surroundings, and have a backup plan. if something still happens, well, sh.. happens. Adapt and overcome.
    If you’re mind is week enough to let movies (Taken & Hostel) put fear into your travel, I think you have other issues.

    This “Sponsor” states ” Which is of course why all good travelers try to mitigate that risk by buying Backpackers Insurance.” Come on…Am I in league with Animal Cruelty because I don’t have Pet Insurance? Am I bad Backpacker since I don’t buy “Their” insurance? Where is the “Fine Print” on this insurance?
    A Search & Rescue Card is typically $10.00 for 5 years Stateside. Your Homeowners Policy may cover lost / stolen posessions even abroad. AAA offers many overseas programs. This Sponsor is the one using fear to sell, mentioning movies and vague references to risk abroad with no facts.

    1. Hi Kevin,
      The sponsor didn’t write this article- I did (I actually wrote it independently and then when they offered me the sponsorship I worked in their link). I think I made it pretty clear by the end that I don’t consider trave lto be an exceptionally risky activity- I think the media messes with people’s perceptions and distorts the truth.

      I DO think that being insured is the responsible way to deal with risk. I honestly couldn’t care less where that coverage comes from: AAA, homeowners insurances, whatever, the fact remains that being insured in case of emergency (particularly medical emergency) is just smart.

      Please feel free to email me if you have further concerns!

      1. Hi Steph,
        First let me apologize as I thought the Sponsor had written the majority of this. I agree that Travel in it’s self is no more riskier then our everyday lives, as I mentioned earlier. As long as you keep your wits about you.
        As far as the Media and their lies and misconceptions effecting peoples outlook and judgement, it does. But i do think there is a limit to how much a stable mind will succumb to that. (My Opinion) This is a popular debate though.
        I believe insurance is only a part of a good back up plan for emergencies and definitley how inclusive the plan is. My point really is, a good backup plan for any emergency starts with research and involves more than one strategy. I agree that it doesn’t matter who provides the insurance as long as it meets your needs.
        I know I tend write a little direct Steph, it’s just my style and no ill will is meant. 🙂
        By the way, your talking to a Backpacker who treks mountains & jungles with the bare necessities, so I am a little opinionated, but all points of view are healthy 🙂

  5. Dangerous is very relative- I’m living in China, and the risk of getting hit by a car is far greater here than it was back at home. On the other hand, you are far more likely to be killed or abducted in the United States than you are in China. I will say that fascination almost always overrides my lack of bravery. Doesn’t mean that it isn’t (frequently) a very scary and ego-reducing experience, but then again, that is why I came.

    1. I am constantly telling my mother I’m more likely to get shot in Washington DC than most of the places I go to- doesn’t seem to deter her much.

  6. I think the risk is part of the reason to travel. A favorite quotation of mine is “A ship is safe in harbor, but that is not what ships are made for.” I don’t remember who said that. Whoever it was they are smarter than me…

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