In Defense of Fear & Why Traveling Doesn’t Make You Brave

December 7, 2010

Last week, I went out to dinner with some new friends I had met at a Thanksgiving party. At one point, someone mentioned that she had seen my blog. “You have a blog?” one of the women asked, “I’ve never met a travel blogger before.”

She seemed so genuinely fascinated, that I didn’t have the heart to mention to her that I’m not actually a travel blogger. I just play one on Twitter.

Prior to joining Twitter back before I started my trip in February, I had never read another travel blog. I had certainly never met any other travel bloggers. I didn’t know the meanings of terms like SEO or XML or vlogging. (And was a little bit scared to find out. I mean, vlogging? That sounds painful.) I didn’t know people made money off of blogging. I didn’t know there were lists of popular travel blogs or awards for best travel blogs or big, hot-shot travel bloggers who have millions of followers reading them. (Rather than, say, just their mom… and some sorry soul who typed in “ate a donut and my tongue went numb” during a Google word search).

A lot has changed since then.

Not only do I know other travel bloggers exist, I’ve even started hanging out with them. In fact, the majority of the people that I know in Chiang Mai are fellow travel bloggers that I had “met” on Twitter prior to moving here.

It took some getting used to, to be honest. When I first met the group of travel bloggers in Chiang Mai, I had to introduce myself with my blog name: “Hi, My name is Sally. You may know me as Unbrave Girl.” I felt like some covert superhero… or maybe one of those Dungeons and Dragons dorks… err, enthusiasts.

I was nervous meeting these people for the first time. I worried that they wouldn’t like me – I’m not nearly as fun or witty in person… particularly when I’m not capable of deleting my words. Plus, I’m definitely not as adorable as my cartoon avatar especially since I’ve started washing my clothes in a bucket.

Besides, what would I even talk about? I have a limited number of good stories, and I’ve written about most of them on my blog. Sure, I didn’t expect everyone to be an avid reader of my blog, but I knew some of them did read it. Was it too presumptuous to start off every story by saying, “Stop me if you’ve already read this on my blog”?

Luckily, the group has been very accepting and friendly and not a single one of them has told me mid-story, “Um, yeah, I know. I already read that on your blog. Do you have a story I haven’t already read twenty paragraphs about?” Of course, I’m sure this is due to my ability to miraculously avoid repeating myself; rather than, say, the fact that these people aren’t regularly reading my blog. (Right, guys? You’re all reading my blog, right?! Guys?). Plus, some of them have been kind enough to pass along their travel blog wisdom to me and even helped me move over my blog to WordPress. (I’ve been told this is what all the hot-shot bloggers use. Now that my blog has been moved over, I can now commence being a hot-shot just like all my new hot-shot friends. Right, guys? Guys?!).

Sure, I still don’t know what SEO or XML means. (And I’m sorely disappointed to find out that vlogging merely means “Video Blogging”… and not, say, “Being Beaten By Blood-Sucking Leprechauns.”). I still don’t know how people make money from blogging. (I suspect selling ad-space is involved… and pixie dust… and maybe unicorns.) I’ve been on a few lists of travel bloggers. (I was on this very nice list here, and this list, and that list). But I have yet to win any awards or show up on one of the big-deal lists, like “Best Travel Blogs EVER” or “Travel Blogs That Will Change Your Life (And, Thank God For That, Because Your Life Was Pretty Lame).” And I don’t think I’ll be reaching a million readers anytime soon. (Unless, this whole tongue-going-numb-while-eating-donuts thing hits epidemic proportions for which, I am proud to say, my blog is in the top ten of Google search results for that particular crisis.)

In addition to hanging out with travel bloggers, I’ve also started reading a lot more travel blogs. For the most part, I’ve found the practice of reading travel blogs to be enjoyable. There are some really great writers out there that have some really great things to say. I’ve also learned some pretty amazing stuff. For example, did you know that in China you can buy minty green tea flavored Oreos? Did you know that in Ecuador you can get a hot dog served with a shredded hot dog on top? Yeah, pretty amazing stuff, right? Imagine what I could learn if I started reading travel blog entries that weren’t just about cookies and pork products!

As much as I’ve enjoyed my recent forays into travel blog reading (I mean, come on, who wouldn’t enjoy learning more about Oreos and hot dogs?), I’ve also found myself getting increasingly, well, annoyed.

There is a general consensus among many of the hot-shot travel bloggers and the so-called “lifestyle design” bloggers. (Don’t ask me, I don’t know what “lifestyle design” means, either. I suspect it has something to do with pixie dust… and Vlogging). This consensus is that if you don’t travel (or do something cah-razy like quit your day job to follow your dream of being a canoe-maker) than you’re living a life of fear. And fear, they say, is a bad thing.

Mind you, this practice of fear-bashing is not a new thing. People have been picking on fear for years. There’s that old chestnut about fearing nothing but fear itself. Back in the fourth century BC, Aristotle said fear was “pain arising from the anticipation of evil.” Even Buddha chimed in with some anti-fear sentiments: “The secret of existence is to have no fear.”

With all due respect to my fellow travel bloggers (and, uh, Buddha), I beg to differ.

Fear isn’t so bad.

Fear is what keeps us alive. If we didn’t have fear, we’d all be walking into oncoming traffic and jumping off cliffs. We’d be fighting bears with sandwich swords and living out of the canoes we’d fashioned from own our bare hands (because the money from our left-behind day job has long run out and no one wants to buy a canoe from someone whose knowledge of canoe-building was gleaned from reading articles on WikiHow).

I let fear hold me back from doing lots of things. I’ll never sky dive or bungee jump. I have no desire to walk on hot coals. I firmly refuse to drive a motorbike. I won’t white water raft or ride on top of a bus. I’ll never swim with sharks.

Will I still die? Definitely. But at least, chances are, it won’t be via shark attack. You can call me boring, but, frankly, I’d much rather have fear hold me back… than a missing arm.

We all just need to give fear a break.

And we need to give all the non-travelers out there a break, too.

Granted picking on non-travelers isn’t anything new, either. Saint Augustine was ripping on homebodies as early as the fifth century. “The world,” he said,” is a book and those who do not travel read only a page.”

Fair, enough, Mr. Augustine. But, you know what, some of us are perfectly content with reading one page.

My brother’s wife hates to travel — like, really hates it. If she has to be away from her home for even one night, she starts to have a panic attack. Yet, that doesn’t mean she’s not brave.  She’s battled a debilitating jaw condition and has had numerous painful surgeries. She followed her dream, went back to school as an adult and helped run a family business. She’s brought two kids into a world that’s scary and dangerous and uncertain. Heck, she married into my family for crying out loud! If that’s not brave, I don’t know what is. Sure, she may never travel or even want to travel, but she’s still fearless.

Traveling doesn’t automatically make you a braver or better person. Life experiences do — whether those life experiences happen in your hometown or some hut in some town you can’t even pronounce. My life experiences have included travel, but not everyone’s life experiences do… or even should.

Eating food off a menu you can’t read doesn’t make you courageous. A backpack doesn’t equal a backbone. You don’t get guts by reading a guidebook (or not reading a guidebook… or whatever other cah-razy thing you’re doing).

Bravery is taking risks, facing fears, doing what you believe in, taking a chance, fighting for yourself and fighting for other people. Sure, traveling embodies a lot of these things. But so does having a kid, or getting married, or starting your own business, or supporting a cause, or leaving an abusive partner, or battling cancer, or coming out to your parents, or letting go of someone you love.

Bravery is not defined by how many stamps you have in your passport (or whether or not you even have a passport), but by who you are and how many lives you’ve touched along the way. Helen Keller, Gandhi, Martin Luther King, Jr., Rosa Parks, Anne Frank. These names are synonymous with bravery. Why? Because they persevered, they fought, they dreamed, they hoped, they inspired, they changed lives. Anne Frank did all of that from an attic. Rosa Parks? She became a hero by staying put.

So, yeah, you don’t need to go very far to be brave. You just need to be alive.



I've blathered on long enough! Now it's your turn!

  1. On December 7, 2010 at 7:28 pm Jill - Jack and Jill Travel The World said:

    Very nicely put 🙂
    I was afraid of writing a comment here because I don’t think I can articulate what I think as well as you do. But I’m conquering my fear and taking my chance here :p

    Even though I agree with you in some points about there have been some non-traveler bashing out there, I never got the sense that anybody is equating non-travelers to 100% fully fledged cowards. I believed the ‘fear’ being mentioned there are the fears people feel who ‘want’ to travel but are too afraid to take the chance. A particular sense of ‘fear’…

    At least that’s the sense that I got. I could be wrong… I don’t read too many life style design blogs out there.

    I agree with you 100% though that I’ve known some people who have conqured many of their own demons who’ve never been outside of their home-state. And in my eyes, they’re braver than I’ll ever be.

  2. On December 7, 2010 at 7:41 pm Sally said:

    Thanks for the comments. I guess it depends on the blog you read (and what kind of snit you’ve worked yourself up into before you’ve read it… Admittedly, I’ve been in all kinds of snits lately!). Some bloggers do make the point of pointing out that, yeah, not everyone wants to travel (and not everyone should) and that’s okay. But then there are others who seem to equate pursuing a “normal” lifestyle with the death of your soul (again, this could be my snit talking).

  3. On December 7, 2010 at 7:54 pm marybindc said:

    So where is this tongue-numbing donut story?? Don’t leave me hanging here!

    • On December 7, 2010 at 8:45 pm Unbravegirl said:

      Ha ha! It’s actually my post about Lemon & Sesame Seed Pringles that comes up when you Google search tongue-numbing donut incidents. Rest assured, it’s not because my tongue ever went numb while eating donuts (Oh, Lord…. I shudder to think of such a fate!) but because all of those words happen to be in the post.

  4. On December 7, 2010 at 9:20 pm Andrew said:

    What a great read. I retweeted automatically, as I have started doing with your posts, knowing there to be fun stuff ahead before I get a chance to read it. Excellent! Ok, yeah, I sound like the taglines on the back of a paperback book. But they are appropriate.

    And I am definitely one of those bloggers that spout off tons about conquering fear through travel. Despite which, still have no interest in bungee jumping or shark diving.. or even that “ordering from a menu I can’t read” thing. I tend to go to McDs in those countries.. a lot.

    BTW love the new categories.

    • On December 8, 2010 at 3:19 am Unbravegirl said:

      I’m all for conquering fears, but I don’t essentially think we should be conquering ALL those fears (I mean, bears = bad, right?). I think people who want to travel and say they’re afraid to do it should be encouraged to conquer that fear… but gradually. There’s no reason to jet off to India and sleep on the floor and eat food from a cart if all that stuff scares the living daylights out of you. Go to some place “easy.” Stay in a nice hotel. Eat McDonald’s. Once you got that down, you’ll find you are able to conquer bigger challenges, bigger fears, restaurants that don’t serve Big Macs… or not… because, hey, if you want to eat Big Macs all the live long day while you’re traveling, I’m not going to stop you. I’m going to cheer for you (and ask you to send me a Big Mac as we don’t have a McDonald’s in Chiang Mai).

      • On February 4, 2014 at 1:12 pm Christiana said:

        What are you talking about? There is completely a McDonald’s in Chiang Mai! It’s right next to the Starbucks off of bar street where they have the night market

        • On February 9, 2014 at 1:26 pm Sally said:

          Whoops. I didn’t really hang out in that end of town — I lived over on Nimmanhaemin (can NOT remember how to spell that). Plus, I tend to be a bit blind to these things. So it really doesn’t surprise me that I completely and totally missed a McDonald’s.

  5. On December 7, 2010 at 10:23 pm MaryAnne said:

    Writing this from my cosy bed in Shanghai (insomnia! wooo!), I am commending you in your defence of those who are happy to stay in bed…or at home…or whatever they actually want to do.

    I mean, gosh dang it, most of us only have *one* life to life (cats and godheads may differ) and we should be able to do what suits us best, whether it be to travel in the manner which we alone get to define, or to stay at home and do any number of other awesome things, or to do some combination of the two (like me right now, staying at home in Shanghai…even though Shanghai is certainly not my original home town nor even my fifth or tenth hometown).

    There is no universal law that says you have to travel if you don’t want to. Just as I’m not pursuing my PhD in mediaeval French literature or running marathons or training as a ballerina, those who are not interested in travel (or at least not interested beyond their 2 week holiday time) should not be shamed into quitting their Hideous Soul-Sucking Cubicle Job to Travel THe World Forever (TM).

    And that shaming is out there. It’s not always necessarily overt but it is definitely there. Some of it has a feeling of newly converted religious zeal- perhaps those who feel the strongest bout the need for travel are those who had been trapped in their cubicles and needed to break free. I can understand their passion but I don’t agree with them that what made them happy is what will make everyone happy.

    Thank you for the Oreo Cookie link love, by the way! Now I can be famous for something other than being the #1 search term for whorehouses in Cairo, Shanghai and Oaxaca!

    • On December 8, 2010 at 3:30 am Unbravegirl said:

      Yeah, the passion is amazing, right? Especially since I’m a wishy-washy commitment-phobe who has trouble committing to a dinner choice… let alone a lifestyle choice. But I am surprised by the defensiveness many of the bloggers resort to when describing their decision to travel (or quit their job or build canoes or whatever). I’m not really sure where this comes from… maybe it’s from having to defend their decision so much to people who just don’t “get” it. I guess I’ve been lucky enough to be surrounded by people who “get” it or support it even if they don’t “get” it (or pretend to “get” it and then call me cah-razy behind my back).

  6. On December 8, 2010 at 1:15 am Dan Collins said:

    This is quite frankly amazing. Awesome job. I’ve often met some other travel bloggers and have had them say “Ahhh, so you’re Dan in Australia!” – I think it’s pretty funny when that happens. I too feel bad about re-telling stories I have already told on the blog though…

    • On December 8, 2010 at 3:34 am Unbravegirl said:

      It’s weird at first, right? Although I was kind of glad I picked a blog name that’s pretty easy to live up to. I mean, it’s not too hard to be the biggest scaredy cat in the bunch. I can’t imagine what I would have to do to prove myself if I picked a name like “Awesome World Adventurer Girl” or “The Best Person You’re Ever Going to Meet”. Those would be pretty much impossible to fulfill. It’s all about setting up low expectations for yourself.

  7. On December 8, 2010 at 2:07 am Heather said:

    Do one thing every day that scares you. –Eleanor Roosevelt

    Words to live by!

    Okay, I don’t do it *every* day, but it’s a good reminder to be alive. I don’t plan to bungee either, but I’ve had some “crucial conversations” (good book on communication) and done a few things I wouldn’t have without facing some fears.

    Keep writing in your style and voice.

    • On December 8, 2010 at 3:39 am Unbravegirl said:

      I think I’d have to disagree with Ms. Roosevelt too. In fact, I had this idea at the beginning of this year to do one of those 365 blogs (I’m not sure HOW I thought I’d manage this as I can barely crank out one blog post a week). One idea I had was to do something I was scared of everyday. I figured this would be easy since I was scared of so many things — I’d have no problem coming up with 365 things to be scared of! I even considered opening the blog up to suggestions — people could email in scary things that I should do. But as I kept on thinking about it the more freaked out I became. “What if people want me to pet a tiger or swim with sharks or eat eyeballs? Ahhhh!” I couldn’t do it. In fact, even THINKING about it was giving me a panic attack.
      So, yeah, me and Ms. Roosevelt don’t exactly see eye to eye. But I’m pretty amazed by people who manage to do that. (And what are you talking about won’t bungee jump? I saw those pictures of you jumping out of an airplane!)

      • On December 8, 2010 at 4:43 am Heather said:

        I take her advice as more of a challenge to step out on a limb sometimes and try something new or do something you need to do. Not all fear is good just like not all fear is bad 🙂

        I’d rather skydive again before I’d bungee — *eep*!!!!

  8. On December 8, 2010 at 3:26 am Odysseus said:

    As always, your writing is genuine, funny, and unpretentious — and that last especially is sometimes a little rare in the travel community, which sometimes has conversations where one guy starts off with “I swam with sharks” and then a girl chimes in, “I swam with bigger sharks,” and then another guy responds, “I swam with the world’s biggest sharks while I had a wound oozing blood from my leg and I was eating steak tartar.” I really hate it when travel becomes about winning.

    I think the only time it’s important to conquer fear is when it’s holding you back from something you really want to do. Otherwise, I’ve always said the same things, more or less, as you do here: But why would I want to strap a rope to my ankle and jump off a bridge? It won’t increase my personal sense of happiness in the world; all I can see is potential danger with no incentive. However, when I become afraid of traveling certain places — like India — I make myself overcome that fear because I believe the payoff in happiness will be worth it.

    • On December 8, 2010 at 3:49 am Unbravegirl said:

      I am still deathly afraid of India (and the blog posts I’ve been reading about traveling there haven’t helped me overcome this fear too much!). I know I am not ready to go there yet…. I will someday, just not now. I realize this doesn’t make me a very cool traveler. But, like you said, traveling isn’t a competition. I’m fine with being uncool… I’m NOT fine with pushing myself to go to a place I’m not ready for just because it’s on a list of must-sees.

      • On December 8, 2010 at 9:08 am Odysseus said:

        I’m actually going to India at the end of next month and am traveling with a friend (another girl), so that makes it marginally less scary. Some of things I read about it are great, while others, not so much. I read about a captain of a houseboat in Kerala who licked his lady passenger’s arm! Ewww and scary. Wish me luck.

  9. On December 8, 2010 at 4:24 am Christine Gilbert said:

    I read your blog 🙂

    I’m sure there are writers out there that don’t make it clear enough, but when you write for people who travel or who want to travel, for months and months or years, sometimes you forget to put in the little caveats, like, “IF you want to travel” before saying things like, “Travel is awesome, go do it!” I try to always write those things into my posts, but I know I’ve been guilty of it at times.

    What your post doesn’t address, which I’m still wondering about from a personal curiosity, is that all things being equal, why do Americans travel so much less than other countries? I mean being scared of Bears=smart, being scared of Italy=insane.

    It’s been great meeting everyone here in Chiang Mai, but there is some social awkwardness to the whole, “what’s your twitter handle” thing. Or going out to dinner and then looking someone up on Facebook to find out more about them. It’s like the depth of stalkerdom! I’m like what’s Sally doing, oh, I’ll just FIND OUT! She’s eating lunch. Here’s a picture of it. Tonight she’ll be doing karaoke. Awesome.

    I’m not really sure if that’s a good thing or not. Thankfully there aren’t 20 travel bloggers in every town across SE Asia. It’s like this little bubble we’re in. Soon we’ll go back to just tweeting each other from other sides of the world.

    • On December 8, 2010 at 5:37 am Unbravegirl said:

      Honestly, I can say I would probably be one of those countless Americans who doesn’t have a passport (or want a passport) if it wasn’t for my freshman roommate in college. Growing up, the only trips we ever took were to Indiana to visit my grandparents (with occasional side trips to Cedar Point… yeah, roller coasters!). This is not because my parents don’t value travel (they are my biggest supporters of my travels today and my Dad loves traveling), but because there were like a million kids in my family. (Okay, so there are only 6 of us but still… just getting us piled into the van and driving the 10 hours to Indiana without any of us maiming each other along the way was a feat!). In high school, I had no interest in travel and remember HATING Spanish class and distinctly thinking “Like right. When am I ever going to use this? Like I’m going to go to Spain one day or something.” (Later I would regret my decision to be the worst Spanish student ever when, in fact, I went to Spain).
      It wasn’t until college that I realized people traveled… and not just rich people (until then the only people I knew who had taken international trips were well-off). I ended up rooming with someone who had gone to Russia on an exchange program. She somehow coerced me into getting my passport and a student working visa and going to London with her for summer break. I would have never imagined I could have done this. In fact, I was hell-bent on working at Cedar Point for the summer (yeah… roller coasters!).
      So, yeah, I’d hazard to guess that the Americans who don’t have a passport were just like me… they didn’t know people who traveled and never imagined doing it. It’s like unicorns and pixie dust and all those good things — something that’s fun to think about but just doesn’t happen in their world.

      • On December 8, 2010 at 6:07 am Unbravegirl said:

        And (because I’d like to make this comment even LONGER…. you’re welcome, y’all) I didn’t grow up in a backwater town (which I think is what is assumed of most Americans who don’t have a passport or travel). I grew up in a middle class suburban area in New York State, with highly educated parents, went to a good school, all that. But, yet, travel just wasn’t a part of that world. And still isn’t a part of that world. I’m the only one in my family who travels for the most part and I don’t know anyone I grew up with who does. It’s just not their thing (or maybe it is their thing and they just don’t know it yet).

        • On December 8, 2010 at 6:38 am Theodora said:

          I think, Christine, you make an interesting point about writing for people who *want* to travel. You are writing for people who believe they are making, or will one day make, what will, they believe, be the single most life-changing decision ever, possibly against opposition from friends and family, and want a bit of geeing up.

          Which is probably why those poor sods who say, “Well, actually, I don’t, really,” tend to get flamed so heinously in the comments…

          What bewilders me is that I meet so many more Australians and Canadians (also from big, state-based, naturally diverse Anglo/part-Anglo cultures) travelling than I do Americans. I guess international travel is just more usual in those cultures than in yours, so it’s something people hear their families talking about, and their friends, and decide to do it…

          And, Sally, you’re quite right. There are many, many other things that are meaningful, real and courageous in life apart from travel. Very, very many of the daily lives one sees taking place around one in the developing world require more toughness, resilience, guts and bravery than getting out there to see them.

          Personellement, I’m not Scott of the Antarctic or Shackleton. I’m on an extended holiday with my nipper, having the time of my life and writing about it, FFS…

          • On December 8, 2010 at 6:59 am Unbravegirl said:

            I, like Christine, have had plenty of people tell me that they want to do what I do but they can’t for (insert whatever reason here). Some of them truly can’t; they have five kids, a health condition that requires reliable medical insurance, dependent extended family, a spouse that doesn’t want to travel, crippling student loans, or whatever. But some people who say this really do want to do it and CAN do what I’m doing. (I mean, after all, traveling around the world eating cookies doesn’t take any special talent!). These people do need “geeing up” as you call it (LOVE that term… going to have to Google search it).
            My issue is with how some bloggers attempt to gee them up. Maybe I’m just not the tough love sort, but I don’t appreciate the tone of some blogs that call these people ignorant and afraid. How is this going to make someone feel encouraged to travel? If I had NEVER traveled in my life and read a post by a popular travel blogger telling me that I don’t travel because I’m a stupid & scared this is NOT going to make me want to travel… in fact, it’s going to make me want to stay home! “What if every traveler thinks like this? What if they laugh at me for wanting McDonald’s? What if they think I’m a wimp for not wanting to bungee jump?”
            So, yeah, I’d like to gee up the people who want to travel and can. But I’d like to do it in a supportive way — a way that says, “Hey, it’s okay if you’re scared. I’m scared too. This traveling thing is scary stuff! But everyone’s a lot braver than they think. And you can travel if I can (because Lord knows it’ a miracle I’ve made it off my couch much less all the way to Thailand!)”.

  10. On December 8, 2010 at 5:01 am 1Dad1Kid said:

    This post effin ROCKS!!!! Well said! Thoroughly wonderful read.

  11. On December 8, 2010 at 5:32 am Jamie said:

    Great Post, Great points. I think on a personal note I feel that I wouldnt be living up to everything I could be or learn everything that I could if I were to not travel or follow other bloggers and be inspired by their stories to push me even futher into that mind set.

    That is my fear.

    • On December 8, 2010 at 5:54 am Unbravegirl said:

      Yeah, I definitely think travel has been a huge inspiration for me and has helped me push my boundaries. But we all have to find our inspiration, right? Not everyone is going to be inspired by travel… some of us will be inspired by dance or music or running or reading or reality TV (Sounds lame, but, seriously, I have watched some life-changing reality TV in my life!)
      I can understand the desire by travelers and travel bloggers to want everyone to travel. (Because, hey, it’s great! I mean, when else can you eat donuts from a cart on the side of the street and claim it’s a “cultural experience”!). I have never had anyone to my face belittle my choices or tell me that they don’t understand the value of travel, but it seems like a lot of travelers have, so I can understand the desire to fight back & say, “No there IS value in moving a million miles away to eat donuts!”.
      But we also have to remember that it’s not going to be everybody’s bag… and not everyone’s going to find value in it (I’ve met plenty of travelers or expats who actually seem WORSE for their experiences abroad… seriously. Just hang out in an expat bar in Japan for a while and you’ll meet lots of bitter folks who really should just go home already). To each his own, you know.

  12. On December 8, 2010 at 6:10 am Katie said:

    Absolutely LOVE this post! I feel like I could’ve written half of it myself (although it would not have sounded nearly the same!). I have read some of the same blogs you refer to and have found myself somewhat annoyed as well – some tend to give the impression that unless you’re quitting your day job and traveling full-time, you’re not really traveling. And they seem to imply that everyone has some deep-rooted desire to “escape the grind” and travel that they aren’t acting on out of fear when, really, a lot of people just don’t want to – and there’s nothing wrong with that. It’s not out of fear, but just a simple lack of desire – they have other priorities. And it’s not up to any of us to judge those priorities.

    Not saying all are like this – some I think do a great job of encouraging travel without coming off as pretentious. But others, not so much…

    • On December 8, 2010 at 6:24 am Unbravegirl said:

      It’s funny, I’ve been out of “the grind” for nine months & I’m clamoring to get back in! I was burnt out when I left my full-time job and really needed a break. But I have since learned that I thrive on a schedule (maybe not exactly a 9-to-5 schedule because I’m NOT a morning person, but a schedule of some sort… as opposed to my current schedule which usually involves waking up around 11 and messing around on the internet for the majority of the day). I have a “real” job lined up for the Spring & I’m really looking forward to getting back to work… and, you know, a salary would be really nice right about now, too. So, yeah, not everyone wants to escape the grind… some of us are more comfortable and productive and inspired when we’re in it (even if we need a break now and then).

      • On December 8, 2010 at 8:13 am MaryAnne said:

        This is why I’m a compulsive teacher- here in China I get 4 months of holidays. Therefore I can get a healthy balance of grind and ungrind. It doesn’t have to be all or nothing. I like my day job. Hell, a 4 day week never killed anyone. Huzzah for universities!

  13. On December 8, 2010 at 6:54 am Kelly said:

    I really enjoyed this post, and I fully support you in your fearless-lessness!

    I’ve often felt the same sort of annoyance for those travel bloggers who seem to imply that unless you’re out doing something wild that’s never been done before every day and every night, moving to a new country every week, then you’re not traveling, and you’re not “one of the cool kids.” I may have an apartment of my own and a regular job I go to everyday, but that doesn’t mean I haven’t visited a beautiful temple, nearly died in a taxi/motorcycle explosion, or had a strange Chinese woman try to steal my mom, all in my adopted hometown in China.

    Travel and adventure comes in many forms, along with blog-worthy stories. To each their own!

    • On December 8, 2010 at 7:03 am Unbravegirl said:

      Thanks, Kelly! Glad you liked the post…. Ummm, about this Chinese woman trying to steal your mom. Do you have a blog? Where can I find this story?

      • On December 13, 2010 at 8:19 am Kelly said:

        I don’t have a blog…yet. Been toying with the idea of one, but not sure my life is consistently interesting enough to keep one up.

        • On December 13, 2010 at 8:32 am Unbravegirl said:

          Ummm, and my life IS consistently interesting?! I blog about cookies… So, yeah, start a blog. I need to hear this mom-stealing story!

  14. On December 8, 2010 at 9:38 am Richard said:

    Great post! (But I’m surprised more haters haven’t reared their ugly head yet!) Either way, well said and true, Sal. 🙂

    • On December 8, 2010 at 9:49 am Unbravegirl said:

      Richard! Lovely to see you back on my blog (not that I think you ever left….I know you read my posts ALL the time… right?! RIGHT, Richard???). I too am surprised by the lack of haters… come on, people, bring on the hate! I’m ready for it! (Or not. Really, I’m fine with the love too… and cupcakes. You can bring on cupcakes too if you prefer that to hate & love).

  15. On December 8, 2010 at 10:07 am Malaysia Expat said:

    Awesome post !
    While I love reading your weekly quirky and fun rants anonymously, I felt compelled to comment and congratulate you on this one. It truly reads as coming from the heart. And I wholeheartedly agree with you. “You don’t need to go very far to be brave. You just need to be alive.”

    • On December 8, 2010 at 1:44 pm Unbravegirl said:

      Awww, thanks! I’ve been trying to write this post for months and had even written parts of it before in emails or in unpublished posts… but I wasn’t ready to publish it. I was scared. While I know I’m never going to be the most popular travel blogger out there (I mean, come on, I write about cookies for freak’s sake), I still didn’t want to become the travel blogger outcast. That’s not cool. I mean, no one wants to sit at a travel blogger lunch table for one!
      Plus, I’m usually apprehensive to write about blogging. Does the world really need another blog post about blogging? Uh, probably not. And I know a lot of my readers are friends and family back home who don’t blog or care about blogging, so I try to write about things I think they might want to read (like cookies!).
      But, I felt like all this needed to be said… and after reading a few blog posts this week about this topic, I was finally ready to say it. And now I feel like I could have said a lot more (hence my epic length comments!).

  16. On December 8, 2010 at 2:36 pm Lindsay said:

    I love this Sally! I really love it! Sandwich swords?! 🙂

  17. On December 8, 2010 at 3:01 pm Bessie said:

    Thoroughly enjoyed it!

    On bravery required to travel… I think I’m brave because I’m traveling, but more specifically because I’m willing to face fears while I do it & push my comfort zone to find new limits.

    But I totally agree w/ you that it doesn’t mean you’re brave just because you travel, and there are loads of people more brave & courageous & worth admiring than me.

    So I do have to ask now – you’re alive, (and sing some mean karaoke) does that make you a braver girl?

  18. On December 8, 2010 at 3:12 pm Rhonda said:

    I really liked this post and I agree with you 100%. As a new blogger myself, I’m quickly learning that there are a lot of travel bloggers out there acting as if they are better/wiser than others because they left the cubicle life behind. They brag about all the places they’ve been as if this makes them so much more awesome than the rest of the human beings in the universe. I wrote a small post about this recently.

    I really like your blogging style! Keep up the great work.:)

    • On December 8, 2010 at 3:32 pm Unbravegirl said:

      Thanks for stopping by, Rhonda, & glad you liked the post. It is a little hard NOT to brag when you’re doing cool stuff, especially stuff that you’ve worked hard to achieve. Even I find myself tooting my own horn every once in a while despite my better intentions to not sound like a jerk. I guess it’s just important to remember that EVERYONE has cool stuff going on… (even if you’re pretty sure you’re stuff is cooler 🙂 ).

  19. On December 8, 2010 at 11:18 pm pam || @nerdseyeview said:

    Dumb comment, but genuine sentiment. I heart this. Right on.

  20. On December 8, 2010 at 11:42 pm Suzy said:

    I will be boring like you and agree with the comments saying what a nice reflection you have here. I also get fed up with the travel bloggers that think themselves the fruit of backpacks. I actually wrote a post not too long ago about the benefits of being a rolling suitcase traveler because I got so sick of reading posts telling me how much better backpackers are. Apparently they are more worldly. It’s hard for me to relate in the travel blogging world too because I didn’t leave some job I hated to travel the world. Agreed on being totally accepting of fear. Those that say stop being afraid are kidding themselves. We are all afraid at some stage of the game.

    • On December 9, 2010 at 2:59 am Unbravegirl said:

      Yeah, for rolling luggage! I have a convertible rolling bag/backpack. I know that thing has backpack straps on it, but I’ve never once felt the inclination to dig them out of the special pouch and use them. I’ve rolled that thing everywhere I’ve been — including down the dirt path of a rice farm.

  21. On December 9, 2010 at 12:37 am Tiffany Harrison said:

    This is such an amazing story you’ve told here. I have to admit that I’ve never thought of fear from this perspective before, so thank you for opening my eyes to the concept of ‘being in defense of it.’ I can definitely understand how not losing an arm to a shark attack would be a positive of listening to your fears 😉

    Your writing style is very candid and it resonates with those like myself who haven’t necessarily done a TON of traveling and can often feel intimidated by those who make it a lifestyle. Thanks for sharing, and here’s hoping you have better luck with donuts in the future 🙂

    • On December 9, 2010 at 2:57 am Unbravegirl said:

      I’ve chosen travel as a lifestyle (Okay, that’s not really true… I’ve chosen showing up in a random country and staying there until they kick me out as a lifestyle. But, hey, that’s kind of like traveling, right? Just on a much slower timetable!). And these people intimidate me! I haven’t been to a ton of countries (moving at the speed of continental drift does have its drawbacks — like you don’t get to many places in your lifetime), but I’ve lived abroad for 6 years of my life… so that’s got to count for something, right? Yet, I don’t have any fun stories about wrestling cobras or fighting off rabid elephants… probably because I was too busy eating donuts to do those things. But, hey, I like going to countries and trying out their donuts. I think as travelers we should just embrace our fellow travelers (maybe not literally… especially if they’ve just fought off a rabid elephant) rather than try to compete with them.

  22. On December 9, 2010 at 3:13 am Kristin said:

    I’m right there with you – being a part of this community is comforting, contagious and all around encouraging! Travel blogging is my flow and I feel so encouraged when I read blog posts like yours!

  23. On December 9, 2010 at 3:48 am Julie Trevelyan said:

    Hey, this was quite refreshing to read! I’m not a travel blogger (I write about a destination I live in, and & I don’t travel a ton outside of it), but I occasionally read travel blogs & plenty o’ tweets. Have noticed the, uh, somewhat bald statements out there in bloggerville about the very thing you discuss in this post. Must say it often does make for entertaining reading. 😉

    Anyway, love the concept of fear being simply a quality of being human, of merely being alive. Ain’t that the truth. Very nicely-written post, & clearly very thought-provoking. I’ll be back to see how you & your cookies are doing out there in Chiang Mai.

    • On December 11, 2010 at 3:43 pm Unbravegirl said:

      Thanks for stopping by. Your comment got somehow stuck in my spam folder (sorry about that!). Glad you enjoyed the read!

  24. On December 9, 2010 at 4:18 am Catherine said:

    I just spent the better part of a work hour reading this post and its comments 🙂

    I think fear is all about degrees; when I landed in Athens in 1998 it may as well have been Tehran for all I cared. I know for other folks, getting out of bed requires the stamina it takes me to overcome my shyness or take an all-night bus in China. Am I braver than the person who can’t leave their house? Hardly.

    There are times when I feel guilty for not experimenting with things like local food, cuz yeah, I’m kind of afraid of chicken bones. And gristle. And I guess that doesn’t make me as cool or hip or cultured as other, braver, folks – but I know my limits and am comfortable challenging myself within them.

    Great post, great discussion!

    • On December 11, 2010 at 3:43 pm Unbravegirl said:

      Your comment was, indeed, stuck in my spam folder. You need to stop leaving comments about penis enlargements… just saying. Glad you enjoyed the post & I’m going to suport you on the gristle thing.

  25. On December 9, 2010 at 7:51 am Sabina said:

    Great points about bravery, Sally. I think you’re very brave. You’ve gotten yourself into some very interesting living situations and seem to be able to laugh about them – or at least make other people laugh 🙂

    • On December 9, 2010 at 8:02 am Unbravegirl said:

      Usually the “bravest” stuff I’ve done was done simply because I had no idea what I was getting myself into. Maybe I’m an unintentional bravest? (But that name doesn’t have such a catchy ring to it as “unbrave girl”, don’t you think?)

  26. On December 9, 2010 at 9:32 am Caz Makepeace said:

    Hi unbrave girl!

    A very interesting and topical subject. Fear has been talked about since cave man days and with good reasons. There are 2 types of fear, one serves you and the other doesn’t. And I completely agree that bravery comes from life experiences.

    The friendly fear, is the one you mention, that stops you from doing something that may harm you. It is protective and has a very important place. It certainly stops you from walking down that dark alleyway at night and from jumping out of planes.

    But then there is that fear that prevents you from doing what you really want to do. And it comes in the form of many excuses such as “I’m not lucky enough,” or “The world is unsafe” etc. This is a fear that does not serve. In trying to distinguish between the two you have to ask yourself some serious questions.

    Now, I am afraid of flying, yet I have been on over a 100 flights (not bragging here just making a point) There is a danger with flying that the plane could fall out of the sky. So I need to determine is my fear here a serving fear or an unserving fear?

    When I really look at it, I have more chance of being in a car accident and I don’t think twice about getting in a car. So really my fear is unserving and that is why, in white knuckled terror, I continue to fly because if I don’t I’m letting fear get in the way of living my dreams.

    I think there are a lot of travel bloggers that write about fear in the way you mention–that if you don’t travel blah blah blah. I think Christine was right in that they are perhaps not choosing their words carefully enough, but ultimately the people they are writing for are those who do want to travel but for some unknown fear they let it stop them.

    You really have to think about audience. If I never wanted to have children, I wouldn’t spend my time reading a mummy blog and then getting upset when they talk about how it is the best thing in the world, and life took on meaning once I became a mum. That is true for them and their market. (and now that I am a mum I agree, and wouldn’t that go well with a travel fear and mummy post combined?)

    There has been a lot of bashing of travel bloggers lately, and I completely see where so many people are coming from, because I have encountered rude and arrogant people involved in this industry as well. But not everyone is like this.

    I write about fear a lot on my blog. Fear is a part of our lives and can definitely prevent people from doing what they love. My latest blog post is about that very thing. But I don’t write in a way that makes others feel less than because they aren’t travelling like me. I don’t expect those who don’t travel to read my blog but I hope if they do that I can somehow inspire them to overcome the fear that maybe preventing them from asking that person to marry them or go for their dream job etc. So , with that in mind, I do choose my words a little more carefully, but I’m sure not all the time.

    I also make some of these top blog lists that lots of people are complaining about lately. Does this make me a horrible person? The problem with posts like this is that it classes so many people into being the thing you are complaining about when they not- I guess guilt by association, I don’t know. Are people complaining because they are not making them? I don’t know and I don’t want to presume to know. Really, the lists don’t hold a lot of weight, but why not celebrate your wins no matter how small? And if you don’t make them but really want to then find out how you can and work towards that.

    Everything in life has a best of list. There are best seller lists, best wines of 2010, golden backpack awards, best social media blogs, etc etc etc. This is something that starts way back in school with honour lists and principal lists.

    And I also understand what you are saying about people bragging about where they have been etc. We on our blog, don’t do this much, but we still do it. Why? Because this is a business for us. And in a business you have to market. Sure, that doesn’t mean you have to do it in an arrogant and condescending manner, but you still need to let people know why you are an authority voice. There is not a business in the world that does not do it, so why should this one be any different? We try our best to overcome this shouting from the rooftops by shouting about others as well. And I think that is so important.

    Reading this, I thought, my God is she talking about me? and I worried about it for awhile. And that is a horrible thing to think, and I think this is the danger in talking in this manner about a broad range of people because not everyone under that umbrella is like that. I think we all need to try and help each other more, share our strengths and help each other out with our weaknesses. There is plenty of room for each of us at the top as well all bring something unique to the table.

    I think what we all need to be doing is asking ourselves these questions with everything we do
    1. Am I being the best I can be?
    2. Am I providing value?
    3. Am I helping others along the way?
    If everyone answered yes to those three questions than wouldn’t we have a perfect world?
    But not everyone does. I’ve had a lot of people within this industry, not just travel bloggers, but travel writers, be incredibly rude and arrogant towards me. So what I then do is, use their actions to inspire myself to be better and do better and help others is a way that is not like that which upset me. And I don’t give them any support. No linkbacks, no comments, no tweets, no stumbles, no traffic. If I want to see what they are up to I will find out through RSS. Don’t give these people who p*** you off energy or attention, good or bad. Pretty soon, they will fade into the background.

    I hope I haven’t seemed to ranty in this as I’m not trying to be. I’ve just noticed a lot of people really mad and upset about this topic lately and I want to try and put it all into perspective or help in someway. It’s just the teacher in me trying to solve the relationship issues in the classroom. I really respect what you have written and your blog.

    • On December 10, 2010 at 3:46 am Unbravegirl said:

      Wow. This is obviously a topic on lots of people’s minds lately. Thanks for the thoughtful response!
      I hope it didn’t sound like I was bashing ALL travel bloggers & the whole business of travel blogging. Having met lots of travel bloggers lately, I can definitely say that there are a lot of awesome travel blogging peeps out there (and I’m not just saying this because they’re my friends and they now know where I live…. seriously). Plus, I’d be a total hypocrite to bash the lists, since I get all kinds of happy when someone puts ME on a list. As you said, if you’re going to do it, you should do it well and get recognition for it. Yeah, the whole popularity contest of it all can be frustrating (especially when you’re the unpopular one… or the quirky, chunky girl that people like but, you know, don’t LIKE-like. Uh, yeah, bad high school flashback).
      What does get me (as I mentioned in one of my million comments) is the braggy, belitttling tone of a lot of the travel blogs. You mentioned audience (another great point… especially love the comparison to mummy blogs) and I understand that most of these people are writing to travelers and travel bloggers (both of which I am… well, kind of). If I AM their audience and I’m getting annoyed that they’re telling me I’m traveling wrong or not having a meaningful life because I’m not doing it the way they are then I can guarantee that more of their audience is annoyed (and judging from the comments I’m getting, they ARE annoyed). I’m fine with people saying “Hey, I travel & travel brings meaning to my life. Maybe you should try it too” but saying “My life is more meaningful than yours because I travel (and I travel THIS way which is better than your way)” is annoying… at least to me.
      But, in all honesty, I welcome the annoyance. I read blogs of people who I KNOW will annoy me just so I can be annoyed. Sadistic? Possibly. But it’s the blogs that really get me all up in a snit that inspire me to write — for example, this post was snit-inspired, my post on bad traveling was written while in a snit, and many more. Sure, I read plenty of lovely blogs that I totally agree with and I think “Nice post. Wow. He/she said exactly what I think. I have nothing to add.” It’s the posts that have me yelling at my computer that make me want to pound out a 2,000 word essay. So I appreciate your attempt to make peace (wow. what a fitting last name you have!), but plead with you to stop. If I suddenly started seeing eye-to-eye with these people, what on earth would I write about? 🙂

  27. On December 9, 2010 at 10:03 am Amy said:

    Love this post. I hear you on SEO and all that business; I blog because I enjoy writing and because it would be great if my experience inspires others who are looking for inspiration. I know nothing about SEO and monetization and I don’t care. I want to spend my time traveling, not blogging. That’s probably why my blog is tiny compared to so many others.

    I attribute a lot of the superiority complex that some people have to a sense of competitiveness that seems to be developing, whether unconsciously or consciously. It seemed a couple of years ago that there were only a few travel bloggers, and people were just blogging about their travels to inspire others. It seems like today that there are a million and one travel blogs and more and more of them are trying to make money off their blogs. There is definitely nothing wrong with that, but any time money starts to play a role, some people start to want to be the best and to make more than others. And they convince themselves that their way of life is more superior to the rest of the world who live in one place. I do think travel is a privilege that more people should exercise, and I think people let excuses get in their way, but I can certainly understand why some people wouldn’t want to quit their jobs and “re-design” their lives. Just like most things in life, to each his/her own.

    • On December 9, 2010 at 10:42 am Unbravegirl said:

      I think you make a really great point about travel being a “privilege.” I think it should also be said that it is a privilege that, sadly, is mostly enjoyed by the privileged. As a white, native English speaker who grew up in a middle-class home and received a good education I have to say I’m a part of that class. Both being a native speaker of English & having a good education has allowed me to become an ESL teacher and work abroad (I’d venture to say that my whiteness & Americanness has also had something to do with this too. As unfair as it may be, most schools want to hire what they consider to be a”typical American” especially in Asia). While I can easily speculate on the reasons why other white middle-class Americans don’t travel, I certainly can’t begin to come up with the reasons ALL Americans don’t travel.

  28. On December 9, 2010 at 1:09 pm Craig Makepeace said:

    Really enjoyed reading this. I totally agree with you that there’s no rule that says everyone has to quit there job at some stage in their life and travel the world.

    It’s not for everyone, and nothing in life is. All that anyone has to do is follow their own star and pursue what makes them happy.

    I certainly don’t think I’m better than anybody else because I’ve been to X amount of countries, or lived away from my home town.

    And traveling has not made me brave. It’s certainly made me more open minded to other cultures, and a more caring and tolerant person. But I probably could have gained those qualities anyways.

    What’s brave is the family I spent time with in Laos who lived inside a cave for 10 years during the Vietnam war. What’s brave is the Massai warriors who I met in Kenya who at the age of 18 have to catch and kill a lion with their bare hands in order to prove their manhood. What’s brave is my aunty who battled bowl cancer for years in pain before passing.

    I must say though, whilst I understand your frustration about all this non-traveler bashing going on, I am just “one person” in my family and home town singing the praises of world travel, whilst I have to constantly hear from 100 people that I am selfish and an idiot for wanting to live away from my family and childhood friends and live a some what unorthodox lifestyle. So in my personal experience, I certainly don’t think the non-travelers are being ganged up on.

    Have a great day!

    • On December 9, 2010 at 5:09 pm Unbravegirl said:

      Craig, Thanks for posting such an interesting comment & some amazing stories from your travels!
      I have heard from other travelers (and, of course, read the stories from other travel bloggers) about having people begrudge and belittle their choice to travel. I can, personally, say that I’ve been really fortunate not to have this experience. If anything, people have been surprisingly supportive. I guess maybe one of the reasons why some travel bloggers come off as so defensive is because they have had to defend their choices so many times. I just find it strange that in defending their choice they sometimes belittle the choices of those who question them. Wouldn’t it be nice if we could all just let each other live and travel (or not travel) and just trust that each person is making the right choice for him or herself? But, alas, I don’t think humans are geared to work like that…

  29. On December 9, 2010 at 3:11 pm Ayngelina said:

    Ironically I think I left to travel because I wasn’t brave, leaving to travel was easier than trying to fix what I didn’t like in my life.

    Maybe I’m an unbrave girl too 🙂

    • On December 9, 2010 at 4:59 pm Unbravegirl said:

      Ha ha! I have this thought every once in a while, too. I sometimes think I just keep on traveling to avoid getting married & having kids (two prospects which totally PETRIFY me… especially the kids thing… especially after reading 5 Jodi Piccoult books). These things seem much scarier to me than hanging out in Thailand eating food off a stick!

  30. On December 9, 2010 at 3:21 pm Megan said:

    So, first of all, I completely understand about introducing yourself as your blog alter ego. The first time I did it, I felt like a complete tool. ‘Uh, yeah…I write Bangkok…Reality…Smackdown…?’

    Second of all, I always feel really uncomfortable when people tell me I’m brave for moving overseas. Actually, I’m a total scaredy-cat, but I’m willing to go outside of my comfort zone sometimes.

    THIRD, yeah, like you said, just because you don’t want to travel or you’re a little scared of it doesn’t mean that your life is useless. People have different priorities in life. My best friend back home literally cannot understand why I spend my life roaming around–she has two kids, a house, a husband, all that.

    • On December 9, 2010 at 4:57 pm Unbravegirl said:

      Man, it would be so much cooler to introduce yourself as “Bangkok Reality Smackdown” than “Unbrave Girl.” But do they actually expect you to, you know, smack stuff down?!
      Actually my whole blog name came out of people calling me brave. I felt really uncomfortable too and like I was stealing the adjective “brave” from people who actually do deserve to be called brave. I mean, I’m not fighting fires here (unless you count the ones I regularly set in my toaster oven).

  31. On December 9, 2010 at 9:20 pm Andi said:

    This is my fave sentence: A backpack doesn’t equal a backbone. Couldn’t agree more with this!!! I think backpackers tend to think they’ve figured out the key to happiness in life and they have but it’s the key to THEIR happiness!

    • On December 10, 2010 at 1:40 am Unbravegirl said:

      Definitely. But isn’t that always the way? Once you find something that makes you happy or feel fulfilled, you think everybody else should do it. Whether it’s getting married or having kids or backpacking or religion or country line dancing or whatever. I guess this can be seen as a good thing — we are happy & we just want other people to be happy…. even if we’re being pushy about it.

  32. On December 11, 2010 at 1:42 am Robyn said:

    How refreshing. This — Traveling doesn’t automatically make you a braver or better person. Life experiences do — so needed to be said.
    Whether or not any of the travel bloggers you had in mind when writing this post will listen is another thing. There is a huge receptive audience for “travel makes you a better person” travel blogging.

    • On December 11, 2010 at 2:02 am Unbravegirl said:

      Thanks for your comment & glad you enjoyed the post. As I’m not one of the top travel bloggers out there (for good reason… as rants about travel bloggers & cookies doesn’t exactly make for helpful travel advice), I highly doubt the people that I’m railing about on here (and in my comments) will read what I have to say… or care. And, quite honestly, I wouldn’t expect them too. Lord knows I’ve read enough posts telling me that I’m blogging all wrong and haven’t cared. Obviously their posts on travel making you a better/braver/awesomer person are working for them, so why change it? Just like my posts about cookies are working for me…

  33. On December 11, 2010 at 7:40 am The Turkish Life said:

    Glad to have found your blog (through a link from koangirl); this resonates with me a lot, as do many of the comments. I’m a scaredy-cat traveler myself, and recently wrote a piece about travel and fear that I hope you might find interesting as well:

    • On December 11, 2010 at 11:00 am Unbravegirl said:

      Thanks so much for sharing your article! I loved it. I too try to reason with myself that dangerous things could happen to me in the States, but it doesn’t stop me from being frightened out of my mind every time I show up somewhere new.

  34. On December 12, 2010 at 1:28 pm 25BAR said:

    Traveling is great. I could travel all my life.

  35. On December 12, 2010 at 7:35 pm Annie said:

    I think this is a really great post, and I applaud you for sticking up for those at home!

    I tend to fall into that same critical mindset and generalize everyone that’s at home working into the category of people that say “I wish I could do that” but it’s so not the case. A lot of people are happy to stay home and work, and a lot of people delight in their material possessions and huge bank accounts. And although I think that most long-term travelers are in a completely different mindset I think two things about this 1. don’t we all get jealous of them every now and then when we look at our meager bank accounts and wonder how we’ll even get to our next destination? and 2. would the world really be so interesting if we were all the same?

    I think arguments can go both ways but no one is worse or better for the way they choose to live their life (well I mean maybe in some situations but…), as long as you are doing what you can to live yours the best. No I don’t like ignorant people and yes, I think travel opens minds and doors and opportunities but those people probably wouldn’t get all that even if they did travel anyway so I think we have to learn to co-exist and find our connections with non-travelers in another way.

    • On December 13, 2010 at 2:26 am Unbravegirl said:

      Thanks for the comments & glad you enjoyed the post. Yeah, I agree with you on the jealousy thing. When I lived in the States & worked in a cubicle, I yearned for more vacation time and more chances to travel. Now that I’m traveling, I have to say a steady paycheck & health insurance wouldn’t be all that bad. So, yeah, even when you’re “living the life” the grass can be greener somewhere else!

  36. On December 13, 2010 at 8:06 am choi kum fook said:

    Sawaekee kha! miss Sally ! Why fear? Why be a scaredy cat? WHY WORRY? Honestly you are very great! You are a great blog writer I have ever met before. According the Chinese ” Fushui ” , you may change the word “unbrave” to “brave” on the title.Ha! Ha! Do you believe Chinese Fushui? Don’t looking at it so seriously. take it ease. O. K.

    • On December 13, 2010 at 8:34 am Unbravegirl said:

      Hi, Mr. Choi! Thanks for your comment. I don’t know about “Fushui”? What is it? I’m supposed to be moving to China in February so I can find out more about it!

  37. On December 14, 2010 at 1:20 am Laura said:

    I totally loved this article until… you said you would never skydive or whitewater raft. I’m totally judging you now (apparently I really didn’t hear what you had to say 😉 )

    • On December 14, 2010 at 1:54 am Unbravegirl said:

      I hope by “judging you” you actually mean “thinking you’re awesome because you won’t do crazy ass things that will put you in a coma.” Glad you enjoyed the post, Laura!

  38. On December 14, 2010 at 9:20 am Zablon Mukuba said:

    Great blog post, i enjoyed reading it immensely, its traveling doesnt make you brave but it does make you wiser

  39. On December 14, 2010 at 3:11 pm Catherine said:

    Hi Sally,
    I stumbled upon your blog through the twitter grapevine, and enjoyed this post so much that I just wanted to say so!
    I’ve only recently started reading travel blogs, and I must say, yours is one of the most geniune and interesting ones out there.
    Looking forward to your future posts…

  40. On December 16, 2010 at 2:48 pm Phil said:

    After reading your “I’m a bad traveler” post and this one, I think we would get along very well. The notion that if you have a fear of something, you must conquer it, is absurd. And it’s fine to talk about the benefits of travel and location independence so long as there is not an air of judgment directed towards those who don’t.
    B well, Phil
    PS I think you need to make a how to draw unicorns ebook. Then we can package the 2 ebooks together and in 2 years when I start charging exorbitant amounts for mine, we can start really pulling in some cash. What do you think?
    Phil recently posted..Things to Eat and Drink in Morocco that Taste Good

  41. On December 21, 2010 at 3:17 am Leigh said:

    I can’t help but laugh while reading this. It’s part of a number of ongoing conversations I’ve been having of late.

    Bravery is most definitely about making choices. In many ways, the idea that the so-called :leaving-it-all-to-travel is brave comes more from a concept of throwing things out to the wind and letting life have it’s way with you. Not planning every moment and not only accepting that you don’t have control but embracing that.

    And no, you most definitely do not have to travel to find that, although leaving everything you know is a good way to establish a certain sense of, I dunno, lack of attachment. But there are also plenty of very safe, well-patterned ways of traveling as well. In which case, you may as well stay home.

    Btw, I found my way here thru the very lovely GotPassports, two of the people with whom I’ve been discussing this very thing. Fantastic post. More food for the conversation.

  42. On December 21, 2010 at 3:41 am Tracie said:

    I love this. Thank you. Sometimes I read these blogs that espouse fearlessness…and I sit there feeling a bit condemned. I have a daughter who I homeschool-there isn’t much time in our day for traveling to Asia (outside of the books we read about it) and not having a day job to quit (except for motherhood-which I wouldn’t dream of quitting) it seems that I don’t have a prayer at this fearless life. So, thank you for reminding me that I do brave right here at home, everyday.
    Tracie recently posted..My Name is Tracie

    • On December 21, 2010 at 3:49 am Sally said:

      Motherhood = brave (no matter where you do it). Eating street food from a cart in Thailand = easy. That’s why I’m sticking to the street food! I’m way too much of a chicken to ever bring a kid into this world.

  43. On January 5, 2011 at 12:06 am Stacey said:

    I like your post.
    Um, no, actually I ate it up like it was leftover chocolate fondu at 3am…

    But it made me think, y’know? Thw world needs all kinds of people in this world. Some to stay in town to make the cookies and donuts, and others to go out and travel to eat all the cookies and donuts. We’ve all gotta have our thing.

    I like what you said about fear. I’m fine with fear. I’ve never wanted to be “brave” and travel the world… (although I do have a reoccuring dream where I’m in Australia…) instead I wanted to be creative. I like making things. I would rather spend my hard earned cash on new fabric I found for 3$ a metre or search through the thrift shop for something amazing to cut/glue/sew while other friends of mine itch in their ergonomic chairs for the next plane ticket. Each to their own. But all the better if you can share what you do with passion AND compassion.

    Dig your Unbrave blog and will be back for more…!

    • On January 5, 2011 at 3:20 am Sally said:

      I love your comment! Yes, the world needs donut-makers & donut-eaters. The challenge is just to find out which role suits you best. (I, myself, should never be trusted with hot oil of any kind so I’ll stick to the donut eating).

  44. On January 11, 2011 at 7:58 am Lil'Fel Rocks the World said:

    this is long. i’m at work in jakarta and trying to procrastinate. ur blog is helping me do this effectively. I feel the same, i’m so unplugged in tthe travel blog world, there are few i like but dry humour chicks who like donuts is cool. i’m pretty curious of how to get more involved. i’m kind of anti-backpacker though, so it’s tough.

    anyways, ur def being added to my very minuscule blog roll as one of the few travel blogs. there are some hilar random ones if ur interested.
    Lil’Fel Rocks the World: Travel Guide for the Poor, Hip Student
    Lil’Fel Rocks the World recently posted..Indie Guide Kuta Bali- Cheap Living A Girls Dream Spot sort of

  45. On January 16, 2011 at 3:38 pm Michi said:

    I loved the conclusion to this post. I stumbled upon your blog just recently and have only been looking around, but I’m already falling in love!!
    Michi recently posted..So D-Man would- were he not D-man call’d

  46. On March 1, 2011 at 10:18 pm Photogenuiss said:

    “cah-razy” sooo many things you’ve written in this post are well known facts some of which have been embedded in our brains due to our education system or clichés yet you put it all together in a well-written-not-so-long-winded post that gives new meaning to old facts/words.
    As for fighting bears with sandwich swords, there’s a time and a place and yogi the bear will tell you all about it. hahha

  47. On July 10, 2011 at 5:33 pm Dyanne@TravelnLass said:

    Woa! A little late getting here, and after no less than 102 comments since January, clearly there’s nuthin’ much more I can add.

    Ah but, as always trust that I’ll just make something up here if I have to…

    Seriously Sally – I just unearthed this one thanks to the marathon “7 Links” thingamajig that’s presently going around (like the measles?)

    In a word: Outstanding! This one truly IS your “Most Beautiful Post”

    (o.k. so that’s 9 words, so sue me…)

  48. On July 11, 2011 at 5:19 pm The Travel Chica said:

    Just discovered this post through your ‘My 7 Links.’ You make a great point. Travel isn’t for everyone. Some people don’t travel not because they are afraid but rather because they simply do not want to.

    It is really easy to judge people who have a different travel style (or none at all), and I do not want to become one of those judges. While I strongly encourage those that want to travel to get over their fears and try it, there is nothing wrong with not having that strong desire to chuck it all and live out of a backpack for a year.

  49. On August 14, 2011 at 1:14 pm melanie - girl with gumption said:

    “A backpack doesn’t equal a backbone”

    Love it! So true. Happy I stumbled upon this post in your archives.

  50. On August 14, 2012 at 12:17 am Priya said:

    Just catching up on some Sally. I guess fear is what keeps us alive. Haha, it’s also why i’ve been avoiding the dentist. Because I truly believe that when I go, it will be the end of the world. but I’m building up the courage.. some how, and hopefully I’ll be in a dentist chair soon while they numb and drill and poke and suck. blah.
    I never know what the difference is between and i use the dot com. but then again, i don’t really know much about that either.
    Priya recently posted..A Public Breakup Letter to My Potential Future Indian Husband

  51. On February 1, 2014 at 8:25 am John Blair said:

    I went on a traveling missions trip called “The World Race”, I don’t think any one on the Race would consider those who haven’t done it a “less”. I know I was called to go, and so I went. If anyone goes just to travel or escape, then it’s wrong to do the Race unless the Lord is int it. I think fear is when you’re afraid to step out when you know God has called you to go. Maybe fear is thinking you are supposed to go, and God has really called you to stay home and work on some relationships that you don’t want too. God calls us for different things at different times, but that doesn’t mean we don’t grow any less where that is. If not for my friends and family who supported me I wouldn’t have done the Race, and that is just as much bravery for them to give a $1,000 check from a Christmas Bonus they got to me so I can reach even one overseas. We blog to share stories of what God is doing and of his vastness in different cultures, and people home see the impact they made in giving. I think if I came away thinking, we’ll “people at home don’t get it” or they just are less then I’m in the wrong. So I appreciate the blog post, but just offering some thoughts from a fellow traveler and blogger 🙂

    • On February 1, 2014 at 11:35 am Sally said:

      Hi John,
      Thanks for your comment. I’m not religious, but I totally agree with what you’re saying here. Some of us are meant to travel. Some of us are meant to stay home and take care of stuff there. And having an attitude like those people who don’t travel are somehow inferior in their life experiences is just wrong.

  52. On February 1, 2014 at 10:48 am livin' life said:

    This post is definitely interesting, but you have to realize that we tend to justify a lot of things in life because they are uncomfortable. If you never figure out your own comfort zone and then step out past it, you’ll always stay where you are. No growth can come of that. Sure you may not need to travel, but all those you mentioned above; Luther, Frank, etc were either in a life and death situation or in a place where their faith was what they lived for…which in essence is the “risk” they ran. Sitting at home in America justifying that we don’t want to do stuff because it’s scary isn’t anything more than an excuse to be comfortable. You only live when your stretched and grow. Travelling to foreign places is one method of putting yourself in a position where you have to rely on your own self, others, and ultimately God. In America we have this problem of control and when that breaks we have crises and rant on facebook about it. Try travelling for a bit and tell me if I’m wrong! Or at least head out into the wildernessfor a few days. At least try and do something you’ve never done before!

    • On February 1, 2014 at 11:24 am Sally said:

      “Try traveling for a bit…”? Umm, I have tried traveling for a bit — in fact, I lived overseas for approximately 8 years of my life. I loved it. It did push me out of my comfort zone and caused me to have a lot of self-growth.
      But, that being said, I don’t necessarily think traveling is for everybody. Just like physics or knitting or watching kitten videos. Everybody’s got that thing that speaks to their soul and makes them feel a deeper connection to humanity/god/whatever-you-want-to-call-it.
      And, that’s kind of the point of this whole post. Traveling is great. It really is. And I totally tell anyone who has ever thought about traveling to go traveling. But if you don’t want to do that, that’s cool too. I just get sick of the you-must-be-a-narrow-minded-nitwit-if-you-don’t-travel mindset.

  53. On December 11, 2014 at 9:25 pm Alvin said:

    I love what you wrote here. It’s so true; many people seem to think that traveling is a one-stop cure-all for all their personal problems, plus a one-ticket ride towards enlightenment of sorts.

    While travel is great (and I’m a big fan), there are many people in the world who have never traveled, and yet managed to become incredible human beings. There are also many well-traveled people who leave something to be desired!

    It’s really not about traveling at all, but about who you decide to be, regardless of your environment. And that’s a choice anyone can make anywhere, without needing to be in an exotic location to do it.

  54. On September 30, 2015 at 7:38 am Poorva said:

    Very well-written, Unbrave Girl. Many of my dear ones are the bravest, most courageous people I have known, yet, they aren’t travellers at all. While I would say that you do become braver when you travel, I agree completely that that is not the only thing that makes you so. It’s what you are made of, how you face the challenges that come your way and how you come out on top. After all, for all his travelling, wasn’t Voldy a real scaredy-cat?
    Poorva recently posted..Yes, I cry.

    • On October 4, 2015 at 8:51 am Sally said:

      LOVE your comment! Yes, it is all about how you get through the challenges — whether those be traveling challenges or just plain life challenges.

  55. On April 5, 2016 at 3:12 pm Chanelle said:

    I never leave comments on blogs but after only spending a few mins on your site I knew that I would on yours. I absolutely love your perspective on fear and I’m glad that you’re sharing them with the world. It’s so funny that I came across your blog because just a few days ago I was having the same feelings inside. Talk about law of attraction! Anyway, Your style of writing is very fun, witty and relatable. Love it!


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