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Monday, May 18, 2015

Terrified of Traveling

I lost another Teen Travel Ambassador this morning. She won't be going to Toronto with us in July. Her mentor sent me a note telling me she's too anxious. My volunteer's heart is broken. 

Truth is, I saw it coming. And I warned her.  "I wanted you to be wrong," she said. "I wanted to be wrong too," I told her. 

But this is all a part of the work we do helping girls get on the road to global citizenship. And as sorry as I am to say this, I'm used to the disappointment, the parental fear, the lack of trust. But as used to it as I say I am, her comments and her heartfelt disappointment made me cry. 

And then I wiped my eyes and thought about the girls who are still going. The ones who are likely afraid, but going anyway. Because there are 8 anxious girls (whose parents are likely anxious too) who are going to go on their first international adventure with their very first passports to Toronto in July in spite of their fear. And yes, the fear is real.

This is a short essay from Taylor, one of Phase 2's Teen Travel Ambassadors. Taylor's travel mentor wasn't 100% sure this was appropriate for The Passport Party Project blog. And I totally get it. But I think it's perfect. And timely.

It's called Terrified of Traveling:

When I think of traveling, I think of a plane. I think of a plane in the sky traveling to another state or country. When I think of me traveling, I think of a plane falling, a train derailing, a car crashing, or a boat sinking. I watch so much television that I have seen a lot of bad outcomes of traveling. I have heard some good outcomes, but the bad always outweigh the good. Now I have been on a plane before and it never fell, there were no incidents, but I was so jumpy the whole time. I rarely got out of my seat, not even to use the restroom. I tried to hold it in as long as I could. When I'm in a car, I look around to make sure that each car is in its own lane. I really shouldn't blame not being able to travel on being underserved. I should blame it on being scared to do so. I should always think about the good outcomes of anything because without bad outcomes, good outcomes could never come.

She's not alone, of course. There are many people afraid to travel. Afraid of life even.

So I ask you; all of you frequent travelers and self-proclaimed wanderlusts who might have forgotten what it feels like to be afraid to travel; who take plane rides and passports for granted; who have no idea what a young girl goes through before she takes her first international plane ride. What would you tell Taylor or any other teen girl about to change her life without her knowledge? How would you help her manage her fear?