Straightforward and honest, it’s what people have told me they respect and expect here on RTTF.
So let’s start there.
The world is filled with more places that I want to see than is likely possible before I die (unless I can figure out this whole teleportation thing). Israel was not part of that list. I didn’t know much about it other than what I’d seen on the news, which let’s be honest is usually only when something awful happens.
But when the invitation landed in my inbox for a fitness focused trip around the Jerusalem Marathon I was open to the idea. A couple quick Google searches showed me that there might just be more to this country than I knew, but I was still nervous. Was it really safe?My parents were understandably not thrilled because each day anew story seemed to pop up about attacks and bombings, but I talked with many friends who had visited Israel and assured me it was indeed very safe. The longer I pondered the situation the more I realized a few things:
- There are places in EVERY state/city that I wouldn’t hang out because they are unsafe
- These tend to be the places that most frequently make the news
- The unknown often feels scary
- Unfortunately as Paris and Brussels reminded us all, things happen. We can choose not to leap in to dangerous situations, but we can’t stop living out of fear of the “what if”.
So I said yes.
I was rewarded with an experience that I’m still struggling to put in to words because it was so much more than a sightseeing trip or a race, thanks to the serious effort by Vibe Israel to introduce us to locals and give us experiences you’d never have on a tour or likely on your own.TRAVEL FEARS
Of course it sounds simple to say that I changed my mind and all was well, but I know that to overcome travel fears actually takes a little bit of work. It requires some mind shifts and confidence building. Here are some additional tips to help get over the major fears that keep many from seeing places they’ve long dreamed about…don’t let them stop you.
Convinced your cruise ship is going to end up like the Costa Concordia? Your plane will be the next to vanish from the radar? You’ll be pick pocketed or part of a new terrorist attack?
High school sports kill more Americans every year than terrorist attacks, and the same goes for pedestrian and bike accidents. According to the State Department, the number of civilians killed overseas as a result of terrorism between 2001 and 2013 was 350. – From Boston Globe.
If that’s the case, then why are we so afraid? Because the news doesn’t put a bike accident on every channel 24 hours a day for a week, but the do with any large scale disaster. Our brains remember it and we begin to imagine the whole world is far more unsafe than it really is.
Not only that, but we’ve ridden a bike or crossed a street. These seem simply like unfortunate incidents, compared to information about a place we’ve never been or seen. It’s harder to put aside your fear when it’s coupled with the unknown. A few good ways to resolve this:
- Seek out friends who have been there for advice
- Learn more about your destination (travel blogs are an awesome tool!)
- Find ways you can be more aware of your surroundings and situations that make you feel confident, not afraid
- Consider all the the news stories you see at home of accidents and crimes, but would still visit those cities
Worried that you won’t be able to speak to anyone or read a sign for that matter? Congrats you were lucky to be born an English speaker and the world is currently catering to us. I am consistently amazed to find that the majority of people you’ll encounter in restaurants, tours, etc have wonderful to passable English as it’s part of their core curriculum in school.
In the few instances where someone doesn’t speak English, gestures usually get across your meaning…we all understand drinking and the pee pee dance. Pretend it’s a game of charades and when all else fails, they will usually point you to someone who does speak English. In more remote areas this may not be the case, but if that’s your style of travel then you’ve likely been practicing the language and rocking your Google translator! The ExuseMe app is also a great tool for getting some of the basic phrases for wherever you’re traveling which will help you and is always appreciated by locals.
Worried about not talking to those back home? It’s easier than ever now and doesn’t require you to pay for International service.
- Download WhatsApp which will allow you to text using Wifi
- Rent a mobile Wifi hotspot so you can social media and text your heart out
- Use Skype or Facetime for video chats
No idea what to expect from the menu or indeed what the menu actually says? Great news, this too can be easily remedied!! After a lot of overseas travel I have found a few things that seem to be pretty universal:
- Pointing to an item total works if there is a language barrier :)
- If you let them know about food allergies they will help you pick appropriate items or adjust items (be sure to say allergy and not just dietary preference, the second doesn’t get you very far)
- Download Global Eater Food Dictionary which will translate almost any menu item so you know for sure whether you’re eating cauliflower or cockroach
- Download Yelp to find reviews and search by certain foods or types of food you’d like to enjoy
- Part of experiencing a culture is trying their food, so be open to trying a bite of this and that!
- Read up in advance to know if you should drink the water or stick to bottles
- Carry some chewable Peto tablets, the jet lag alone could make your stomach feel a little off
The long and short of it is I hope you’ll find ways to overcome travel fears, so you don’t miss out on all that the world has to offer. Travel opens you up to new ideas, new people and creates unforgettable moments
In the next couple posts, I’ll be diving in to all the behind the scenes details of the photos I shared on Instagram, but first I think it’s super important to share things I learned about Israel. You can obviously skip this part, but I think it’s cool info…clearly or I wouldn’t be writing about it!
Vibe Israel: This company is dedicated to showing the world another side of Israel than what’s in the news. They bring in influencers for different tours from food to technology to fitness and give them lots of access to locales and experiences.
Military: Every Israeli, men and women, goes in to the military for 2 years of service right out of high school. Do they like this system? No, but they also understand that as a small country right now it’s what is necessary and it definitely makes many feel more patriotic.
Hebrew: Everyone learns English in school making travel there super easy for us, but Hebrew is the primary language which means I couldn’t read products or signs. Unlike other languages where I could sound it out, this is a whole different scenario. In main tourist areas, signs also show English and in some areas Arabic.Diversity: One of the best things about Jerusalem is that it is a true melting pot. Every culture, religion, and socioeconomic status is represented; it’s like United Colors of Benetton up in there! Additionally, not all Jewish are Orthodox which we associate with the beards and hats. Many, especially the younger generation, are more conservative and
Startups: Israel is actually the tech start up capital of the world! They like to say they had to get creative to solve problems and the result is that many of the largest technology companies in the world utilize things created in Israel and many new creations are coming out everyday.
Weather: Being right on the Mediterranean Sea, Israel enjoys mild winters and warm summers. It was around 50 and rainy our first couple of days which everyone kept saying was their worst winter so far, ha! Luckily the bustling city of Tel Aviv is boardered by beautiful beaches, boardwalks and rest areas.
Ever taken a trip that surprised you?
Are are the recent issues abroad changing your travel plans?
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