Screw It. Lets Do It. – How I Overcame My RTW Travel Fears

by Marc Valentine

After years of talking about taking an extended leave-of-absence to travel around the world (but with a consistent lack of action).

A week before x-mas 2011 – without discussing with my partner, Anna – I made what felt like a massive decision.

I opened up my laptop & booked 2 x one-way plane tickets.

The big news (that 2012 we would be our Backpacking Around the World Year) wasn’t broken to Anna until Christmas morning.

When she peeled back the wrapping from her gift, that looked suspiciously like an A4 folder – (because it was an A4 folder) & uncovered a file.

The contents of that file. Three pieces of paper…

  1. 2 x one-way plane tickets to Bangkok Thailand

  2. A Hostelworld receipt for the first 2 nights accommodation 

So that was that. it’s all booked. It’s done. We’re going.

It’s fascinating how big decisions (& some not-so-big ones) play tricks with our minds & the importance of the decisions we need to make.

Before booking our flights for example – I wimped out a few times under the “pressure” of putting our lives on hold & spending months backpacking around the world.

I even got so far as to punch in the dates I wanted to fly & entering in my credit card details – all I had to do was hit the confirm payment button & from there it was all beaches & sunshine!

Oh Yeah! Long term holiday here we come.

But something held me back. Cue the… The What Ifs.

What if… we can’t afford it?

What if… Anna doesn’t want to go?

What if… Bangkok is a crappy place to start our trip?

I couldn’t pull the trigger – I still had something to overcome = FEAR

Is Fear Holding You Back?

Screw it. Lets Do It. Overcoming Fear

The best way I’ve found to overcome fear, I learned from Tim Ferris (author four hour work week).

I found this method to be very effective when I left my last job & it helped me finally book the dream holiday I’ve been mentally planning for a long. long. time.

The first thing you need to do is define what risk is (if you can clearly define risk, it will help you put it into perspective)

So what exactly is risk?

When you strip everything else away. No matter how many different ways I’ve tried to spin it – the best way I’ve found to define risk is….

The possibility of a permanent negative outcome


Sounds pretty heavy right?

Every way I looked at it – the possibility of a “permanent negative outcome” resulting from our trip was virtually impossible…

So I come home and I don’t have a job – big deal…
I’ve never found it hard to find work.

So were going to need a place to stay when we get back…
I’m sure a family member or a friend would throw us a lifeline & let us stay in their spare room for a few weeks.

We could run out of money overseas…
Entirely possible. If  we do get low on funds – I can pick fruit, get bar work to make some cash, or borrow enough for a flight home from family.

 When you get these issues down on paper, you find – there’s a backdoor for nearly every negative situation you can dream up.

If you’ve been dreaming about traveling, but what ifs have been holding you back. This exercise helped me let go of my fears. It might help you let go of yours too.


Take a piece of paper and draw a table with 3 columns…

Column 1                           Column 2                            Column 3

Worst Case Scenario               Worst Case Prevention            Reversing the Damage

Fill out each column for every what if that’s holding you back.


Don't Put Your RTW Travel Off Any Longer

The 3 Columns of Perspective


For example…

Column 1                   Column 2                                      Column 3

Worst Case Scenario        Worst Case Prevention                                   Reversing the Damage

I get fired             Offer to take leave without pay   Apply for jobs online  

Clearly the above example is a simplified version of the exercise – yours is likely to be a bit more complex.

When you use this exercise to put the weight of your decisions into perspective – you usually find that most of the decisions you make in life – actually carry a low-to-moderate level of risk.

So if something is holding you back from taking that dream trip abroad – take 10 mins to do this exercise & get some perspective…

Your dream trip might be closer to reality than you realise.

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