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My Travel Fears (Including Rats, Bats and Drowning)

My Travel Fears (Including Rats, Bats and Drowning)

I hope you aren’t looking for a deep, philosophical piece about loneliness or missing out on a normal life. Those things don’t scare me; my travel fears are much more concrete…


As a kid I was always scared of mice. Maybe it’s the way they scurry, or the fact that they can get anywhere they want to, but they always stressed me out. I never saw many, but just like the show Mad Men, I saw enough to know I wasn’t a fan. Rats are just like big mice, so I guess it’s natural that I’d be scared of them as well. I’d heard horror stories of rats in beds, eating through backpacks and even on plates served as dinner.

In one year in Taiwan, six months in Southeast Asia and 20 months in Singapore I’ve probably seen about 20 of them, and each time they give me a fright and shake me up a bit. Most were spotted in Bangkok and Saigon, with Saigon being particularly infested. I could hear one clawing at the wall right next to my bed, so obviously I didn’t get much sleep that night. I had to keep on hitting the wall to scare it away; hopefully it got the message and didn’t crawl on me when I eventually slept. I have also seen them in plenty of restaurants in Saigon and Phnom Penh.

As much as I hate rats, each time I see one they lose their stigma slightly, which is probably true of all fears. Following this logic, I plan on one day visiting that crazy rat temple in India, where thousands of milk-drinking rats roam freely and have become a tourist attraction in their own right.

Rats drinking Milk Karni Mata Temple DeshnokVisiting this temple could scar me for life or cure me of my fear of rats


I was a slow learner when it came to swimming, and while I can swim comfortably now, I still have a fear of deep water. I have always thought that if I died young it’d be from drowning, so I’ve been very careful. This probably stems from seeing The Big Blue (a film about free-diving) as a child, which freaked me out.

I have never jumped off a boat, snorkeled, or done any of those seemingly fun things that people do in the water. Give me calm, clear, warm, and most importantly shallow water and I’m straight in there. As long as I can touch the bottom I’m happy. It’d be great to overcome this fear but I also don’t feel I’m missing out on too much. The one thing I wish I could have done was jump off a boat in Ha Long Bay. Maybe one day I’ll conquer this, and learning to dive would be cool, but I’m pretty happy sticking to the shallow end of the ocean for now.


And here is one travel fear I did conquer…..


I don’t think I learned much about bats at school, maybe I was absent that day, but my fear of bats stemmed from assuming that they would fly straight into me because they are blind. It took a trip to an “Indiana Jones Temple”, as described by the guy that served me lunch, to realise bats are pretty good at avoiding people, even in confined spaces. The temple is in Bagan, Burma and it requires you to crawl through cramped, hot tunnels while bats fly around your face. There were hundreds, maybe thousands of them (not to mention spiders and cockroaches) and you’d think it would be an awful experience, but it was actually fun and it cured my fear of bats instantly.


Out of three travel fears I have managed to conquer one, but I have plenty of time to get around to the other two. What are your travel fears, and how do you plan to overcome them? Let me know!


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Jon Algie

A travel blogger from New Zealand who hates talking about himself in the third person and has no imagination when it comes to naming websites.

Mindi @2foodtrippers

Wednesday 9th of July 2014

You should get your PADI certification in Thailand. The diving there is amazing. If I can do it, you can do it!

Jon Algie

Thursday 10th of July 2014

I'm considering it, I just tried snorkeling so I'll stick to that for a while I think.


Friday 4th of July 2014

I live in NYC so I see rats on a regular basis in the train stations. It is almost okay when they are on the tracks, but when they are on the platform, it freaks me out so bad.

Jon Algie

Thursday 10th of July 2014

Yeah, I wouldn't enjoy that!!

Andy Tope

Monday 10th of February 2014

Classic Jon,

Thought I'd check your site out and saw this post. I have had a fear of rats my whole life, and of deep water when alone.

I've encountered plenty of snakes and spiders in my time, but I grew up with rats, having a plague-infested field across from my house. I've never quite gotten over it.

I'm also a pretty good swimmer and used to surf and have done diving. It's not so much deep water but deep water on my own that I have a fear of. I'm alright when there are people about.

jon algie

Monday 10th of February 2014

Cheers Andy, sounds like it was a traumatic childhood!

Montecristo Travels (Sonja)

Friday 7th of February 2014

We are scuba divers. It is worth it. AND it helped me with my claustrophobia. I don't mind bats or rats ... but small closed spaces will send me into a total panic. I am also NOT a fan of insect invasions. I can manage it in almost all environments but not a hotel room.

My big fear when I travel is being attacked. I don’t want to use the “woman” card. Because it has not changed now that my husband is next to me. I can defend myself. That isn’t it. I just have this fear that I will be hurt beyond my ability to recover, in a foreign country with no way to get help or go home. Doesn’t stop me from traveling but that fear is there. I also travel with my dog and I will admit sometimes I am more worried about him than myself! HA!


Friday 7th of February 2014

I'll probably try diving one day, gotta build up to it though! I should have added my fear of small, rat-like dogs (you have a chuwawa right?) but I'm sure it's cute....