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An Anti-Adventure Guide: Fear of the Unknown


There’s endless advice on how to plan, prepare,  and execute the perfect adventure. Lists of must-have items and all the minutia. And while some are undoubtedly helpful, the reality is most people don’t fulfill their dreams because of one major factor. And it’s not time or money. It’s the fear of leaving your comfort zone. The fear of the unknown.

In 2012, I ogled an F650GS I was considering buying to ride from Seattle to Ushuaia. Upon hearing my tentative plan, the salesman curtly responded with, “Well good luck with that, young lady. I’ve been planning that trip for five years!’ – before heading to the next client and losing the sale. Perhaps he was thrown off by my gender or age, or maybe he was really convinced years of planning are necessary. But I’ve always wondered: has he done it yet, or has he been stuck in the mulling-it-over phase ever since?

In late December 2013, a quick decision was made, and I bought a plane ticket to Santiago de Chile, departing a week later to ride the Americas. Bags were packed with bare-bone essentials the night before.I had quickly mulled over whether or not to go before committing to it by purchasing the plane ticket, and that single decision was the hardest part of the entire eight – month, 20,000-mile journey.

People always ask, “Weren’t you scared?”

Of course. Being scared and hesitant due to the magnitude of the adventure, the time alone, and the things that could go wrong are entirely natural. But knowing the risks, although sometimes great, are often in the mind and can be managed with good sense and sharp wits. Indecision is part of our process, and sometimes the only way to get beyond it is just to get the ball rolling in the right direction, despite the fear. Otherwise, dreams would always be just that: a dream, unlived and unfulfilled. fear So bite the bullet and go.

If you’re not much of a planner or you’re working with tight finances, don’t feel bogged down with endless lists and must-have items. The secret to a great adventure isn’t in the details or farkles; it isn’t in the saving and planning and research. It’s about attitude, and it’s called an adventure for a reason. The attitude gets you through it. The passion to live your dream is the driving force, and the ability to stick to it and show grit, one of the most incredible of human characteristics, can be a life – changing experience. Show yourself your determination, despite the hesitancy or downright fear that is the natural consequence of stepping out of your comfort zone.

The trick? Embrace it. Sure, there are other factors, but the most important is to understand your fears. Accept them for what they are, manage your risks cautiously, but don’t let them stop you from what you truly want. Fear keeps us alive, but it also keeps us in our comfort zone, and what’s an adventure if it doesn’t push us a bit?

So go ahead. Embrace the fear, and go live your dreams.

And because people love lists, I’ll add mine to the fray:

1. There’s likely no ‘perfect time,’ so make the most of your life, now. Invite others to join if that helps, but when friends bail, go anyway. Hinging your dreams on others can lead to major disappointment.

2. Leave your comfort zone and don’t let fear define you. Instead, use it as a tool to keep you safe on the road by listening to instinct and using good sense.

3. Take decisive action to keep yourself accountable to your adventure dreams. Sell your car. Buy a plane ticket. Rent out your room or house to push you out the door. Tell your friends what you’re about to do, and try to make contacts with people who have already done similar things, so you don’t feel totally alone.

4. When the going gets tough on the road, when things just seem too hard, take a step back. Stop looking a month down the road, and try to take things day by day. And remember, there’s always a new friend just around the corner.

5. Ignore the naysayers and be off with courage, sharp wits and sure, a little healthy fear.


Elisa Wirkala riding a GL125
ELISA WIRKALA. Photo by Justin Herx

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beth dolos 2016 December 2 at 6:00 PM

WOW, this is great, I get charged up reading stories and advice from other women, I recently bought an F800GS for me and an F700GS for my wife, we took Rahyde’s intro to adventure and feel confident to get out there and be able to get ourselves out of trouble should we find ourselves in it!!!!! Thanks for the online read!!!

Egle 2016 December 3 at 7:41 PM

Thank you, Beth! We hope to inspire and encourage. Wonderful news about you and your wife getting into adventure!

Editor's Letter: Moto Magazine for Women | 2021 February 25 at 12:55 PM

[…] matters of mind and soul. And finally, insights and observations from the road: Elisa defined the key factor of adventure, and Sandy shared her passion for big bikes and the harmony of […]


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