By Amy Heritage
Everyone has a little phobia – in the Mapthegap.co.uk office, we’re terrified of listening to Lionel Richie songs. But travel is all about getting out of your comfort zone, embracing new experiences and trying things you never could at home. So, what better time to face your fears head on?
Scared of spiders? Go to Australia
What do you get if you add 220,000 difference species of insect (1500 of which are a species of spider) to 21 of the world’s 25 deadliest snakes? Australia, of course - the best place to face your fear of things that creep, crawl and slither. If you stick to the cities then you'll probably never spot a thing, but if you’re heading out to the countryside to try your hand at WWOOF’ing, then you might come into contact with something a little more sinister. The good news? What seems like a silly phobia in the UK is a real issue in the Aussie Outback – so once you’ve come across the really scary stuff, then you’ll never be quite as worried by the harmless bugs at home.
Scared of heights? Go to New Zealand
AJ Hacket is the godfather of the Bungee Jump; after some crazy Oxford students invented the practice in 1979, Kiwi Hacket was the first to commercialise the sport. Now the AJ Hacket Company runs jumps at four different locations in New Zealand – including the Nevis, which involves an epic 8.5 seconds of falling from a pod suspended 134 meters above a river. If you don't fancy that, then just fake it. The Taupo Bungee use green room technology to create the illusion of a real jump. So, at least your family will think you did it when you get home.
Scared of weird food? Go to Cambodia
Deep fried Tarantula anyone? If you’re a bit of a fussy eater, and the thought of chomping down on anything with eyes thoroughly freaks you out, then Cambodia is the best place to push yourself out of your comfort zone. Cambodian street food can be pretty daring – try some fried scorpions, white ant egg soup or fried grass hoppers. Or, if you’re not feeling that adventurous, sample a delicious Cambodian curry instead – often made with pumpkin, fish and egg and spiced with turmeric, start anise and tamarind.
Scared of sharks? Go to South Africa
Although pretty terrifying creatures, Great White Sharks are not mindless killing machines. Most shark attacks on humans have been cases of mistaken identity – surfers look a lot like seals from underneath. Actually, sharks are pretty incredible. They can detect one drop of blood in 25 gallons of water, smell blood from up to 3 miles away, and swim up to 15 miles an hour. Xtreme gap offer places on a Great White Shark conservation project in Gansbaai, South Africa, - including cage diving with the sharks - if you want to get to know and understand them better.
Scared of loosing cell phone contact? Go to Bolivia
No we aren’t making it up, there really is a phobia of loosing cell phone contact – it’s called Nomophobia. There are a few places in the world where you’re guaranteed to loose connection, but we’d say that out of those the Bolivian Salt Flats, or Salar de Uyuni, are a must see. 64 million tons of salt make up the flats, creating a stunning natural wonder. Gap Adventures include them in their Great South American Journey. Plus – they’re pretty challenging if you’re afraid of wide open spaces too!
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