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“You are more likely to die crossing the street than you are flying in an airplane.” These were the words my father said to me as I was dropping him off at the airport. Three days later, he was hit by a car and killed. A true worrywart is probably thinking, “Well, he should not have said those words because we all know that just thinking about something or saying it out loud makes it happen.” Good news fellow worrywarts, based on my own anecdotal research, the chances of dying from thinking about things and/or saying them out loud are zero.

My father, who died 20 years ago, loved to travel and I think it was frustrating for him knowing that he had raised a child who was perfectly content to let her fears keep her confined to a life of porch swinging and road tripping. As I spoke at my father’s funeral about all of the places in the world he had lived and traveled, the cultures he had experienced, the friends around the world he had made, the things he had learned . . . . I thought it is a good thing he lived a full life because he died young.

On the flight home with my father’s ashes tucked under the seat in front of me, and our young family spread across three rows because it was a last minute “bereavement” flight, the plane bounced violently in a thunderstorm. The pilot announced that we could not land, and then an hour later informed us we would need to land in a different city because we were running out of fuel (one of those crazy irrational fears us worrywarts have about flying) where we ended up spending several hours on the tarmac without food (I bet the guy who had refused to move so our family could sit together wished he had been more considerate after several hours of listening to a whining three year old, a hungry one year old, and their young whimpering pregnant mother mourning the loss of her father).

Back up in the stormy skies, I kept reminding myself that there are worse things in life (like being a box of ashes under a seat), that turbulence is a luxury; that being gripped by fear is useless in this scenario – there is nothing I can do – I have no control (I now find flying very relaxing for this very reason).

At some point during the horrific flight, I thought what if this plane crashed, what if I knew I was going to die in a week, a year, ten years . . . wouldn’t I live those remaining moments with wild abandon? Wouldn’t I regret letting fear and worry keep me from living a full life with no regrets?

Uh . . . no.

Life is long and it is even longer when one takes care of it (aka seatbelts, helmets, and looking both ways).

However, since we are all going to die eventually, we may as well include some well-planned and safely executed wild abandonment adventures in our long, long lives just for the fun of it . . . and for the sumptuous delicacies, the fascinating culture and history, the ancient artwork, the mind boggling architecture, the spectacular scenery, the insight gained by stepping out of one’s comfort zone (sliding off the porch swing or out of the recliner) on to the common ground discovered in a foreign land, and . . . no regrets.

So began our young family’s “risk free” adventures: climbing the Acropolis, admiring the Sistine Chapel, walking the walls of medieval villages, biking along narrow lanes lined with thatched roofed cottages or white-washed cave houses, hiking the Alps, sailing fjords, paddling the calm waters of countless picturesque rivers,  . . .

. . . watching our toddlers play on a dirt runway while waiting for a prop plane to land on a small island . . . .

Because of my father’s accidental death, our worrywart family grew up traveling albeit usually in a fearful huddle shuffling along a dirt road or a cobbled lane or a rocky trail hoping not to be attacked by an unleashed dog or a wayward heifer.

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My father’s death changed our lives, if you are a worrywart, I hope it changes your life, too.

Eventually, the list below will be transformed to links to posts with tips for traveling in each place (Cinque Terre and general tips for Thailand are the only two completed so far) – the home to these links will be The Worrywarts Guide to World Travel and Risk Free Adventure :

Tonga
Vava’u

New Zealand
Queenstown
Farm Stay
Doubtful Sound
Mount Cook
Franz Josef Glacier
Rotorua

Italy
Venice
Rome
Florence
Assisi
Lake Como
Portofino
Padua
Verona
Lucca
Chianti
Montone
Orvieto
Siena
Pisa

Greece
Athens
Santorini
Olympia

France
Paris
Chamonix
Carcassonne
Amboise
Bayeux (D-Day Beaches)
Dordogne Caves
Rocamadour

Germany
Füssen
Berlin
Rothenberg
Oberwesel
Burg Eltz
Lübeck
Dresden

Spain
Barcelona

England
London
Rye
Bath
Cambridge

The Netherlands
Amsterdam

Denmark
Copenhagen
Aero

Norway
Fjords

Austria
Hallstatt
Vienna

Czech Republic
Prague
Cesky Kumlav

Switzerland
Mürren

Thailand
Ko Somui
Khoa Sok
Railay Beach
Ko Phi Phi
Railay Beach
Chiang Mai

USA by Train
Zephyr
Southwest Chief
Empire Builder
Downeaster
Coast Starlight

USA Road Trip
30 Day – 9000 Mile USA RV Trip (Don’t do it!)

USA Cities that I have lots of worrywart tips for:
San Francisco
Lake Tahoe
Berkeley
Santa Barbara
Phoenix
New York City

Social Studies, Math, Language Arts, and Science Curriculum matrix of activities for traveling throughout Europe with children.

The kids are grown now and have added their own “adrenaline starved” adventures to Morocco, Egypt, China, Vietnam, Malaysia, Costa Rica, Taiwan, and India.

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Our oldest (pictured above on Mount Sinai) will be moving to Indonesia next week to work with the Peace Corps.

Indonesia (December 2012)