Travelling When You're Anxious | travel

by - October 29, 2015

Most of us will agree that travelling around the world, seeing all of the amazing landscapes, exploring different cultures and trying some of the best food out there, sounds like a great idea. The problem is, for a lot of us although we want to spread our wings, the thought of being thousands of miles away from the familiarity of what we know can be terrifying. I am/was definitely one of those people.

I'm what I like to call 'a bit of a Monica'. I like to have things organised, planned and checked and checked again, otherwise I panic. This means that for years, the thought of 'travel' as most people see it was something I just didn't feel I could do despite wanting so much to explore our wonderful world.

Believe me, I envy the grab your backpack and go travellers of this world, I'm pretty sure they save a lot of time but that just isn't me. So, if like me you suffer with anxiety around new/unknown experiences, I hope these tips, that I have worked out along the way, help you take the leap and go and see what you've always wanted to even though it all seems a bit scary.

1. Time.
Set a date far in advance. This way you know exactly when you're going to be where, this is going to give you plenty of time to carry out the next steps and also help narrow down your planning and research so you know exactly what to expect. This will really reduce your anxiety, after all it's the not knowing that starts the whole thing most of the time.

2. Research.
Whether you have heard a lot about the country you want to visit or know nothing at all, getting something like a lonely planet guide (I suggest the little location specific pocket guides) can really help start to figure out exactly what is going to suit you. It can seem like an overwhelming sea of information, but start small, start by looking up the things that first drew you to a place. Then, start looking further and make a list of what appeals to you, look down the list when you have completed it and decide if you think you really want to do it and if you think you can do it. Make sure you're still pushing yourself a little though, I mean it's all about personal growth!

3. Get Organised.
I normally use a spreadsheet, yes I'm a geek, but a diary or just lists of dates could work too. Fill in travel times, where you will be staying, how much things are going to cost. Look at how you will get from place to place, what sort of area it is (Google Maps Street View thank you very much). Once you have the base structure of your trip, you will feel a lot better about filling in your days with all the fun stuff.

4.Travel Partner.
Who you travel with is probably the most important mark on this list. Not only do the people you are with make experiences, they can massively reduce anxiety. Consider what the person you're doing with will want to do, even if they're your best friend in one setting, do all of their favourite activities fill you with dread? If so, it may not be the best start to settle your travel woes, and realistically could get you in situations you're just not comfortable with. Some of the people I most admire are the craziest in my eyes, however I wouldn't be making them my travel companion tomorrow. Finally, talk to your travel buddy about how you're feeling, let them know you may have bouts of anxiety and if they are fine about it and you feel comfortable, the chances are they're a good match and will be a good person to have by your side if you do have any issues throughout your trips.

5. Start Small.
A lot of traveller go balls to walls and head off on their first trip for a year, to the other side of the world, alone, literally amazing. However, if you're reading this post, the likelihood is you want to do that, but right now you can't so start small. I am still working my way up, either choose a shorter time, start with a month or two over a year, this will make the whole 'unknown feeling' settle a little. Stay closer to home, somewhere in that crazy irrational, anxious part of our minds, the thought of being further away from the familiarity physically is more scary, so stick to shorted distances to start with. Stick with your first language, or places you can easily communicate. This one is one, the pretty quickly will have to be broken, however if like me you're an English speaker, the thought of Canada, America, Australia and other English speaking countries, are easier to approach knowing that if their are any issues, there won't be any barriers.

Finally, I hope this helps but know it's a journey (excuse the pun). I even this summer cancelled a trip because I just didn't feel it was the right time, and am definitely still working my way up from the smaller, easier trips. This is more of a, you're not alone, try these steps and go and there and see what you want to see, it's worth it. Once you're there, in the perfectly planned destination of your dreams, you'll forget about the other stuff and knowing you have thought of everything before you even stepped on the plane will hopefully ease your mind completely.

What is your biggest travel fear? Has being anxious prevented you from travelling before?



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