Anxiety, that unexplainable force that fills your head with unreasonable doubts, worry and fear. Anxiety can be absolutely crippling, it can stop you from living your life and turn really positive, happy situations negative – very quickly.
I have struggled with anxiety for a while now and let me tell you it’s not fun! It can really put a damper on how I perceive experiences while on my travels and my creativity suffers, but that doesn’t mean that I can’t fight it and help others along the way.
A Little About Me
I don’t know about you, but I always wanted to be that girl you see in movies, the popular, pretty girl, the one who is fun, bubbly, loud and carefree with an adventurous spirit. The type of girl who will flash you a smile and scream as she runs to jump off of a cliff into the ocean without asking any questions, just for the thrill. The girl that travels the world, trying to find herself, meeting new likeminded people along the way. Sort of like Bridget from Sisterhood of the Travelling Pants. The girl that just doesn’t care. However, as much as I try, the reality is I am not that girl. Yet, there is still a huge desire within me to travel and that doesn’t mean I shouldn’t travel.
If you have anxiety or you know someone with anxiety, you will know that getting on a plane, navigating unfamiliar streets and experiencing different cultures may cause some stress. It brings about the fear of the unknown. The uncontrollable. A scary thought for many.
Although I have become much better in certain situations, like at airports, Byron has had to learn to handle me in my moments of worry and panic; often about silly things. He jokingly mocks me about it sometimes, because he doesn’t understand that at the moment my fears aren’t rational. Sometimes all we need is to talk to somebody who understands.
So I thought I would share with you the things I do to prepare myself for travel in order to get a better handle of your anxiety while you travel. After all, not just one type of person should be allowed to travel.
1. Carry A Travel Itinerary
The more prepared you are, the more capable you will feel to handle any situation. I like to carry a small folder with me that has all the information I need. My flight information, tickets, hotel reservation, photocopies of my important documents, an emergency contact list, travel insurance information, a printed map of the area in case my GPS bums out, you name it, I’ve got it.
2. Download Relevant Travel Apps Before You Leave
Another process of planning could be to download any apps that could make your life easier in another country. Travel anxiety is often made worse by that fear of being stuck – so make sure that can’t happen (although… it almost happened to us once).
For example, downloading Grab for transportation purposes if you are headed to Southeast Asia. Download Google Translate so you can read certain road signs or speak to locals. Research all the apps you’ll need and download them before, so you don’t have to worry about whether or not you will have data to download them once you’re there.
Also make sure you notify your bank that you are travelling, you don’t want them to block your access to your account for any suspicious activity.
3. Pack Smart
Carry as little as you possibly can. The more bags you have, the more you will stress about what you are carrying. You don’t want to travel with the anxiety of whether you have your 3 bags or not. I recommend a small crossbody bag for flying and walking around that fits only the necessities like money, travel folder, passports and phone. The rest should go into the hold of the plane or be left in your hotel.
4. Rescue Remedy – Natural Relaxant
Personally, when I’m about to get on a flight or I’m just feeling a little too anxious I take 2 -3 rescue tablets. I get them from Clicks and they are a natural homeopathic tablet that uses Clematis (a flower essence) that is used to treat shock. They also have a drop version. Don’t just take this willy nilly – follow the instructions! You don’t want to take too many and then not be in control of yourself.
5. Travel With A Buddy
Travelling alone can be fun and exciting but it can also be very stressful when no one else is there to help you. Oftentimes when we feel anxious, we don’t think rationally and having somebody else there can really make a difference in order to handle a situation.
P.S. Try to find a confident buddy so it’s not just the two of you who have come together to travel with even more anxiety!
6. Take A Moment To Breathe & Analyze The Situation’s Logical Conclusions
Oftentimes we can begin stressing out over something that really isn’t an issue. We need to take some time, step back, assess the situation and go through a list of the possible outcomes that could come out of a situation and analyze if it is worth us stressing about.
For example, if you are on a bus and you are worried that you might get off at the wrong bus stop, analyse the different outcomes if that happens. First, acknowledge that nothing will happen you will just be standing at a different location.
1. You can hop onto another bus.
2. You can explore this area instead.
3. You could walk the rest of the way.
There is always a solution, even if it isn’t the preferred one.
7. Keep A Travel Journal And Celebrate Your Wins
Take time to acknowledge your wins. Write them down and relook at them whenever you need strength as a reminder that you can handle the situation.
8. Music & Podcasts
Sometimes it’s a good idea to distract yourself and detach from your current thought patterns. Pop in your headphones and transport yourself with a great song or an inspiring podcast. Maybe this blog helps you? Bookmark it! (cmd+d/ctrl+d)
9. Don’t Feel Pressured To Be Spontaneous
You meet a group of friends and they all want to go out and do that cliff jump. Great, go with them, you don’t need to jump. You can casually walk into the water from the shore. You can take a moment and jump in 20 minutes after everyone else. Take your time. Your decisions are a lot “cooler” than those made by others.
10. Leave A Day Open To Do Nothing
Oftentimes doing too much can freak you out and overwhelm you. Plan a day to do absolutely nothing. Order room service, get a massage from your hotel’s spa, lie by the pool. Re-energise. However, don’t do this first! You don’t want to lull yourself into a comfortable zone and then become too afraid (anxious) to venture (travel) out and explore.
Most importantly don’t stop travelling and exploring! Over time you will get more comfortable with uncomfortable situations! Lots of love from the girl who took an hour to jump off of a 7-meter high cliff (just when you thought the cliff jumping was just a fancy example!)
Have you been travelling with anxiety? What happened to you? Did you ever NOT travel? Share with me below!
Travel With Less Anxiety
Kind of like for step 2, you don’t ever want to feel stuck. So if you’re travelling to Southeast Asia, you can book all of your transport beforehand! This was really great for Byron and I because we (sadly) had a lot of bags, had a lot of places to go, a lot of different kinds of transport (buses, trains, bots, minivans etc) and couldn’t always read the instructions! Luckily 12Go Asia had English options.
I placed all of my tickets into my travel folder, per the day we needed them. So I knew, we will definitely get there and there are seats booked for us already!
Try looking for some routes below.
Some High-Anxiety Travels
Besides almost getting stuck in Manila, there have been a few times where my tavel anxiety was pushed to the max!
Take the road to Pai for example, wow! That was so scary. But I have also overcome a lot. From not being able to hike up Lion’s head in Cape Town, to scaling the side of a mountain with nothing but old ropes at Suwehan Beach or sitting alone in a random village on an island off of Bali, without understanding a word!
You never know when anxiety is going to strike, but you can do a lot to be prepared for it and still travel the world!