How to Travel With Anxiety!
I have had sooo many wonderful messages from you guys on Instagram asking me about how I travel. Is it hard with anxiety? How can I afford it? Where would I recommend? How to get started? And so many others.
So, being the over the top people pleaser I am, I’m launching a whole series to answer your questions! June is for travel. I will be answering a ton of FAQ’s this month. I will then release one travel piece each month to go alongside all of my other posts.
First up though, and probably the most asked question, is how to travel with anxiety?!
Anyone that has suffered with anxiety will probably know that the added stress of being away from everything you know, packing, security, visas, language barriers etc, are probably not the ideal solution. However, for me, travelling has been the total opposite. I have never felt more at peace in my soul than when I’m taking my passport out for a spin. And this is how I do it…
How to Travel With Anxiety
1) Prepare – As best you can. Whilst it’s fun to be spontaneous, there are certain areas you really shouldn’t procrastinate over. Having these sorted will give you a sense of control in what is often an ever-changing experience. Trust me, I’ve often learnt the hard way…
- Passport – Is it valid? This includes making sure it won’t expire whilst you are out of the country. Check the rules of the country you are entering to see how long they require to be left on your passport before it expires. If you’re not sure, best to renew.
- Visas – Do you need a visa where you're going? If so, make a list of all the documents you need, how much they cost, and how long it will take to process them. Your passport and visas are the most important documents. With these in hand, the world is yours for the taking!
- Safety – Now, I’m a big believer that there is more good in the world than bad, however, if Liam Neeson isn’t your dad, then make sure you are looking out for your safety.
A) Give a family member your travel itinerary, or, if you are being spontaneous, send them a text, or install ‘Find my iPhone’.
B) Always have a working phone with you. You can get plans that will work everywhere, or just pick up a local pay as you go sim.
C) Don’t be alone. Even if you’re travelling solo, join organised groups, meet people at your hostel or stay within the public eye. No shortcuts through side alleys, walking home at night, or getting super drunk without someone you know. Basically, the rule of thumb is, don’t do anything that you see stupid people do in horror movies, okay?
Don’t get me wrong, there are plenty of things you could plan, but these are definitely the top 3! Closely followed by money and packing. To ensure as little stress as possible, make sure you can afford it, your money is exchanged in advance and you aren’t packing the night before your flight ;-)
2) Start small – Don’t feel like you have to send yourself off to the depths of the Amazon rainforest to be classed as ’travelling’. Take baby steps and build up to your around the world solo voyage!
- Take a friend –Travelling with other people is great fun. Ask a friend, family member or join an organised travel group and make some new travel buddies.
- Build-up – Go somewhere different in your own country first. Then try somewhere a small flight, or train ride away. Keep proving you’re badass until you’re ready to fly away to a new part of the world.
- Try different styles – Travel is so diverse. It’s about finding what works for you. Hotel or hostel? Back of your car, or spa resort? I’d recommend you try before you buy and see what you’re comfortable with. Stay in hostel close by, or go and camp somewhere local before you jet off and then hate it.
3) Research – A good way to calm anxiety is to educate yourself. Familiarise yourself with where you're going and start to feel at ease with the idea.
- Trust others – Read blog posts, watch vlogs, ask around, read online reviews. Chances are, lots of people have already been to where you are going, so see what helpful tips and tricks they have.
- Communication – Do they speak a different language to you where you’re going? If so, learn some basics and pick up a book, or download an app to help you as you go.
- Rules – Every place has different rules. It’s best to look into the rules of where you’re going. Do you need to be careful what you wear? Do they tip differently? Do they have traditions you should be aware of? It’s best to get to grips with the local way and prevent any extra stress.
- Fall in love – Look into the amazing things you can do there and get excited. Make a trip bucket list and Pinterest the hell out of it! Fall in love with this new place you’re going to experience.
4) Take home comforts – Just because you’re away from home, doesn’t mean you have to feel anxious. Take some home comforts with you and feel better wherever you are.
- Smells – Take an essential oil you like or clothing with perfume on. Smells are a very powerful way of experiencing memories.
- Something you treasure – A family photograph, your childhood teddy, or a special letter. Something small that provides you with comfort. I have a little muslin cloth that belongs to my baby brother. It’s been all around the world with me.
- Something cosy – Your favourite slippers, a fluffy jumper, your own pillow case – Just something that gives you that cosy feeling no matter where you are.
5) Document the hell out of it – Even if you never post it anywhere, just do it for yourself and your own memories. It will help you overcome any anxiety over future trips too. It’s solid proof you CAN do it.
‘We take photos as a return ticket to a moment otherwise gone’ – TRAVELERMENTALITY
- Capture your happiness – Get a shot of everything that moves you. Capture every single moment and prove to yourself you’ve got this.
- Keep mementos – Your first plane ticket, a flyer to an experience, a tattered map or the card for a random coffee shop you stumbled upon. Make a scrapbook or just keep them in a shoebox under your bed. These are all proof of your awesome bravery.
- Souvenirs – It’s that whole surround yourself with items that bring you joy idea again. Collect awesome things from around the world. They’ll tell your story and give you super cool decor. Plus, who doesn’t love a dodgy fridge magnet?!
6) Don’t overthink it – I know, I know. Saying that to an anxious person is like asking your dog not to sniff butts, but as best you can, try not to.
- Ignore the news – Seriously, or you’d never the leave the house. It will have you believing everyone is murderer, terrorist, kidnapper or worse…travel instagrammer!! It’s not true. Our world is beautiful and so are most of its people. Go and see for yourself.
- Trust your gut – It will never let you down. If something doesn’t feel right, it probably isn’t. Use your common sense and trust that you are an intelligent person. You’ve totally got this.
- Have ways to calm yourself – Whether that be through breathing exercises, affirmations, music or talking. Find out what works for you and use it whilst travelling. Try apps like Headspace, or Calm. Take a book, colouring book or crossword puzzle to do. These are great for distracting your mind and directing your thoughts elsewhere.
7) Take the pressure off – Don’t expect yourself to be Bear Grylls straight away. The first time I stayed in a hostel on my own, I had several panic attacks, but the more you do it, the more you realise you can do it and it’s actually amazing!
- Take each trip one moment at a time – If you are constantly worrying about your next step, then you’re not travelling. You’re just stressing abroad. Take each moment as it is and enjoy it. It will all work out, and if doesn’t, you can always, always come home.
- Celebrate every win - You did the flight, high five yourself, you stayed somewhere new, cheers to you, you tried a new experience, throw yourself a frickin party! You’re nailing it. You aren’t letting your anxiety stop you anymore and that’s bad-ass. Because of your bravery, you are able to explore this incredible planet!
- Release your inner child – This simple mindset shift will change how you see the trip. It’s like seeing the world for the first time, each time. Be excited and have fun. What better middle finger to anxiety than that?
I really hope this post has inspired you to travel. Travelling has changed my life, and the way I deal with anxiety. It’s given me the confidence to trust in myself and my knowledge. Travel shows you you’re capable.
If you take anything from this post, let it be this. Your anxiety does not define you. Your life will not be put on hold because of it. You are just as capable as anybody else. You can achieve anything you want to. Everyone gets scared, but if something scares you and excites you, then it’s exactly what you should be doing.
You’ve got this. I promise you.
As always, tight squeezes!
Question of the week: Where is top of your travel list?