I remember sitting in my bedroom, watching amazing travel vloggers on YouTube, travelling the world, having amazing adventures and thinking….I’ll never be able to do that.
Honestly, I never thought I would be able to travel alone because of my anxiety. I thought it would be great but due to my “condition“, it would be a waste of money because I would have a massive anxiety attack and come crying home within a few days.
There’s so much to think about and it’s not easy…
People don’t just pack a bag and leave! That’s called running away, not traveling!
You can feel overwhelmed by everything you need to think about before you even step on the plane. Accommodation, Visas, vaccinations, insurance, transfers? Packing your bag and wondering if you packed the right thing or if you’ve forgotten something? Then, what do you do when you get there? Will you plan every day, go with the flow and will you make any friends?
OK. Let’s stop with all the questions. I want you to feel better rather than worse. The fact that your reading this post and you want to travel, this already makes you a bad ass!
Anxiety will never stop you doing what you want in life, unless you let it.
Everyone is different, we all have our own triggers and ways to calm ourselves. You need to find what’s best for you to make your first steps to get on that plan and it all starts with booking the trip…
THE HARDEST STEP IS BOOKING YOUR TRIP!
It took me 3 years to book my first trip! Yes….3 years. I was terrified. Travelling was something I always wanted to do but I always thought it would be something I would do with my friends. Next thing, I knew I’d missed the boat.
My friends who were interested in travelling went travelling when I just wasn’t ready. They went a year after we finished university. I managed to get a graduate job and couldn’t save a penny as my wage was barely livable. They saved for a year and left when I was penniless.
My other friends weren’t interested in travelling. They took either the career route or the marriage path which left me single and alone on the travel track.
I had no one to travel with so I had two options…
TRAVEL ALONE OR NEVER TRAVEL
Once I decided travelling alone was my only option to do what I wanted to do, the next step was getting the courage to book a trip on my own. This was the hardest part!
READ MORE: AN ANXIOUS TRAVELLER’S GUIDE TO….
Actually putting your money were your mouth is.
This is only something you can do on your own. For me, it took 3 years. 3 years of strolling through #wanderlust on Instagram, watching travel vloggers on YouTube and then finally getting so fed up with my job/routine that I wanted to get out there to do something amazing.
Find a REASON and a GOAL to motivate you!
I used my birthday as a good goal. I wanted to have an incredible birthday. Most of my friends are in long term relationships, married or with babies so getting together and having a wild night out like the old times is a thing of the past. We do great day sesh’s though!
The reason to travel was easy. Hated my job, I wanted to see the world and I wanted to use the trip as a reason to start a YouTube channel to start being creative again.
One you have some sort of motivation to push yourself to booking, then it becomes a lot easier to find the courage to book your very first adventure.
Once you do your first solo adventure, the next one and the one after that is a piece of cake!
YOU’RE NOT ALONE
Being anxious for your first time travelling is a natural thing. Even people without diagnosed anxiety get nervous about the unknown of their first foreign country.
I thought I was weird for being so nervous and I didn’t want to talk to anyone about it. Everyone I saw who went travelling before me, travel bloggers or YouTubers seem so annoyingly confident about travelling by themselves. NOT TRUE!
It wasn’t till I entered the blogging world and actually started speaking to people about travel anxiety when all the truth started spilling out.
Anxiety can make you feel LONELY and ISOLATED, and you don’t want to feel that way thousands of miles away from home
Travelling alone for the first time is scary! It is, there’s no lying or sugar coating it. But damn what a rush you feel afterwards….
It wasn’t till I got home till I sat back and said “DAMN! I just travelled across America…on my own!” All my friends and family were so interested about my trip and I had so much to tell them because….THEY WEREN’T THERE!
No one went with you so no one knows your stories!? Make them jealous of your adventures! DO IT!
However, there will be some people who know your stories. The people in them. Yes, you’ll meet people on your travels. You might even make friends for life! For me making friends is a little harder. I have social anxiety so meeting people on my travels and worrying if they’ll like me was constantly on my mind.
People with social anxiety struggle to maintain relationships. I’ve personally had long periods of time struggling with my anxiety where I’ve cancelled plans with with friends so many times that we don’t see each other anymore. I never told them about my anxiety and I lost friends because of it.
Travelling has helped my anxiety and improved my relationships with people. Travel friends are great because I mostly only get to speak to them via social media as they’re all over the world. However, if I’m struggling to want to see people I know they’re always there and when we chat it’s like we’ve never been apart. The reunions are amazing too!
My anxiety makes me feel rude and anti social…but that’s not me
I did make friends on my first trip and you know what we bonded over….HOW ANXIOUS WE ALL WERE ABOUT THE TRIP but also about how excited we were about the things we were all going to be experiencing together.
Yes! Again….you are not alone and you won’t be the only one nervous about travelling. If you go on a group tour to America, you’ll find a lot of first time travellers as it’s a great first time travel experience and a good way to dip your toes in the travel pool. You’ll also find a lot of first time travellers who’ll go back packing solo in Asia and Australia.
Another good first time travel experience is working abroad. Summer camps is a popular one, teaching English as a foreign language, working at a ski resort or volunteering.
So remember, when you get there. Talk to people. You’ll feel a lot better knowing and seeing everyone feels just the same way you do. Before long, you’ll be having such a good time with all the people you’ve met.
You’ll forget why you were worried in the first place!
PLAN TO PREVENT PANIC
The best way to stop pre trip anxiety as well as anxiety on a trip is by preparing and planning. When I was younger, I used to just go with the flow and roll with the punches. How wonder I had no control over my anxiety back then.
Now I’m super organised and make lists. I love to do lists, adding things to my calendar, setting alarms, making alerts and keeping my self organised.
Keeping myself organised keeps my anxiety stable and keeps me sane!
Before you go on a trip, research about it. For example, I went on a group tour so I went on the tour companies website, downloaded and printed off every document they had about the trip, as well as ordering the brochure to have it all to hand.
I made a to do list to make sure I was fully prepared and a packing list so I wouldn’t forget anything. I also took to YouTube and watched travel vlogs of people who had been on thee trip before so I could see what to expect.
I even spoke to YouTubers and bloggers who had been travelling with the company before. Asking them for advise and tips really helped. It never hurts to ask people you’ve never met for help. YouTubers and bloggers always want to help!
They’re not just out for followers like some people think. I really enjoy helping people and if it wasn’t for them I wouldn’t be a blogger now too, passing my wisdom on to you.
To do lists and planners will help you keep all the worries onto paper instead of stuck in your head
Get all the thoughts down on paper or download an app. If this doesn’t work for you, then there are other ways to feel organised. Chalk boards or white boards are also good.
Whatever you chose, get it down in writing so you can tick things off. You’ll feel so much better seeing everything slowly being ticked off your list rather than filling your head with worry and anxiety.
When ticking things off your lists, the best advise I can give is “baby steps“. One step at a time. You don’t have to tick off everything in one day. Maybe spread it out, do some things at the weekend. Maybe you don’t tick anything off in a week. It’s OK.
Set yourself goals and do them when you feel OK to do them. Sometimes knowing you have loads of things to do can set your anxiety off. If you don’t have to do it that day or you can move it to another day, then don’t do it.
Planning your adventures should be fun! Don’t stress yourself out about it. Maybe get someone to help you. Just because you’re going by yourself, doesn’t mean you have to do it all by yourself. Friends and family who know about your anxiety are always on hand to help you achieve your goals.
The worst thing you can do is over plan everything so when you get there and if something doesn’t go to plan. You can’t plan everything. When you plan a trip, you’re planning the destination. You can’t plan the people you meet or the experiences you’ll face or the things you’ll feel. But that’s apart of travelling….
Don’t OVER PLAN everything! Leave room for a bit of mystery and adventure
If you know everything that’s going to happen, then what’s the point of going in the first place.
By planning every little detail, you can feel disappointed that things didn’t turn out how you planned. The anxiety of things not going as you planned, can make you worried and make you feel ill. Don’t plan too much. Plan the important things. You can’t plan things you don’t know will happen.
PANICKING CLOSE TO DEPARTURE
The closer the trip comes, the more you’ll start to become anxious. This is totally natural.
I had SEVERAL PANIC ATTACKS before my first trip and now I can’t remember the last time I had one about travelling…
The dread of the unknown is something that plagues my anxiety. Not knowing what will happen. For most people, you can get a buzz out of this emotion and increase excitement too. However, my anxiety does tend peak more.
Now I’ve travelled more, this has become less and less. From experience yes, from improved to do lists and packing lists most certainly. More often than not, I kind of know what to expect.
Every trip is different, but it’s also the same. I thrive off routine. OCD is a steam from my Aspergers and is also where my anxiety is from too. Every trip now feels like a routine. I have my packing routine, my airport travel routine and my plane routine.
Perfect travel routines come from experience but also from MAKING A LOT OF MISTAKES
You can’t learn from something is you don’t do it in the first place, so don’t worry about making mistakes the first time round. You’ll just be more prepared the next time and more often than note, there is usually a next time and a time after that.
You will get anxious and maybe start to panic, so do you know what to do if you get too anxious? Is there something you know which will keep you calm?
If you’ve got anxiety mediation then make sure you use it as prescribed by your doctor. If not, there are other ways to keep you calm. Breathing techniques, distracting yourself by keeping busy, music, videos, etc. Whatever puts you in your “happy place“.
Personally, if I get anxious at home. I’ll play on “The Sims”, do a puzzle, watch a film or have a long bath. If I’m out and about I’ll put on some music, watch Netflix on my phone or call someone.
Make sure you know all the things you can do to keep yourself calm and use them when you need to.
When you’re travelling you’ll be by yourself, looking after yourself. So you need to know the best way to look after your mental health as well as your physical health too.
One of the best things to do is to focus on everything you’re looking forward to on the trip. Pick out some highlights so if you every have a down day and want to leave the trip, you can use the phrase…“I can’t leave because I’ll miss out on XXX and I’ve been looking forward to that for months!”
Use the “10 day rule”
If I’m struggling at the beginning of a trip, I tell myself “Give it 10 days”. By the 10th day, I’m always fine. I’ve usually forgotten all about it or I’m having such a good time I don’t want to leave.
TRAVELLING CAN IMPROVE YOUR ANXIETY
I can honestly say, my anxiety has improved vastly since my first trip. I feel like a whole new person.
I’m braver, more confident, travel smart and less anxious.
Who is this girl? I’ve adapted into a better version of myself but a person I always knew was there somewhere. I like this girl.
Travelling has introduced me to so many new experiences, friends and I’ve ticked a lot of places off my bucket list.
The things that shocked me the most, is all the new experiences I’ve done that I didn’t think were possible when I was sat in my room all those years ago.
Having anxiety makes you think that if you do something or eat something or go somewhere, you’re going to die…but here I am.
I didn’t die. I’ve lived!
Check out my very first travel vlog about my first time travelling alone:
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