What a year! 2019 has been quite a monumental year for my travel books and for my personal anxiety journey. I’ve visited 4 incredible countries including Egypt, Alaska, Greece and Costa Rica, while maintaining a full time job!
I’ve been pushing myself all year to take on some of my biggest fears and anxieties. At the beginning of the year I set myself a mission to tick off some of my main bucket list items. However, to do these experiences I would have to face and conquer my main fear of Open water.
READ MORE: An Anxious Traveller’s Guide to…
On the way, this big scary cat also took on some other challenges and fears which I wasn’t expecting. This year, I’ve become so proud of myself in so many ways and I’ve made some incredible memories on the way.
I didn’t think I would be able to accomplish this challenge when I set it 12 months ago and now I feel more confident about my next anxiety challenge for 2020! More news on that later…
Here’s some of the fears and anxieties I’ve faced this year:
A travel blogger who gets travel sick? Madness, but true. I get horrendous motion sickness when driving for long distances or on windy roads. I’m OK if I’m driving but if you’re on a tour bus or public transport you can’t really swap with the driver can you.
The worst time was last year through Egypt on the windy roads of the Atlas Mountains. Unpleasant.
By the time I got to Costa Rica, I had learn’t all my lessons. Sucking it up and being that loser at the front of the bus nearest the driver so I can concentrate on the road in front of me. By not forgetting my travel sickness tablets and taking them before the journey.
I hate being sick and it really drains me out. Nothing worse than feeling ill when you’re in another country and trying to enjoy the experience.
The only bad thing about travel sickness tablets is they do make you drowsy so I was pretty much knocked out after I took them and almost missed a sloth on the road in Costa Rica.
EXTREME ZIP LINES
I was pretty confident about doing Zip lining again in Costa Rica after doing it for the first time 2 years ago in Canada. However, I wasn’t prepared for the madness of these extreme lines.
In Monteverde, they have the longest zip line in Costa Rica, two superman zip lines and a Tarzan Swing!
I’m not really scared of heights. I thought I was till a few years ago but it turned out it was the noise of airplanes that got me. What did scare me the most about the zip lining was the fall from the Tarzan swing.
God help me if I ever to a bungy jump but I am proud of myself for doing it. It took me 8 minutes to fall but I did it!
I typically avoid places where I know the mosquito situation is pretty bad as I’m allergic to Mosquito bites. Not like I’ll die a tragic death allergic but I do get horrendous allergic reactions to them.
Typically my mosquito bites blow up to the size of tennis balls or bigger. No exaggeration.
I really didn’t want this to stop me from going to some of the places on my list so I suck it up and went anyway. Yes, I suffered a little but the fact I went to Alaska and Costa Rica is a win in my eyes.
I speak English. I live in England.
Due to most of the world having English as their first language or being able to speak multiple languages including English, this has made me realise how lucky I am.
It’s also made me realise how privileged I am that most of the world can understand me. However, this has limited where I want to travel. I found it easier and more comfortable to travel to counties where I knew they would speak English.
This leaves my travel options limited though and I would still like to travel to countries in South America and Asia.
This year, I went to Costa Rica knowing that apart of the trip I would be going to a Spanish speaking home stay. They didn’t speak any English. I was very anxious about this part of the trip but I learnt that just because they don’t speak English, doesn’t mean we couldn’t communicate.
They were lovely, friendly and welcomed us kindly into their home.
USING PUBLIC TRANSPORT IN OTHER COUNTRIES
I sound like a complete brat when I say I don’t like using public transport. At home, I don’t mind it. However, I social anxiety and if the tube, train, etc is busy then my anxiety gets a little overwhelmed.
Also, there’s nothing worse than someone’s armpit being in your face.
When I’m travelling, I’m very aware the cheapest way to travel is by public transport but I prefer booking tours because you get your own private transport. Your own space and most of all I know everyone on board.
This year, I tested myself by booking a trip to Costa Rica where we had several mode of transport including public transportation. We even used boats and a public bus where the locals brought chickens or goats on too.
I even took my hand at sailing around the Greek Islands.
As long as I have Netflix, I’m pretty set for any method of transportation now.
The thought of island hopping really used to terrify me. Mostly the idea of being stuck on an island and having to rely on another person to get me off it. I don’t like relying on another person. Guess I’m very independent that way.
My trip to Greece really settled this fear and made me realise that I can trust other people.
I guess that’s the main anxiety for people travelling….trusting strangers.
It is possible. Obviously, always try to stay “street wise” and trust your instincts but keeping safe travelling is a main worry.
I loved travelling around the Greek Islands with Medsailors. Enough to say I can’t wait to do it again next summer.
FEAR OF OPEN WATER
I’ve been avoiding open water since a near drowning accident when I was 7 years old. Something I never really spoke about till this year.
I’ve been having reoccurring nightmares of drowning, waves and tsunamis since that day.
This year was dedicated to getting back in the water. I used to love being in the water and this year was to reacquaint us.
I took several trips which included water elements to build up to the grand finale and make it easier for me to get into the water.
Firstly, the trip to Egypt which had a cruise along the River Nile. Then, the trip to Alaska which had a Wildlife cruise in a smaller boat. I was also supposed to be going to Hawaii but that ended up not happening, so next was the trip to Greece where I finally jumped into the water after 15 years.
I did some snorkeling in Greece too and then in Costa Rica, I finally ticked off Surfing on my bucket list too.
Open water is now a thing of the past, just like that terrible movie with the same title.
WORRYING ABOUT FOREIGN FOOD AND WATER
I’m a fussy eater. Always have been. I get really anxious about trying new food and I also have a broken nose (which I’ve tried to get fixed with no success).
Due to my Asperger’s I typically go off textures from food rather than taste or smell. This limits food I can eat and I tend to eat the same food or meals every week.
This year, I’ve been to 3 different continents which all had different types of food they’re known for. I’ve done really well to try different food.
In Greece, I tried Mussels, Feta, Olives and Aubergine for the first time. In Egypt, I had various types of chicken and rice dishes but mostly faced my fear of street food. Disregarding Alaska as their main dishes are seafood based which I already love, this left Costa Rica which again had various rice dishes but boy did they love beans!
In every country, I left realising I ate everything…! What was I worried about? Food is food!
TACKLING LONG FLIGHTS WITH ANXIETY
I don’t mind flying. Not anymore. Spending hours sitting down watching back to back movies is now a dream for me.
What makes it an unpleasant experience is the people. Social anxiety overload.
I had a flight where I was stuck in my seat for 8 hours because the guy next to me wouldn’t move and made me feel bad about getting up. What I learnt was, you can’t help who you’re stuck next to on a flight, people can be rude and to go to the loo before boarding.
The food is bad. Always. Eating before the flight is essential.
Downloading Netflix is also a good move, just in case your screen doesn’t work or you don’t even have one.
Always bring a travel pillow. Flying is uncomfortable.
If you can get into the Airlines lounge beforehand, score! Chilling out in the lounge, not wrestling for a power socket or wifi and free food, always makes the journey so much better.
MAKING FRIENDS WHILST TRAVELLING
Before every Travel vlog series, I always comment on “how worried I am about who I’m going to meet while travelling”.
Will they like me? Will there be anyone my age? Will there be too many girls, people travelling together or cliquey groups? Will there be people who speak English? Will I make any friends?
From someone who was bullied throughout school, there’s nothing worst than people not liking you for no reason, picking on you, calling you names or leaving you out. It’s not a nice feeling.
I’ve met so many other people while travelling, who were also worried about people they were going to meet on the trip.
What I’ve learn’t is, everyone is in the same boat and everyone wants to have a great time with no dramas. I’ve not had any major dramas on trips and the majority gets along. If you don’t get along with someone then there are other people to talk to.
Travel solo but never alone!
Check this video showing all the fears and anxieties I conquered in Greece:
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WHAT FEARS OR ANXIETIES DID YOU CONQUER THIS YEAR? LET ME KNOW IN THE COMMENTS.