Pre travel anxiety is the worst! Whilst it can seem that everyone else travels confidently and without a worry, that simply isn’t true. Even the most seasoned travellers suffer from bouts of travel anxiety from time to time!
Find out how we combat travel anxiety and how you can too. Our easily actionable steps will help you to find out how you can combat anxiety and travel confidently.
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Everyone suffers from a little pre travel anxiety at some time or another
If you were to look on Instagram or Facebook any day of the week, you’d be bombarded with images of people travelling the world and having a ball. From families enjoying Disney, to couples on endless honeymoons and women backpacking around with out a care. Truth is, it is just an image.
Behind every one of these pictures is a worry of some type. Can I afford this trip? What if I’m stuck on my own? What if I get in trouble and can’t call for help? I’m feeling a little lonely.
Problem is, its not all that glamorous to post what we ‘really feel’. Sure some may have the odd comical post about a bizarre destination or a hairy experience, but for most we are posting our ‘idealised’ image of travel. For some this can be inspiring, but for others it may make us feel a little anxious that our trips don’t quite look the same, or what might happen to us if we were to step out of our comfort zone and say go backpacking solo.
Travel anxiety symptoms manifest in many ways. They can be crushing and stop you from booking a trip or they can just niggle at you and take some of the enjoyment out of your travels. The best way to handle anxiety is to prepare for it and tackle it head on. Creating a plan is one of the best ways to cope with anxiety and this can also be said for pre travel nerves.
If you are suffering from anxiety before you travel, don’t worry! It’s normal, just know that it doesn’t have to limit you! There’s no real solution how to avoid anxiety, but if you rexognise it, name it and plan for it, you’re half way there.
Pre holiday worry- I could never afford to travel like that
Whilst travel is much cheaper than the past, it still costs money. For many of us who have commitments like a house, a car or children it can sometimes seem impossible. Luckily, there are plenty of resources available online to help you to save money for travel or travel around the world even!
Pinterest is an excellent resource for searching for travellers who have done it before. Personally, I would stay it all starts with $1 (or whatever your currency is!). Cost out the trip you’d like to take and then put manageable amounts away each pay towards your goal. You may not be able to travel in 6 months or even within the year, but you will make it!
One former colleague of mine used to plan a big trip every second year. She would start saving for the next trip as soon as she got back from the last. It gave her something to look forward to and work towards. She never missed a trip! There are so many ways to save a little money each week to put towards your next adventure.
What works best for me is to put down a deposit and then pay it off. I am much better at paying things off than saving. It just seems that little bit more tangible to me. Many travel agents offer this service and some airlines now allow you to pay a deposit and then the balance a little closer to the date. If you’re a financially savvy traveller, and prepare in advance a lot of the stress is alleviated and travel seems far more achievable!
READ | Get some inspiration from our guide to solo travel in Malaysia!
Travel planning worry - I've got no one to travel with
If I waited for a friend to join me on most of my overseas trips, they never would have happened. Now that I have travelled solo, I can sing its praises, but I can remember back to before I took my first solo trip and the anxiety that it caused me.
My first solo trip came about quite accidentally. I was all ready to travel to Malaysia for 10 days with a friend when she fell sick and was unable to travel. At the time I really needed to get away, so I decided to travel alone. As I was staying in resorts with just a few organised tours and day trips, most of the time I was on my own.
I did find that when I was starting to feel lonely I would come across people to chat to and have dinner with. It was almost like they popped out of the woodwork just when I needed them. It also gave me time with myself and a chance to work through some issues that had been plaguing me back home. Turns out a little bit of loneliness can be quite good for you sometimes.
READ | Travelling with a friend isn’t always what its cracked up to be. Read out guide on picking a compatible travel mate. (hint you may be better off alone!)
Since that trip, I’ve travelled solo many times and taken some valuable lessons from that trip.
- Join a tour– instant friends await to share the fun with you.
- Organise someone to collect you from the airport: Nothing can be quite as scary as arriving off a flight and having to negotiate the trip to your accommodation. Skip this step and arrive calm!
- Consider your Accommodation: Resorts are great for couples and families, but not when you’re travelling solo. Maybe spoil yourself for a night, but smaller hotels and hostels are much better for meeting people and will help stave off potential loneliness.
- Start small: Book shorter solo trips to build up your stamina, you don’t need to circumnavigate the world solo on your first trip!
- Keep in touch with home: Utilise free wifi or get a local sim. It’s not failure to chat to friends and home when you’re feeling a bit lost or lonely, or perhaps to share. something awesome you’ve seen
Negative self talk - I'd never be able to do a trip like that
Overseas travel is all about the extreme. Hitchhiking, backpacking and climbing towering mountains. Um, no its not. Travel is about what YOU want. Fancy a long weekend in Singapore shopping? Go for it. Travel does not have to be #authentic and #offthebeaten track in order to be enjoyable. Book the kind of trip you want to take and don’t worry about what others are doing.
If you are looking for something off the beaten track and are building up to something a little more exotic, don’t worry if it feels a little stressful. I often become quite gung-ho about booking trips and feel fantastic about them until its time to get on my flight.
When I travelled solo to Nepal I may have been tempted to stay at home because it all felt a little too much before my then boyfriend, now husband, pushed me towards the gate and told me “You’ll have fun!” Turns out I did have fun, and my room mate for the trip confided that she’d also had a pre trip panic. It happens to the best of us and isn’t always a sign you shouldn’t be going!
If it is your desire to travel to Nepal and climb to basecamp, then put steps in place to train for it. Search online forums and get advice from other travellers. The online travel community is huge and a great place to air your worries and get advice. Even if you’re not travelling on your own, the trips for solo travel can still apply to you. Make sure you’ve got someone to greet you on your arrival and book somewhere comfortable to stay for at least your first night. Tiredness breeds insecurity so know your weaknesses and plan for them in advance.
TIP | Travel in a group. Find out what it’s like to travel with Top Deck in your 30s!
If you're scared to travel - it can be overcome!
If you don’t begin you’ll never get there. Whilst it is reasonable, and also expected to have some level of anxiety around travel, it doesn’t have to be the driving force to hold you back.
A great way to work out what is worrying you and to brainstorm strategies on how to overcome that worry is to complete a ‘challenging scary thoughts’ sheet. We’ve got one here for you to download and complete.
Sometimes by writing down what is causing your anxiety you can pin point if it is a valid worry, or something that you can put measures in place to abate. This will mean being really specific, and not just listing you fear generally such as ‘a fear of flying’. Is it turbulence, take off or landing you fear? Narrowing it down will help you to tackle your fear head on.
Quite often I find we are happy to encourage a friend to do something that we would be afraid to do ourselves, as we can clearly see ways through their objections. Why not try it for yourself, it may just open up the door to a brand new opportunity! Travelling has so many benefits, that it is well worth it to ‘bite the bullet’ and get out there and do it. Learn how traveling can be beneficial for your health here.