So, how do you get from shaking behind a computer screen booking flight , to getting on that plane and having your mind at ease?
I think it is important to note that no matter how many times you hop on a plane and cross the borders to a new country you will always encounter something that catches you off guard. Every time you will learn something new and even though you may feel anxious about that, it is part of the travelling process. And in my experience, the surprise element of your travels, the unplanned bits and the life lessons are the most memorable parts of your journey. And they make for awesome anecdotes for you to share.
With this in mind, overcoming anxiety while travelling is still not easy. And even though, I have travelled around a bit, I still get anxious. But I have learned a few tricks to keep my mind calm.
I used to get the most anxious if I didn’t plan my route. If I didn’t prepare a bulletin guide to each of my days while traveling then I was setting myself up for the most uncomfortable anxiety butterflies in my stomach. And I still do that. Both the butterflies and the planning. However, now I ease up on it as well.
My advice is to have a list of things you want to see on your travels, places to visit, restaurants to eat at. Maybe lay out an approximate day-by-day plan but leave some room for on-the-spot changes and spontaneous decisions. If you have prepared an easily alterable plan, then you have the best of both worlds. You’ll know what you want to get out of your journey, which is incredibly important to establish, yet you’ll be able to truly soak up the new cultures by letting the places you visit guide you. Roaming the streets and simply walking into a café or a museum or taking a stroll down a beach, you have not researched beforehand, will leave just enough natural interaction with the place you are discovering to make you feel like the true explorer.
If you are starting out travelling my biggest advice is to always look up transport. Knowing whether trains, buses, metro or boats are available in the area you are visiting will save you so much worrying once you get to your destination. Believe me when I say that I have shown up to a new place not knowing how their public transport works and have been awfully lost, extremely nervous and most of the times ended up spending more money than I needed.
Ask the locals. That right there is one of the best tips I have gotten myself. Whatever problem you are having, there is a good chance that a quick chat with someone from the area will solve everything. Going up to strangers is not something you might be comfortable with, but it gets easier over time. And I have nearly never encountered someone who would be rude and sent me away. Mostly everyone is super friendly.
Do not overtravel yourself. What is that you ask? It’s pushing yourself to do more than you are capable of because of someone else’s expectations. If your whole party feels like going out but all you need is a quiet night in to recharge, don’t feel bad about it. The same goes for not having to visit every little tourist spot recommended by the tour guides on the internet. Pick and choose the best ones for you and remember to rest. Travel can be exhausting and the last thing you want is to not be able to enjoy your journey.
And the last tip – take a leap of faith. Take the risk and buy the tickets. Wander around the city without google maps guiding your each step. Try new things. Trust yourself a little bit. But mostly, go out there and do it, because the best way to overcome anxiety while travelling is by travelling.