It’s Okay to Feel Anxiety Before Travel
I love to travel. I mean, duh. I’m passionate enough to keep this blog going for almost three years. But I’m not always excited to pack, hop on the train to airport, slog my way through customs, find my hostel, alllllll that great stuff that comes with travel.
Like a lot of you, I also feel nervous before my big trips and wonder whether or not it’s a good idea to travel alone at all. My mind sometimes drifts towards negativity, nagging me about whether or not I’ll make friends or if I’ll hate the place I’m visiting. It’s so true staying home, relaxing over my school holidays, is a lot easier than boarding a plane and navigating a new city.
As you know, the rewards are worth the mental effort and temporary discomfort. Solo travel is fantastic. I honestly recommend everyone travel alone at least once in their lives.
I want to reassure you, though, that your pre-travel anxiety is nothing to feel ashamed of. And those emotions? Can also be addressed and defeated! You don’t have to cancel your trip and stay home.
Now it’s fine to acknowledge fear. Our natural reactions exist for a reason. At the same time, we can’t have anxiety, unease, and distress transform into our constant companions. What sort of life is that? Not a fun one. I know I don’t want anxiety whispering fearful BS into my ear 24/7. Ain’t nobody got time for that!
Beating anxiety before travel is a great goal. You got this!
How to Cope with Anxiety Before Travel
As I’ve already said, your pre-travel anxiety is completely understandable, but it’s possible to manage and contain these feelings of unease. I promise, I promise, I promise! Don’t despair and cancel your trip, because I know you’re more than capable of accomplishing your dreams.
You can take many steps to soothe your anxiety before you ever embark on your journey. No need to try to pull your head into a better space at the airport. It’s not the best setting when you’re attempting to reach a zen state, am I right? You’re better off achieving clarity when you’re still at home.
And what about ignoring your fears? Ahhhhh. Not always the best idea either. I can attest wearing a “strong face” only works for so long. Honestly, if you try to “bury” your anxiety, then you risk your feelings erupting, like a messy hysterical volcano, and making the situation a thousand times worse.
Let’s focus on these steps instead. Bon voyage!
1. Research the best possible accommodation for your needs.
Accommodation is so important for your upcoming solo adventure’s success. Yes, you may “only sleep there” at the end of a long day of sightseeing, but regardless, your accommodation is your home away from home. Therefore your hotel, hostel, apartment, whatever needs to feel truly safe and a place you look forward to resting your head at the end of the day.
For example, I like to meet people when I travel, but at the same time, I’m not willing to sacrifice cleanliness or safety to save a buck or two. My personal comfort is more important than a discount. All of these factors are negotiable.
Therefore, while I stay in hostels on my solo trips, I research the hell out of them and read reviews like I’m tackling a novel in a British classics course. I only stay at the best places. Ze best!
So, plan your accommodation well ahead of time and have those reservations firmly in hand! I suggest you do the same. Your anxiety will thank you for your preparation.
2. Purchase travel insurance.
Travel insurance, in my opinion, is mandatory. I’m not even joking. You never know what will happen and life doesn’t stop surprising you just because you’re in the middle of traveling. Being prepared is absolutely essential.
But let’s ignore the important of insurance for a second. What does buying a plan do to ease your anxiety? Uh, a lot. Travel insurance will serve as a reassurance that even if you fall ill or miss your plane you will still receive compensation for misadventures.
Think about it. Have to go to the doctor? You will be reimbursed for what you pay out of pocket. Do you need to be airlifted to the nearest hospital? Your $50,000+ flight will be completely covered. Did your luggage disappear into a black hole? Call your insurance provider!
Don’t skimp here. I know cost is a concern. I promise purchasing travel insurance doesn’t have to break your bank account into a million pieces unlike other coverage you need in your daily life (looking at YOU car insurance).
As a solo traveler, you can search for reasonably priced plans that still offer excellent coverage overseas. I usually go with World Nomads for my trips.
3. Talk to supportive friends or family.
Reach out to your support network. I mean it!
It’s helpful to have cheerleaders in your corner if you’re feeling some anxiety before travel. Your friends and family are great resources and will remind you of your deep inner strength. Their kindness is worth its weight in gold.
Remember: by traveling alone, you’re doing something a lot of people consider extremely brave. It’s likely your friends and family already have massive amounts of respect for you and your passion of seeing the world. So they will be more than happy to give you the boost you need and walk you through your fears, until the anxiety finally hurts a little bit less.
Don’t suffer in silence! Silence is suffocating and unhelpful.
If a doctor or therapist has been overseeing your anxiety, then make an appointment and inform him/her of your upcoming travels! You can receive invaluable advice.
4. Select an “easier” travel destination, especially if it’s your first time.
One of the best ways to combat pre-travel anxiety for first time travelers is to pick an easy destination for your trip. What makes an easy destination? Limited language barriers, reliable transportation, fewer scams, clean drinking water, etc. etc. Travel is a skill. You need time to develop it. Sure, the world is a magical place and not all countries live up to their shaky reputations, but still, don’t downplay the importance of comfort if you have a massive case of anxiety.
If you need more suggestions, please head over to my post about first time destinations for anxious travelers and consider them.
You can also check some guided tours for more challenging destinations if your heart is truly set on those countries. You can do it!
5. Don’t be too harsh on yourself.
You’re not a coward, you’re not weak, you’re not stupid. Stop demeaning yourself. Your feelings are valid. Fear is normal.
You don’t want to berate yourself for your emotions. Sure, it may feel like everyone around you is a confident ball of awesomeness, but do you really know what’s zipping inside their heads? No one is a mindreader. Actually, I’d be terrified if I was a mindreader. I’d rather not know some people’s deep dark thoughts, haha. Think of the power. But I digress.
Accept your anxiety. Then do what it takes to tackle it that doesn’t involve belittling yourself.
How do you do that? Take a kickboxing course, haha. In all seriousness, though, acknowledge your anxiety and then do an activity that makes you happy and strong. Soon, those feelings will dissipate. My guide on self-love also has suggestions to make your life shinier and happier.
How do you handle anxiety before travel? What tips would you give? Share thoughts in the comments. As always, your support is much appreciated! I still can’t believe this blog is almost three years old!