Anxiety about traveling is one thing, which definitely happens, but it's a different animal from generalized anxiety.
Sarah Puckett spent 21 months traveling the world with her husband Tim. Now back home as the Organized Adventurer she shares her story of traveling with an anxiety disorder to World Nomads Podcast hosts Kim and Phil. "I was so sick in 2013, having panic attacks, experiencing this intense desire to not be inside my own skin anymore because I was so miserable and didn't know if I could ever feel better. Looking back on it all now... Man what a dark time that was. And what a difference now!"
"Don’t focus on what you’re leaving behind, or the “what-ifs”. Immerse yourself in all the cool things you’re about to do!” says our Editorial Manager, Martin Hong. "When I'm traveling to a new place with a long flight ahead, I head to the airport bookstore or download a digital guide for the trip to check out recommendations on what to see/eat/do when you get there.
You’ll soon get excited about all the cool new experiences you’re about to have, and everything else will fall in place."
Alicia Crosariol, our Head of Programs and Marketing, says to tell people: “The more people you tell, the more real it becomes. They may also challenge why you’re doing what you’re doing, and it gives you a chance to really defend your decision.
For me, this served to justify my decision, and forced me to answer a few questions that I’d put off regarding my trip.
In short, face your jitters head on and just go – I don’t know anyone who has regretted going traveling. Really, no one."
On Twitter, Yatsina (@Yatsina) recommends making a list of the things you have to do before you go, and during the trip, “Having a plan gives you a sense of control!”
Hailey (@globaltravelac), suggests researching the destination, and being as prepared as you can be to reduce risk, fear, and the feeling of culture shock.
When Veronica Mercado from World Nomads quit her first full-time job to go traveling, she said it was one of the biggest “what the hell am I doing?” moments of her life:
“The first part of my trip was booked in a comfortable, cheap place, where I stayed for a week to travel slow, get myself used to a new routine, and have more free time.
I was then able to make the rest of my trip move faster, only staying in one location for a short period of time.”
Her advice would be to station the first part of your trip (say, a week or two) to adjust in one spot – that way it won't be too daunting.
Stefan Chan says he likes to plan his trips well in advance and pack a week prior, that way, “when the day comes to travel, there isn’t a last-minute scramble to buy equipment or knick-knacks. You can’t account for every scenario, but you’ll cover most of them."
Remind yourself of the reason you’ve decided to travel.
Jess Grey from World Nomads says, “Know that whatever happens, your friends and family are only a flight away if you need to come home. Know that everyone is apprehensive before a big trip, especially if you’re going alone."
@PossesstheWorld via Twitter recommends recognizing the reasons you’re feeling uneasy, and have a good plan in place to deal with these anxieties before you go. A little bit of research goes a long way!
Once you’ve identified why you’re worried or anxious, remind yourself why you chose to travel in the first place – that should balance things out.
Before you go overseas, it’s important to get out of your comfort zone. @Travelmindset says you’ve got to work your “comfortable with ambiguity” muscles.
Practice taking little steps outside of your comfort zone – whether that be a solo hike, an overnight camping trip in the rain, catching public transport to an area you’re unfamiliar with, or sampling a cuisine you’re unfamiliar with.
These little steps will help put you in a better place to deal with a foreign country, and make experiences less overwhelming.
Deepika Garg (@dpikea) suggests to run all of your concerns through Google: "Chances are, someone has already been in your position, and conquered it. Travel forums also have great advice."
While this suggestion from @WeezeXChristina on Twitter might seem obvious, it’s important to take a minute to breathe before you go. "You don't have to rush on arrival. Sit, get your bearings – it's all about you, and shouldn't feel forced to do anything!
Or, totally ignore it. Remember it's totally normal to be worried, and think back to other times you've had that fear, and great things have followed."
Christina Tunnah from World Nomads says she always get the pre-travel jitters when going to a new place.
“I always made a point of trying to find one person who was a friend-of-a-friend, and would be open to meeting me for a coffee – or at the very least, offer advice about logistics.
Locals have all the knowledge, like knowing to ignore the taxi touts saying the last bus just left.”
If you’re a first-timer who’s uncomfortable with jumping into the dorm scene, consider a private room in a hostel for the first few nights – just until you get social sea legs and forge a rapport with fellow travelers.
Once you’re ready, you can start sharing rooms with others – there’s no need to force yourself into something that you’re uncomfortable with.
By signing up for a tour or language class in your first few weeks, that’ll help you get your bearings and build confidence.
Mark Seldon embraces the jitters: "Don’t ignore it. Embrace it. Fear and excitement are basically the same thing. Take pride in challenging your fear."