If you think your anxiety means that you can’t go solo travelling, think again. Anxiety is more common and less of a taboo than ever before and its a topic that came up in conversation as much among other travellers, as it did with friends back home.
Everyone thinks that to go travelling alone you have to be an overly confident, self-assured and adventurous person. It’s just not true. If you have anxiety, it may be harder to make yourself go, but you have so much more to gain from your travels than anyone else.
Anxiety is more prevalent than it ever has been. It may be because we’re more aware of it, because of increasing social pressures and competition, or as an effect of social media. Either way, Anxiety can leave you feeling lost, isolated, nervous and a little angry. Making the decision to go travelling can seem massive but my advice is to just do it. If you’re really worried, book a small trip or a group tour, but I can’t stress enough the benefits of going solo. Either way, just that process of putting yourself out of your comfort zone means that you’re one step closer to tackling this illness.
When I was away I met so many people who had come through or were still suffering mental health disorders. There were those who’d had eating disorders, those who’d had breakdowns, those who had come through anxiety or who still suffered from it. I’m not saying go travelling is the cure-all to all problems. I’m not saying you won’t get anxiety attacks while you’re away. But sometimes all you need is to put yourself out of your comfort zone, challenge yourself, meet new people and discover new places. Don’t let mental illness control your life, you might find travel is the best form of therapy you’ve ever been prescribed.
Five ways to deal with anxiety when you travel
Sometimes, feeling out of control can make your anxiety seem worse. Being prepared can give you that extra boost of confidence that you need. Pre-plan an itinerary, have a list of accommodation options available and have a folder with all of your important documents in it.
Be open to meeting people
Anxiety can play havoc with your self-confidence but forcing yourself to meet people is what travel is about. Having new people to talk to and do things with can make you feel ten times more confident.
Look after yourself
Remember that you’ve really put yourself out of your comfort zone by going travelling in the first place, so don’t be too hard on yourself. If something is really worrying you, then listen to yourself, even if it mean paying a little more. If you feel like you need some alone time, book yourself into a nice hotel, or if you’re worried about visiting a place by yourself, book a group tour for a few days.
Sometimes, something as simple as having low blood sugar can trigger an anxiety attack. Keep a plentiful supply of snacks with you at all times so that you’re never caught off guard. It’s one less thing to worry about also.
Don’t think about it
Worrying about your anxiety can be enough to trigger it. Luckily travelling offers a world of distractions. If you feel an anxiety attack coming on try distracting yourself by listening to some music, going to chat with others in a hostel common room, sitting out in the sunlight and even having a few motivational phrases that you can go over in your head.
Anxiety may be a part of your life, but there’s not need for it to stop you living it. The hardest thing about travelling with anxiety is making yourself go in the first place, but just think about all the amazing experiences that you’re going to have. You might find that you’re so busy moving forward, your anxiety just won’t be able to catch up.