It’s official, I love travelling. I knew I had an adventurer in me somewhere. I recently spent three weeks backpacking through Europe. Which some, including myself, may find a little surprising, as my anxiety tends to make me imagine worse case scenarios. Like dying. And so travelling solo through Europe can seem a little daunting. But the desire to travel made me push down my fears as an anxious traveler and step out the door and it was amazing.
As Christmas approaches, the end of year responsibilities pile up. Christmas can be quite stressful at the best of times. If you decide to go travelling, either by yourself or with your family, there are bound to be the added stresses that always come with travelling.
I think the biggest challenge for anxiety sufferers is not so much coping once out the door but taking that initial step over the threshold.
I find I talk myself out of things before I give them a try because the idea induces too much anxiety. So essentially what I am saying is, if you are thinking about travelling but are doubting yourself, do it!
Now, I am not saying be reckless. You also need to gauge where you are in your recovery and consult with your therapist before you go bounding off to globetrot. Being on the go is stressful and stress is not good for anxiety so you need to be at a certain level of recovery to be able to cope with travel stresses.
So having just returned from my adventures, I thought I would share some advice for keeping calm for those of you who are travelling these holidays:
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1. Know where you are going.
Seems obvious but it can be quite easy to assume that once you arrive in a town you’ll be able to figure out where the hostel/hotel is. More often than not you’ll get hopelessly lost especially if you end up somewhere with sign posts labelled Eichenstraße ! Get a map, plot your route and don’t be shy to ask for directions.
2. Get a train timetable app.
This is assuming you have a smart phone, if not do some research beforehand and print out the timetable. There are some great offline apps out there which let you look up train times. This can be a huge help when you are somewhere you didn’t expect and need to look up a train time. Being able to check train times easily really helped me not get anxious.
3. Always carry a little bit of cash on you.
Sure, you’re bank card might work abroad but having a little cash on you is really helpful in unexpected situations. It helps keep you calm knowing you have a few bucks if the need arrises.
4. Use the toilet when you can.
May seem odd to some but I know some of you reading this, like me, may have a fear of not being able to get to a toilet when you need it. One way to help ease this fear is to go when you have an opportunity, even if you might not be at 100% capacity.
As an aside, travelling is one way to really help you get over this fear as you will learn your bladder is a lot larger than you thought!
5. Take the train.
Why? Because trains are awesome. Also, it’s better for the environment to take a train than to drive or fly. And if, like me, you are a nervous flyer, trains are way more relaxing! Not that you should avoid planes if you need to fly, and if you have to fly but don’t like flying, well, that’s a topic for a different post. Suffice it to say, my fear of flying has really eased over the last few years so yours can too!
Lastly, ditch the camera.
Take a journal instead. Write your experiences, remind yourself to slow down and relax. I find a camera intrudes on my experience as I am always trying to get a good shot or wondering if I should take a picture. It ends up being frustrating and stressful for me. It is liberating to experience a moment in its fullness, not distracted and knowing that once it is over it is yours to keep in your heart and not on a digital screen.
So, if you are thinking of travelling, do it, enjoy it and remember that there are so many lovely souls out there who will help you if you need it.Bon voyage!
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