As with everything, nothing is as glamorous as it might appear on the surface. This is why I felt it was important to discuss the topic of travel anxiety, particularly when travelling solo. Over the years as a solo-traveller, I’ve picked up a few tricks to help me out when I’m feeling anything less than comfortable when alone and abroad. Let’s get stuck into it…
Add some daily things you enjoy back home into your routine when abroad. In other words, comforts. For example, if you would usually go get a coffee in the mornings, why not do the same when abroad? There will be a sense of familiarity to your day which can help with elements of the unknown.
Scrap the schedule. Whilst a thoroughly planned itinerary can be useful, it can also lead to pressure which can worsen feelings of anxiety. Something I swear by is always leaving my first day abroad free from plans. This gives me time to gage how I feel and take action accordingly. You can’t feel bad bailing out of plans if you didn’t have anything written into your schedule to begin with!
Save funds for when an emergency arises. One time I booked myself into a hostel which I absolutely hated for many reasons, but had to stick it out as I didn’t factor in accommodation costs. If I had some extra cash with me, I would have been out of there within seconds instead of suffering in silence. Knowing you have funds to fall back on can reduce worrying when something doesn’t go to plan. Speaking of accommodation, something I found beneficial when I first started solo-travelling was to book an apartment in a central location. That way, if I was getting nervous to eat alone I knew I had the option to take my food back to the accommodation. Although, eating alone does get better with time I can promise you that!
Ditch the expectations. It’s totally ok to have different experiences from others. Sometimes, you hear people have unpleasant judgements on locations and it can get to you. Don’t let someone’s experience shape your own.
If you can’t wait for your trip to end, think about why. A little refection can bring up much needed clarity to help you process what you are feeling, and why. If you feel lonely, maybe you need communication with locals or other backpackers. If you feel homesick, maybe you are craving watching a movie in your native language. If you feel disappointed, maybe a walk could be a way to see things at your own pace. Many years ago, I was travelling Rome and started to miss home. I didn’t know what was up with me but I just seemed to feel uncomfortable. After a few moments of reflection, I realised I was simply exhausted from trying to cram as much activity into my trip as possible. By taking an afternoon off to re-charge by the sea, I was able to adapt my trip based on my feelings and find ways to improve my experience.
Next time you catch yourself feeling down when travelling, try one of these tips. I hope these points help you as much as they helped me combat travel anxiety.
See you in the next post!