The challenge of traveling with anxiety.
“Come in!” I shouted. “Oh crap, not you again.” I said realizing who it was.
“You know that you’re probably going to end up going missing, right? I mean, come on. Solo travel as a woman? Who does such a thing? And it’s your first solo trip! So much can and probably will go wrong.”
“Listen,” I said firmly, “So many people have told me how awesome it is that I’m doing this. So go away.”
“Yeah, but what if your plane goes down? What if your phone gets lost or stolen – how will you get in contact with everyone? What if you get lost? You’re going to four countries whose first language isn’t English. You should also probably write a letter to your parents just in case you do end up going missing. You wouldn’t want them to forget how much you love them, right?”
That was the conversation I had with myself the night before I took off. My anxiety completely took over and I was in full-fledged panic mode. I’m very open about my anxiety, and I did get asked a few times how I’m going to deal with it while I’m abroad. I’m here to tell you this: that it is okay to have your moments. There will be times where you are so overwhelmed you just want to either go back to your hostel to cry or more, go home and just forget your trip.
Here are the top five things I did when the challenge of traveling with anxiety got the best of me:
Yes, I took Xanax, and I still do. There is nothing wrong with having to take medicine for your anxiety. Sometimes it got so bad that I couldn’t control it, and when that happened, I took one or two, depending how bad the anxiety was. I understand some people do not have access to this! You can look into CPD oil, but I personally haven’t tried it!
I cannot stress this one enough. Writing down my emotions helped me SO much during this trip, and even outside of it! I would just write down everything that I was feeling. 100% raw emotions. One time I had to go to the bathroom and do it because I started crying and I didn’t want to scare my bunk mates. Sometimes taking the page out and ripping it up also helped, but I wanted to be able to look back and see how I was feeling at the time, so that part I didn’t do.
3. Taking in the Moment
This one sounds a little silly, but there were quite a few times where I was just exploring and got a bit overwhelmed. When that happened, I stopped where I was, looked around, and then closed my eyes and took three deep breaths. I reminded myself why I was here, and that not a lot of people get this opportunity. It really is amazing what three deep breaths can do to the body.
4. Having Unlimited International Data
Now, I know this isn’t an option for everyone, but if you can afford it, ($10/day for AT&T) do it. I went to four countries whose first language wasn’t English, so I wanted to take extra caution in case I got lost somewhere and couldn’t find someone to help me. (Side note-I went to Germany, Netherlands, and Prague and just about everywhere I went, someone spoke a little English.) My mom also wanted me to have my location on and shared with her-just in case. Having that sense of calm that I could turn on my phone in the middle of no where and pull up Google Maps without having to worry about extra cost really put me at ease. If you do not have this option, make sure you get PLENTY of maps. I say plenty because sometimes the maps rip, get wet, etc so you will want backups!
5. Have a Plan
I know plenty of travelers who like to just wing it, and there is absolutely nothing wrong with that. But as someone with the challenge of traveling with super high anxiety, this couldn’t be the case. Don’t get me wrong-sometimes things don’t go as planned so you have to compromise, but I had my whole two week trip planned out, and I really think that helped sooth my anxiety. I printed out my tickets, whether it was plane tickets or tour tickets ahead of time. If you forgot to do this, ask you hostel, or wherever you’re staying, if you’re able to print them there. More times than not they will be able to do so.
Devan has been traveling since she was about 10 years old. She recently fell in love with solo traveling back in August of 2018. Devan is a student in Naperville, Illinois, USA majoring in social media, and she hope to further her education by traveling the world posting about it all over social media. You can follow her journey on her Instagram and website.