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I wrote the first draft of this post on my flight from JFK to Cartagena, and I’m embarrassed to say that I almost didn’t get on the plane.
As the departure date of my Colombia trip loomed, knots grew in my stomach. Was I only traveling because I thought I should be traveling? Did I want to be away from my friends and family in New York for 19 days when I had so many more travels coming up this fall?
Would I be able to get work done there? Would I miss a lot of cool events at home? What was the point of paying rent in expensive New York if I was going to be paying for simultaneous accommodation as well?!
I flipped back and forth a lot. As late as the day before, I told my friends I was split 80/20 in favor of not going.
This happens to all of us — even the pros.
At some point before your trip, you’ll likely feel a few doubts creeping in. Usually at the last minute, within a few days of your departure.
This is completely normal and it happens to everyone at some point.
What can trigger this? Something as innocuous as hearing friends make plans for when you’ll be away. It could be an offhand comment from someone about how your destination is dangerous or boring. Or realizing that you accidentally booked a trip during the Olympics and won’t get to watch them.
Soon, those doubts can snowball into a monster, making you second-guess your thoughts and feelings. But if you plan a strategic defense for this anxiety, you’ll be able to manage it better.
Practice Extra Self-Care Before Your Trip
Even if you feel confident, it’s good to guard against anxiety triggers before you go on your trip. This is especially important if you’re trying to finish up big projects at work or home before you leave.
Here are some ways to practice self-care:
Exercise. Whether you’re a fitness pro or couch potato, make sure you break a sweat regularly. I’m a fan of the 7-minute workout app and dance workouts on YouTube.
Take long walks. Save your podcasts or audiobooks for these walks if you need the motivation.
Meditate. I’m a big fan of the Headspace app, which is ideal for beginners.
Read, write, make music, or release creative energy. Have an outlet that lets you express yourself and your feelings, even if indirectly.
Spend time with loved ones. Let them know how much they mean to you, even if you’re planning a trip without them.
Stay healthy. Eat well, get enough sleep, don’t go on any benders with your friends.
Figure out the source of what’s bothering you.
If your trip is arriving and you’re queasy at the thought of it, try to pinpoint what’s bothering you. Are you nervous about being robbed? Not being able to communicate with anyone? Are you afraid of flying? Or that you’ll be lonely? Do you think you’ll miss an important event at home?
Once you identify the source, see what you can do to remedy it. Would you feel more confident about not getting pickpocketed if you bought a camera bag that locked? If you’re nervous about meeting people, why don’t you post a message on the local Couchsurfing group or book yourself into a dorm or private room at a social hostel?
Sometimes you’ll only be worried about the unknown. Which, again, is totally normal. In that case, it can help to plan out your first day on the road.
Plan your arrival and first 24 hours on the ground.
I did this meticulously for my arrival in Bangkok in 2010, the trip that kicked off my full-time travels. This was my first time in Asia and although I knew intellectually that Thailand would be an easy region in which to travel, I was nervous about facing an entirely new culture.
Here’s what I planned:
After going through immigration, I would go to the ATM and take out cash.
I would get a taxi to my guesthouse, Wild Orchid Villa, and I had a piece of paper with the address written in Thai as well.
I would check into my guesthouse and email my family to let them know I made it.
I would go to sleep and then walk to Wat Phra Kaew to see the Grand Palace and Wat Pho the next morning.
I would get street food somewhere for lunch.
I would meet blogger friends for dinner on Khao San Road that night.
Now, that didn’t all go to plan. The cab driver had trouble finding my guesthouse and kept stopping to ask people for directions. I had to ask for new rooms twice because the doors didn’t lock well. And I didn’t sleep a wink my entire first night due to jet lag. But having that outline kept me focused and comfortable.
I reminded myself of this for my Colombia trip. I didn’t have to have Santa Marta and Tayrona National Park completely figured out before I left. Just a few things to do in Cartagena would be enough. (As it went, I axed Santa Marta and Tayrona completely because I couldn’t stand the humidity on the coast.)
Give yourself an extra financial cushion.
One of my top tips for travelers, especially solo female travelers, is to financially invest in your safety. That means spending money on a cab if you’re not comfortable walking or taking public transportation at night. Or booking a more expensive hotel if it’s in a nicer neighborhood.
I think the same advice holds if you’re nervous before your trip. If you want to do a day trip somewhere that requires a lot of bus changes, why not book a direct organized tour? It will be easier and you might meet new friends. If you’re not sure whether you can handle a dorm, book a single room for your first few nights and then see if you feel like doing a dorm later on.
Just knowing that the extra money is there to spend it if you need it can be reassuring.
Remember that this is YOUR TRIP.
You can do whatever you want on this trip. You can be adventurous — or take it easy. You can be super social — or solitary. Nobody at home is judging you on just how far off the beaten path you go. (Granted, as travel bloggers, it’s different for us, but most of you reading this don’t have to worry about that.)
And sometimes your dream itinerary won’t work out. If you get to Venice and realize it’s sticky and expensive and overwhelmingly crowded, you have the freedom to leave. (My recommendation? Take a train down to Bologna to explore Emilia-Romagna, or get a ferry to Rovinj in Croatia.) Don’t feel like you have to stay because it’s Venice.
I spend a lot of time sitting in cafes, no matter where I go. That’s important to me. I need a caffeine hit every afternoon like clockwork, and as an introvert, I need that time to get back inside my head. Some people consider that wasted time. But for me, it’s vital.
Err on the Side of Going, But Sometimes It’s Okay to Cancel
There may come a point when you’re considering whether or not to cancel a trip. Most of the time, you should push through your fears and go anyway, but there are occasional instances when canceling is the right decision.
Thinking about the trips that I’ve had to cancel in the past, some of them were for better reasons than others.
I canceled Greece two years ago. I wasn’t in a good spot to travel — I was still reeling from several rough months in my personal life and I needed the extra time to put myself back together before Sri Lanka a month later.
I lost the cost of a TBEX conference ticket and a one-way flight. The worst part was letting down my friends Katie and Becki, as we had planned to rent an apartment together in Athens.
I canceled Burning Man last year. It was July, I had done zero preparation, and it would be expensive and complicated, so it was easier just to sell the ticket. Burning Man is not something you can half-ass. You need to get a vehicle and bring everything you need to survive in the desert, plus costumes and/or art to contribute to the community.
Fortunately, my would-be companion felt the same way, and we had only spent money on the festival tickets. I had a buyer within one minute of posting on Facebook.
I came home early from Thailand last year. It was supposed to be a five-week trip to Thailand and Myanmar; I capped it at three weeks in Thailand. Honestly, as much as I enjoyed my time in Koh Lanta with Brenna, I probably shouldn’t have taken the trip. I was hypnotized by cheap fares and going through the motions of what a traveler was “supposed” to do.
I had secured a super-cheap $550 round-trip flight from New York to Bangkok; the flight was nonrefundable and I had to spend roughly the same amount to get home early. Eek.
I think I made the right decision on Greece and Burning Man; Thailand could have gone either way.
But Colombia? I’m so glad I’m here. The trip is about a week longer than it should have been, I’ll give it that. But it’s so good to be here for both personal and professional reasons. It’s been a while since I’ve been on an adventurous solo trip and I think I’ve got my groove back.
Remember Your Limits Before You Book Your Next Trip
What led to your anxiety in the first place? Write it down and don’t forget it when you’re planning your next trip. If you avoid these triggers, you might have an easier time on your next trip.
Today I know that my anxiety tends to stem from 1) spending too much time on the road instead of home and 2) getting overwhelmed when I have to do too much work for a complicated trip.
Going forward, I’m going to focus primarily on shorter trips (think 10 days or less) that take place far less often and I’m going to remind myself that I need to spend at least two thirds of my time at home in New York. (With my big New Zealand trip this fall, I won’t be able to put this into practice until January.)
I absolutely love travel planning, but trips that require months of intense work stress me out too much. Because of that, I’m probably best off avoiding trips like The Mongol Rally, which involves buying an old car, fundraising for charity, and securing a million complicated visas.
If I do Burning Man in the future (and I’d like to!), I’m going to pay for a camp where they provide the food, water, and shelter so I can focus on costumes and art. Organizing everything from scratch is too overwhelming for me.
Often, you need to get there before you relax.
99% of the time, you’ll be glad you went. Repeat that to yourself — I’ll be so glad I went on this trip.
But often you don’t realize that until you’re on the ground in your destination. Feeling the different temperature in the air, voices in a different language surrounding you, streets full of different smells and colors — sometimes that’s all you need to remind yourself why you love traveling in the first place.
Put your trust in that feeling, even when you doubt yourself. Almost every time, it will be there when you arrive.
76 thoughts on “How to Survive Pre-Trip Anxiety”
Good tips, Kate! I sometimes have doubts before I travel, too. I find that taking walks helps me to relax and feel calm about going away, so I can relate to what you said about that. Podcasts and audiobooks sound like good additions, too.
This is great advice Kate! I recently left Myanmar early & felt kind of guilty about it but it’s honestly been the best decision for me.
Very great tips! And I agree, even the well-traveled person can be assailed with anxiety when they do go to on their trip.
I have’t really ever gotten anxiety before leaving (my trips are two weeks or less), but I’ve definitely had that “oh shit, what have I gotten myself into?” moment at arrival. Especially in Morocco, where airport security had assault rifles and we had to follow our cab driver through Jemma El Fna square with our suitcases to get to our airbnb.
This is a great post, Kate, and I think it really outlines some important things to think about before travelling (and/or cancelling). For what it’s worth, I’m very, very glad that you went to Thailand last year. 🙂
I’m glad I went, too. We need to plan another girls’ trip! Maybe Latin America or the Caribbean this time. 😉
Even though I fly regularly, I am still very afraid of flying. I am always very excited for a trip until the night before when my anxiety around flying has me thinking of cancelling the whole thing. The only way I’ve managed to convince myself to always board the fly is by reminding myself that I don’t want to live a life dictated by (irrational) fears. Keeping that idea in mind has help me experience many adventures I otherwise would have been too afraid to take.
Flying also makes me very nervous, and yet I do it. The pre-flight jitters cause me a lot of anxiety, but talk therapy, mindfulness, and self-hypnosis techniques have all been helpful.
I wish you had written this post a year ago – I felt SO nervous about going to Indonesia/Thailand for a month. I’m so glad I went, but this would have helped a year ago. Enjoy Colombia!
I totally agree with all of this. On my gap year (a round-the world trip) I ended up leaving South-East Asia early and flying to Australia on my own due to falling out with the friends I was travelling with (which was causing me bad anxiety). Although it meant missing a couple of places I really wanted to go, it was without a doubt the best decision to make. I wished me and my friends could have made it work, but I think if I hadn’t made that decision I would have spent the rest of the trip feeling anxious and miserable, (and I don’t know if we would all still be friends today)! Depending on the reason, sometimes changing/missing the trip is by far better than trying to stick it out!
That exact same thing happened to us on our honeymoon (except the friend part)! A volcano erupted in Indonesia while we were on Bali and forced us to reroute our SE Asia trip to Australia. I was so bummed to miss Thailand and Burma, but in the end, Australia was our favorite spot on the trip. I’m glad you made the healthy decision and decided to salvage your trip. Very smart move!
My husband and I had a trip planned to Spain this June for our ten year anniversary. We’ve gone on several international trips together with no issue, but for some reason we were both really uneasy about this trip. We got to the airport and dealt with flight delay after flight delay and eventually the airline ended up canceling our flight altogether and couldn’t get us to Spain until a day and a half later. We had already been working on a tight time frame for our trip (due to child care issues), and losing almost two days coupled with our general unexplainable unease led us to cancel the trip. It was one of the hardest decisions we ever have made because we were so looking forward to the anniversary trip that we had been planning for months. We both were pretty sad and devastated. But, after we drove back home from the airport, we decided to try to make the best of it and we went on a little road trip together instead–we hit up Asheville, NC and then went on to Savannah, GA (following all of your tips), and Tybee Island. While it wasn’t the trip we had been expecting, we had a great time and really enjoyed ourselves. And thankfully we only lost about $100 in tours we had booked ahead of time because we were able to cancel everything else (even the flights) without penalty.
Thank goodness you were still able to have a good time! Savannah seems AWESOME!
Ah, man. That’s tough — but I’m so glad you used my tips in Savannah! One of my favorite cities anywhere.
I almost always have a pre-trip “nightmare” about missing my flight or losing my passport, even though that has never happened! Usually once I’m on the plane I can relax a little bit.
I did cancel one trip, and it’s one of my only regrets in life (though it would have changed the outcome of so many things – that ghost life). I was signed up for a NOLS semester in Baja Mexico – sea kayaking and sailing and hiking. I psyched myself out with worries about stupid things – like would they take away my mirror and tweezers so I couldn’t pluck my eyebrows? I ended up backing out because I was having knee problems – but really I think it was psychosomatic. I was going into my sophomore year of college and I was scared that if I left for a semester, everyone would forget about me and I wouldn’t fit in when I got back. Everyone said NOLS changes you, and I wasn’t ready to be changed! I lost a bunch of money, but worse is that I will never really have that opportunity again. Since then, my philosophy has been that if I think one day I’ll regret not having done it, then I need to just do it no matter how hard or scary it seems! Like you said, though, it’s also really important to know your own limits and not push yourself to do something or stay somewhere when it’s just not right for you at that time.
Sounds like you learned a great lesson with that trip, Mary!
Thanks for posting. I’m about to write on my experience too. Recently returned from a month in Spain, Italy & Sicily. Had a great time in beautiful places but yes, some pre & during trip anxiety is the “hidden” reality for some of us solo travelers.
I felt this exact same way before our 3-month long honeymoon around the world. The idea that we would be leaving so much behind and heading into the unknown without a plan was very terrifying. I didn’t have faith in myself or my new husband to be able to go with the flow on such an adventureI almost called it off 1 month before! I knew though that this was completely normal and I carried on. I’m sooo glad we went. Thank you for sharing, I’m glad that I’m not the only one who gets SERIOUS pre-trip anxiety!
I had anxiety before my trip to Nicaragua this spring. I was worried about things like catcalling and thieves. I didn’t want to cancel my trip so I did my best to research the things I was worried about and come up with a game plant mitigate each of those things. In the end, neither were a problem and as soon as I woke up to the sun on my first day there my anxiety went away for the most part. I’m glad I went.
I also need to plan out my arrival to a new location. I need to know exactly how I’m getting from the airport, where I’m staying, etc. After that, I can wing it.
Love this post. The two biggest things that help me work through travel anxiety are (like you said) meditation, as well as writing. When I write things down I pull things out of my subconscious that I didnt even know I was feeling. I just clear my mind and let the words flow – no qualifying or editing. It helps me get down to the nitty gritty about why I feel the way I do.
I recently had to cut short time in Seoul. My mum got sick so I decided to fly home and she died a few days after I arrived. It was a hard decision to make at the time because we had no idea how sick she was and whether it was worth cancelling everything.
On a less serious note, I travel a lot in Japan and sometimes have cancelled plans because it’s all been too hard to work out. Japan is easy to get around if you stick to the main spots, off the beaten track is much harder. I hate, hate, hate being in a situation where you have ONE bus you can catch and, if you miss it, you’re stranded. That’s way too stressful for me and the payoff has to be incredible for me to risk it.
Kathryn, I’m so sorry to hear of the loss of your mother. I’m glad you got home to be with her.
I usually only have pre-trip anxiety in the middle on the night. I’ll wake up in a panic wondering why I decided to book a trip or make specific plans. In the daytime, I don’t seem to have these worries.
The only time I considered cancelling a trip was when I knew that my company was going to be laying off employees around the time of my vacation, and I was concerned I’d be unemployed when I got home. I ended up going ahead with it, mostly because it was the one trip I was traveling with a friend. Coincidentally, I ended up in bed the first three days of the trip with the flu, so it’s also the only time I’ve considered just throwing in the towel and heading home early. I ended up sticking it through and had an amazing time with my friend. (The day I got back to the US, my boss called to tell me my job was safe.)
Wow. That is scary — traveling when you know there will be imminent layoffs. Good for you for sticking it out.
This post is so helpful! I loved reading it =o) Sometimes before a trip I get anxiety about not forgetting anything and hoping there are no flight delays. I like your tip about planning the first 24 hours once you get there, even though it may not go according to plan =o)
Long time reader here finally deciding to chime in! I just got back from a wonderful two-week solo trip to England, Scotland, and Ireland–my first time doing anything like that by myself though the days of the England half were spent with a dear, dear friend I met online years ago. But oh my God did I have pre-trip nerves, partially brought on by my well-meaning but anxiety-triggering parents who were just worried about me going out into the (particularly scary right now–to them at least) world. I’d also just moved to Boston to start a new job, and while my boss and coworkers were completely supportive of respecting the pre-planned trip/excited for me, I worried about leaving my new city/workplace that I was only just really getting the full hang of. I think the most important lesson I learned was listening to my gut and not my anxiety. I stayed in Brighton in England and though I’d originally envisioned some day trips to London, the local trains were striking and I was having the time of my life exploring Brighton and the relaxing, friendly countryside of Sussex with my local buddy–so I opted to leave London for next time. Then found that I have a lot of anxiety when changing destinations–though my solo time in Scotland and Ireland went pretty nearly perfect. I found booking coach day tours eased my mind a bit–and as a solo traveler, especially in Ireland, the super fun and friendly tour guides loved to chat me and the other “singles” up! But perhaps most importantly, reading blogs–especially yours and Brenna’s!!–helped me roll with the punches both before and during my trip. So, thank you for this post (and all the others) Kate! : )
Paige, I’m so happy to hear that. So glad you had an awesome trip in the UK! London is great but as you saw, there is SO MUCH MORE to the UK than London.
I’ll go to Australia all alone next year and I’m kinda scared. I mean I’m very grateful but since I’ll go to a High School there for 3 months, I’m scared that I won’t find friends or that I don’t like it there and wanna go home 🙁
You’ll find friends, Johanna. I guarantee it. Australians are very chill and down-to-earth and you’ll be the exotic foreigner!
I really found this post helpful! I think pre-trip anxiety (and ways to overcome it) is a topic that isn’t really talked about enough. I’ve traveled a lot in the past few years, and I still struggle from anxiety. For me, it helps to relativize things and take a close look at my fears. Are they rational? Or am I just worrying about things that really aren’t a huge deal in the end?
Good point! Ask yourself, “Just how big a deal is this?”
I love the idea of planning out your first 24 hours. That always makes me feel more in control too, as the other details can fall into place once you’ve arrived and can assess the lay of the land.
Thanks for these tips!
Thank you for this post and the honestly Kate! Been there myself a couple of times, and it’s always nice to see the real human part of the “perfect”lives of world travelers 🙂
Also, thanks to your Colombian snapchat stories, that country as made it from like #40 to top 10 of my need-to-go-now-list 😀
I’m so happy to hear that! You’d love it here!
Another longtime reader here finally coming out of the shadows. I moved to Spain to teach English for a year and ended up cutting that trip short by a couple months. There were some personal reasons in addition to not meshing well with the school I was at and some of the teachers I worked with. Looking back I often wish I had just stuck it out, but I’m also grateful that I realized at the time it was worth putting my mental health first.
Great post – it made me feel a little more at ease knowing that I’m not the only one who has felt this way!
Thanks for finally commenting, Jessica! It sounds like you made the right decision — mental health is nothing to be taken lightly.
Thanks for the tip on the headspace app. My birthday was last month, and for a birthday present to myself I started daily meditating. I love it!
Wonderful! Good luck with it!
Thank you very much Kate for the information in this post.
Me, my wife and my daughter are going to South America in one week and I have plenty of Pre-Trip anxiety that would include all the “Robbery” stories from Rio, shortage of police, polluted water, food safety, high elevation of Machu Pichu and many others.
But after after going over the tips in your post I become much more optimistic.
Thank you again
Have a great trip, Dmitiy! Once you get there, you’ll feel much more relaxed.
Great Article Kate! I have gone to Burning Man for the past two years and it is a very stressful process to plan, especially coming from the east coast (I’m in Boston myself). We usually start prepping about 5 months in advance since there are so many logistic details to figure out. We ended taking a break this year because of costs and all the planning it requires. Its an incredibly rewarding experience but much better if you are completely prepared. Let me know if you need any tips or help with details coming from the east coast. Being part of a camp with meals/water hauled, is the best way to do it.
I’m happy to hear that, Rocio! A lot of my friends are of the bare-bones “just show up” variety, and I’m glad to hear you confirm my suspicions.
I love this post, thanks Kate!
My junior year of college, I made a plan to visit a couple of friends in Spain–one was studying abroad there and the other would be visiting family on vacation from her study abroad program in Vienna. The plan was that I would start in Barcelona with my friend from high school, then take a bus to Madrid and another bus to Leòn to see my college friend. I got so anxious and overwhelmed by the planning of this trip that I decided not to go–and part of the anxiety had to do with the nature of my relationship with my high school friend, and the sneaking suspicion that I really didn’t want to spend a week in Spain with him. My college friend totally understood when I told her that it would be too expensive and complicated to come to Europe over break, but the other pretty much froze me out for the next couple of years (we became friends again briefly and then broke completely, which in the end was the healthy thing to do).
I ended up going on Birthright Israel instead of going to Spain, which in addition to being a free trip was completely planned by somebody else, and I had an amazing time. At that point in my life, I was not an independent enough traveler to plan that kind of international trip. Luckily I didn’t get as far as buying any tickets!
Sounds like you made the right decision for yourself, Anne. Hope you get back to Spain!
I’ve cancelled trips when friends weren’t able to make time for me … no point in going at that point in my life, so I didn’t.
last point is very salient. before you get there the last few weeks (which I am entering) as so stressful! Things that didnt bother you before suddenly are stressers!
A much-needed, valuable post and super relevant to me right now! In January, I came home early from long-term travel after I was having a horrendous time with anxiety, panic attacks and depression. I came home really shaken up and actually quite traumatized, but now I feel strong enough to try again. I’m a bit anxious because this will be the first time that I travel abroad since getting diagnosed with an anxiety disorder but I do feel more ready and I have been making conscious decisions for this trip that hopefully will help reduce the anxiety. I’m learning from my last experience and I’m making this trip completely different haha. It’s also comforting to know that even the travel pros still get anxious before a trip. It helps me realize that some level of anxiety before travel is normal and isn’t necessarily an indicator of the upcoming trip being a bad idea. Thank you for sharing 🙂
Thank YOU for sharing as well, Ella. Good luck!
Thanks for this great tips 🙂
Dude. This post made me feel soooooo much better. A big weight lifted! I just got back from 5 months in Asia and …. I want to travel more, I know I do, but it’s hard to muster the motivation. Planning out the first day is a good idea! I’ll try that tomorrow ?
Hi Kate, I really love your posts and this post is extremely helpful especially for female traveling solo!
I’m so relieved I am not the only one suffering from this! I absolutely love to travel, but the night before leaving I suddenly no longer want to go. Every. Single. Time. (at least when traveling solo). I am about to embark on a 6 month solo sabbatical to places I have never been (SE Asia to start). I am giving up my apartment, so I will not have a place to come home to. That’s a big chunk of “unknown”. I know I’ll probably have some major anxiety beforehand, but I think that once I am on my way I’ll be fine. Just have to find those little comforting spots (like your cafes). I like to rent a small place and stay for a while, pretending I live here. Thanks for the tips!
Glad to hear, Felicia. Good luck on your trip!
I love your comment that you are embarrassed to say you almost didn’t get on the plane. I have had those thoughts so many times and myself and Jimmy have travelled the world over and over. With that said, I still get a little pitter patter in my heart on take off, which passes once we are up in the air. It’s nice to know that I am not the only one who frequently travels has those moments. Plus doesn’t help when your husband likes to watch air crash investigations before a flight! 🙂
WHAT?! Why does he do that?!?! Hahaha.
I just received some Snaps from a follower who was worried about her upcoming trip to Africa — I told her it was ABSOLUTELY NORMAL and she sent me a pic from the plane and thanked me!
Great post Kate, I know this feeling well! I keep coming back to your site, you have so much great content. Thank you
Kate, I love this post! It’s super helpful and gives great advice for first-time travelers. I’m re-posting this to my website to share with my readers.
I have to admit, I backed out of a trip and I still wonder to this day if I made the right decision. I taught English for 6 months in the Republic of Georgia, flew home for the summer, and was supposed to fly back for another 4 months. That was when everything with Ukraine was happening,and I was just so nervous about Russia getting involved in Georgia that I emailed and canceled my flights. Of course, my fears proved unfounded, and now I think that essentially I was nervous to be there without so many of my friends, who had only signed up for a single semester. I’m happy with where I am now, but I always wonder where I would be if I had kicked myself into gear and gone!
Flying to Colombia (Bogota) in a few weeks, and this post was exactly what I needed to read right now! Thanks!
I’ve been to Colombia four times. Each time was an adventure. Relax and enjoy!
I am currently sitting up late in bed unable to sleep because I don’t want to leave home or my cat for vacation. I’m having second thoughts and anxiety which to be fair I have before every single trip. Most trips have been really fun but a few left me lonely and homesick. I think my fear is actually having those feelings again….feelings I never have while in the comfort of my own home. Even though I want a nice beach vacation and am going to the same place I went last year I am scared. My cat is old and I fear something will happen to her while I am away. She is in good hands but gets very stressed just like me! Why did I do this to myself? Is staying safe better or will it make me a fearful pearson? I need some encouragement….My flight and hotel are paid for so I’m going but very nervous and regrettful. I have a hard time admitting that I don’t want to go because I have been travelling many years and I don’t want people to think I’ve become weak. People always comment on how brave I am for travelling solo and how great it is. I think I have reached the end of my travelling days but wish I came to this conclusion 3 months ago when I booked my ticket.
I’m going through something similar. Did you decide yet if so how did you get through it?
Hi Kate, I love reading your stories and the way you enable be to follow your journey. Thanks for sharing these tips and like you say even the most travelled people can get pre flight jitters. It’s important to make other people aware that we all feel like that sometimes. Also I really agree with the part about it being ok to cancel…like you say it’s your trip. I actually write about anxiety a lot in my blog as well and how it has affected my life in general. My goal is to give more people the confidence to travel. It’s people like you who inspire others. Thanks for the great content! best wishes, Abigail x
I’m glad you liked it, Abigail! Thanks for sharing and for helping your readers.
I’m very happy to know that I am not alone. I’m leaving for a 3 weeks trip in Indonesia in 2 weeks and today I was very anxious about it all. I had no one to talk to about it cause I don’t know anyone who travels alone… It’s going to be my 4th time traveling alone, but my first time in Asia. Each time I leave for a solo trip, I feel very anxious and wonder why I do that to myself. Hope tomorrow I’ll feel better.
Thanks for the post!
This is beautiful, Kate! Thank you for your compassion and reminders of self-care/kindness!
I am suffering from Generalized Anxiety disorder. Plus, I’ve been dealing with a divorce I didn’t want (10 years down the drain), and I stupidly booked a ticket for 6 days in France back when I was dumped. I’m going to my penpal’s (we’ve know each other for 18 years but never met irl) wedding and now, 72 hours before I leave, I’m crying like a baby and I’m petrified of going alone. I try to tell myself it’s just a 6 hour flight, and I’ve traveled as far as Hawaii before but I was not alone, I was with my ex.
I’m having panic attacks. I cry. I’m scared I’ll miss my family and panic more there.
I’m 32 years old and I feel ridiculous but I don’t know what to do.
Any advice ?
You can do this. You can do this. You can do this.
And I thought that it was just me that had these dark, pre-travel thoughts!
Thank you so much for sharing this insightful and compassionate post. On more than one occasion, I have wished for something to happen which would mean cancellation of my travel plans which I thought was just bonkers! Although I am a frequent solo traveller, I still suffer from pre-travel jitters but find that once I am at the airport they dissipate.
The frustration is that I can rarely pinpoint a cause. But I find that pre-departure checklists help. This reassures me that everything is in order back home and any travel prep that I should have done has been done.
Thanks again and it’s good to know that there’s no shame in sometimes calling it a day.
I’m going to Australia solo next week and just reading these comments and knowing that other people have anxiety too makes me feel better. Thanks for this post!
Hi Katie! Do you recommend that travelers book roundtrip flights? Im always concerned that I’m going to pick a date to return and then realize I either want to go home sooner or stay longer. Do you have any advice on this? Thank you!
You could go either way. If you’re planning an open-ended journey, it might be better to go with one-ways — but booking a round-trip ticket can save you money in some (not all) circumstances.
Hi Kate, I would recommend booking accommodation with a high approval rating and in a central location of the destination in advance. It will save alot of hassle when you arrive at an unfamiliar location and you can go directly to the accommodation to check-in and drop off belongings. Another tip is to arrive during daylight.