From being a teenager, I have found travelling abroad difficult. I dread the process of going through security. I worry about my luggage getting lost and fear I’ve been catfished by the dreamy hotel pictures I’d seen online.
Over the years, this anxiety tripled after a few unlucky scenarios while away, making the idea of travelling abroad feel impossible. But, I didn’t want this fear to get worse so I decided to face it head-on. I have just returned from a trip to Thailand, and although at times it was difficult and scary, I used these techniques to help get me through it…
RESEARCH AND PLAN AHEAD
To reduce my fears of being in a completely new country, I found it really helped to do as much research as possible. I envy the people that can spontaneously jet off on an adventure without any plans in place, but this just isn’t me.
I looked into the possible scams we might face, the rules on how to be respectful to locals, how to stay safe and researched what fun things we could do.
I made packing lists, to-do lists and filled a first aid kit with anything (within reason) I thought we might need. This all helped me feel ready, and take back some of the control of my fears.
FOCUS ON ONE STEP AT A TIME
To stop myself from becoming completely overwhelmed, I had to break down each part of the journey bit by bit in my mind. I tried not to think too far ahead or let my thoughts run away from me. I took my time and reminded myself to just focus on what I was doing.
DEEP BREATHS AND REASSURANCE
Although it’s a cliche, taking deep breaths always helps steady my thoughts and keep me calm, which is what I did whenever I approached a daunting part of the journey. I also reminded myself that I wasn’t trapped, nobody was making me be there. I was there because I wanted to go on this trip, and after the journey was over, an amazing holiday was waiting for me. I reminded myself that I had done everything I possibly could. Whatever happened to my luggage, or whatever my hotel would be like, was out of my hands.
The actual flying part has never really been a part of my fear, so once I was in the air I just had to distract my mind to prevent anxious thoughts from seeping through.
I downloaded the Calm app and listened to the ‘calming flight anxiety’ playlist, took deep breaths and tried to focus on the moment. I also made sure I had plenty to keep me busy on the flight by bringing books and downloading Netflix episodes and podcasts that would keep my brain distracted.
PREVENT ANXIETY FROM RUINING YOUR TRIP
Once I had my luggage, got in the taxi and made it to the hotel I managed to relax and enjoy my holiday. Every now and then an anxious thought popped into my head but I was able to push it to the back of my mind.
I know this isn’t always an easy task but I found being as prepared as possible, reassuring myself, taking each step at a time and trying to stay present was enough to prevent anxiety from ruining my holiday, and I hope it works for you too.
I know that my travel anxiety probably won’t ever completely go away. But, I can always refer to this experience and be reminded that I’ve done it before and I can do it again. Now I’m actually excited to book new trips instead of being afraid of ever going abroad. Try not to let any bad past experiences from stopping you replace them with good memories. Facing your fears is the only way to reduce them (even if it’s just a little bit).