My 10 steps to travel without anxiety
Travelling the world isn't always the easiest thing for me because I really need a routine in my life. A few month ago I was reminded of that when I moved into an apartement with my boyfriend. I love our new flat and we both know, we're really lucky to find such an apartement in the middle of the city. I'm four years over 28 (do the math yourself) and for the first time I'm living with a boyfriend. I lived with roomates and all but living with a boyfriend, with shared budget account is something really new for me #adulting. My depression after the move came somewhat of a surprise for me. Even though I new I was bound to my routine, it took me by surprise how hard depression hit, after I couldn't even get to the restroom like I did. I had to change everything I did. It wasn't about losing habits I had, it was about adapting them to my new environment. This got my a lot of anxiety and panic attacks about if it was the right descision, moving in with my boyfriend after "onyl" five years of dating and knowing each other for 28 years. My panic attack peaked on vacation in spain in april. I was SO excited for this trip with our friend, that I kind of forgot that my anxiety won't stay at home just because I didn't pack it in my suitcase. While having one of my attacks in sunny spain, I browsed the internet and found the blog post from Nomadic Matt. It helped me so much reminding me what simple steps I have to take, to eas my fear of traveling. If you know her post, you will find a lot of tips she gave.
1. Listen to an audiobook while going to sleep
Even if I'm at home I always listen to an audiobook while going to sleep. In the state between being away and falling asleep, my thoughts run wild and if I don't have an audiobook on and can listen to my thought, anxiety usually hits really hard. If you stay in a dormroom with a lot of people and you don't want to disturb your travel companions, your In Ear headphones become your best friend. Another plus for headphones and audiobooks in dormroom is, that you won't hear your roomates snore.
2. Take a taxi if public transport is overwhelming
Als Schweizer sind wir zum Glück ja ein ÖV erprobtes Völkchen, bis heute hatte ich das Glück das ich keinen Führerschein benötige. Wenn man jedoch in einem neuen Land, vielleicht sogar auf einem neuen Kontinent ankommt, kann alles ein wenig überwältigend sein. Stell sicher, dass du bei der Ankunft genug Bargeld in der Landeswährung hast, um eine Taxifahrt vom Flughafen zum Hotel zu bezahlen. Bankautomaten hat es am Flughafen, das muss nicht schon Zuhause erledigt werden. Falls du nicht weisst wie viel Geld du abheben sollst, jeder Infostand am Flughafen hat Personal das Englisch spricht und dir weiterhelfen kann. Die ÖVs kannst du auch nach deiner ersten Nacht, ausgeschlafen meistern.
Even though, Swiss people usually are pretty used to public transportation, it can be overwhelming using public transportion right after arriving on a new continent, in a new culture. So just take a taxi from the airport to your hotel. From there, you can plan your routes and ask the front desk staff about how to use the public transportation and what to be careful of.
3. Take something with you that reminds you of home
Since I'm 12 years old, I have a millet pillow that I always sleep with. It's so small and cosy, that I take it with me where ever I travel. No matter where I'll stay, I always feel like I'm in my own bed (well at least, kind of). If it's your favourite mug, a little blanket or your favourite stuffed animal you're still sleeping with, don't feel like you have to be ashamed your anything. It's only important that even on the other side of the world, you can have a sense of home with you.
4. Take some time to research some of your destinations
If you on your own travelling, it can help if you research some of your destinations you travel to. It's tempting to stay inside your hotel if you first arrive in a new city you don't know anyone. So research your destinations beforehand for things you want to see and visit, so you have a list of things to do. Just be the tourist you actually are, don't feel like you have to live like a local and only hit the hidden spots only the locals know. So get up everyday, eat your brakefast, take your sight-seeing list and enjoy your day.
5. Having a routine is important
If your on vacation and you don't have a set time table, it's hard to keep a routine. So if you're travelling it's the easiest to set up a routine around waking up or getting to bed. Points you'll do everyday. For me it's keeping a travel journal, read, write emails or face time with friends at home. Keep it simple, so it's easy to be consistant.
6. Set aside money for bad days
Set aside money for bad days. Days you don't want to spend in dormrooms with 15 other people and no space for yourself. Believe me, even in the most beautiful countries with the most beautiful landscape, you will have bad days. And this is okay. You still appreciate the opportunity to travel, even though you just want to go home. To treat yourself to a fancy hotel, with your own bed, tv and room service. Stay in bed and watch some movies, go for a swim in the pool or a schwitz in the sauna. But don't stay longer than two nights. It can be tempting to just stay in your cocoon, but get out, you will concour.
7. DON'T listen to your intuition
If you suffer from depression, anxiety and/or panic attacks, you can't listen to your intuition. Your intuition will always tell you it will end bad. Show your intuition the middle finger and just do in anyways. Only then you will discover new things and adventure will find you.
8. Get Data
Get yourself a data package. It's really important to me to stay in touch with my family and friends. So I can share all my adventures with the people I love the moment they happen. Don't be one of the social media snobs, that are too cool for sharing. You DON'T have to feel alone. As Jon Krakauer wrote "Happiness is only real when shared".
9. Talk to people
Sitz nicht nur an deinem Tisch im Kaffee und schau den Menschen zu. Sprich aktiv mit ihnen. Ein perfekter Einstieg zum Beispiel ist: "Mein Name ist Holly und ich komme aus der Schweiz. Ich bin seit XY hier und geniesse dieses Land sehr.". Als introvertierter Schweizer ist man sich nicht gewohnt einfach mit Menschen die man nicht kennt ein Gespräch zu beginnen, es wird sich jedoch lohnen!
I tend to just sit at a table at a coffee house and observe the people and the life around me. Even though this is a really beautiful thing to do, it keeps me in my cocoon. I always need to remind myself to speak to people. It don't have to be in a coffee house, it can be at your hostel with fellow travelers. A good start for a conversation could be "Hi, I'm Holly from Switzerland and I will traveling for XY. How long will you be traveling?". Just try to start a conversation once in your first three days, after that, it will get easier and easier.
10. There will be anxiety and panic attacks
You will have anxiety and panic attacks while travelling. It doesn't matter if your on the road for a few month already or only a few days. Just remind yourself that you CHOOSE to travel. You can always go home if you want to, it will be a success anyways.