E very year, I have to give a presentation in front of the Executive Committee at my company. I prepare for this meeting for weeks leading up to it. The morning of the presentation is awful: I haven’t slept for days, my stomach cramps up, and my back muscles ache from all the stress. Yesterday, I had to go through this annual routine. Before I had even gotten to work, I had myself convinced that I would be asked to pack my things by the end of the day. Guess what? It went completely fine.
Thinking about how ridiculous I have been over the last few days reminded me of when I first started traveling solo. I remembered back to my interview when they asked if I would travel 50-75% of the time. Of course, I said I would but deep down I was super anxious. The day came that I would go on my first solo trip. Similar feelings bubbled in my stomach. Likewise, I was completely convinced that the trip would be disastrous. Guess what? It went completely fine.
It’s a very familiar pattern to me – but I haven’t always been able to break it. On the biggest days of my life, you will find me wearing turtle necks to cover the stress rash, giving myself a pep talk in the bathroom mirror, and shaking as if I was a tiny scared chihuahua. However, over the years, I have learned to cope some. As of today, I’ve been able to navigate subways in foreign countries, drive on the left side of the road, order takeout without understanding the language, AND I lived to tell you about it.
So, I thought I would provide a few of my coping mechanism in hopes that I can help someone with their travel anxieties.
tips to try
Of course, this maybe more challenging then it sounds. Sometimes, I do not fully understand why I am feeling anxious. It just happens. However, I will always ask myself, “why am I feeling this way?”. If I can understand my trigger, then it is easier to put in mitigating plans.
I’ve also learned that just being off of normal routines can cause anxiety. For example, low blood sugar or increased caffeine (two things that happen frequently on a voyage) can contribute to anxious feelings. Personally, I started carrying little snacks in my purse for this reason. So, listen to yourself and to your body.
I found a lot of my anxiety can be avoided by the proper planning. When I have plans in place, I am less likely to worry about the unknown. Of course, we all have some sort of basic travel plan like flight time and hotel stay, but here are a few of the items that put my mind at ease:
Besides a personal contact number for a family or friend, I will always save three additional numbers: the airline number for a missed flight, “911” in the country I am visiting, and the hotel front desk.
What happens if you get sick away from home or if someone breaks their arm? Travel insurance is a great way to cover unexpected costs. Insurance can be purchased fairly inexpensively and will cover a multitude of scenarios like cancelled flights, interrupted vacation, medical emergencies, lost luggage, etc. Policies vary, so definitely read the fine print. But it is always a good idea to have.
I always verify my documents right when I book my trip. It is recommended to make a copy of your passport and other important documents to keep in a safe place (i.e. the cloud or a secure and accessible location). A sample list of documents you may possibly need:
- Passport (valid for 6 months after departure date)
- Visa (depending on the country)
- Marriage certificate (We will travel with ours if we go to a more conservative country due to our last names being different)
- Notarized permission slip from the other parent (this can come into play if a single parent is travelling out of country with a child)
- Insurance details (at minimum, the name of the company and contact details)
- COVID-19 paperwork (as of late, you will most likely need some sort of documentation stating a negative result or vaccine)
u.s. department of state
If you are not sure what documents you need, what kind of events you should plan for, or what are the common mishaps in your specific travel destination, the Department of State is an excellent place to start. They have a travel resource for every single country where they give details on common scams, passport requirements, vaccine requirements, etc. You can find them here 🙂
One of the biggest things that I constantly remind myself while travelling: “it is what it is”. Honestly, I say this so much during a trip that it should be my motto.
When you are travelling, you are at the mercy of a lot of other people and variables. So no matter how much planning you do, sometimes, mishaps are just inevitable.
Although, when you build an acceptance based attitude, those mishaps become a lot more bearable. Some of my favorite travel stories are when things went “wrong”. I’ve been stuck in an Italian parking lot at 3am, thrown out of a Tunisian taxi cab in the middle of the street, and found myself in a completely wrong city – and I wouldn’t want to trade any of these experiences. So just remember: it is what it is. Eventually, we all get to where we are going 🙂
use an agent
Of course, I would end this article with a shameless plug: use an agent (it’s free!).
I know I am completely biased, but I think it is very applicable for this topic. An agent will know your travel destination down to the small details (i.e. outlet plugs, currency, cell phone details, and visa requirements). They will also keep the appropriate details and be “on call” the entire time you are on the trip. They can help you find some peace of mind 🙂
I hope each of you overcome the anxiety and find nothing but relaxation on your voyage.
As Always, Happy Travelling