Pre-travel anxiety comes in all shapes and forms and can mean different things to different people. Whether you’ve never really traveled before or you take multiple trips per year, a lot of people experience some form of pre-travel anxiety.
Is It Pre-Travel Anxiety or Anticipation?
We all get excited about booking a flight and counting down the days to departure. Anticipation is one of my favorite parts about traveling! But sometimes as we get closer to take off, worry sets in. There’s the usual butterflies, stomach knots, jitters and sweaty palms. Some people panic about the flight or are worried they didn’t pack the right items. Some travelers second guess the itinerary they’ve planned or are worried about language barriers.
Pre-travel anxiety can go further than that though. Have you ever hesitated about booking a trip because you didn’t think you could handle it? Me too! The thought of travel can be a daunting feeling. What if things don’t go as planned? What if I embarrass myself? Guess what, these things are inevitable. Sometimes it helps to take solace in the fact that other travelers encounter these situations every day around the world; but they can now laugh about it and have a funny travel story to tell!
Or, if you’re a millennial like me, you might start to have doubts about whether you should go travel long-term or stay home and be a responsible adult and work at your boring job!
Travel is more accessible than ever before, and for many millennials, it’s viewed as a natural and normal part of early adulthood. Like me, I’m sure many of you struggled with the hard life decision after high school or college. Do I get a job or should I travel?
There are so many factors that go into making a decision to answer that question. Do I have the money to travel? Will traveling help me find my path in life? Should I find a job first and build my career? What will my family think? Is solo travel something I can handle?
Whether you’re a little anxious about a week-long trip or are going through some self-doubt how you’ll handle traveling long term, just know that it’s ok! This is all a normal response to a big and adventurous life decision.
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What Do You Do When Hesitation and Self-Doubt Sets In?
How do you push passed the fear to make the most out of your travel experience?
Travel forces you to make decisions. Sometimes fast decisions, hard decisions, or ones you might be uncertain about the outcome. Travel puts us in an environment we’re not used to and confronts us with new choices. This is where we learn about ourselves. We become accountable, because when we’re traveling, especially solo, we don’t have anyone else to blame or look to.
But don’t take it from me. Take it from experienced travel bloggers who are well on their way to figuring it all out. Below are 13 tips from seasoned travelers who share their stories and experiences to help you push passed any fears or doubts you may have about traveling to help you get the most out of any trip you take.
Before Your Trip
If You’re Hesitant About Booking
“For many destinations around the world the flight is the most expensive portion of the trip. South America, Asia, Central America, and parts of Eastern Europe can all be traveled on a tiny daily budget. Keeping this in mind, the most difficult part is booking the flight. Once you have enough saved for the flight, book the trip! Then you can determine your daily budget based on the amount you can save up until the trip.”
I like using JetRadar as my search platform for booking cheap flights. They compare all the leading airline prices so you know you’re getting the best deal. And what I like best is that the price that you find in your search results is the price you pay, no extra taxes or booking charges!
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If you’re traveling solo for the first time and identify as an introvert, Ena has some great advice:
“First identify the root of your hesitation. For example, if your hesitation stems from travelling alone in unfamiliar surroundings, do a dry solo run in a familiar area, such as a weekend away or a day trip to a nearby town or city. Somewhere close enough to feel comfortable and have family and friends within close distance but far enough that you cannot walk or take a cheap cab home!
This dry run will help you learn how to navigate while walking, get comfortable with asking strangers for help and directions, doing whatever YOU want to do on your own time and trying new food experiences.”
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Do a Little Homework!
“Getting socially and culturally informed about a destination is key to overcoming fears and apprehensions. It will also encourage travelers to consider visiting destinations which they may have written-off as undesirable or beyond their comfort zone. Watching a film both set in and made by a filmmaker native to the destination is a great way of engaging with a differing culture, as is a book set in that destination. Making yourself a pre-travel checklist is also a great way to ease any doubts.”
Adding to this tip, finding a good book or two about how travel is transformational can help instill new confidence or inspire you to book that trip!
“Speak the local language! Before your trip, learn a few key words and phrases in the local language and challenge yourself to use them. If you speak the local language already, try practicing it by having a conversation with someone that you meet.”
iTalki is a unique language learning platform where you can have live conversations with native speakers. We all know immersion is one of the best ways to learn a language, so being able to practice it with a real person before your trip will help you be more comfortable once you’re on your trip.
Remember to Enjoy the Journey
“One of the most important things that travelling has taught me is that it’s not about the destination. It’s about the journey. Travel is supposed to change you, it’s supposed to make you feel uncomfortable at times. Travelling is about finding places that speak to your soul. Finding beauty in the most unlikely of places. It’s about appreciating all of the differences in the world that bring us all together as one. So make a point of going to places that wouldn’t typically appeal to you.”
“I think it took me a long time to realize that you don’t have to like every single place you travel to. And when I first started traveling, I would go out of my way to find things about certain destinations that would make me like it. But, the fact of the matter is that you just won’t find a connection to every destination you visit and that’s totally okay. Just because someone else raves about a destination, doesn’t mean that you’ll enjoy it as much as they do. And that goes both ways… if you know someone who traveled somewhere and disliked it, go there for yourself and draw your own opinion! You’ll be happy that you did.”
“Eat local and on the street! If you’re going to travel around the world and you want to eat as authentically as possible, you’ll often find the best food on the street. Don’t be afraid! I know it can be intimidating to order when you don’t speak the language (or you have no idea what it is they’re cooking), but most locals are happy to sell you whatever it is! Money is an international language, and hey, you can always point at what you want. So many people are afraid of getting sick, but if it looks good, smells good, or it’s a busy stall, you should be eating it! Not to mention, it’s a great way to save money and keep your budget in check.”
Keep the Focus on You
“Here’s a key tip that helped me to maintain motivation while travelling long-term. It’s so easy to get run down travelling long term. You feel like you need to be seeing things every day, to be moving all the time, to make the most of your time in a new place. Staying motivated can be exhausting, so continue to remind yourself that there is no pressure to be a ‘good tourist’ all of the time. Do what you want to do, not what you think you’re supposed to do.”
“This is the best opportunity you have to push yourself out of your comfort zone. This moment and destination where nobody knows your name or will be around to remind you if something goes wrong. All you have is the chance to grow. The perfect setting to try something new that you always wanted to do or were curious about. Talk to that person – they probably want you to talk to them. Go on that hike or day trip, it may be the coolest experience on the trip. Eat that food you have never tried, it is probably really tasty or it wouldn’t be on the menu. Ask yourself what is the worst thing that can happen. Imagine it. I doubt it will happen so any other result is just a bonus.
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Advice for Staying in Hostels
Hostels are well known to be great places to meet other travelers, but sometimes they get a reputation for only appealing to extroverted travelers who love to party. The good news is that there are hostels who cater to more introverted travelers!
“My biggest tip to ensure you get a hostel that is right for you is to look at the reviews! It’s pretty easy to work out when a hostel is a party hostel because they’ll feature it in the name or it will be highlighted in the description with party looking photos, avoid these! Look for a hostel that seems smaller, look for one with no social area, find reviews that say it’s a quiet hostel.
This way you can benefit from the budget friendliness of hostels and you will probably meet some like minded travelers and fellow introverts if you wish but with no pressure.”
Hostelworld has one of the best platforms for searching and booking hostels around the world. The user interface makes it super easy for searches, they have a free app and lots of great blog posts.
“If you’re introverted, I think staying in hostels is a great way to meet people. You’re put into a situation where everyone’s just trying to have a good time, so people are generally more open and friendly. I like to have snacks on hand at all times, and sharing these is a great way to make some new friends. I also like to bring a travel journal with me to reflect when I do need my space. It’s nice to be able to write down your thoughts and daily activities; looking back on these journals is when I get bitten by the travel bug the hardest!”
Remember That Others Are Likely in the Same Boat as You
“If you like to travel and are scared of leaving your home or visiting an unknown place, remember that the whole world is inhabited by humans. We all are kind and considerate and face similar problems around the world. You might have missed your bus or you don’t like eating alone or you won’t have the best warm shower while traveling as you have at home, but if you ask someone they might send you to another bus stand or accompany you to dinner.”
“Don’t be afraid to talk with strangers. Really! I would not have found some of the best local restaurants, hidden beaches, and amazing street art if it wasn’t for striking up conversations with strangers: the bartender or server, the person at customs, a tourist taking a photo on the street. Not sure how to safely do this? I simply will tell someone I’m traveling (no need to give other details) and ask them what they’ve enjoyed and recommended in the area! I find everyone sees it as a compliment when you value their opinion and everyone is open to helping.”
Travel right now, while you’re young, mobile and able to do so.
Take a leap, try something new. You never know what will happen.
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