There are many reasons people are afraid to travel or feel travel anxiety. I think this fear stems from the numerous “what if” questions we ask ourselves, like “What if I miss a train because I don’t speak the local language and can’t read the schedule?” or “What if I lose my passport?” Push these questions out of your mind, and replace them with the following 10 pearls of wisdom. Keep these as mantras to remind yourself you are deserving and capable of living a rich and fulfilling life.
1. The only thing that really matters is your passport
Okay, maybe your yoga teacher won’t be having you chant this one; but for those who get travel anxiety about packing, remember that if you forget something it’s not the end of the world — aside for your passport and necessary visas/medical forms. Even then it won’t be the end of the world, though it may be the end of your trip before it even begin. I should know, as I was recently denied entry into Curaçao for having an invalid passport.
2. You’re capable of more than you think
This is something traveling solo in particular has helped me to learn, as when you’re the only one responsible for yourself you become forced to use your problem solving, negotiating and planning skills — not to mention you become more in tune with your intuition. Remember that when you’re faced with a problem you will figure out how to solve it.
3. It isn’t the end of the world
Missed your train? Lost your passport? Hotel lose your reservation? Broke your arm? These things certainly aren’t fun, but you will survive them, and they’ll likely become travel tales you’ll tell again and again.
4. Your reaction to situations is what will ultimately make or break your trip
Here’s an example. When I was traveling solo through Europe I missed my train from Cinque Terre to Florence. It wasn’t because I was late (shockingly), but because the train I needed had switched platforms last-minute and I wasn’t able to understand the announcement in the local language. I had the choice to wait for hours for the next train and get into Florence really late, or spend an extra day in Cinque Terre. I decided on the latter. Sure, the mishap screwed with my plans, but I got an extra day to hang with the hostel mates I’d befriended and left with an even richer understanding of one specific destination.
5. Most strangers aren’t out to get you
In a world where terrorism and school shootings dominate news headlines it can be difficult to trust the intentions of those we don’t know, especially in foreign lands where people often act “strange,” at least compared to what we know as “normal.” While it’s important to always keep your guard up — as well as take safety precautions with gear like safety whistles, personal alarms and pickpocket-proof clothing; however, know that often locals are just as curious about you as you are about them, and that interacting with them is a sure way to enhance your trip. If you’re not comfortable approaching a stranger in the street a number of apps and platforms that can connect you, like CouchSurfing, Lokely, Party With A Local and Meetup.com.
Check out these powerful ways to meet locals while traveling.
6. Sign language (and Pictionary) can get you far
Many people are afraid to travel to places where they don’t speak the language. While it’s worthwhile to learn a few common phrases — not to mention locals will appreciate your interest in their culture — the truth is acting out what you mean in a charades-like fashion can go a long way. I also like to carry a paper and pen to draw things out, like an arrow pointing from one city to another if I’m trying to catch a bus. Nowadays there are also many apps and online dictionaries that can help, though Wi-Fi is often required.
7. Getting out of your comfort zone leads to growth
Don’t be afraid to travel to a place with a culture much different from your own. It may take a day or two to get over your culture shock; however, once you do you’ll experience a new place from a new perspective, and become more worldly for it.
8. Travel is good for your health
Along with enriching your life, studies have shown travel is good for you in a number of ways, from decreasing chances of depression and dementia to potentially lengthening your life span.
Scared to travel alone? Check out these inspiring stories by travelers who overcame their travel anxiety.
What thoughts and mantras help you overcome travel anxiety? Please share in the comments below.
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