Travel Anxiety. What causes it?
Let me start off with saying there is nothing worse than travel anxiety when abroad or when planning your next solo adventure. It is mostly caused by the fear of the unknown which biologically is very normal as we are creatures of habit and in some shape or form usually follow a routine.
I have had my fair share of moments of travel anxiety travelling abroad alone. It is crippling and can lead to panic attacks which is definitely not ideal if you are on your own. I have encountered random men stalking me in foreign cities, getting lost at night in a rough neighbourhood in Paris and getting on the wrong bus in Sienna that lead me into a rural part of a country with no mobile data. Yikes!
I do not wish this upon anyone and if I could go back in time I would have definitely done a few things differently to combat the travel anxiety.
Here are the top 5 causes for travel anxiety and what you can do to ease it.
You had a bad experience in the past.
This one is a tough one. No matter how traumatic your past experience was it is normal to feel reluctant about potentially getting yourself in similar situations again. Identify what went wrong and what you can do differently. Did you get lost? Did you run out of data and couldn't find the right way or contact anyone? Did you run into some trouble late at night, alone in a quiet dodgy part of town? I have for all three of these but you don't have to. Before you go anywhere, make sure you have enough phone data. The instructions for installing or recharging foreign mobile phone data are often in another language and even if it is installed by your shop assistant, the messages you receive to remind you how much data you have left can be in a different language. Get someone who speaks the language to translate this or check for you. Trust me, you are going to need that data to check maps, transport options etc.
2. Other horror travel stories.
Ah yes, everyone has a story about the time their phone or luggage was stollen, missed a flight or got lost miles away from home. While it is good to hear about these stories so that you are aware of how to travel safely, do not let these discourage you. With smart planning and research on the area you are traveling to this give you control over your adventure.
3. Lack of familiarity.
Being outside your comfort zone is as nerve-wracking as it is exciting. However if your are a creature of habit and your anxiety is centred around unfamiliarity try to choose 1 place for your accommodation in that city/town. You will eliminate the stress and anxiety of having to change up your 'home away from home'. Going back to the same accommodation give you a small sense of that routine back that you are missing.
4. Fear of isolation.
While solo travel is empowering on so many levels there will be times where you will want to connect and could possibly feel lonely. Download the Wanderlily app, set up a profile and add your travel dates and destination to connect and meet up with other females with similar interests to you. This does not have to be the whole time you are travelling. Even a simple coffee meet up, checking out a museum or dinner and a show! But it is also an awesome way to feel more comfortable if you are travelling to area's you may not feel safe in.
5. Travel related catastrophising.
I am guilty of this and I call these 'spiral episodes'. You worry about one thing and this leads you down the rabbit hole and your worries and anxiety start to spiral out of control and this is certainly not fun when you are alone and may be miles away from home.
As I mentioned before with smart planning and research this can be the key to feeling in control. Also having the option to reach out to like-minded females on Wanderlily to relieve some of the burden and worry.