There are always reasons to worry while you’re traveling, and it only takes one glance at the news headlines to come up with a few big ones: earthquakes, tsunamis, crime, bus accidents, you name it, and there are plenty of smaller problems that could cause a traveler some anxiety too.
But if you have a tendency to worry like this, you really should make an effort to put these worries behind you, so you can make the most of your travels. These tips might help save you a bit of worry, or at least get you thinking about the possibility of anxiety hitting before it does, so you’re better prepared to enjoy your trip to the full.
What Travelers Worry About
I should admit this straight out: I can worry along with the best of them. I’ve even suffered anxiety problems and panic attacks in the past — at one stage I was absolutely petrified of getting on a plane, and didn’t think I could ever travel again — but obviously, I found a way to get over that. In any case, I think I’m a good candidate to list the worries that travelers might have, because most of them will have occurred to me during (or more often before) my trips. You might be worrying about:
- Missing trains or planes
- Your plane, train or bus crashing
- Not being able to understand people
- Getting lost
- Being mugged or victim of a con artist
- Not finding any food you like
- Getting sick or winding up in hospital
- Not being able to access your money
… and so on — the list is practically endless. When you think about all these potential problems, it’s a miracle that anybody every travels! So there must be a way around it …
How to Stop Your Worries Before Your Trip Starts
If you know you have a tendency to worry about particular things, then one of the keys to dealing with this will be to get organised before you leave for your trip. Identify exactly what you believe will make you anxious during your trip and figure out a strategy to combat this.
For example, if you’re traveling for the first time to a country with cuisine that’s particularly different to what you’re used to, and you’re feeling worried that you either won’t be able to figure out what food is what or you just won’t like any of it, then pack some emergency packets of two-minute noodles or some crackers, just so you know you won’t starve. I remember all too well surviving my first night in Japan just on greasy fast food chips because I was too jet-lagged and overcome by humidity to understand any of the foods in the local shop.
Other concerns might be allayed by doing some research in advance and taking some information (timetables, places to stay or eat, and so on) with you. You might want to learn a bit of the local language first (well, I’d argue that you should do this no matter what, but it will also help you minimise the worry of not understanding a single thing).
One of my friends who’s traveled extensively as an older solo woman traveler swears by taking an extensive first aid kit with her — that deals with her concerns. The important thing is to identify a solution, do it, and then don’t worry about that issue any more.
Don’t Waste Traveling Time on Worrying
Once you’re on the road (or in the air, as the case may be), worrying is not going to achieve anything. Anything except spoiling your trip, that is. Nine times out of ten (or probably better odds than that), what you’re worrying about is never going to happen, and even if it is, there’s often very little you can do about it.
Case in point? Your plane crashing. I’m still not a particularly keen flyer and I try to deal with this at the start of each flight by reminding myself that the statistics weigh heavily in my favor. And since I’m not the pilot, I have no control at all over the plane. So I might as well indulge in some in-flight entertainment and keep reading up on my destination. (I still freak out if there’s heavy turbulence though!).
A few things you can control include being sensible about personal safety when you’ve reached your destination — don’t look too much like a tourist, carry your wallet close to your body, and so on — and being suitably cautious about what you eat and drink if you’re in a country where you know the water’s unsafe or the hygiene practices are questionable.
As for the rest — by far the best thing you can do is to just put these concerns out of your mind and focus on all the fun you can have while you’re traveling. I mean, after all, you don’t want to be back home sitting at a desk instead, do you?
From a Worrier to a “Who Cares” Traveler!
I started off my traveling years being quite anxious about most aspects of travel — the flying, of course, and not being able to find my way around or communicate with people, and so on. Perhaps I was fortunate — or this just shows that there really aren’t too many reasons to worry about travelling — but I never had any particularly bad experience during my travels. No crashes, no theft, barely a bout of food poisoning.
And on top of that, I’ve learned to have something of a “who cares” attitude towards things which might have made me anxious in the past. Being driven around at top speed by crazy taxi drivers used to worry me a lot — but my mantra now in such a situation is to think that in the worst case scenario (we crash and I die!) at least I was out traveling, doing what I wanted to do. And I could just have easily been hit by a bus back home! Life’s too short in general to worry too much, but if you’re out traveling, then worrying is truly a waste of time. So just enjoy it!