Travelers Talks: How To Overcome Travel Fears And Anxieties?

It’s not a secret that traveling has a very positive impact on our lives and can be incredibly rewarding. Thanks to discovering new places, experiencing new things, and exploring new cultures we grow and become better, more aware people. But it’s not always sunshine and rainbows – traveling can also be a source of fears and anxieties. We think there is no traveler who was never afraid of something, whether it was flying, visiting new places, meeting new people, eating alone, getting sick, or being afraid of their own safety. 

The most important thing is not to let those fears and anxieties take over and stop you from discovering the world. In this Travelers Talks episode we won’t share with you a list of the best tools and strategies to overcome fears. Instead of that, we’ll share with you something more valuable – real stories and advice from travelers on how they had to, and often still have to, overcome their travel fears and anxieties. So if you are struggling with something currently you should feel better after reading this blog post. Ready? Let’s dive in!

Miradoiro do Cervo in Vila Nova de Cerveira Viewpoint

How to overcome travel fears and anxieties? Travelers advice.

Some time ago on Twitter, we asked our fellow travelers for advice, and here it’s what we got in return. 

Ian from The Barefoot Backpacker | Travelers Talks

Ian from The Barefoot Backpacker

Website | Podcast: Travel Tales From Beyond The Brochure | Twitter 

Write a few words about yourself, who you are, what you do, how do you travel and why like this. 

I am “The Barefoot Backpacker”, a middle-aged British non-binary podcaster/blogger who has a passion for history, casual hiking, and places ‘beyond the brochure’. I believe ‘everywhere is interesting’, but with the caveat that it depends what you’re interested in.

I tend to prefer skipping around the world with a backpack rather than suitcases, travel on local buses, and stay in hostels/homestays, etc rather than at x-starred hotels and taking taxis. I also tend to travel solo, partly because I visit places other people can’t or won’t go to (Burkina Faso, Vanuatu, Transnistria?), and partly because I’m not much of a planner – several times now I’ve woken up in the morning and gone ‘I don’t know which country I’m going to spend tonight in’. My friends can’t cope with this casual randomness.

Sometimes I wear sandals, yes.

What travel fears did you have to overcome, especially at the beginning? How did you deal with them? 

So, many of my travel fears are related to my social anxiety. Like, there’ll be times when I’ll have made a note of a place and be quite keen on going to it, until the moment when I have to make the decision to get out and do it. And then I don’t. Because the sheer act of, for example, asking people how to get to the right bus station for instance, or asking around for a driver to take me to places, I can’t bring myself to do that. It becomes easier to stay in the town and do less mentally stressful stuff. And yes, I know it would only be one conversation, for maybe 10 seconds, but that 10 seconds is to me what, for example, going to the dentist is for many others, or asking someone out on a date, or coming out to your parents. It’s something that your life might be better off having done, but the pain it causes, or might perceive to cause, is more than my brain can comprehend.

I have this trouble in all manner of places, even going into shops, even going into restaurants. I’ve had it for decades. Like, the first time I went to Italy on my own I barely ate because I couldn’t figure out how cafes and restaurants worked and was too afraid to ask.

It’s partly the fear of being laughed at, of being the obvious stupid tourist who doesn’t know anything. I don’t like being the center of attention, which when you’re clearly and obviously the only foreigner in the entire region, is quite hard to face at times. It’s not as if I can’t anticipate it either; every single time I fly into somewhere new, I get the same thought processes in my head – will I be understood? Will I be laughed at? Will I cope with this?

What makes it all the worse for me is I also have an over-developed fear of failure. In my head, if I don’t do everything I set out to do, I’ve failed, and I’ve let people down that I told my plans to. It’s entirely in my head – my friends are all ‘but look at what you *did* achieve’ – but I still see what I didn’t manage more strongly than what I did.

How do I deal with them? Sometimes I don’t need to – it’s related to my mood and there are days when I’m feeling much more internally positive. I can, for example, just wander into somewhere because it looks like it does food, and despite no language in common, we understand each other and the process is much easier than I feared.

Sometimes when I get too angsty about a place, the way I handle it is by moving on somewhere else. The very act of going on to a new place is often all it takes for me to lift my mood. This has happened several times, including catching trains from Minsk to Vilnius, and Perth to Adelaide. Both times I could feel everything lifting, and that I knew I was in a better place mentally again.

Sometimes though the only thing is to come home. This has happened several times; in Italy. Indonesia, and Ethiopia to name but three. Mostly they’ve felt very much like Right Place Wrong Time, and my issues are inside my head and not related to the physical places I was in.

Do you still need to fight with your traveling fears or anxieties? Have they changed over the years? How do you deal with them now? 

Even today, the worst feeling I ever have with traveling is that 10 minutes before I arrive. When the plane is descending. When the bus is trundling through the suburbs. All those fears and anxieties resurface – what if I can’t understand anything, what if I get ripped off, what if I can’t get out of the airport.

The best way of handling those fears is through knowledge, through pre-research. Unlike most people though, what I’m looking up isn’t ‘interesting museums’, ‘cute cafes’, or ‘good hotels’. Rather, I’m looking up minute details like ‘where exactly is the bus stop outside the airport terminal, what number is the bus, what does the bus look like, how do I buy a ticket, how much is the ticket, do I have to buy on board with coins or do I have to pre-pay from a machine in the terminal building’. It’s ‘what is the methodology for buying lunch in a cafe; do I have to sit down first, is it counter service, do I pay when I order, do I pay after I order from a separate counter, do I pay when I leave’. Simple everyday things that people don’t normally spend time thinking of, but which could be very different from country to country, especially if everything’s written in an alphabet or character set I’m not used to and don’t know. My mantra here is “Knowledge Is Power” – the more I know, the more confidence I have, and the more confidence I have, the easier I find it to navigate different countries and cultures.

In general, time itself has helped, not because I’m more self-confident (although I am), but because it’s far easier these days to do research, to book things quickly and without recourse to speaking to people, etc. So it’s less common that I have to face the majority of these fears anyway, although obviously cafes still cause me a little bit of angst.

And to be fair, I myself have improved over time. One of the things I have learned is when to say ‘no’. I don’t mean to taxi drivers, hustlers, wannabe tour guides, or alcohol; rather I mean ‘no’ to myself. I’ve learned that sometimes, whilst my mind might say ‘do this, you may never get another chance’, my heart just isn’t in it, for one reason or another. It still doesn’t prevent my internal wrangling about whether or not that adventure was a personal failure or not, of course, but at least I don’t agonize as much about the decision.

Based on your experience, share a piece(s) of advice on how to overcome travel fears & anxieties.

As I said earlier, the best way to overcome fears in general, not just social anxiety like mine but also worries about what a place is like, whether it’s safe, what scams to look out for, that sort of thing, is to just read about it. Do research. And from people who’ve recently visited those places, not from old news articles or people’s distant opinions. The more you know, the easier it is to visit.

Learn a few words of the common language – pleasantries, apologies, and the numbers up to, say, 20. It makes things a lot easier in shops and on transportation.

And then tell the world it was fine and you had a great time 🙂

Angela from Blonde Around The World | Travelers Talks

Angela from Blonde Around The World

Website | Instagram | Twitter 

Write a few words about yourself, who you are, what you do, how do you travel and why like this. 

I’m an urban planner and photographer, addicted to exploring the world and getting connected with other cultures. Until now I’ve been to 5 continents. Don’t ask me how many countries I’ve visited because I don’t collect stamps in my passport, I rather collect memories. I’m Portuguese by birth, a world citizen by heart, and a photographer by soul. In 2020, during the pandemic, the blog and brand Blonde Around The World was born.

Being a woman, a photographer, and traveling mostly solo, with extensive experience in planning my own trips, social platforms emerged naturally, not only as a means to publicize the destinations where I go to but also as a vehicle for demystifying the stigmas and paradigms associated with them. With photos published in national magazines (e.g. National Geographic Portugal and Volta ao Mundo Magazine) and presence in international sites (e.g. Viewbug and Agora). The main focus is to make less popular destinations known. At the end of the day I’m a storyteller who has some great adventures to share with you.

What travel fears did you have to overcome, especially at the beginning? How did you deal with them? 

At the beginning of traveling solo, my biggest fear was getting sick away from home and family. I was never exactly afraid of being alone or of not making friends while traveling, but getting sick was something that made me think twice about where to go, especially when they were more remote destinations with less sanitary conditions. The solution was to invest in good travel insurance that made me feel more comfortable with the fact that I knew I had assistance no matter where I was going. That and begin to realize that even far from home there are always people who can help you in case of need.

Do you still need to fight with your traveling fears or anxieties? Have they changed over the years? How do you deal with them now? 

As the years passed by I began to realize that there are good people in all parts of the world and no matter how remote the destinations are. We are never alone and in case of need, there will always be someone to help, with good intentions and expecting nothing in return. I still get anxious when I travel alone to places that do not have the same conditions as my country, but knowing that I have good travel insurance and that there are always people willing to help, calms me down and makes me not think twice about going.

Based on your experience, share a piece(s) of advice on how to overcome travel fears & anxieties.

For those who want to start traveling solo, planning the trip calmly and with awareness of the destination we are going to is absolutely essential. Half of our fears are in our heads and are a result of what we hear. That is why it is important to plan the trip, educate yourself about the cultures you are going to visit and structure your head to be aware that you are going on a trip alone. You have to know how to filter the information that comes to you before you go on a trip. Be aware that things may not go as planned and do not panic when this happens. Having a keen sixth sense and always being alert so as never to deliberately put your integrity at risk. And never forget that a good travel insurance policy is essential for you to have peace of mind.

Ana from Monos Viajeros | Travelers Talks

Ana from Monos Viajeros

Website | Instagram | TikTok

Write a few words about yourself, who you are, what you do, how do you travel and why like this. 

My name is Ana and I’m a Certified Family Travel Coach, Travel Writer, and Creator based in California. I’ve been traveling with my kids since my daughter was 3 months old, almost 5 years ago. I recently came back from a 10-month trip with my family where we did things like sleeping in The Merzouga Desert and Snorkeling with sea lions at The Galapagos Islands. I believe motherhood is magical as well as travel, and that you get to do both if you choose to. I travel with my kids because I love to travel, and they get to be part of this wonderful experience too. 

What travel fears did you have to overcome, especially at the beginning? How did you deal with them? 

In the beginning, I was scared of many things! Especially not being able to travel now that I was a mom. I mean I knew no one (crazy enough) to even try it haha. Some of my biggest fears included failing and being totally bad at it, and even not enjoying travel anymore. But undoubtedly, most of my fears were triggered by the unknown. By wanting to do something I’d never done before. For me, the best way to deal with them was to start somewhere. If I was gonna fail, I was at least gonna try, and so I did. I started with the least scary thing, and I kept going from there.

Do you still need to fight with your traveling fears or anxieties? Have they changed over the years? How do you deal with them now? 

My travel fears have definitely decreased, mainly because I’ve made it a habit to stretch my comfort zone constantly. In travel and in life. As I got more experience as a family traveler, things that felt scary at first -like flying with kids-, got so much easier. I always keep trying new things though, and they always feel scary when I first think of them. Before leaving on our 10-month trip I was scared and before traveling to Africa for the first time with my kids, I did feel a little anxious. Every time I want to try something new, I learn as much as I can now, and I immerse myself in “that world” a little bit. I connect with people already doing what I want to do, and I focus on the WHY. “Why do I want to do this?” That is the fuel, and what will keep me going.

Based on your experience, share a piece(s) of advice on how to overcome travel fears & anxieties.

I have a couple of suggestions =) I’d say start with the big reason behind what you wanna do. Why do you want to travel, even though it feels scary? There is an invisible force pulling you toward travel and that’s a big sign. Journal about it, and think about all the good things that will come once you act past your fears. Connect with people, similar to you (solo travelers/family travelers/etc), and ask them about their experiences. Get advice from them. And then I’d say, just do it. It will get easier, the more you do it.

Elizabeth Cullen | Travelers Talks

Elizabeth Cullen 

Twitter 

Write a few words about yourself, who you are, what you do, how do you travel and why like this. 

I am Irish-born and bred and we have a long history associated with emigration. I have traveled to 36 countries to date and have lived in 6. I made a lifestyle change in 2018, left my full-time employment in the US, and moved to Italy. I now plan to travel a lot and work part-time. Photography and sports are two of my hobbies, so I regularly combine them by attending events and taking photographs.

I am developing a travel blog called “Travel Gems and Mishaps” which I hope to launch soon. It will also contain stories from my travels as well as tips and advice I have learned along the way.  

What travel fears did you have to overcome, especially at the beginning? How did you deal with them? 

I love to hike and go mountain climbing and have been to some amazing places. These include the Inca Trail, Kilimanjaro, and Everest Base Camp. The biggest challenge about visiting these places is not being contactable for a certain amount of time. My greatest travel fear is the fear of something happening at home and my family not being able to get in touch with me. Or something happens to me and a difficult call has to be made to my family.

I usually travel alone, which can add risk to even the most mundane and routine tasks when you are in an unfamiliar place. So going off to a remote location with a group of strangers, always creates some panic among some of my family and friends. Thankfully I haven’t had anything disastrous happen to me and I just take the normal precautions to be safe. 

However, I have had a few situations where I had to make or receive difficult phone calls and the distance makes everything worse. 

Do you still need to fight with your traveling fears or anxieties? Have they changed over the years? How do you deal with them now? 

This fear hasn’t stopped me from traveling. However, as parents get older the anxiety does increase. I do question if it’s fair to put them through the worry. Our communication channels have improved and changed so much and with it the expectation to be permanently in touch. 

I went to work in the US on a student visa when I was 18 and I phoned my Parents after a week to let them know how I was getting on. I sent two letters and called to tell them my return flight details. I was away for 4 months. It’s funny really as I think the older I got and the more experienced I became as a traveler, their worry level increased. 

Based on your experience, share a piece(s) of advice on how to overcome travel fears & anxieties.

I love to travel and am a bit of an adrenaline junkie! Therefore, I don’t think I can change my behavior too much in the foreseeable future. I’ll always be first in the queue to go paragliding, abseiling, zip-lining, etc. I love hiking in remote places and the thrill of reaching the summit.

I really just have two rules for myself. I always listen to the guides or coaches. I have been on several hikes where people don’t heed the advice to walk slowly for the first few days until they acclimatize. They take off like a train letting their competitiveness take over. Then they suffer from bad headaches or end up with severe altitude sickness and often have to leave the trail. I was kayaking in Peru a few years ago, when we capsized and I fell out of the boat and was submerged under it. Even though I was freezing cold and nervous, I could hear the trainer’s voice in my head “If you fall out, do not let go of the boat, it’s your lifejacket” and I managed to hold on. When I got my head above water I was the only person in a team of 5 who was still holding on and the lead (who didn’t fall out) helped me back in quickly. Some people were unable to hold on, which I understand completely. However, one person made the decision to let go and try and swim to the shore. He got into even more difficulties and actually put other people at risk trying to rescue him.

My other rule is always to purchase travel insurance and this is an area I urge all travelers to be cautious with. Always get travel insurance and read it carefully to ensure you are covered for the activities you want to participate in. I have had to get special insurance when hiking which offered air rescue coverage for example. Also, if something does happen and you need to claim insurance, follow all procedures. Notify the insurers immediately and document every interaction you have with them. If you have a verbal conversation, either record it or document it afterward and send it to the person you spoke to requesting their confirmation that it is a factual record of the discussion.

A close family member had a very bad accident a few years ago when visiting me in the US. They had emergency brain surgery, spent 6 weeks in the hospital, and had extensive rehab. Thankfully they had coverage from their private Irish health insurance which paid for the emergency care and repatriation. They also had taken out an additional travel insurance policy. Despite them being a global provider, it was obvious from the start that they were going to be difficult to deal with. They ended up refusing to settle a large 6 figure sum, which quite frankly would have bankrupted our family if we had to pay it. Thankfully I had documented everything really well, but after 18 months I had to raise it with the Irish Ombudsman but who looked at all the details. Thankfully they found it in our favor and the insurance company had to pay all the costs. This was a very important lesson to me about the importance of having insurance, documenting everything, and the right as a policyholder, to challenge their initial findings. 

Traveling is a privilege and participating in different activities when abroad makes unique memories. My advice is to listen to the experts and ensure you have insurance. Don’t let the fear of something happening curtail you, just take some precautions and enjoy!

Atreya Mukerjee | Travelers Talks

Atreya Mukerjee from Vagari Trails

Portfolio | Instagram | Twitter

Write a few words about yourself, who you are, what you do, how do you travel and why like this. 

I am a 25-year-old freelance travel journalist, based in Cardiff. A keen exploring and adventure enthusiast, my main passion for traveling lies in understanding the various cultures of the places that I visit. From interacting with locals and listening to their life stories to trying local cuisines, I believe getting to know the local culture of a place is a truly enriching travel experience. At the moment, I am a budget traveler, and love to encourage people, especially women, to travel solo. 

What travel fears you had to overcome, especially at the beginning? How did you deal with them? 

Hailing from India, a country where women still tackle the stigma of not being allowed to travel alone, I did my first solo trip to Vietnam at the age of 21, thanks to my supportive parents. It was a self-funded trip that I planned on my own, along with bookings. Having seen several countries with my parents whilst growing up, I thought I was confident enough to travel alone, but little did I know that my social anxiety would get to the worst of me during the initial few days of the trip. 

I remember sitting at the reception of my hostel in Hoi An, waiting to get my keys and all I wanted to do was run away and book a private room for myself because living in a dorm with complete strangers freaked me out. However, being on a strict budget, that was not a feasible option. I started thinking that my dream idea of venturing out alone, out of my comfort zone, was a bad idea. That’s when I thought to myself that I’ve managed to convince everyone back home to let me come here, and this is an opportunity to push myself and have that ultimate solo holiday that I’ve always wanted. My perspective could either make or break my experience, so I decided to take baby steps and take each moment as it comes. 

Soon after being walked to my room, I met my dorm mates; 4 other solo female travelers who came from different countries. They’d all moved in the same day as me and there was an awkward silence in the room. I took a deep breath and decided to break the ice by striking a warm conversation. Moments later, we ended up making a plan of exploring the night market together later in the evening. Till date, I’m in touch with one of them. 

Taking intercity flights in that new country also caused me a lot of anxiety. I remember downloading my favorite comfort movie and watching it on a loop, on every inter-city flight I took in Vietnam. 

Do you still need to fight with your traveling fears or anxieties? Have they changed over the years? How do you deal with them now? 

Tackling my social anxiety as a young woman in her early twenties was a life-changing experience for me. Now, 4 years later, I’ve managed to not only be a guest speaker for travel platforms to encourage young Indians to travel solo, I’ve also become comfortable in my own skin. I’ve become aware of my strengths and weaknesses as a traveler, and I don’t run away from people anymore. If anything, I’m always on the lookout for building friendships when I travel.

  • I try to include free walking tours, so even though I’m solo, I can feel safe and break my fear of being around new people by actually walking and exploring a place with those who’re wanting the same experience as me 
  • I try to get pictures with locals from the places I visit. This helps me build a sense of familiarity to the place and visa-versa. 
  • I always have my favorite songs with me, because when I’m out exploring alone, my playlist is my best friend going along with me. 
  • When speaking to new people, I try to gauge interest in what they’re telling me about themselves, instead of simply talking about myself. 
  • I talk to them about the place we’re in, and that helps in the exchange of information and building rapport. 

Based on your experience, share a piece(s) of advice on how to overcome travel fears & anxieties.

The most important piece of advice I can offer from my experience is that while most of us may have fears associated with traveling, whether in a group or solo, the most important thing to accept is that you are capable of doing it. If the thought of traveling solo and being in your own company freaks you out, here are some easy ways (baby steps) to get started: 

  • Start by visiting your favorite local coffee shop by yourself. Carry a book, or your laptop, and try sitting there for 30-60 minutes. If you can eat/drink alone, you’re already halfway there! This helps a lot in building confidence
  • Do your research about the place, and read and watch online content to get yourself familiar with the place you’re about to go to. 
  • If you interact with someone and don’t get good energy from them, feel free to distance yourself away from them. Go with what makes you feel safe. 
  • Keep in touch with your friends/family back home while you’re on the trip, but too much interaction can make you miss them, so factor that in and do what’s most comfortable. 
  • If you’re a foodie like me, then traveling solo means not having to share your food with anyone! Unless you’re out with a group, but that’s fun as well. You get a taste of everything on the table, and you can reach out for that 2nd can of beer, without anyone stopping you!
  • Start with basic hi/hello questions when you’re speaking to new people. If they reciprocate, that’s great. You may end up finding common interests and having a great time. If you feel they’re not willing to speak, no problem. Move on, and someone who matches your rapport will come along. 
  • If the opposite gender(s) freak you out, try to communicate with those you’re comfortable with. I stuck to mainly speaking with women during my first solo trip, and that way I didn’t feel unsafe. 
  • Speaking to a few travelers when you’re out there actually means building connections all across the globe. So the next time you’re visiting a new city or a country, you may actually have a local friend there!
Rachel from Roam Where | Travelers Talks

Rachel from Roam Where

Website | Twitter | Instagram

Write a few words about yourself, who you are, what you do, how do you travel and why like this. 

I’m a former Product Marketer for a tech company, and now a traveler, content creator, and marketing consultant. I’m taking a break from the corporate 9-5 work to travel the world for the next year with my husband and share it along the way. I like to focus on mindfulness in traveling, appreciating the moment, and traveling a little slower. That style of travel helps me be more present while also attempting to decrease stress and anxiety that can come up when traveling long-term. Our benchmark is to spend one week in each place to minimize constant movement and as a friend put it ‘to decrease on the admin’ that comes with packing and unpacking and checking in and checking out. We’re on week 4 of 14 weeks in South East Asia, and only a couple of months into our year of travel, so more to come! 

What travel fears did you have to overcome, especially at the beginning? How did you deal with them? 

My travel fears range from the very common and straightforward fear of flying to a fear of doing the wrong thing in a new place. I started flying at a young age and have flown fairly frequently my entire life, but my fear of flying popped up in my mid-20s. I also have a big fear of doing the ‘wrong thing’ whether that’s offending someone from a cultural perspective or drawing too much attention because I don’t know what I’m doing. The other main fear in travel I have is a fear of spending too much money. Travel is where I choose to spend the majority of my disposable income, but I’m still weary I’m spending too much.

Do you still need to fight with your traveling fears or anxieties? Have they changed over the years? How do you deal with them now? 

Travel fears and anxieties are like any other anxiety for me. Once I feel like I ‘conquered’ it in one area, it will usually pop up or manifest in another area. So for me, it takes ongoing awareness and work to help ease those fears and anxieties. The fear of flying was something more tangible that I could work through, but it’s still there from time to time. The other fears like ‘doing the wrong thing’ or spending too much money are slightly more abstract so they require a little more focus and working with myself on a regular basis to help them. 

Based on your experience, share a piece(s) of advice on how to overcome travel fears & anxieties.

For any of my travel fears and anxieties, the best thing for me is taking a mindfulness approach. For my fear of flying, I now practice a meditation style called ‘loving kindness’. It entails thinking positive thoughts for the different staff members and people I interact with throughout the airport. From the desk agent to the TSA officer, to the flight attendants and pilots, I imagine myself telling them “may you be safe, may you find peace” and them saying it back to me. It’s helped me find calm and peace on flights now. 

For the fear of ‘doing the wrong thing, I remind myself that it’s okay to make mistakes and if I don’t know something just ask and be curious. It gives me a lot more patience and compassion for myself while also allowing me to try new things. 

For the fear of overspending, I take a more skilled approach with giving myself a general budget. In a dream world, I’d be able to track it every day and see how it’s trending. But that’s not a reality for me, so a lot of times it’s just giving myself grace that I’m working towards a general number, and it’s okay to go over at times.

Rozeen from Wandering Rozie | Travelers Talks

Rozeen from Wandering Rozie

Instagram | Twitter 

Write a few words about yourself, who you are, what you do, how do you travel and why like this. 

Hey! My name is Rozeen, friends call me Rozie. I have a 9-5 job in marketing and like to travel when possible. I have been to 30+ so far, 17 being completely solo. I am currently living in Amman, Jordan and I love traveling and exploring new places. I’ve been mostly to Europe, but I am planning a trip to Vietnam this year. 

What travel fears you had to overcome, especially at the beginning? How did you deal with them? 

I think the main fear was the fear of the unknown and having no one to turn to in case of crisis. I have anxiety and being in unfamiliar places makes my anxiety worse. I remember my first solo trip to Prague where I was completely alone in a city I know nothing about except what I read. I was scared and had only the worst scenarios in my mind. But after the second day, I realized it is not bad at all and things are very smooth, people are nice and it was not scary at all. I just stayed in busy places, went back to my hotel when it got dark, and made sure to stay in touch with my friends and family.

Do you still need to fight with your traveling fears or anxieties? Have they changed over the years? How do you deal with them now? 

With every trip I took, I learned to tame my anxiety more and more. Being well prepared in terms of doing my research of where to stay, where to go, and what to see and eat, made the fear of the unknown more manageable. I found that planning my trip in advance while keeping space for spontaneous things to do is the way of traveling that suits me best. 

Based on your experience, share a piece(s) of advice on how to overcome travel fears & anxieties.

My main advice would be to do your research to know what to expect. Choose a place/country that you feel comfortable visiting. Whether it’s similar culture, language, climate (etc), it will take a bit of anxiety knowing you don’t have to worry about differences. 

Andrea - Andrea Hunt Coaching| Travelers Talks

Andrea from Andrea Hunt Coaching 

Website | Twitter | Facebook 

Write a few words about yourself, who you are, what you do, how do you travel and why like this. 

I’ve been traveling alone by myself since I was 18 years old and I’m now 45 so I have pretty much encountered most situations during my travels and dealt with things in good and bad ways and had all sorts of experiences. I’ve now traveled to nearly 40 countries and lived in 7 if I include my home country of the USA. I can tell you from living in Mexico, Argentina, China, Germany, Italy, and the UK that staying longer really makes a difference when traveling. For me which is why now I’m kind of an expat nomad. 

I like having a home base and for me, that’s Munich, Germany, but I also travel around for longer periods of time now, so I can keep exploring. I also work now when I travel a lot of the time so my style when I do it nomad style is more isolated because I need peace and quiet to work. However, I have always traveled on a budget as a backpacker staying in hostels and for vacation this is still how I like to do it to meet people and enjoy the social atmosphere (people are surprised by this ). 

I still believe in traveling when possible and that it doesn’t need to break the bank. I absolutely love exploring and wandering around unknown cities and taking time to myself to reflect and I have learned so much about the world and also myself through taking off to unknown places. Now, I’m a coach for expats and digital nomads, which I guess was a logical path for me since I understand the challenges that come with this lifestyle. 

What travel fears you had to overcome, especially at the beginning? How did you deal with them? 

So, for me, as I have always struggled with anxiety, I have to BUY the ticket, BOOK the hotel so there is no point of return. Sounds funny and it probably looks impulsive but it’s not. It’s based on tons of research and usually decisions and planning but when I buy the ticket, the ball is rolling, this is HAPPENING, and I know I will have to figure it out and do it. 

For me, the first time I did this I was 20 in 1998 and decided to move to Mexico. I set up language classes in San Miguel de Allende, and just bought a ticket, and left 3 months later. It’s important to note that this was not something people did in my hometown in Minnesota and everyone thought I was crazy or just stupid. I admit when I arrived I was trying to be confident but I couldn’t find my driver from the school for 3 hours with a sign for me (no mobile phones) and I started to panic but finally found him. Once I reached the guest house that would be my new home for the next 6 months, I sat down on the bed and cried. I told myself: “Holy shit, Andrea, NOW you’ve done it. You kicked yourself out of the nest to see if you had wings and now you’re going to find out”.. Well, I learned Spanish, met some incredible people, and that opened up the world of possibilities for me. 

I did the same thing for China, I just DID it. I am not going to say that it gets easier going on these huge trips alone or moving to another country alone, but you get more used to believing in yourself and knowing that you’re emotionally resilient and that it will be ok.

Do you still need to fight with your traveling fears or anxieties? Have they changed over the years? How do you deal with them now? 

I still have fears before going to a new place, but at the same time, I absolutely love solo travel and the freedom it gives me to learn about new places and be at peace with myself. I travel with other people too, don’t get me wrong, but there is something that feels empowering knowing I’m in charge of everything. I think now the key for me to be calmer and less anxious is to plan better, especially because I travel alone a lot as a female. Those “what ifs are what always cause me the most anxieties. Now with mobile phones, Google Maps, etc., it’s incredibly easy to look up where you’re going to make sure you don’t get lost.

Also, I don’t leave certain variables to chance like my accommodation; if I have to arrive late at night I figure out in advance how I am going to get from the airport, train stations, etc to my hostel or hotel. Most of my activities are flexible, but I try to have transportation booked and always a place to sleep. I also plan on putting aside some money for taxis, etc and those sorts of expenses. I have seen too many situations that have gone wrong for women and it’s so important to act preventative even if it means spending more time planning and a bit more money. 

As for the travel itself, I still don’t love flying, and I need to do EFT tapping to manage my anxiety when I get stressed about flying, and it quickly calms me down. I also keep up my morning routine with meditation, yoga, and EFT tapping when I travel as it keeps me focused and centered. To avoid having to worry, I also don’t bring valuables out with me if I’m traveling I lock them up in the hostel lockers or safes, etc. 

Based on your experience, share a piece(s) of advice on how to overcome travel fears & anxieties.

For people who are starting out, try some places where they speak your language and are more touristy. Sometimes that’s an easier entrance to travel rather than going off the beaten path in a place where you don’t speak the language and they have unreliable transportation or maybe are not quite as safe. Start small if you tend to get anxious. Then go for the bigger adventure depending on what kind of traveler you are. I know people who never traveled then moved to China all of a sudden and were fine. I know people who have traveled for years and still think China is too scary to go to. 

In terms of getting confident about travel, it’s important to remember that the world is an amazing place but there are certain things as a woman, especially that I am very careful about and my main rule is: Never sacrifice safety for comfort. Plan your transportation in advance so you don’t have to worry. Stay with people from your hostel or tour group if it’s evening and you go out. When I travel alone I might go for dinner by myself but if I want to be social I stay at a hostel that has a bar or lounge where people are usually hanging out. It’s really easy to meet people in that context. 

The second rule is: the more you feel prepared, the less anxious you feel. This does NOT mean planning every second of your day out by any means. It means knowing what area you’re staying in, having a safe place to sleep, and knowing how to get from point A to B. My third rule: just do it. Trust your instincts and intuition. But when it comes to being ready? Well, sometimes, you have to kick yourself out of the nest and just effing go for it, even when it scares you..  The times I’ve done that, it’s been life-changing in extremely positive ways. You only live once, it’s important to remember that we always think we have time to do things later and it’s unfortunately not true. But bit by bit you will create evidence for yourself that you CAN do it and the more you learn, the more confident you will be that it works out. 

Happy Little Traveler | Sonia & Wojtek

Our advice on how to overcome travel fears and anxieties 

As always, we’ll try to keep our answers short and sweet, because you already absorbed so much information. As each of us dealt/is dealing with other fears we’ll separate our answers.

Sonia

My travel fears haven’t changed much since the beginning of my traveling days (10+ years), each day I’m just learning how to deal with them better. What am I most afraid of while traveling? Getting sick and getting hurt/lost in remote spaces with no people around and no signal to call for help. I’m also dealing with light social anxiety, especially in places where I can’t communicate well due to the language barrier. Simple tasks like asking strangers for directions or help, talking to cashiers in shops, or going to small local restaurants can make me dizzy.

How do I deal with my fears and anxieties? 

  • Getting sick – buying good health insurance eases my mind, but to have complete peace of mind I need to stay in places not far away from doctors/hospitals.
  • Getting hurt/lost in remote spaces, like mountain trails – being prepared as well as I can: appropriate clothes and equipment, a good amount of food and water, downloaded maps, research, etc. I also prefer to start a little later, as the chance of meeting at least some people on the trail is higher. 
  • Social anxiety – I expose myself to stress factors, try not to think too much about “what people will think” (probably nothing) and just try to do my best. Almost always it turns out that each situation was more problematic in my head than in real life. 

My advice on how to overcome travel fears & anxieties? Prepare yourself as best as you can and do some research about things that might cause stress so you’ll be ready for what is waiting for you in a new place, during the new adventure. Also, try to face your fears as often as you can, as each time you do that you make a teeny-tiny step into being a braver version of yourself. 

Wojtek

I’m an introvert and prefer to talk to people that I already know. I prefer to know the rules of the game and base my understanding and actions on it. I need a stable place / mental construct to retreat to if needed. I’m anxious about the unknown and doing things for the first time that are far away from other things I already did in the past. 

For example, the idea of renting a car in the UK for the first time and driving on the “wrong side” of the road across the whole country was a big thing I needed to work through. It was a big stressor for me despite having plenty of experience behind the wheel already. The first few miles “on the wrong side” were stressful but the rest of the trip went smoothly without any problems.

My advice, and a way how I deal with travel fears and anxieties, would be to intentionally put yourself in a position with no other valid option to take. While getting there think about the positives and visualize it as if you already handled that stressful situation. You can as well think about the negatives, what if you don’t do that thing that’s stressing you out. It comes down to what will motivate you more.

How To Overcome Travel Fears And Anxieties? | Travelers Talks

How to overcome travel fears and anxieties? – Summing up 

As you can see, even experienced travelers deal with fears and anxieties. Each day and with every new adventure they just learn how to deal with them better and better. Whatever is your fear you should do the same – take the first step, face it, work through it, and don’t allow fear and/or anxiety to take control of your life. 

Wanna share your story and/or your advice with others? Please leave a comment in the section below. 


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