Dealing with travel anxiety

Culture, food, friends and parties. I’m ready for my next adventure! Currently I’m on my way to Japan for the third time (or actually fourth if you count the time I went as a baby in). The first time I went, I spent most of my time travelling. In 2.5 months I visited Tokyo twice, Osaka about three or four times, Kyoto twice and I paid a visit to Hiroshima & Miyajima. The second time I stayed in Kyoto for 7 months so I could study there as a part of my bachelor degree. This time I decided to just chill and stay in one place; Osaka. For about two months I’ll be working for free accommodation at a hostel where my friends work. At the moment I’m still in the Netherlands, feeling sad about leaving behind so many friends and family (especially my cute niece Midori). Even though it’s my third trip to Japan and I know the place I’m going to, it is still scary and it freaks me out to be leaving home.

Since Osaka used to be the place I liked the least in Japan, I decided to make a challenge out of finding all the cool things Osaka has to offer, because I’m sure there’s still a lot to do. During the next couple of weeks I’ll be posting about these things and other travel tips, but this post will be about how to deal with the anxiety of leaving.

So, you just said goodbye to your friends, or your about to, and it feels like there are thousands of butterflies, or maybe just bugs crawling around in your stomach. It makes me sick and feel even sadder. Then once the crying starts, if it starts of course, it is hard to stop. What can you do about these feelings and about this anxiety? Well, here’s a list of some things that definitely help me out. Hopefully it’s of some use to you too.

  1. Remember it is normal to feel this way
    Even though some people might not understand it and tell you not to be sad because you’re going on a holiday, it is still a feeling YOU have and you have to deal with. It is very normal, I came across many people who feel the same almost every time they leave for a trip of sometimes even a couple of day. You have to accept this feeling and try to make the best out of it. Try to put thing in perspective, and don’t let the anxiety take over, because it will be gone as soon as you’re at your destination.
  2. Check out the destination
    Even though you might not entirely feel like going anymore, it is still a very good idea to check out the destination. Browsing the internet for cool things to do can make you very very excited. Maybe you already know about the general touristy stuff, but in that case look for things you love at home. For example: I love jazz music and hiphop dancing so when I go somewhere I check whether there are some nice jazz bars and/or hiphop events. I know that when I go there I’ll feel more at home and that I’m surrounded by people with the same mindset. You can also search for climbcenters, hikes, anime café’s or whatever you are interested in!
  3. Make a checklist
    This one is not necessarily what I do, but for some people it might help. Anxiety come from a multiple things, one big thing can be feeling unprepared. Making a checklist is a good way to prepare and to put your mind at ease. Just put everything you’re worried about on there; A list of things you have to bring, a list of where you’re going and where you’re staying if you stay in multiple places, you can already check routes from the airport or from one place to another, things you want to do/see, phone numbers of people at home etc. Whatever you feel comfortable with. If you put all of this together in a folder you can even make a kind of scrapbook, which will immediately make your trip more fun AND you’ll have a great souvenir if you add your own photo’s later on.
    Okay, I have to admit, this one is also not suitable for everyone. Some people like to write, some people don’t. Well, I do and it helps me! I write about things that I’ve done and things that I’m going to do whenever I feel homesick or just a bit down. It makes me relive the trip and it’s so much fun to add all the pictures. Some things I write down on my blog, but I also write in my personal travel diary in which I add business cards, tickets and much more.
  5. Talk to friends and family
    This sounds a bit obvious maybe, but some people are scared to talk about these feelings because of reaction they can get. I feel the same sometimes, but luckily I have good friends who know that I love travelling and that I don’t take it for granted. I just get scared. Talking to them gives me some kind of peace of mind and they always know the right things to say. Next to that, I know they will support me if I want to come back because they know how I feel.
  6. Take some time to rest
    Meditating, reading, sleeping, yoga, listening to relaxing music, it all helps. It will take your mind away from the worries. On the internet you can find video’s about how to meditate. One thing I learned was to just sit in a comfortable position and focus on your breathing. You don’t even have to close your eyes if you’re in a public place and don’t feel comfortable about that. You breath in for some seconds (usually 4 or 5) and breath out the double amount of seconds. This will put your parasympathetic system (the one that is active in rest) at work more than your sympathetic (the one that is active when you’re doing things). It might take some time to get rid of the adrenaline/stomach bugs, but just give it some time and you’ll feel more relaxed in the end.

Of course there are other things you can do, but this was all I could think of. If you have any other advice, recommendations or questions, just comment below and I’ll try to answer them. Just remember, there’s always a way back, nothing is unsolvable and once you get there you’ll have an amazing time J



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