On Anxiety and Travel


Lauren at Whistler

Anxiety is something I’ve kept hidden from my writing for a very long time. I’ve been afraid of judgement and nervous that writing about some of my mental health issues would lead to people treating me differently. I was afraid of appearing like a nut job and so I’ve been keeping a significant part of my life a secret.

After briefly mentioning my battles with anxiety on my About Me page and receiving such an overwhelmingly positive response, I decided to write about my struggles in more detail. This is a hugely personal post for me and my hope is that fellow anxiety sufferers will be able to relate to my story, as well as receive reassurance and hope that things can get better. My story has a happy ending, after all.

 

I was 16 years old when I had my first panic attack.

“Oh my god. I… I think there’s something seriously wrong with me…”

I sat by the side of the road with a friend, my head in my hands, gulping down air and gasping as if I were drowning.

“Help me. Something’s wrong. I… I feel so sick. I’m so scared.”

As sweat dripped from my forehead into my eyes, I began to contemplate my impending doom. I was shivering and trembling violently. Waves of nausea were washing over me. I couldn’t breathe, I wasn’t getting enough oxygen to my lungs as I hyperventilated frantically. I had chest pains, shooting pains up and down my left arm. I had pins and needles throughout my entire body, mostly focused in my eyeballs. My vision was blurry. I felt hot and cold and dizzy.

Right then, I knew I was going to die. Was it a heart attack? A stroke? A brain hemorrhage? An aneurism?

What the hell was wrong with me?

 

I, obviously, wasn’t dying, but I had just experienced my first panic attack — an event that changed my life forever.

I remember running home to my parents, bursting into tears, grabbing at them, telling them over and over how much I loved them and then collapsing on the floor and waiting to die.

I never really overcame that panic attack, or at least not for a long time. I eventually calmed down, of course, and was able to function but I didn’t truly feel right. I became psychosomatic, wrapped up in my terror, consumed by the fear that I’d have another panic attack — it was all I could ever think about.

For the next seven or so years, there wasn’t a single day where I didn’t feel unwell.

My obsession with my health and how I was feeling escalated until I was so preoccupied with every ache and pain and twinge that I couldn’t remember what it used to feel like to be me. I persistently felt light-headed, dizzy and nauseated — every single day for seven years. I was convinced that it was because there was something seriously wrong with me.

My mum bought a medical dictionary at some point and discovering it was one of the worst things to have happened to my anxiety, because every single disease I read about matched my symptoms entirely.

I started going to the doctor on a near-weekly basis, 100% convinced that I had a terminal illness. I had blood tests for anaemia, diabetes, overactive and underactive thyroid issues. I thought that I had a stomach ulcer, stomach cancer, breast cancer, an aneurism in my stomach, IBS, arthritis, leukemia, a tapeworm, angina, mad cow disease, scarlet fever, liver disease… it goes on…

It sounds ridiculous now, but to genuinely 100% believe that you have a disease and that you only have weeks to live, only to be told you don’t and have your symptoms disappear overnight is exhausting, traumatising, frustrating and demoralising.

I was obsessed with trying to find out what was wrong with me.

 

By this stage, my life was already a mess but it was soon about to spiral out of control.

At age 18, I was having debilitating panic attacks multiple times a day, every single day. I became so frightened I’d have one in public that I stopped going outside. This then developed into agoraphobia and social anxiety, with me too afraid to step outside of my room. I remember living in halls at University and hiding in my room until every one of my flatmates left the kitchen so that I could make my dinner and not have to interact with anyone. I was worried I’d have a panic attack in front of my friends and they’d think I was insane. I stopped going to lectures, not bothering to try and catch up on what I’d missed.

Over the space of a year, I lost my boyfriend, my friends and my job. I grew distant from my family as they struggled to understand what I was going through and watched my grades drop from an average of 95% to 40%.

I had well and truly lost control of my life.

I then attempted to re-gain control by altering one of the few things that was still within my power to change. 

That was how I developed an eating disorder.

I didn’t stop eating because I wanted to be thin — I already was thin and was 100% happy with how my body looked, I always have been. It’s hard to explain but I stopped eating so that I’d have one tiny aspect of my life that I was in control of.

You see, I wanted to eat but there was a mental barrier preventing me from doing so.

I wanted to eat more than anything in the world but every time I put food in my mouth, I’d begin gagging and retching until I spat it out. No matter what I tried I couldn’t physically swallow food. And I tried everything.

Over the space of a year, I lived on nothing but apples and pears, weighing under 40kg at my lowest point. I would make protein shakes and buy vitamin tonics to try and get vital nutrients but when it came to actual food I had a complete mental block.

I could not physically swallow anything but fruit.

Skinny Lauren
On my 18th birthday, at one of my thinnest points. Note the Rescue Remedy in my hand — I didn’t go anywhere without it.

I turned my life around when I ruined my sister’s birthday.

We celebrated the day at her favourite restaurant in town. As soon as I sat down, I felt the familiar nerves take hold of my body. I ordered just a bowl of fries so I wouldn’t cause a fuss — so that I would have something to pick at. They arrived and I put one in my mouth, immediately retching loudly and violently until I had to spit it out on the plate. I tried again and again, tears streaming down my face until I had to give up. I was so hungry but the sight of food on the table turned my stomach until I could no longer sit with my family and had to go outside.

“Thanks for ruining my birthday”, my sister mumbled as we walked to the car.

During the drive home my parents yelled and cried, telling me that I needed to make a change, that I needed to get control of my life and soon. If I didn’t, they were going to take me to a doctor.

I decided to make a change.

Lauren at Whistler
Happy and healthy at Whistler

Conquering my anxiety was the hardest thing I’ve ever done.

Throughout my multi-year battle with anxiety I didn’t see a doctor or a therapist about it and I didn’t take any medication. At the time, I was scared. With a personality that’s extremely prone to addiction I didn’t want to end up taking pills for my anxiety — I knew I’d never stop taking them. I didn’t want to see a doctor or a therapist because I didn’t want to admit that anything was wrong with me. These may have been foolish decisions to make but I’m so proud and so glad that I managed to conquer my anxiety either way.

I started with food.

I bought a diary and each day recorded exactly what I ate, making sure that every single day I increased the amount I ate.

Day one: an apple and a french fry.

Day two: an apple and two french fries.

Day three: an apple and three french fries.

Baby steps, right?

As I started to build a healthy relationship with food, I began to focus on other areas of my life. I forced myself to go outside once a week, even if it was just to walk around the block. I made myself occasionally say yes to invitations when they came my way, which was, by this point, admittedly rare. I deliberately chose to go to a college where I knew not a single person so that I could start afresh — where nobody would know who I was. I threw away the medical dictionary and learned not to Google every ache and pain. I practiced meditation, breathing exercises and coping mechanisms to talk myself down when I felt a panic attack coming on. Once a month, I forced myself to do something that petrified me so that I could prove that stepping outside wouldn’t cause me to die.

I can’t begin to describe just how hard conquering anxiety was, but it’s turned me into an incredibly strong person. Knowing that I was able to completely turn my life around — that ten years ago I wasn’t able even step outside of my room and now I’m travelling the world, and have been happily doing so for nearly three years, blows my mind.

It shows me that I can do anything I set my mind to.

Lauren at the Grand Canyon
At the Grand Canyon

I was always meant to travel the world with my boyfriend. I’d spent years and years saving money, planning routes, itineraries and activities and couldn’t wait to start this new chapter of my life.

And then we broke up and I cancelled my trip.

I couldn’t travel alone.

I had no life experience and I still had panic attacks on a monthly basis. I still had a somewhat challenging relationship with food and wasn’t really sure how to make friends anymore. I believed I didn’t have any of the skills required to be a successful traveller. When you add in the fact that many of my friends seemed to think I was making a bad decision and took great delight in telling me I was going to die — well, I just didn’t think I was cut out for travel.

What would I do if I experienced an enormous panic attack abroad? What would happen if I freaked out while in an unfamiliar country where I didn’t know anyone and couldn’t speak the language? What if I couldn’t find any food I liked and ended up not eating for days — would that cause me to relapse? What if I relapsed and wouldn’t be able to function enough to get back home?

After much soul searching, I decided to find out.

Lauren in the Atlas Mountains
In Morocco

Ultimately, travel has helped my anxiety.

My average of one panic attack a month soon dropped to something like five panic attacks over the 30-odd months I’ve been travelling.

I think having complete control of my situation has been the main reason why I’m now mostly anxiety-free. I can go where I want when I want and with who I want. As a freelancer, I can work as much as I feel able to, or spend the day in bed because I feel overwhelmed. I can spend time with the people I like, the people who calm me down and make me happy. Having control over every single aspect of my life has been so healing for me. 

In addition, I have been incredibly fortunate to have met a guy who, despite having never seen anyone have a panic attack before meeting me, is so brilliantly supportive and understanding. Dave will give me cuddles or give me space, will allow me to ramble on for three hours about how I feel as I try to calm myself down and will allow me to go off for stints of solo travel when I need to be alone. And, of course, I can’t not mention my family, who have been amazing in helping me break free from the shackles of anxiety, as well as being only too happy to Skype with me at 3am to calm me down when I’m freaking out.

I guess, then, what I’m trying to say is that travel and a supportive network of family and friends has helped my mental health in more ways than I can count. It’s been years since I last diagnosed myself with a terminal illness and I can’t remember the last time I freaked out at the food on my plate. Most of my panic attacks these days have been brought on by drinking too much alcohol, so I’ve now cut that out of my life.

riding a camel sahara desert morocco

I’ve thought long and hard about what I want the message of this post to be. Mental health issues, such as anxiety, are rarely spoken about publicly and I’m fairly certain that most people who have read my site up until now had very little idea of the battles I’ve faced. I’ve always given the impression that I simply decided to travel, bought a one-way ticket and happily hopped on a plane to start my new life.

To those of you who suffer from anxiety, I want to say that life can get better. That it’s possible to completely turn your life around and not have your every waking thought revolve around panic and worry.

And to those of you who struggle with anxiety and are thinking about travelling, I want to say that you should give it a go. I can’t tell you the amount of times I nearly cancelled my trip because I thought I wouldn’t be able to handle it — I spent my last night in England hysterical because I thought I was making the biggest mistake of my life. Travel has healed and helped me in so many ways, so don’t let your fear of the unknown prevent you from trying it, too.

At age 18, I had lost control of my life.

But at age 23, I grabbed life by the goddamn balls, bought a one way ticket out of England and fulfilled a dream.

I used to be a girl who was simply existing — who couldn’t eat more than an apple a day, who couldn’t step outside her door — but I’ve now done more amazing things than I ever thought possible. I’ve visited 45 countries across five continents. I’ve walked on the Great Wall of China and explored the ruins of Angkor Wat, camped under the stars in the Sahara Desert and hiked across a glacier in New Zealand. I’ve eaten duck tongue in Taiwan, lizard in Vietnam, kangaroo in Australia, brains in Mexico and cockroaches in Laos. I learned to surf in Bali, rode a camel in Morocco, flew in a hot air balloon over Slovenia and sailed a yacht around the coast of Turkey. 

I’ve turned my life around and I’ve never been happier.

And Now I’ve Launched the Travel Anxiety Course!

Almost a decade after writing this post, I’ve finally put together absolutely everything I know about how to overcome anxiety and travel. This course contains 60,000 words on how to halt panic attacks, build confidence, and get yourself out into this beautiful world.

I’ve had a 98% success rate from the 146 participants who have taken my course so far, and I’d love to help you, too.

You can sign up here.

Previous 10 Lowlights From 2013
Next Month 30: Travel Summary and Statistics

216 Comments

  1. January 17, 2014
    Reply

    Thanks for sharing. Seems travelling really is a cure all. :) But it makes sense really. Living the cookie cutter life simply can’t suit everyone and getting out of that really is the medicine I bet a lot of people need.

    • January 17, 2014
      Reply

      Thanks, Adam! I agree — I think the complete freedom traveling can give you helps a lot. I used to struggle tremendously with working set hours each day and found myself taking time off work because I was feeling overwhelmed, which in turn convinced me I was unwell. That’s why freelancing has worked out so well for me. Yay for midday naps!

    • Adam took the words out of my mouth. The “medicine” most of us with mental struggles need is to live OUTSIDE of what society expects, pressures us to be. Carve our own paths.

      True freedom is the solution to most. Sadly, only a lucky, brave few have discovered it.

      -Maria Alexandra

      • January 19, 2014
        Reply

        Freedom definitely helps, it’s true. I know that a lot of friends with depression have found travel to be extremely beneficial, too.

  2. Sky
    January 17, 2014
    Reply

    Lauren, thank you for sharing this. I think it’s so important to create discussions about things like anxiety. Though my anxiety has never reached the level of yours, it has severely interfered in my life and forced me to cancel trips more than once. I have often wondered if traveling would help and I think it would.

    One thing I would like to comment on, though, is that it seemed as if you were saying getting help to deal with anxiety – whether it be pills, a doctor, etc – makes someone weak and everyone should be able to handle it themselves.(I don’t think that’s really what you meant to say, the tone simply came off in that way.) I completely respect that you chose to do it 100% on your own but I’d also like those reading to know that there is absolutely no shame in asking for help. I’ve chosen the therapy and pill route and I have to say it has changed my life. Going to see a therapist was the best thing I ever did for myself and I only take the pills as needed – which lately has been once a month or so. So just for anyone else struggling – if you think you need help but are hesitant to ask, do it – you’re worth it.

    Anyway, Lauren, thanks again for sharing. Anxiety is something so many people are so hesitant to talk about but it truly affects so many. I’m glad you were able to take control of your life and go on so many adventures that we all get to read about. :)

    • January 17, 2014
      Reply

      Thanks for your kind words, Sky. I’m so glad to hear you’ve found a way to keep your anxiety at bay :-). I definitely didn’t mean it to come across that I thought anyone who opted for therapy/pills is weak — in fact, I believe the complete opposite. Knowing that you need help and asking for it is an incredibly brave thing to do. Everyone’s different and what worked for me won’t necessarily work for someone else.

      I think, for me, knowing that I have such an addictive personality (I’ve even managed to get addicted to eye drops in the past!) and forcing myself not to go down the pills route is what made me feel so proud, and showed me how strong I am as a person. I’m certain that had I gone down the therapy route and conquered anxiety I’d feel just as proud and strong. It was more of a comment about recognising that pills would be a really bad choice for me and feeling glad I didn’t go down that route. Perhaps I could have worded that better — I’ve edited the post slightly to reflect what I meant :-)

      Dealing with anxiety is an incredibly hard thing to do — no matter which route you choose, and anyone who manages to take back control of their lives is a strong person that deserves to be celebrated :-)

    • Nick
      January 17, 2014
      Reply

      Indeed, some combination of SSRI medications and/or cognitive behavioral therapy (with or without meds) has been proven to be the most effective treatment for panic disorder.

      • January 17, 2014
        Reply

        Hey Nick. Absolutely. I wasn’t disputing that — I was just sharing my story and my experiences :-)

  3. Anna
    January 17, 2014
    Reply

    Thank you so much for sharing your story. It is very inspirational to hear about all the things that you have overcome to have the wonderful life you have.

    • January 17, 2014
      Reply

      Thank you so much, Anna :-)

  4. Jen
    January 17, 2014
    Reply

    I can’t tell you how much this post resonated with me!!! I have suffered with anxiety from age 17. I had my first panic attack at an airport flying by myself and that really made me scared to travel. I became really agoraphobic for a long time. I’m 41 now and determined to get past this and see the world! My husband and I are putting everything we own into storage and we are heading to Mexico! I’m soooooo scared and yet I am so excited! I love your blog and your travels have inspired me! I’m going to get past this and experience life….maybe for the first time in 41 years!!! Thanks for this, made me feel more “normal”- whatever that means :)

    • January 21, 2014
      Reply

      I’m so glad to hear you could relate to the post, Jen and it’s great to hear that you’re going to setting out on your own adventure! I really hope that travel helps you in the same way that it has me — and you’ll love Mexico! I’ve been here for four months now and am already getting sad about leaving.

  5. Woohoo! I love reading your blog Lauren. It’s often these very personal stories that are the most inspirational. Good on you for grabbing life by the balls! I’m sure many people are inspired by your story.

    • January 19, 2014
      Reply

      Thank you so much, Michelle :-)

  6. January 17, 2014
    Reply

    Thank you so much for writing this. I can only imagine how hard it must have been. I used to have panic attacks as a young child and they’ve recently returned (I’m 23). I am my happiest when I’m traveling and I totally get what you mean about control. I know you’re going to help so many people with this post. You certainly helped me.

    Happy travels :)

    • January 19, 2014
      Reply

      I’m so glad I could help you, Lauren, and I’m sorry to hear the panic attacks have recently returned. It’s interesting to see just how many people have had their anxiety helped with travel.

  7. January 17, 2014
    Reply

    Thanks for sharing your very personal story. I’m happy you could make the best of your life and turn everything around. Your post is another great example that you should try despite your fears. If you think travelling (or whatever) makes you happy, try it. What could go wrong? If you don’t like it, just go home again. At least you know that you’ve tried and didn’t think “what if I travelled…”. I wish you all the best for your future! It’s amazing what you’ve achieved so far and I’m excited to follow your way here.

    • January 19, 2014
      Reply

      Thanks so much, Stef. I completely agree — just realising that if I found I hated travel and wanted to go home I could quite easily book a plane ticket and be home within a day helped convince me to try it out. Discovering I didn’t like it and going home would have been so much more preferable to backing out and staying at home, always wondering what could have been. Fortunately, travel was one of the best things to happen to me! :-)

  8. January 17, 2014
    Reply

    Hey Lauren,

    Thanks for sharing your story. It’s great when inspirational people like you can speak up and help others who may be going through what you went through.

    That last paragraph is amazing, some of the things you’ve done over the last 3 years are in incredible.

    • January 19, 2014
      Reply

      Thank you so much, Jason! I’m always shocked at how much I’ve achieved when I try and summarise the past few years — it never feels like much of a big deal until I pull it all together :-)

  9. January 17, 2014
    Reply

    Great post Lauren and brave to share with us. It is good to see how you used travel to help you. Travel and the blog has helped me control the stress in my life. I ended up spending a night in hospital over it. Good luck with your future travel plans.

    • January 21, 2014
      Reply

      I’m pleased to hear that travel has helped your stress, Steve. It can be a wonderful thing for mental health :-)

  10. January 17, 2014
    Reply

    Such a brave girl! It really takes a strong person to reveal her past and wonderfully coping for it. I enjoy reading your story and the photos too. I hope all is well with you now. More power to you! :)

    • January 17, 2014
      Reply

      Thanks, Carlene. I’m doing great now :-)

  11. Wow, what a story, Lauren. I’ve dealt with severe depression myself, and travel was a great medicine for me. I’m glad that it helped you conquer your anxiety. Thank you so much for sharing such an intimate part of your life with us.

    • January 17, 2014
      Reply

      Thanks, Chris. I’m so pleased to hear that travel has helped with your depression :-)

  12. zof
    January 17, 2014
    Reply

    Great post. Thanks for sharing.

  13. January 17, 2014
    Reply

    Lauren – you are a brave and beautiful soul, family and lovers love you and you are an inspiration! You are doing pretty darned well for 23. I will be fascinated to see where you are in just five years, let alone 15.

    Travel, for me, is about empowerment and that seems to be exactly the case for you. Well played.

    • January 17, 2014
      Reply

      Thank you so much! I’m actually 25 (I was 23 when I left England), but I agree. After seeing how much I’ve changed over the past five years, the next five should be very interesting :-)

  14. January 17, 2014
    Reply

    Lauren,

    I had an eating disorder until I was 23. I guess it is something you “always” deal with. I am 31 now. An ED is a control disorder more than anything. Sometimes I think anxiety and ED’s go hand in hand. I think this is a very powerful post and good for you for posting it. I think this something useful to a lot women (and men) out there that feel the same!

    • January 17, 2014
      Reply

      Thanks, Jennifer. I completely agree — whenever I’m feeling stressed out I know that my first reaction is to stop eating completely. Fortunately, it never lasts for more than a few hours these days. Eating disorders and anxiety are definitely related to control, which is why I think travel has been so transformative for me.

  15. January 17, 2014
    Reply

    Thanks for sharing your story Lauren!

    I am in a relationship with someone that has a very similar past. We met while traveling so I had thought that those things were behind her but still have issues 7 years later. Basically if something has happened to someone ever in a place we are visiting, it will happen to her. Not ideal for a travel blogger as I’m sure you know. Patience has been key and we have been able to do some pretty amazing things.

    Glad you have been able to overcome your anxiety and have been able to move on and share your stories with us.

    Thanks again

    Shaun
    http://www.thislifeintrips.com

    • January 21, 2014
      Reply

      She sounds very similar to me — I often get extremely paranoid about things happening to me in the places I visit. Well, you’ve probably seen my Incidents page so you know I don’t have the best of luck when I travel! Feel free to tell her to contact me if she wants to chat to someone who’s been through the same issues. I’d be happy to offer some reassurance and techniques I use to calm down on the road :-)

  16. Scarlett
    January 17, 2014
    Reply

    Lauren, I can barely even read what I’m typing because I’ve got tears rolling down my face even after sitting and crying at this for the last ten minutes. Honestly I can’t even begin to explain how powerful and touching this post is – I struggled with an eating disorder and anxiety issues for years, not to the extent of yours, but I had lost control over my life and it was so, so hard. Even now I’m better, there are days, sometimes weeks that I feel myself close to spiraling backwards again, so to read this and know that someone else – someone who I respect so much non the less – has dealt with this stuff too is amazing. Looking at you now and all the amazing things you’re doing, you wouldn’t believe it could be true – and I’m so incredibly proud of you. You’re an inspiration xx

    • January 21, 2014
      Reply

      Oh Jen, I’m so sorry I made you cry! This is one of the loveliest things anyone’s ever said to me :-). I’m so pleased to hear that you’ve gained better control over your life now — it’s strange how you never truly know how many people you know to are also struggling with anxiety, hey? But it always makes me feel better to know that I’m not alone in my fight. Always happy to chat with you if you find you’re struggling in the future! :-)

  17. Kristina WF
    January 17, 2014
    Reply

    Thank you so much for posting this. Back in 2006-2007 I travelled A lot and absolutely loved it. Then in 2011 I experienced my first panic attack and subsequently had to take 2 months off work and get on anxiety medication before I felt better again. This past may I got off the medication since I thought I was better. However, for the past month, my anxiety has been pretty bad. I’m back to freaking out about how I feel and battling with the thoughts that I have a terminal illness, even though I rationally know I likely don’t. I’m having trouble sleeping too. I have been questioning whether I should get back on the medication. I wish I could return to travel but debt and lack of income stop me, I’m in university. Last summer I went on a trip for my birthday with two girlfriends and felt awful the whole time, it ruined what should have been an amazing moment.
    I’m journaling to try to get control of it. Will probably look into seeing my psychologist again, but it’s just so expensive- I likely can’t afford it.
    Anyway, thank you for posting this. It brought tears to my eyes… Your story gives me hope… Hope that one day I will feel like the woman I was years ago. I hope these stories will reach others who are going through this and inspire them to seek help, support, and love.
    Again, thank you!

    • January 21, 2014
      Reply

      Hi Kristina, I’m so sorry to hear that your anxiety has come back — it’s my biggest fear. I hope that you will be able to find a way to overcome it once more — let me know if I can do anything to help :-)

  18. January 17, 2014
    Reply

    Long-time reader, first-time commenter ;)

    Great stuff Lauren – it shows incredible strength to keep pushing yourself out of your comfort zone like you do. Not least of which, writing this post. Pretty amazing that you’ve gone from hiding from the flatmates to having friends all over the world, even if you haven’t actually met them!

    (Also, yay science!)

    • January 19, 2014
      Reply

      Thanks for leaving a comment, Simon! :-). It always astounds me when I think back to what my life was like ten or so years ago — being too afraid to leave the house to travelling the world full-time — it really is a complete turnaround.

  19. January 17, 2014
    Reply

    Wow, Lauren, thanks for sharing this. It can’t be that easy to spell it out like that, but I’m so glad travelling has helped you. Only today I was wrestling with the idea that my upcoming trip is a bad idea because it’s heading out into the unknown. But your story has reminded me that the hurdles which have to be overcome just make the journey even more worth it in the end!

    • January 21, 2014
      Reply

      I’m so pleased I could help you out, Hayley! I think everybody wrestles with those worries before they first leave — I was convinced that leaving to travel was terrible idea at first. I can promise you that it makes the experiences so much greater when you’ve had to overcome many obstacles to get to that point :-)

  20. Lauren this is the first I came across your site and this is the first post I read. It’s quite outstanding of you to post something so personal that will undoubtedly help others. Great to meet another interested in perpetual travel.

    • January 21, 2014
      Reply

      Thank you so much, Steve! I’m glad you liked it :-)

  21. January 17, 2014
    Reply

    Wonderful post! Thanks for sharing. I remember my first panic attack when I was 13. It’s a scary thing the first time it happens. Even though my anxiety never stopped me from doing anything for more than a day, my depression does take over my whole life sometimes. It’s a struggle to keep things in check sometimes. I completely understand when you said you didn’t want to see a doctor or a therapist. Even though over the years I’ve figured ways to deal with it for the most part, I still debate if I should seek help when it gets really bad but I’m so worried of what would happen there and what they would want to give me.
    I have a blog in the works talking about travel and depression that I’ll hopefully finish one of these days and feel ready to post it.
    I’m so happy you’re doing well now!

    • January 21, 2014
      Reply

      It’s a truly terrifying thing, to be completely convinced you’re about to die. I didn’t visit a doctor for that exact same reason — I was worried they’d want to prescribe me pills or make me do something I didn’t want to. It’s good that you’ve found a way to deal with it on your own for now :-). I’d love to read your post about travel and depression once it’s finished.

  22. January 17, 2014
    Reply

    It shows how strong you’ve become that you even published this post, Lauren. Good on you. Clearly travel has changed your life – transformed it, even. And letting others know that their problems can be overcome… that’s a fantastic and really important message.

    I’ve never suffered as much as you, but I did see various doctors for anxiety a few years ago. I never had a full-on panic attack, but I went for a few days with chest pains and a racing heartbeat sure that I was going to die. It got so bad that I took myself to the emergency room, had all sorts of tests done, and eventually was prescribed some meds for anxiety. I’ve never used them, though, because, as you said, once you can be the one in control, the anxiety is much easier to manage.

    I still get nervous BEFORE big trips, but once I’m actually traveling the anxiety seems to just melt away!

    • January 21, 2014
      Reply

      Thanks, Amanda. It’s true, I wouldn’t have even considered publishing this a few years ago — it would have just been too frightening. I’m so pleased to see that I’ve helped some people out already with this post, and thanks for sharing your story. I’m glad you’re in control of your anxiety now :-)

      It’s strange how anxiety can fade away once you actually start travelling, isn’t it? I still get so nervous before I visit a new place, especially if it’s somewhere new, but within a few minutes of arriving I’m wondering what I was so scared of!

  23. January 17, 2014
    Reply

    My struggle with anxiety is eerily similar, including the bit about not eating and causing a scene around other people. But I agree that one day at a time is the best way to get back on track.

    • January 21, 2014
      Reply

      I’m sorry to hear that, Caroline, but glad that you’ve found a way to get back on track :-)

  24. January 17, 2014
    Reply

    Hi Lauren,

    I also had panic attacks and thanks to traveling I am fine now, it is always good to know that you are not alone, and some people understand what it feels to have a panick attack

    This is my post is you want to read it.

    http://mytanfeet.com/life-experiences/how-traveling-relieves-anxiety-my-experiences/

    Take care

    • January 18, 2014
      Reply

      Hey Yeison. I’m glad to hear you also found travel helps your anxiety. Thanks for sharing your experiences, too :-)

  25. Lucy
    January 17, 2014
    Reply

    Hi Lauren, thanks for sharing your story. As other people have said the more people are open about their struggles with things like anxiety and depression, the more ‘normal’ they become and the greater people’s awareness. It can be tough to struggle with a health problem that’s invisible to everyone else, but doesn’t make it any less real or debilitating. I’ve struggled with anxiety over the last year but trying to push on through it and challenge myself to keep travelling, however much it sometimes feels like I’d rather be hiding away at home under the duvet!

    • January 21, 2014
      Reply

      Hey, Lucy. Absolutely. I know I found it very frustrating to feel terrible on the inside but look like I was totally fine to the outside world. I’m glad to hear you’re not letting the anxiety take over your life and are still pushing through to travel. It can be tough — and I definitely have those days where I mope around inside, unable to force myself to step outside, but I never let it get too extreme. It’s important to keep challenging yourself to make you a stronger person :-)

  26. January 17, 2014
    Reply

    Very proud of what you have achieved! Such a personal post which we are sure will touch others! Great to see you that you are living life and travelling has helped you do just that. Thanks for sharing!

  27. January 18, 2014
    Reply

    Lauren, I’ve never experienced anything like what you’ve described, but thank you for writing this. You’ve put yourself out there in a bid to help others and it’s hugely inspiring. Really, it is. Probably more than you realise. Keep being happy!

    • January 18, 2014
      Reply

      Wow, thank you so much, Clare. I’ve been astounded by the reaction so far as I’ve never really thought of myself as someone who could inspire others.

  28. Kaylene
    January 18, 2014
    Reply

    Lauren,
    Thank you SO much for sharing this. I started bawling reading this post because almost every emotion and experience you went through, I have experienced. It’s rough dealing with anxiety and panic attacks. At times, it’s even more rough letting others know what’s going on and reaching out or accepting help. It’s truly helpful though for myself and others to read things like this, especially in a society that shuts out the notion that anything like this exists. I can’t thank you enough for posting this.

    • January 21, 2014
      Reply

      I’m so glad I could help you out, Kaylene, and I’m sorry I made you cry! It’s true that anxiety is something that’s rarely spoken about and I’m always surprised when I discover friends suffer from it too. I think it’s important to be more open about mental health, even though it’s scary to do so, so that people realise they’re not alone in their struggle.

  29. January 18, 2014
    Reply

    What a great, brave post for you to write, Lauren. Obviously tons of people have been in the same boat, including myself. My own relationship with anxiety (and unfortunately, depression) isn’t exactly the same as yours, however it’s something I struggle with on a daily basis but that has gotten so much better with a life of full-time travel. It’s not for everyone, of course (I’ve met some people who seem more stressed out!), but I do think it’s one of the better medicines out there! Thanks for sharing and good luck on the rest of your journey.

    • January 21, 2014
      Reply

      Thank you so much, Steph. I’m glad to hear that you’ve also seen an improvement through full-time travel. I’ve definitely met people who seem more stressed out on the road, too! For the most part, though, I think having control about where you are and what you do can be extremely liberating and freeing for a lot of people.

  30. Coral
    January 17, 2014
    Reply

    An honest and brilliant post. Since following you I have seen how your writing has got more confident, and you seem so much more you, happier, confident and I am hapy for you. Hope to get back on the road again soon. Never settled back. Much happier travelling.

    • January 18, 2014
      Reply

      Thanks, Coral, I definitely have to agree with you. For a while I was trying to pretend I was someone I’m not with my writing, attempting to sound like some kind of fearless travel expert. I’ve felt so much more comfortable with the writing process since allowing my personality to shine through, and since realising I don’t need to give off the impression that I always know what I’m doing :-)

      I can imagine that attempting to settle back down after travel is an incredibly challenging process — I know that Dave found it so hard to do so and always ended up taking back off again after a year or so. I hope you manage to get back out there soon! :-)

  31. January 18, 2014
    Reply

    Totally what I needed to read. Thank you for sharing.

    Been following your blog for months now. Please continue being an inspiration.

    • January 19, 2014
      Reply

      I’m pleased to hear that, Ahjh. Glad I could help :-)

  32. January 18, 2014
    Reply

    It’s very admirable how you confront your anxiety with such brave decisions. Glad that you’re doing really well now. =)

    • January 19, 2014
      Reply

      Thanks, Andrew. I’m doing great now :-)

  33. January 18, 2014
    Reply

    Great post, thanks for being really open and sharing your story. What a ways you have come!

  34. January 18, 2014
    Reply

    I have read this and then re-read it. Wow, what a story and much respect.

    I am unable to fully grasp (within this short time frame after reading it) what I react to most. But it is probably the fact that you didn’t go down the endless re-hab/shrink brigade and self-solved with a strength which has shone through, but well … you were modest enough to just get on with life, and not present us with how it was complicated by your condition. The trip was about travel I thought – no, the trip was about grabbing an overdose of life!

    To say I am impressed, understates it. Great to have stumbled across your column when you passed through Australia. And truly, good for you! You have an amazing legacy and strength to pass on. And also thanks for sharing. What you have described and how you have now related it, also took remarkable strength.

    Best for your further journeys. Gerald

    • January 21, 2014
      Reply

      Gerard, thank you so much for leaving such a wonderful comment, I’m so touched. I knew that I wanted medication and therapy to be my last resort and I’m pleased I haven’t had to turn to it — while I know it works great for some people, I didn’t want to end up addicted to anxiety pills and unable to function without taking them. Knowing that I was able to help myself using just my mind has been great for my confidence, too — it makes me feel like I can do almost anything I set my mind to! I love the part about grabbing an overdose of life — that’s a great way of putting it! :-)

  35. January 18, 2014
    Reply

    Thank you for writing and posting this – it is remarkedly personal and must have been difficult to write. I can relate so much to your experiences regarding anxiety, especially your university experience. After returning from my gap year abroad at 18, I had trouble adjusting to back to ‘normal’ life at university and developed social anxiety, even though I had just spent the last year travelling the world, meeting dozens of people and getting involved in a variety of social situations! I think control was my issue too, as since I have been travelling and living abroad again, most of it has gone away. Thank you for sharing!

    • January 21, 2014
      Reply

      I can understand the social anxiety — I often struggle to have conversations with some of my friends back home, because I’m just not sure what I have in common with them any more. When you get so used to having conversations revolving around where you’ve been and where you’re going, it’s hard to start talking about jobs and babies and not mention travel at all. Glad to hear that it’s mostly gone away for you now! :-)

  36. January 18, 2014
    Reply

    Anytime a blogger posts something this personal, they instantly become one of my favorites. It definitely takes a lot of courage to put something like this out there on a public forum. But considering all you’ve been through, it’s obvious you have boat loads of courage anyway.

    Great post. Thanks for the inspiration. I hope this finds the people that could benefit the most from it.

    • January 19, 2014
      Reply

      Oh, thank you so much, Matt! I was very apprehensive about posting something so personal (in fact, I still feel nervous about the post being out there!) but after seeing how much it has helped people I know I made the right decision :-)

  37. lucy cross
    January 18, 2014
    Reply

    i read what you had been through and i can tell you that my husband went through having panic attacks and still gets them from time to time we recently had our children taken of us because of an alligation that was made against him which was the course of the panic attacks and then he spent 4 and a half weeks near the end of april tilll 16th may last year in a mentle ward as he tried to kill him self with booz and pills he was asulted by a police officer in our home and is still frightened even know to even go out the only time he does go out is when i am with him we have been verbally abused by other parents from the school our kids went to and we are finding things very difficult to deal wirh is there any advice you could give us any advice at all would be appreciated

    • January 19, 2014
      Reply

      Hi Lucy. I don’t feel very qualified to help out with your situation, having not experienced anything like that before. I overcame my anxiety by taking very small steps, and taking each day at a time. I’d force myself to go for a walk outside for 5 minutes, and then the next day increase that to 6 minutes and then 7 minutes… perhaps that could help your husband?

  38. Cathy
    January 18, 2014
    Reply

    Well I have sat here for 2 hours contemplating what I should write and I still have no idea, however this is an attempt to express from the heart how much respect and admiration I have for the daughter of a very dear and special friend.
    I don’t see dad much these days but I shall never forget what he has done for me ( let alone the introduction to my husband!) and to this day am not100% sure he was ever truly aware of the extent and severity of my panic attacks/anxiety (if he did he was very diplomatic which is not his usual stance haha!!) I was always seen as a very confident person, someone in control, but god did I struggle behind the scenes and it took a long time for me to admit all was not so great as I felt like a failure. The hardest thing to do is to take “life by the balls” and do your best to turn things around and your post made me very emotional and struck a very strong cord. It made me feel “normal”, thankful, proud, happy, relieved for you and I and all those who have had the great fortune and courage to take control and attempt change. Not easy and what works for one may not for another but the greatest quote I ever read :
    ” if you keep doing what you’re doing, you keep getting what you’re getting”
    Is a great message for all and you clearly didn’t want to keep doing what you were doing!!
    I know your dad is incredibly proud of you and happy for you and I can see why. A lovely,intelligent, brave and beautiful young woman with a heart…… Lots of love and keep happy Lauren. Cathy ((Miller) xxx

    • January 21, 2014
      Reply

      Thank you so much for the lovely comment, Cathy! I think I’ve been the same in the past — often viewed as a confident person and having no idea why because I felt like such a mess inside!

      I love that quote and completely agree with it. Thanks again for the kind words :-)

  39. HFmalone
    January 18, 2014
    Reply

    One of my favorite quotes is, “I believe that you measure yourself by the people that measure themselves by you.” In regards to that, I think you should be extremely proud of yourself. You have nothing to be afraid of by sharing your struggles and how you have overcome them. I for one have completely changed the course of my future by reading your, and a few others, blogs on traveling.

    • January 19, 2014
      Reply

      Wow, that’s such a compliment! I’m so pleased to hear you’ve taken control of your future :-)

  40. January 18, 2014
    Reply

    Amazing story Lauren! It’s always refreshing to read such personal posts, regardless of the topic. I bet this was all difficult to revisit, but I’m sure you are an inspiration to many!

    • January 19, 2014
      Reply

      Oh, thank you, Jessica! It’s a little odd to think of myself as being an inspiration but I’m glad I’ve been able to help others with this post. Thanks for the kind words :-)

  41. Cheryl Stanley
    January 18, 2014
    Reply

    Dear Lauren,

    Read your beautiful post. Sending a massive hug and kisses. We love you and constantly think of you. C xox

    • January 19, 2014
      Reply

      Thank you so much, Cheryl! :-)

  42. January 19, 2014
    Reply

    Lauren, thank you for writing about your story with openness. You’ve had the courage to make necessary changes, and now with support, you have the strength to live with the changes moment to moment, day by day. All the best to you and your loved ones this year!

    • January 19, 2014
      Reply

      Thanks so much, Henry! Same to you :-D

  43. January 19, 2014
    Reply

    Hi Lauren, this was such a brave post and I really think that it is so important that you shared your experiences. It helps others to know how much you’ve over come to get where you are and gives hope that if you can do it they can too. Much love brave lady!

    • January 21, 2014
      Reply

      Thanks so much, Kim. That’s exactly what I was aiming for :-)

  44. Bill DeGiulio
    January 20, 2014
    Reply

    Mighty brave of you Lauren to share this with us. We all have hurdles to overcome in life and good for you for grabbing the bull by the horns and taking control of your life. Isn’t it great that we never know for sure what life has in store for us? I think you have many more incredible journey’s ahead of you. I look forward to following your travels wherever they may take you.

    • January 21, 2014
      Reply

      Thanks, Bill! I think it’s important to share that I’ve had struggles to get to the point where I am — like you say, we all have hurdles to overcome in life — and I want to show that me leaving to travel wasn’t just a case of me happily hopping on a plane. Too many travel bloggers focus on just positives and make it seem like deciding to travel is the easiest decision in the world. I want to show that you can still live a life of travel even if you’ve had struggles in the past :-)

  45. Laura
    January 21, 2014
    Reply

    What an inspiring story. Thank you so much for sharing. Mental health is such an important topic and you’re doing so much good by sharing your experiences to help continue the dialog about anxiety and mental health issues that seem to be so hush hush in society. While I can’t necessarily relate to your experience my family has a long history of panic attacks, addiction, anxiety, etc. and I’m sure I share some tendencies. It’s so inspiring how you were able to gain control of your illness, and at such a young age! Healthy living, like some of the things you mentioned doing to control your anxiety, is a big commitment but so important. Thanks again!

    • January 22, 2014
      Reply

      Thanks so much for the lovely comment, Laura! :-)

  46. January 24, 2014
    Reply

    Thank you. I could try and write a paragraph on why and how this post touched me but words fail me. So simply, thank you, so so much.

    • February 3, 2014
      Reply

      What a lovely comment! Thank YOU! :-)

  47. Angie
    January 24, 2014
    Reply

    Thank you so much for sharing and for your honesty.

  48. January 27, 2014
    Reply

    Hi Lauren, thanks for being so open and honest. I can certainly relate, as I suffered from terrible anxiety and panic attacks several years ago. Luckily, like you, I was able to overcome my symptoms and get back to living life.

    By sharing your experiences here, you are helping so many others realize they are not alone and there is hope!

    • February 3, 2014
      Reply

      Thank you, Jess! I’m pleased to hear you were also able to overcome your symptoms :-). I’m overwhelmed by all the lovely messages I’ve received since writing this!

  49. Ali
    January 27, 2014
    Reply

    Thanks for sharing this with us! I can’t imagine what you went through, what you still go through, but Andy used to have panic attacks and has told me about his experience with them. It’s one of the reasons he moved to Germany, and it helped a lot the way travel helped you. I think medicine is often helpful, but if you can find a way to overcome your anxiety and live a healthy life without medication, you’re much better off. I’m so happy for you that you pushed yourself to get past it and have found a life that truly works for you.

    • February 3, 2014
      Reply

      Thanks so much, Ali. I’m glad to hear that travel helped Andy with his panic attacks :-)

  50. January 27, 2014
    Reply

    Congratulations on overcoming your issues (or at least keeping them in check). Hopefully you can inspire others on a similar path :)

    • January 29, 2014
      Reply

      Thanks so much, Michael! :-)

  51. Debasis
    January 28, 2014
    Reply

    Hi Lauren, thank you so much for sharing this. It is so nice to see you come out of it with self determination and without any medication. Your story inspired many who are suffering from anxiety including me. I have started this suddenly when I was in a international long haul flight though I was traveling extensively before that. After that I was struggling for few years when I have to travel. Though I have come out of it partially but your story inspired me to try and come out of completely. Again thanks a lot for sharing. Wish you good luck for your travel in 2014.

    • January 29, 2014
      Reply

      Wow, thanks for the lovely comment Debasis! I hope everything goes well for you next time you travel :-)

  52. alison
    January 28, 2014
    Reply

    I struggle constantly with anxiety, and I’ve had my share of panic attacks – not for a long time though. I will tell you that when I’m traveling ALONE, I don’t have panic attacks or anxiety. I feel BRAVE. Traveling has been a great antidote to my “mental health issues.” One precaution I take is that when I am going somewhere new, I check for the location of an organization that I would feel comfortable going to for help if needed. In my case, it is a church or another Christian organization. I know I can find people with whom I feel safe. Taking that precaution has probably prevented me from ever having to take advantage of it.

    • January 29, 2014
      Reply

      I’m so pleased to hear that travel has been healing for you, Alison! It’s true that just knowing you have a back-up in case anything goes wrong gives you such peace of mind :-)

  53. melanie
    January 30, 2014
    Reply

    I’ve had panic disorder for years. I usually can control it and have maybe one attack a year. Well I went thru a break up six months ago but just moved out of the house me and my ex shared two weeks ago. First night in my own place I had an attack.. And now everyone I go home I wonder if I will have another attack. I really hope it’s because I left my comfort zone and when I’m use to my new place it will subside. Im thinking getting a cat will help a little. Because I did have a dog at my exes which eased me. Im actually traveling to another state tomorrow.with a group of friends who all know I have anxiety but they don’t know how spiked it really has been lately. I’ve been looking.forward to this mini there day cabin vacation for over a month now. Im so afraid my anxiety will take.over that I want to keep myself drugged up. I need some words of encouragement.

    • January 30, 2014
      Reply

      Hey Melanie,

      How do you usually control your panic attacks? Could you apply that to this situation? Your panic attack could have been caused by many things — being alone, perhaps? — so you could be absolutely fine travelling with your friends. It’s great that they are aware that you suffer from anxiety because they’ll hopefully be understanding and caring if you were to have a panic attack.

  54. January 31, 2014
    Reply

    Wow! Amazing story! I am also a survivor of anxiety and phobias. I’ve had many of the same experiences as you. The difficulty eating, agoraphobia, panic attacks. I also became very skinny, I couldn’t drive for years and my husband had to do all of our grocery shopping, which was very hard since he worked long hours and we have a family of six.

    I conquered it in much the same way as you did. You just have to take the bull by the horns, be willing to experience the pain and push through! It’s really hard work and yes it makes you an incredibly strong person. I feel like I could conquer just about anything at this point in my life. Although I’m still not real comfortable with flying. LOL! No one’s prefect, I guess. I’ll get there. :-)

    • February 5, 2014
      Reply

      I’m sorry to hear you also had struggles, Ellen, but I’m glad to hear you managed to overcome them. I, too, feel like I could conquer anything, especially anything mental, at this point. And I’m also afraid of flying :-)

  55. February 5, 2014
    Reply

    I actually just found your blog today through adventurous kate, and this is the first post I’ve read- seeing how honest you are about this makes me really excited to keep reading about your travels! I don’t have anxiety attacks on the regular, nor do I think I have “anxiety” in a clinical sense, but there have been times when traveling solo that I definitely feel overwhelmed when literally nothing is happening to overwhelm me. I’m glad you took the time to write this post!

    • February 5, 2014
      Reply

      Thanks, Rachel! I’m glad you liked you the post :-)

  56. February 7, 2014
    Reply

    Thanks for sharing something so personal and positive, I’m sure it will inspire others that no matter how low or defeated you might feel, there is always hope that you can change it.

    Travel on :)

  57. February 11, 2014
    Reply

    Hi Lauren,

    I’ve followed you for some time through twitter and I just wanted to say thanks for writing such a personal and inspiring blog. I can really empathise with a lot of what you say as I have had some similar experience. In my teens I was pretty unwell which lead to me having anxiety. That became panic attacks for over 5 years. The highlight was being scraped off the floor of a busy high street in the middle of Dublin by a paramedic and taken to hospital by ambulance where I waited 15 hours to be seen and told to eat a banana! It still causes great amusement amongst my friends that when they picked me off the street there was an outline of my body in sweat.

    Anyway, the reason I empathise so is that all this changed when I did two things. Firstly, after the hospital scenario I had proof by my own eyes that a panic attack couldn’t kill me. The worst case scenario had already happened and i had survived. Secondly I decided i needed to take a leap of faith and like yourself having never travelled or been anywhere on my own before, I took off on my own round europe for a couple of months. Since then, I have had maybe 5 panic attacks in the past 10 years, travelled through 26 countries and spent a year in canada. I’m convinced there is something really transformative about solo travel or travel with someone who supports you without pressure. I totally agree with you on the freedom counteracting the anxiety.

    Like you I still get anxious, but i’ve learnt not only to live with it, but that pushing your boundaries is an important part of the process, providing its done on your own terms. Taking time out when you need it but knowing when to push back. I’ve recently taken up throwing myself round muddy obstacle races, which for a bespectacled geek is something I never believed I would do! (im not claiming to be good at it ha!)

    Anyway the upshot is I decided I wanted to help those who suffered similar. I retrained as a Counsellor and now i’m doing just that. I also have dreams of running some kind of service to show people how transformative travel can be, but im yet to figure that one out, so if you have any ideas shout up! Anyway sorry for the massive comment, but i felt inspired to write. Thanks again for a great read and keep doing what you are doing, you are an inspiration. Phil

    • November 14, 2015
      Reply

      Thanks so much for sharing your story, Phil! I so appreciate it :-) I think anxiety will always be there, but we’ll find better ways to deal with it and challenge it as time goes on. Glad that you’ve found travel to be so transformative as well!

  58. CC
    February 26, 2014
    Reply

    Thanks Lauren :)
    My anxiety isn’t as bad as yours once was – I’ve only ever had one mild panic attack in my life – so to hear your story about how you conquered such a huge adversary is really inspiring, and it makes me really happy that you were able to turn your life around and do so many amazing things.
    :)

    • November 14, 2015
      Reply

      Thanks, CC! It hasn’t been easy, but I’m getting there :-)

  59. Charlotte
    March 17, 2014
    Reply

    Thanks for the wonderful post!! I’m new to your blog but it’s SO refreshing to read something so honest. I’ve had my own struggles with anxiety to some extent, and the thought of solo travel (which I will be doing in a couple months!) makes me particularly nervous. This was such an inspiring post- totally motivating and you have such an amazing journey!

    Keep on writing and inspiring!! Can’t wait to read more!!

    • November 14, 2015
      Reply

      Thanks so much, Charlotte! Hope your trip goes well and that you find travel as beneficial as I have! :-)

  60. Giulia
    March 19, 2014
    Reply

    This just blew my mind! It is truely amazing what you have obtained from life. I suffer from panic attacks close to on a daily basis. I really hope I will be able to feel like you one day :)

    • November 14, 2015
      Reply

      I hope so too! Feel free to email me at any time if you need any help :-)

  61. Shannon
    March 26, 2014
    Reply

    Thank you for this article. I feel as if I was reading something I had written myself. I’m so happy that you’ve found your peace.

  62. Alice Geraghty
    May 20, 2014
    Reply

    I have what’s called as Travel Anxiety, there are days when I don’t want to leave my house, my ‘safe place’, i feel like breaking down and crying, feeling like ‘what’s the point?’ like I’m a let down to my boyfriend and friends…. it seems like events in my life caught up with me to give me this anxiousness but reading this story has made me feel better, knowing others are going through it, I’m not alone…. it’ll take a while for me to overcome it but I’ve read so many inspirational stories that make me believe that I can do it without medication or doctors… I need to overcome it myself to make myself stronger! It’ll just take understanding, a positive attitude and patience xxx

    • June 24, 2014
      Reply

      Hi Alice. You’re definitely not alone, and there are plenty of us who suffer from travel anxiety! Believe me, if I can do it then anyone can. Just take care to take baby steps and you’ll get there eventually :-)

  63. Ahernandez
    May 22, 2014
    Reply

    This was incredibly encouraging. Thank you for being so honest and sincere in sharing your struggles. Congratulations to you for overcoming your fears, and following your dreams. You are my inspiration. <3

    • June 24, 2014
      Reply

      Wow, thank you so much! That means the world to me :-) Let me know if I can help in any way!

  64. Pat
    June 11, 2014
    Reply

    That was awesome and encouraging, I’m glad travel has eased your anxiety. I am no stranger to panic attacks but had them under control from about 18 until last year when someone very close to me past away. Lately they have been terrible and As I am about to holiday in Canada from New Zealand , dread that they will be just as bad or worse over there has set in. This has definitely helped and eased my mind and remind me of previous travels and how amazingly freeing they are, Cheers, Patrick.

    • June 15, 2014
      Reply

      Hey Patrick, I’m so pleased to hear that I could help! I hope you have a wonderful, anxiety-free trip :-)

  65. Victor
    August 5, 2014
    Reply

    You are awesome, I loved reading this. I did something similar, going to China to work for a year despite anxiety for years through college. It got worse. I was sick all the time, got some really bad agoraphobia and paranoia about eating. Had to get someone to call an ambulance for me once in a shopping mall! Roomates must have thought I was crazy, but they stuck with me through it all.

    But slowly things changed. I stopped being ashamed and just told people when I had to freak out for a minute, and they were fine with it. I started eating better, tried my best to keep doing new things. Slowly, it got better. I didn’t die. I didn’t quit. I made friends, I lived life. Thanks to that year, I feel like I can go anywhere now, and it has been months since I’ve had a panic attack.

    It’s nice to hear that I’m not the only one who has gone through this. For the longest time I thought I was crazy or dying or both. Living life on your own terms really is the best antidepressant, and it’s inspiring to hear real stories like this from other people. Happy travels to everyone, so glad we’re all getting through this!

  66. Eliza
    September 10, 2014
    Reply

    Your post is so inspiring! I can really appreciate how much courage it takes to openly write about that kind of experience. I find writing about my own low level social anxiety daunting enough, and I’m normally attempting to write in a funny way. What I’ve realised in the past few years of life is how many other people around you are suffering in similar ways. Its comforting, so thank you for sharing. I hope you’re still enjoying your travels.

    • September 17, 2014
      Reply

      Thanks, Eliza! I was terrified about writing this post — and I think that’s why it took around three years of blogging before I worked up the courage. But, like you said, you never know how many people around you are suffering, and I wanted to show that my life wasn’t all just wonderful travel experiences.

  67. ann
    September 15, 2014
    Reply

    Omg! I love this article! You inspired me so much today, here I was so scared of the thought of traveling 16hrs away from home 3 months from now and how icould I possibly cope up w/ my social anxiety then I suddenly read this inspiring work. Thank you so much for giving me so much hope that I too will get better with a big leap of faith

    • September 17, 2014
      Reply

      I’m so happy to hear that, Ann! All the best for your trip away — I hope it goes well :-)

  68. December 28, 2014
    Reply

    I really enjoyed reading your experience with coping with anxiety head on. I think it’s great you had the courage to share, since so many other feel the same way but don’t know how to describe it.

    I started getting really bad anxiety after university graduation when I had finished an amazing 6 week backpacking trip where I conquered so many fears. Unfortunately my anxiety increased when I returned home to so many life changes. It’s been 2 years now and I’ve worked on regaining order but now I’m scared to travel. I’m nervous of flying and feeling trapped or the possibility of an anxiety attack in an unknown area…but I so badly want to travel and explore. I’m taking baby steps exploring nearby areas via hiking but I plan to get back in a plane!

    Thanks for sharing that travel helps! It makes it seem possible.

  69. February 27, 2015
    Reply

    amazing! absolutely loved reading this!! Shows you can kick anxiety’s butt. Well done x

    • March 8, 2015
      Reply

      Thanks, Liv! It can definitely be done :-)

  70. Ashley
    March 8, 2015
    Reply

    you’re sorry hit home for me. I started to suffer from anxiety around the age of 17. It was a more generalized anxiety but I had myself very sick and I avoided going outside or doing anything. I lost a bunch of weight cause I couldn’t eat because my stomach was always feeling sick. I eventually got on meds and life was a bit better but I still suffered from attacks.

    College was tough for me the first year or two. I wasn,t adjusting well but after finally making some good friends I began to settle down. I went off my meds eventually and was given Xanax to take on a ‘as needed’ basis.

    Iam 28 (almost 29) now and I went from having anxiety every day to having an attack maybe twice a year. I’ve been contemplating on getting certified to teach english abroad but have been worried that maybe it wouldn’t work for me because of my anxiety. What I’d it hits hard while abroad? I won’t have my usual means of relaxing myself (usually binge watching tv which is interesting cause I usually never watch much tv). I won’t have my network of friends and family right there at my side. I won’t have my dog to cuddle with. But your story inspires me to try and think positively and not worry about what my anxiety might do. I can’t let it control my life.

    You are amazing. Thank you so much for sharing your story!

  71. Natasha
    April 20, 2015
    Reply

    Hi Lauren,

    I stumbled across your post when I googled ‘how to stop being nervous about travelling overseas.’ My partner and I are currently planning our trip overseas to live and work in England and to travel around Europe! I love travelling and have been to 13 different countries and have travelled all around Australia (where I live). However, about a year and a half ago I started to develop anxiety.. I don’t really know how it happened or what triggered it?! I have seen a psychologist a couple of times and she thinks I have health anxiety (I google everything, I think I have ever illness under the sun.. Currently I think I may have heart problems but all tests show my heart is fine and I’m only 22 so it is rare) I know I’m fine but I can’t get the what ifs out of my head and I HATE it, I wish I could turn off my brain sometimes. My psychologist think I have this anxiety because I was diagnosed with a cyst in my brain about a year ago (it doesn’t affect me) and my partners father passed away from heart problems last year. Now I am constantly worried about my health and anything else. I don’t go out as much anymore as I have small panic attacks (which I am able to manage) however after I have one I feel nervous and anxious for ages.. So I stopped going out as much. It affects my sleep as I struggle to fall asleep and I don’t eat as much anymore (enough for me to stay healthy, but I get full easier and struggle to eat when I’m anxious with butterflies in my stomach and a dry mouth). I was crying as I read this because I couldn’t believe how much it related to me, it is so refreshing to know it IS anxiety and it CAN be overcome. Some days I think wow I’m fine, nothing can stop me, I’m healthy and I’m not going to anxious anymore and then the next day I’m back with my anxiety. It’s a tough battle and I wish I knew how to make it go away. I’m starting to feel more and more anxious as our departing date is approaching.
    I am currently in Brisbane with my partner for business/leisure and am feeling anxious because I am away from home and not with my dog (he helps me so much with my anxiety and I’m so scared to leave him with my mum for a year… I hope I can cope). I am also going for an interview tomorrow for a job in England and that is why I am here… This is also adding to my anxiety right now.
    I hope moving away for an extended period of time will help me get over my anxiety and continue to live a normal life like I used to two years ago when I was 20! My partner is also very supportive and helps me cope but I wish knew how I was actually feeling.

    Anyway sorry it was such an essay but it just felt right to contact you as you experienced almost exactly what I am currently going through.

    I would love to read your book.

    Thank you for putting up this post and I would love to hear back from you.

    All the best,
    Natasha

  72. Corinne
    May 19, 2015
    Reply

    I wish I was as brave as you
    Long road of panic disorder/agoraphobia etc and I still haven’t been abroad! It’s frustrating for not only me but my boyfriend “one day” I keep saying…
    I’m still freaked out by going more than an hour from home!
    When will this break come for me 26yrs old and missed out on so much.
    Thanks for giving me hope though xxx take care

    • June 30, 2015
      Reply

      Hi Corinne, I certainly don’t feel brave, so know that you’re not alone, and that there is a way out of it! Feel free to drop me an email at anytime :-)

  73. Sina
    June 17, 2015
    Reply

    Hi
    I got anxiety this year and went to a therapist and mines is same as your Lauren and it is health anxiety. I traveled to Iran to visit family and I get super nervous something bad will happen and know I am worried it will be the same when I go back home.

    • June 30, 2015
      Reply

      Sorry to hear you’ve been struggling, Sina! If you think there’s anything I can do, please feel free to email me!

  74. Elaine
    June 20, 2015
    Reply

    Hi there. I found this after searching for advice on how to travel if you have panic attacks, and it’s done me the world of good! I’m taking a solo trip to London in a couple of days time, and am so anxious about it. But reading this just made me feel like it’s all possible. Thank you so much for sharing this.

    • June 30, 2015
      Reply

      Hi Elaine. I’m so happy to hear that! Feel free to drop me an email if you want a chat, otherwise I hope the trip goes well!

  75. July 29, 2015
    Reply

    Your such a strong girl to overcome this. I’ve been schizophrenic for years and seeking for professional advised for too long. Some people just can’t understand what I’ve been through. They can see me performing well and physically healthy especially my friends. But I’ve been trying so hard my entire life on my own. I try to live on my own, avoiding my family. Often suffer hallucination and can’t stop myself doing things (like buying cakes but I hate sweet stuff, it always end up on the trash) and getting scared of the unknown. I’m dedicated to my company and so I try to avoid stuff that may cause my carreer. Lately, I’ve been stress-out with all the workloads. My doctor told me to travel and unwind for a while. After reading this, I think I might consider travelling outside. Thank you for sharing.

    • August 3, 2015
      Reply

      I’ve experienced a lot of benefits through stepping outside and exploring the world, so I can highly recommend it! I definitely get the bit about you looking fine on the outside so nobody can tell you’re struggling inside.

  76. Rose
    August 1, 2015
    Reply

    Hi Lauren! You are incredibly inspirational to me! As I read your story I couldn’t help but feel like you were describing my exact experiences with anxiety too. I really want to travel especially abroad but I’m worried about freaking out on the plane & during the whole trip. Reading your story gives me inspiration that I can do it too in the near future. Thank you so much for sharing your story!

    • August 3, 2015
      Reply

      Hi Rose,

      You definitely can do it! I actually had very similar fears — I expected the first flight to be the most terrifying moment of my life, but it was actually fine. No panic attacks, nothing! I just kind of got on with it in a weirdly calm way.

  77. Aneta
    August 7, 2015
    Reply

    Hi lauren.. you make me feel normal. On and off for 8 years i have felt anxiety but i now have debilitating fear. It comes from feeling dizzy that on sets my panic attacks then i dwell and fixate everyday aboit getting another one and dying. Ive been to so many docs i do have vertigo i dont have vertigo to an ent saying to me its all anxiety . I feel the fear is crippling did you ever get dizzy or sudden attacks of false movements? ? Pls help me xx

    • November 26, 2015
      Reply

      I’m happy to hear you could relate to my post, Aneta, but sorry to hear you’ve been struggling. I’ve absolutely suffered from that in the past, and still do to a certain extent, but after experiencing it for years on end, I stopped panicking about it being something serious and it doesn’t bother me as much any more. Try to remind yourself that it’s just your anxiety and it’s nothing serious.

    • Leah
      January 15, 2019
      Reply

      Hi Aneta,
      I just stumbled across this post and your comment and I know it was posted a long time ago but hoping I can help.
      Last year I started developing anxiety attacks, heart palpitations, dizziness, numbness and tingling. I kept saying it was the dizziness and my racing heart that was making me have an anxiety attack, but I think people thought it was psychosomatic. Recently though, I discovered that one of the factors was low vitamin B12. After having B12 injection the dizziness and numbness and consequent anxiety attacks started going away.
      I’m not sure if this could apply to you but sometimes when you know something is wrong in your body, it’s a matter of finding a doctor who is switched on enough to test for the right things and not dismiss you as a hypochondriac.

      • January 15, 2019
        Reply

        Yes, I do agree with this! I actually had a full blood work up done with a doctor to find out what I was deficient in and highly recommend it! I learned so much about what could be affecting my anxiety and was able to take steps to improve it.

  78. August 17, 2015
    Reply

    you rock !! you are brave and courageous to speak the truth!! this will help so many others !!! way to go !!!! it’s a struggle but you overcame it and are dealing with it in a healthy way. you are doing GREAT!!!!!!!!!

    • August 21, 2015
      Reply

      Thank you so much, Crystal! I really hope it does help others :-)

  79. Michelle
    August 18, 2015
    Reply

    Late 2013, after a bad break up I was diagnosed with agoraphobia and panic disorder – not the best outcome when you love travel as much as I do. I couldn’t leave the house, i couldn’t eat, I didn’t want to see anyone, I had to take months off from work. But in 2014, regardless of all of this, I booked a 6 week solo trip to Europe. I have never been so terrified in my entire life; but afterwards I’ve never felt so free.

    Your article makes me feel like I’m not alone. So, thank you!

    • August 21, 2015
      Reply

      And your comment does the same for me! :-) So happy to hear travel helped you out as well.

  80. Lucy
    August 19, 2015
    Reply

    Well done Lauren, this is a hard condition to beat, Well done, and thanks for sharing,
    This subject needs to spoken about more, so all can try to understand and realize normal people suffer with these problems.
    Well done of finding a way of helping yourself, You will be able to do anything in life now. You can rely on you.

    XXXX

    • August 21, 2015
      Reply

      Thanks so much, Lucy! I plan on writing about anxiety in more detail over the coming months, because it’s something not many people are writing about in the travel blogging world :-)

  81. Waleed
    August 29, 2015
    Reply

    I was googling and it is the second time i read you post and its the first time in my life i am commenting to some blog post .
    I am going through anxiety issue (i think its anxiety ) as my doc said so , all though all my test’s are normal . and right now i am sooo happy to read this post . thankyou your post give me courage to fight my anxiety . and alot of people are suggesting me to travel . i am right now confuse where to go like to go turkey to my sis or to go to some where near like changing cities . what you suggest ?
    And thanks again i am sure many ppl will find this post life saviour .
    Thanks.

    • September 1, 2015
      Reply

      Oh, I’m so happy to hear that, Waleed! I think both of those options sound good — if you flew to see your sister you’d be around family so travel wouldn’t be quite as stressful and disorientating as you’d have someone to show you around :-)

  82. September 3, 2015
    Reply

    Travelling too has completely changed my life. Between 18-21 I suffered the same anxiety, not quite knowing what it was. I didn’t suffer panic attacks (unless somebody vomited in front of me..) but I was so frightened that a vomit incident would happen, I rarely left the house and would almost never leave the house on my own. I nearly lost my job as I was constantly off sick with an ailment that was almost always in my head and I drifted away from my circle of friends. Like you, I knew I couldn’t continue my life like this so booked an around the world ticket. Best. Decision. Ever.

    Whilst I still suffer from anxiety and now experience panic attacks for no particular reason, I now know what they are and how to cope with them. My boyfriend is so supportive and knows how to calm me down but on the times when he just can’t, he knows to call my mum or grandparents so that they can talk me through it.

    We should be proud of ourselves for not letting mental illness control our lives anymore and I love how openly you’ve talked about things in this post. It’s nothing to be ashamed of and more people should read/hear/talk about anxiety.

    X

    • November 14, 2015
      Reply

      Thank you so much for sharing your story, Becka! It sounds like we’ve had a similar experience, and I’m thrilled to hear that travel has been just as beneficial for you as it has for me.

  83. matthew lewis
    September 4, 2015
    Reply

    hey there! thanks for the post, made me feel alot better.
    im currently in edinburgh from canada and ive been having a relaspe of my anxiety. im travelling alone and im feeling really homesick. i really had no idea that this feeling would bother me, also its coupled with loneliness! but thanks a bunch for the post, im sure ill get over it!
    thanks!
    matthew

    • September 7, 2015
      Reply

      Sorry to hear you’re struggling, Matthew, but hope you overcome it as quickly as possible. Feel free to drop me an email at any point :-)

  84. stephanie
    September 17, 2015
    Reply

    Thank you for this. My stomach and chest are a mess right now-I am going on a 5 week trip in a week. It hit me like the worst panic attack ever couple days ago and just wont leave. I want to be excited and happy- but my mind goes to the fear of fear- then I feel guilty. Trying to lean into the anxiety.

    I will really miss my pup n cat. But they will be well cared for.

    • November 13, 2015
      Reply

      I’m so sorry to hear that, Stephanie, and I hope you can work past your anxiety and have a wonderful time. I think it’s actually surprisingly normal to not feel excited as the big date approaches — even people who don’t have anxiety can suffer really big last-minute nerves. a five-week-long trip is a big commitment after all. Hope it all works out! :-)

  85. Gwen
    September 20, 2015
    Reply

    I should be studying for my exam but I’m completely hooked on your blog. It is so intimate and inspiring. It is easy to sail through life without a bump but it shows tremendous strength and character to sail through a storm and make it to the sunny beach on the other end. Thank you for sharing your story with us. Now only if my test is about your blog! LOL

    • November 13, 2015
      Reply

      Ha! Thanks for leaving a comment, Gwen, and good luck with your exam! :-)

  86. Nick Stokes
    December 29, 2015
    Reply

    Really awesome article. I’m glad that you managed to pull through it. It is a really inspirational story especially for young guys and girls who are just discovering their anxiety.

    • February 18, 2016
      Reply

      Thanks, Nick! Appreciate it :-)

  87. January 9, 2016
    Reply

    WOW! I think this has to be the bravest post i have ever read. The way in which you took hold your anxiety and said ‘F You!’ is amazing. It just proves that anything is possible and if you really put your mind to it, you really can do anything. Even if you suffer from a debilitating disorder.
    Travel really is the best medicine, time the best healer and the feeling of freedom is the best tonic out there. I know I always feel better if I disappear into an amazing travel post someone has written. Just picturing that turquoise blue sea, feeling the gentle breeze on my face and the sand between my toes takes me away to a better place.
    I wish you all the best with your future travels and health issues. Thank You for being brave enough to write about it.
    Sarah
    @Sunshine_Saz
    http://www.writingrambling.co.uk

  88. February 13, 2016
    Reply

    Hey Lauren,

    Thanks for being so brave. I have battled with anxiety a bit but mostly with depression. So good that you have been able to turn your life around and inspire others. You go girl!!

    • February 28, 2016
      Reply

      Thanks so much, Kara! :-)

  89. VJ
    March 27, 2016
    Reply

    lauren

    Thanks so much for your blog. I have been battling anxiety for the last one year and have stopped living my life because of it. I convinced myself that I have a problem with my heart, when infact, all the test conducted by my doctor shows everything to be fine. I am really hoping that I can turn around and start traveling, but my biggest fear has always been having a heart attack in a remote location, where I will not get any help. Thanks again for your motivational write up.

    VJ

  90. Kelly
    March 30, 2016
    Reply

    Thank you so much for writing about this in such an open and transparent way, it’s made such an impact on me. I’m currently at the same point you used to be, daily battles with anxiety and panic attacks, hiding at home nervous about being around anyone and terrified to even get on a bus. I dream of travelling overseas but it scares me to even get in a car to go to the doctor. To see that you have somehow gotten to the point of being able to travel overseas, but also reading that you still cope with occasional panic attacks and STILL keep it together … really that is the biggest inspiration and I hope I can follow in your footsteps one day, somehow.

  91. April 30, 2016
    Reply

    Thanks so much for sharing your story. As someone who also suffers from severe anxiety, and uses travel as a form of “medication”, it was very heartening to read. I’m also trying to pursuing freelancing and hope I can be half as successful as you have been at battling your illness and achieving your dreams! Off to read your book now, which- completely coincidentally- I’ve had for some time, but kept forgetting about!

    • June 22, 2016
      Reply

      Oh, amazing! Thank you so much for grabbing a copy of my book, Rose! I really hope you enjoy it :-)

      Best of luck with your freelancing and conquering your anxiety!

  92. Amanda
    May 2, 2016
    Reply

    Hi Lauren I have suffered from general anxiety. I am supposed to move 4 hours away from home to go to school. The first time I left school my heart was racing and I just couldnt stay in the dorm. I didn’t have one area where I would be alone! So I left. Now I am headed back in the fall and I hope things will be different. This time I am staying in an apartment. I have been seeing a therapist but no luck. She has not been helpful. I have a fear of social situations but push myself to go to class and meet people. This blog post was inspiring any advice you can give me?

  93. Elena
    May 24, 2016
    Reply

    I have just come across your blog and it has really helped me to process whether I can travel alone or not. A few years ago I was diagnosed with a couple of debilitating conditions to the point where I didn’t think I would be able to work. I had no interest in traveling like some of my friends as I knew there was no way I could do it because of my health. A few years down the line and I manage to work part time and have my life back to a certain point. Only problem is I now feel that I want to do all of those things I missed out on but don’t really have anyone to travel with. My main concern is about what will happen if I become unwell and am on my own. This is where your post has helped, lots of similar stories are people just worrying if they will be fine but don’t necessarily have a health reason behind it. You have proved that it can be done and maybe I am stronger than I think. Thank you!

  94. Morgan
    July 28, 2016
    Reply

    I keep coming back and reading this post. I’m traveling abroad alone for the first time in eight years. I was a teenager when I first went to Ecuador to visit a friend. I knew very little Spanish, and I was very shy and a little anxious. I was nervous, but not to the point of having a breakdown.
    I’m a little over one week away from my trip to Armenia visiting the same friend as before. But now, in my late twenties, my anxiety has blown out of control, perhaps due to the crazy things that have happened in my life since my last trip. I’m having anxiety attacks about everything: security, customs, connecting flights, people not liking me, etc. I want to travel and see new places so badly, but I keep wondering if I’m cut out for it with this terrible anxiety. My friends and family are incredibly supportive, thankfully. This post helps me to feel capable of doing this. I feel like I don’t have the life skills to go abroad on my own. But your words help to give me courage.
    Thank you.

    • July 29, 2016
      Reply

      Hi Morgan! I received emails practically every day at the moment from people who are battling anxiety and dream of travelling. Of the people who actually do leave, I’ve yet to hear from anyone who found that travel made their anxiety worse. Every single person experienced what I did and found their anxiety melted away. I hope that brings some calm to you!

      I went through the exact same thing as you did. I would have panic attacks over having to take public transport, over plane crashes, over what to do when you arrive at a hostel, over getting sick, over not making friends. And everything I worried about so rarely ever happened — and if it did, it was never as bad as I thought it would be. It was that realisation that helped me to overcome my anxiety.

  95. Lylie
    September 1, 2016
    Reply

    Hi Lauren! This was great to read. I am travelling to Europe and the UK next month for 2 months and will be going alone. I have never been overseas and my anxiety is through the roof. Since February I have planned every step, printed every map, bought tickets etc so that I am organised and prepared but I am freaking out! Im scared of the unknown and am tired from the planning and organising. Every one is sick of hearing about my plans but all Im wanting is reassurance. I know when I get there I will have the time of my life. After reading your story I realise that what I’m going through is nothing compared to what you have overcome so that gives me courage. Im glad travelling has helped you for the better and I hope it does the same for me also. Thanks :)

  96. Deborah
    November 8, 2016
    Reply

    Hi Lauren
    I think your story is truly inspirational. I have always suffered from a level of anxiety and fear of travel, although I have explored many parts of the work. Earlier this year however, I undertook a two month trip to New Zealand with my husband and it was the most terrifying experience ever. We had meticulously planned each day of our trip and booked everywhere in advance. We drove the length and breath of the North and South Islands, but after about a week I began to become more tired, stressed, suffered extreme headaches (stress-related I’m sure) and disturbed vision. First I thought I must have the beginnings of some terrible disease as the distorted vision symptoms occurred repeatedly over several days, then I experience a panic attack (I really thought I was going to die) and kept thinking that I couldn’t breathe. 5,000 miles away from home, I just longed to get back there. Since then I have been terrified of travelling anywhere. My husband still wants to travel and is even talking about going on his own. At this moment in time I can’t imagine wanting to travel anywhere ever again. I am not sure what I am most terrified of whether it is becoming ill or not sleeping or probably both. Any advice would be welcomed.

  97. July 9, 2017
    Reply

    What a brave and inspiring post! I’ve had my own struggles with anxiety and really appreciate you sharing your story.

  98. Josh
    July 26, 2017
    Reply

    I’m currently struggling with social anxiety left untreated for years, now 28 with GAD and health anxiety and mild depression as well, I’m getting therapy for it, it can be quite boring at times….I still suck and socialising, not much of a party animal, I prefer animals in the wild lol..

    I don’t get panic attacks anymore, just anxiety and feeling bored, I always wanted to go backpacking, I sometimes day dream about it, but never had the guts, always negative thoughts or some anxiety, but this article is really inspiring though and very helpful:)

    I’m meant to be focusing on the family businesses, but the thought of doing that till what ever age I’ll reach scares me.

    Travelling is far more rewarding than buying a Rangerover,

    So many places I like to go, not sure yet, somewhere far as New Zealand, or bit close to home?

    Furthest place I been is Philippines but with family visiting relatives there.
    I would like to try volunteering or a working holiday before 31, or stay more than a month, but with work at home, I’m unsure if that will ever happen, or unrealistic, time goes fast.

    • August 1, 2017
      Reply

      If you want to do it, you have to make real, concrete steps towards you goal, and you need to start now. Want to go volunteering? Tell yourself that you’re going to spend the next two weeks researching and then you’re going to decide on a destination. Tell friends and family your plans. Start saving money. Book a flight. And go. That’s the only way you can make it happen.

  99. Aaron C.
    September 26, 2017
    Reply

    Great article! I mostly get anxiety from traveling from thinking my car will break down, or the tire will go flat. Thanks for writing!

    • December 14, 2017
      Reply

      Oh man, that must be hard to deal with. One thing that may help you is sitting down and coming up with a list of what you would do in that exact situation, so that you feel prepared and able to handle if it if the worst does happen — I promise it will be far less terrifying than you’re imagining! :-)

  100. Danielle
    November 24, 2017
    Reply

    HI Lauren,

    I just found and read this article.. truly inspiring!

    I suffer from anxiety myself and wasn’t aware of it till now, it took me seven years to find out that something was different about me. The hardest part was accepting it and dealing with it.
    I hope to travel one day because it seems like the road I want to take more better control of my life.

    Thank you for sharing this post, it goes to show that we are not alone in this!

    • January 2, 2018
      Reply

      No problem! You’re not alone and you can travel with anxiety — and travel will most likely even help your anxiety, too!

  101. Rob
    December 9, 2017
    Reply

    Thanks for the post, I am reading it on about my 40th day of being housebound… this is all new to me so it is nice to see there may be a light at the end of the tunnel.
    Thanks for sharing and I hope maybe someday I’ll bump into you in some remote land while riding a camel eating cockroaches haha
    IN the meantime I will work on maybe trying to walk around my block first :)
    Thanks again for the inspiration and hope

    • January 2, 2018
      Reply

      There definitely is, Rob. I’ve been where you are and I can tell you that it is possible and you can do it. Baby steps and one day you’ll be out here exploring the world too :-)

  102. Zuzana
    January 17, 2018
    Reply

    Hi Lauren, I just want to say how amazing your story is! I have no idea how does it feel to be anxious, I have never experienced it but your story touched my heart. You are such an inspiration to the healthy and the ill. Many people are controlled by their fears and that is what is stopping them from making their dreams come true. You are such a great example of how worth it is to overcome the fear and do what you love. Thanks for sharing :) xxx

  103. Tom Jenkins
    February 6, 2018
    Reply

    What an inspiring post ! It seems that traveling to new places can give someone the confidence to feel comfortable with themselves and with others. I love your travel pics by the way !

    • March 22, 2018
      Reply

      Thank you! And absolutely, getting out of your comfort zone is the best way to overcome your anxiety.

  104. Claudia
    March 22, 2018
    Reply

    I love reading your blog and sharing your thoughts. I suffer from depression and anxiety from time to time, usually when everything is getting too much.
    When travelling I’m fine and depression and anxiety are far away. Haven’t found the job yet which gives me the funds to travel more.

    • March 23, 2018
      Reply

      Fingers crossed you’ll land one soon, or at least one that can be done remotely :-)

  105. Sean
    July 15, 2018
    Reply

    Have occasionally suffered panic attacks. Decided to step out of comfort and travel out of the country. Had a panic attack today. First one in years. Thank you for you blog. Has helped me today

    • August 3, 2018
      Reply

      Ah, sorry to hear that, Sean. Keep persevering and don’t let your anxiety prevent you from following your dreams.

  106. August 17, 2018
    Reply

    I am so heartened by this post. I had daily panic attacks last year and was diagnosed with depression, general anxiety disorder, and panic disorder. I’m on medication but I still hope for the day I can manage my anxiety and depression free from pills. Thank you for being such an inspiration.

    • August 21, 2018
      Reply

      I’ll keep my fingers crossed for you, Rachel!

  107. Anthony Cressey
    August 17, 2018
    Reply

    Such an amazing Blog, I suffer with anxiety and bad panic attacks and have done for years. my Best Friend died 2 years ago, she had cancer, we spent lots of months together and a couple of trips abroad before she passed. She knew I wanted to travel and made me promise to go and travel after she had gone.

    I am in a long term relationship and although I would loved to of done longer I decided to take 3 months to travel Asia. My partner couldn’t come due to work commitments and my friends couldn’t afford it.

    I decided to go alone and try and find myself again, I wouldn’t say I found myself, but I had an amazing 3 months and was surprised that I actually enjoyed traveling solo.

    I had stocked up on my anxiety meds and when I came back to the UK I still had most of them left, it wasn’t until I got back I realised my anxiety and panic attacks were hardly there at all when traveling.

    2 years on I do unfortunately have that problem again, you are so lucky to be doing what you are doing and I hope your are able to remain doing it for as long as possible. ?. Amazing ?

  108. Lisa
    October 21, 2018
    Reply

    I was smiling as I read this, because it describes so well, the years of anxiety and panic attacks I experienced from my mid twenties to my early 40s. I’m now 45 and much better thankfully, but the fear of another attack has never left me, and it can be so limiting! I spent most of those years saying no to pretty much anything because it was safer to stay well within my comfort zone. I’m going to Namibia with my boyfriend in January, and one of my fears is the isolation, even though that’s what attracts so many people!! I worry (irrationally, all part of the anxiety package), about feeling anxious or unwell, and being hours away from help. I think you mentioned meditation, can you give me any useful advice which might help me to embrace the vastness and beauty and isolation?
    I’ve enjoyed reading about your travels, and I think it’s incredibly brave of you to contine to keep pushing yourself so that you don’t miss out on the wonders of the world! Amazing and inspiring :)

  109. Talk if U Want
    October 25, 2018
    Reply

    Thank you so much for sharing your story. It is very inspirational to hear about all the things that you have overcome to have the wonderful life you have.All the best.

  110. scott
    November 5, 2018
    Reply

    Great story and you’re so brave for sharing. I also travel the world and all my friends are envious of me, but they have no idea of the anxiety I have. I’ve never had a panic attack, but I get out of control with anxiety the closer I get to a trip. My poor wife has to deal with me and at times I can be too much. I do see a therapist at times and she has told me that the issue is I try to have too much control. Most of my worries are about leaving everything behind–my cats and my home.

    We’re supposed to leave for a 3 week trip for South Africa in a few days and I’m losing it once again. I talked about canceling the trip just a few days ago due to my worries. I just bought a couple of security cameras to watch the home and cats but now I’m worrying about how hot the cameras get. No matter what solution I come up with I always find something else to worry about. Whenever my wife and I leave for a vacation I make her leave separately from me and have her meet me somewhere so that people won’t think we’ve both left and our home will be empty. One time as I was leaving I saw a maintenance worker in a neighbor’s yard and I panicked because now he knew I was going away and he was surely going to break into my home.

    I’m from the US and you would never think I’ve traveled to 58 countries and all 50 US states, sometimes traveling as long as a year at a time. I LOVE to travel, but the anxiety is just awful.

  111. ZS
    January 24, 2019
    Reply

    I love reading about the way in which you’ve overcome anxiety through all you’ve been through. Your travel experiences must feel so special to you. I am so happy for you!
    I’ve been looking for advice, maybe you have some insight; if you don’t mind. My anxiety stems from homesickness and the fear of losing other people if I decide to travel. I’m 33, and I’ve always wanted to do a masters program abroad but I’m in a two year relationship with a man who had two young kids. He is supportive, but scared. I feel like if I leave for a year, I’ll lose them or they’ll miss me and it’ll be hard…and I will feel split between two different worlds. And yet, I’m at a point where I’ve decided on a couple of programs (I’ve always been so indecisive) that are much more affordable than being in the states and it would be a career change, albeit new territory (in many ways!) If I don’t do it now, I’ll regret it…and I don’t think I can grow in our relationship without it. Have you felt split between two really important things like this? He can’t move because he shares them half time with their mother. I’ve lived abroad before for several months in Spain and in the Middle East, and I suffered from homesickness then too, though I value the good times I had. My anxiety is preventing me from moving forward on my applications, too. How would you start to think about a decision like this and get motivated to action? If you read this, thank you for taking the time! I appreciate it.

  112. Shelly DiPhillipo
    August 11, 2019
    Reply

    WOW! That last paragraph in your blog was so touching…you really have a way with words. I’m so glad you were able to overcome your mental health problems and do so many amazing and wonderful things on your life journey. You have given me hope that maybe one day I can do the same. One day at a time.

    • August 12, 2019
      Reply

      Ah, thank you, Shelly! And you definitely can do the same! Honestly, my anxiety was so extreme that I really do feel that if I can do it, anyone can :-)

  113. April 21, 2020
    Reply

    Hi Lauren,
    So brave of you to share your story with the world. I think when you write from a vulnerable place it’s so nice how many people can relate. I love how you put the last part how you had lost control over your life, but grabbed life by the balls and fulfilled your dream! Keep adventuring!

    I also left my home country in the Netherlands to go off by myself on a solo adventure around the world, and during my trip, I had a few anxiety attacks at situations where I felt I had lost control which scared the hell out of me and even made me afraid of flying at one point. But I didn’t let it stop me from traveling and I am glad to say I overcome my anxiety with small steps. Thanks for sharing your story :).

  114. Catherine
    July 14, 2020
    Reply

    Hi Lauren,
    I recently stumbled upon your website and as a long time sufferer from anxiety, panic attacks & agoraphobia I was amazed. I could not believe that a story like yours is possible. I always thought travelling on this scale was out of the question for people who have to deal with these issues. Personally, I often find travelling 50 or 100 miles still challenging, because the idea of having a panic attack when being away continues to frighten me at times. For me, it is mainly the fear that I might not be able ‘to come down again’, that it will spiral out of control when experiencing an attack that’s keeping me close to home. When you left for your travelling adventure, how did you deal with that idea/that fear, that it was likely you would experience attacks when abroad ?

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