It was supposed to be the highlight of my life.
After suffering from a breakdown due to the most stressful eighteen months I’ve ever fought through, I needed a break. I wanted to treat myself.
And for me, a treat means travel. I rarely spend my money on clothes or shoes or furniture, instead preferring to splurge on solo trips to beautiful destinations around the world. Experiences over possessions and all that.
This trip was due to be my best ever.
I was planning to spend a month island-hopping my way around in the Indian Ocean. I was going to visit the most spectacular places on the planet, spending time in the Seychelles, Mauritius, Reunion Island, and the Maldives, and all done on a budget so that I could show you guys it’s possible to visit paradise for as little as $50 a day.
This adventure was supposed to be my first step towards getting back to being the person I used to be.
Back in 2014, my anxiety returned. I started having panic attacks every day. I couldn’t eat. I couldn’t go outside. Nothing I tried would get me back to being the person I used to be.
I thought this trip would help. I sort of believed that heading offline and focusing on healing in a beautiful part of the world was what I needed to do to fix myself.
In short, it was going to be the Best Trip Ever.
The night before leaving, I had a panic attack.
And when I have a panic attack, I have a panic attack.
I’m talking chest pains, heart palpitations, pins and needles in my eyeballs, hyperventilating, sweat pouring down my body, dizziness, a loss of vision, severe tremors, and the unwavering belief that I’m currently minutes away from death.
A bad case of the flu had knocked me down the day before and left me barely able to move. On top of that, I had a debilitating migraine. I was exhausted, I was dizzy, I was nauseated, my head was spinning, my joints were aching.
How I was I going to get on a flight when I felt so terrible?
And now I was having panic attack on top of all of this.
The flight I’d booked was an overnighter that would see me transiting through Ethiopia at 4 a.m, and I knew it was going to be rough when I felt this bad.
I called my mum to my room and burst into tears.
“I can’t go, I’m too sick,” I sobbed. “Why does this always happen to me?”
But I had to go, didn’t I? Because what would I have done if I hadn’t been resting at my parents’ home? If I’d been travelling, I would have had to suck it up and get on the plane. Not to mention the fact that I’d booked most of the trip already. Cancelling would lose me several thousands of dollars.
I Skyped with my boyfriend, pulling him out of his Camino challenge and dragging him back to my hellhole when I allowed my anxiety to take control. He told me it was my decision to make, but he thought I should go. I tweeted about it and everyone told me to go.
The next morning, the day of my flight, I felt even worse. My head was pounding and blurring my vision. I ached, I was dizzy, I was so tired. I had another panic attack. Over and over, I decided to go only to change my mind moments later.
I packed my backpack. I printed out the ferry confirmations I needed to take with me. My dad came home from work to take me to the airport and found me and my mum in tears, because we’re ridiculous.
“She doesn’t know whether to go,” my mum wept.
“I don’t know whether to go,” I sobbed.
My dad grimaced and ran upstairs.
But I still didn’t know whether to go.
I started to talk myself into staying at home with my parents, telling myself how great it would be to spend more time with my family. I could catch up on work and relax and see the friends I hadn’t managed to visit this time around. Travel can be stressful. Wouldn’t it be so much easier to just stay at home?
I calculated I’d lose $3,000 if I cancelled my plans. Blown on a trip I never took. Visiting these places would have been so good for my site. I want to be the person who goes to places people think are crazy-expensive and shatter the illusion. And, well, it’s the Seychelles. How many people would kill to go to the Seychelles right now?
I decided to go.
My dad and I left for Heathrow Airport, but my stomach was churning and all I could think about was how I really didn’t want to get on the plane.
“But I have to go, don’t I?” I asked my dad. “Because nobody in the world would turn down a trip to the Seychelles to spend a few extra weeks in Staines, would they? What’s wrong with me?”
My stomach lurched and I pressed my fist to my teeth.
I struggle to say goodbye my family when I leave to travel. There’s always tears and wishes that I could stay longer, but I could tell this wasn’t what this was. I just couldn’t bear the thought of getting on the plane and feeling this unwell in a foreign country.
“I need to go home,” I announced.
“I can’t do it. I want to cancel my trip. I want to go home.”
“Well I’m not taking you home unless you tell me 100% that you don’t want to go.”
I shook my head. I couldn’t say it.
We arrived at the airport and I sat in the car and stared at the planes taking off and almost retched from the anxiety. I thought about lifting my backpack up and putting it on my back and shook my head. I thought about my 4 a.m. layover. I thought about my bed back home.
“100% no,” I said, an hour before my flight. “I want to go home.”
“100%?” my dad asked.
My biggest fear was that I was making a huge mistake. What if I felt better in a couple of days and spent the next two weeks full of regret? What if this was just my anxiety convincing me I couldn’t do it? I didn’t want to be the type of person who gave in to it again. I wasn’t that person anymore.
Here’s what I’ve learned.
I’m Need to Stop Travelling for a While
I’m a big believer in leaving your comfort zone in order to conquer your anxiety. I’ve had a lot of success with it in the past, and solo travel has been one of the biggest things to help keep my panic attacks at bay.
Unfortunately, this no longer seems to be the case.
I think it’s important to listen to your body and pay attention when it gives you a sign. In this case, I feel as though my anxiety is too severe for me to handle travel right now. I feel too broken to be able to cope with the stresses that solo travel can bring, and I think now is the time to take a break.
Rather than travelling every couple of weeks to new destinations, I’m going to make a change, find a home, and set off on slow, infrequent adventures. I think it’s important to have some stability in my life so that I can work on improving my mental health.
Agoda are Awesome
I’ve been recommending Agoda non-stop over the past few months, mostly because they’ve consistently been the cheapest accommodation provider I’ve found. If I’m not in an Airbnb apartment, I’m staying in a guesthouse I found on Agoda.
I emailed them when I decided to cancel my trip, and was surprised when they replied to tell me they were going to email each guesthouse, explain I was sick, and ask if they would be willing to make an exception to refund me the money. Only one guesthouse agreed.
Then Agoda phoned me and told me if I could get a note from my doctor saying I had been sick, they would refund me the money from the other guesthouses from their own pocket. I couldn’t get a note because my departure date had already passed, but I was seriously impressed with all they did for me! I’ll be using them even more from now on.
I Gotta Fight to Get Rid of This Anxiety
I hate writing about my anxiety, because nobody wants to hear about the struggles. Everyone wants to read about a success story, but nobody wants to read about the messy, awful process it takes to get there. Unfortunately, though, my anxiety is overwhelming at the moment and I can’t seem to stop it. If I don’t write about what I’m currently dealing with, I don’t know what to write about instead.
It’s time to take control and work on getting back to the way I used to be. Eating healthily, exercising, cutting out triggers like alcohol and caffeine, meditating, and taking time away from my laptop. I’ve made a start over the past month and I need to stick to it.
It’s Time to Start Prioritising the Right Things
Travel’s the best, and for the past four years, it’s been my sole focus. I travel, or I write about travel, or I plan for my upcoming travels, or I read travel memoirs, or I write my own travel memoir, and I have zero hobbies outside of travel. After four years, I need a new direction. I’m so desperate to do new things that I’m even starting to crave learning how to knit.
I’m grateful but frustrated with my financial situation, too. If you would have told me four years ago that I would travel for the next four years and end up with the same amount of money in my bank account by the end of it, I would have felt like I was living the best life in the world. And for the longest time, I have felt that way. Now, I’m getting fed up with breaking even every month. I want to build my savings — maybe even buy a house at some point. Four years spent running a business and breaking even isn’t good enough. It’s time to start experimenting.
I’ve learned how much of my time is spent on things that aren’t furthering my business. Sometimes I’ll spend five days straight answering emails, thinking it’s the most important task on my to-do list, and not receive a single thank you. Since cancelling my trip, I managed to earn back all of the money I lost in a week — it showed me the things I should be focusing on.
Finally, my health. Today, I weighed myself and was shocked to discover I’ve gained over 10 kilograms since I started travelling! It’s not like I’m obese, I know, but my healthy size is pretty tiny. An unhealthy diet, eating out for every single meal, and spending every day in front of my laptop has contributed to this. I want a base and a gym membership and a kitchen, so that I can get back to my normal size.
All signs are pointing towards a base! More time to work on myself, to work on my business, to work on my health.
So, What’s Next for Me?
I’m at home for another ten days, and then I’m off to Madrid to meet Dave as he finishes his Camino adventure. After six weeks without shaving his head or face, I can’t wait to see how hairy he looks! From there, we fly to Bangkok solely so we can hang out with good friends.
We’ll be pottering around Southeast Asia for the rest of the year, barely travelling, then heading to Melbourne for a month for Christmas. After a couple of months basing ourselves back in Oceania, it’ll be time for us to find a home. Now I just need to figure out where it should be.
Thank you for writing this. I find your honesty refreshing and endearing. I have been following your blogs for a while now and get excited when I see a new one.
I admire you for all the ways you’ve challenged yourself throughout your travels. This post is no exception. It’s the bravest decision to stop and think, ‘no, this isn’t right for me, I’m going to look after me now’.
As a fellow anxiety sufferer I can imagine that it’s not easy to put these feelings out there, especially in the midst of it. Thank you for your bravery. Reading this has made a positive difference to my day. Connection is a wonderful feeling.
I hope you feel better soon and wish you luck for your next step. I can’t wait to read about it.
With peace and kindness, Gemma
Thanks so much for the support, Gemma! I’m feeling so much better now :-)
I am so sorry you were that sick. That’s definitely no fun. At the same time, I totally understand where you’re coming from. It’s events like this where we’re forced to step back and take a look at what’s going on in our lives. I experienced something similar with a health scare back in July similar to your vertigo experience in Turkey, although I was home. It definitely has me looking at things differently now.
Ah, sorry to hear that, Patty! Vertigo is so scary and really restricts what you’re able to do each day. Hope you’re feeling better now?
I never cancelled a trip due to illness but I did cancel a trip to visit the guy that I was ‘seeing’ long-distance because I fancied someone else. I can’t say that it made a huge difference to my life; ultimately, they were both not right for me. The only thing I regret is missing out on the holiday.
I think a base sounds great and I’m sure that Madrid will be lovely. Be careful about losing weight there because they eat dinner at around 9pm which is so unhealthy! But otherwise it all sounds fab, as do your end of year travel plans :)
Oh man, I really struggle with the lifestyle differences in Madrid! I could not adjust to eating dinner and going to bed so late.
Wow you are so so negative.. Don’t get me wrong, I love it when bloggers are honest about the downsides of traveling as well. And I love when they are brave enough to tell when they don’t feel well. But I am going to have to unfollow you (not that you should care – just letting you know). But I loooove traveling and I looooove writing. I’m sure you do too! That doesn’t mean you can’t still dislike it at times and whine about it – but you are taking it too far. I remember when I found your blog and kept going through old posts since I enjoyed it so much. Quickly after that it turned into you constantly nagging. Meh. If you don’t like it, then stop. If you do like it, maybe see how lucky you are for a bit. You sound so unthankful.
Hi An. It’s been a tremendously tough few years for me and I’m still battling to nurse myself to health. It hasn’t helped that I haven’t been able to travel like I used to for over 18 months because of my book. Not to mention the negative toll it had on my mental health. I don’t really know what else I can say, but I wouldn’t be being honest if I was gushing about how wonderful my life is and writing about how lucky I am while I’m having panic attacks every day, so severe that I can’t even eat or leave the house. If that’s “constantly nagging” to you, fine, but that’s how my life is right now. I suspect you’d also struggle to think about how lucky you were if you had a mental disorder that left you housebound, terrified, barely able to function, and slowly starving yourself.
As I said in this post, I’m stopping travelling for a while and finding a base, so I *am* trying to make a change so I can get back to my happy self. I know how lucky I am to have had the opportunity to travel, and I’m not in any way ungrateful. I regularly say that travel was the best thing that ever happened to me, and that it changed my life in so many ways.
You sound so unempathetic. What a cold and harsh and judgmental response to this woman’s honesty. Many people on here can appreciate and relate to this. We never know why another person is struggling with something.
That was for An
Thank you! To be honest, this commenter sounds like a kid. It’s a pretty immature reaction, and they clearly have little understanding of mental illness.
As I write I’m thinking thank god I’m not alone. I spent a year planning and saving for a 3 month trip. I managed a month in Paris and then had to come home because of my stupid debilitating anxiety . I can’t get refunds for the other two months. I feel like a complete failure. I love to travel so much. I can’t even watch travel shows because it hurts too much to see what I’m missing out on.
Dont worry..it happend to most of ass at the begging
Dont be frustrated, learn from your mistake its very normal.
I had the same situation,saved for 1 year with 2 jobs then couldnt survive my plan.
I learned from my mistakes and now i can survive anywhere with soo less money.
Not easy but a great experience.
And i dont blame Lauren she is a human and we must respect her feelings also.
Ha, thanks! :-)
Ugh, so sorry to hear you had to cancel your trip, and about the refunds. But you’re definitely not alone — as you can see, a few of my readers have also cancelled their trips due to anxiety. I hope you can get on top of it soon and take the trip at a later date. Feel free to drop me an email whenever, as well! :-)
Last year around this time, I pulled the plug on a trip to Greece and TBEX Athens about five hours before the flight. I was just drained and had spent the last month at home recovering from a long-term abusive relationship. I thought a month would be enough; it wasn’t. Relearning to value yourself, and to realize how valued you are by others, takes much longer than a month (it honestly took me around nine months to fully feel like myself again). I felt awful about the prospective of getting on a plane, so I just let it go.
So I basically delayed my travel plans an extra month until I had to fly to Sri Lanka, and that couldn’t have been a better idea. That lost me around $800; I’m so sorry you lost $3k!!!! Holy shit.
But let me ask you something. You want to go “back to yourself” again as well. But at which point do you mean? Definitely post-travel and pre-book. Somewhere in there. But it seems like you’re often talking about burning the candle at both ends, either with travel or work (like when you were in New Zealand). Finding the sweet spot might not be going back to how you used to be, but finding something new entirely.
Take care of yourself. And I hope our paths cross in Thailand this fall.
I remember that. I thought about you when I cancelled this trip.
Yeah, I guess by going back to myself, I mean going back to when I wasn’t dealing with anxiety. If I can get that under control, I feel like I finally have a decent work-life balance these days, and having a base will only improve that. So, yep. Something new then :-) Hope our paths cross, too!
interesting post from you…but very meaningful…sounds like you are aware of your anxious moments this is huge.
stress is bad for making anyone sick…I wish you luck in leaning to cope…you are not alone.
also…the Seychelles isn’t going anywhere…it’ll be there next time for you.
Thanks so much for the kind words, Evan. Writing a book definitely kickstarted the stress and it’s still lingering two years later. I’m hoping I’ve just taken the first step towards recovery.
Glad you listened to yourself. I think taking care of our health is of the uttermost importance. It’s awesome that you had the courage to say stop.
It’s funny, you’re not the first nomad that decided to find a base and changed his/her lifestyle recently. We, my husband and I, are nomads since 2013 and are craving a base as well. We’re in the middle of all the paperwork to obtain a non-lucrative visa to establish ourselves in Barcelona. I tink it’s going to be awesome! Oh, and we just cancelled a 6 weeks trip in Italy after spending only 10 days away. It just wasn’t the right timing and we’re glad to be back even though it was hard to take that decision.
Thanks so much, Eve! It wasn’t an easy decision, but it was definitely the right one for this time in my life. Funny about our similarities! :-)
I’ve noticed a lot of digital nomads are deciding to find a base after a few years of travel — so many of my friends have decided to recently — and I’ve been fighting the craving for a year. I don’t think full-time travel is as sustainable as we think it is when we first start out. Hope everything goes well with your visa! :-)
Hi! I am so sorry you deal with anxiety. I feel for you and know it is very real. No one should judge you for writing your thoughts here until they walk in your shoes. We all have different backgrounds and body chemistries and they do matter! I appreciate your honesty. You will make this trip again someday!! And who knows…maybe at a time when you can splurge on yourself a little more and not be in a worried state to make ends meet the whole time you are there…when you don’t have to “prove” anything to anyone about going on a shoestring budget. That kind of travel is not always the most enjoyable. On that note, would you ever consider sending me your trip plans?? I believe you have my email through this post, right? I do not have a blog so I promise not to “beat you to it” in terms of publishing how cheaply it can be done ;) I just travel for the addiction and love of it. No blog or making money off of it involved. So would you share with me info about the various flight options and whatnot? If so, I would be eternally grateful. I would also offer you any of my trip planning documents, should you ever visit countries I’ve visited. If so, thank you! If not, totally understand! I am happy you are moving into a direction that is speaking more in alignment with your heart. It is not abnormal to want to plant some roots. I believe that is in all our cores…most of us…if not all. I believe we all want roots deep down…but that desire is just solidified at different times in our lives. Hope you are feeling better! God bless! Have fun in SE Asia!
Yeah. Anxiety is terrible and really hard to explain to people if they’ve never experienced it for themselves. A lot of people don’t understand how debilitating it can be.
I will definitely make the trip someday! Hopefully when I’m based in Madrid next year and can take Dave along with me, too :-) Of course I will send you my itinerary. Will email you tomorrow with it!
Thank you!! You’re awesome and I really appreciate it. I am thinking I am already maxed out on my travels for 2016, but who knows…things can change on a dime, as you just experienced. I think the Universe/God puts us where we are supposed to be. There was definitely a reason for your change in direction. The inner voice will always guide you correctly. Glad you listened to yours. Life sends us the lessons we need. You will love being there with Dave much more, I think. Ok have a good night/day! Thanks again, Lauren!!
Now that I’ve had some time to work on myself, I can see it was the right decision to make. I’m feeling so much stronger and healthier now.
I just re-read my first post and I didn’t like (at all) how the sentence read when I said, “I just travel for the addiction/love of it and not trying to make money” (something to that effect, at least). Anyways, that sounded horrible…as if the way or reason I travel is better than anyone else! I’m sorry, if you took it that way! That is NOT how I meant it at all…I just was trying to say I don’t have a blog, so I won’t use your trip document you are being so sweet to send to “beat you to the punch” on the article you are wanting to do. ok that’s it. :) Just had to clarify.
No worries! It’s all good :-)
Always good to see the honesty in your posts. I would have struggled to be cancelling those flights, 3k$ ouch. Sounds (reads?) like you made the best decision tho – be proud of that.
I wonder if Dave was catching the flights with you if you would have gone?
Oooh, interesting to think about! I think I would have gone if I’d been with Dave. I’m definitely less anxiety-ridden when I’m with him, and a big part of my decision not to go was not wanting to deal with feeling sick on top of the anxiety when travelling alone. I never seem to have the best luck when I travel solo! I would have been a pretty crappy travel companion for the first week if we had gone together — I would have struggled to even step outside.
I would highly recommend the book “Spontaneous Happiness” by Andrew Weil. I listened to it on Audible and looooooved all the natural anxiety-calming tactics he suggests.
<3 <3 <3 All the hugs… I'm hoping to read and review your book soon!
Thank you so much, Bri! I’m buying it right now :-)
Lauren, I seriously love everything you write. I’ve never had to cancel a trip because of sickness, but I’ve gotten some seriously nasty stomach bugs in the middle of trips. Even on a small scale, it’s so hard NOT to say “I’m in x, I shouldn’t just lay in bed and be sick. I’ve got to make this happen!” But I definitely think your body was telling you something (maybe not a sign…but maybe physiology? :) )
Also, I so appreciate when you talk about your anxiety. I’m constantly battling with mine, and it’s nice to hear about others’ feelings!
Thank you so much, Amanda! That means the world to me. Now that I’ve recovered and took some time off for myself, I do feel that my body was telling me something! To stop :-)
I Just 3 days ago cancelled the Lofoten Islands, Stockholm and Copenhagen. How did I know I needed to cancel them because the thought of not going made happier than I’d been in ages. I’ve been travelling six months straight had a sinus infection, cellulitis, food poisoning and learned someone who I really bonded with during a trip died 11 days after she got home. I’ve kept shouldering on cause it was all planned out and I’d lose too much money but I’m exhausted and the main things I did in Santorini and Stavanger was sleep not the famous hikes I’d promised myself because I was Exhausted. And I hurt my leg in Iran and deep heat isn’t enough to fix and being in forty degrees heat for the 6th week straight and then going to Norway had my sinuses in shreds again. So I cancelled them lost about 150e and 200e to get a flight home from northern Norway. And it was the best ever, I’m enjoying my last few days more because they’re the last few days!
So I cancelled Lofoten Islands the “must do” of Norway and Sweden and Denmark, 2 whole new countries!, because something being new or a must do isn’t the reason to do it and they aren’t going anywhere. Right now I want my dog, my little sister, my friends, polite Irish people, reasonably priced food, a tv for a bit. I need to get to my doctor and get my bloods done as a chronic problem I have was only diagnosed 3 weeks before I left and I need to figure out the correct medicine.
Last but not least don’t stop writing about your anxiety or convince yourself it’s just going to go away; that’s what I did most of last year with the symptoms my thyroid problem was causing. Mine isn’t as severe as yours but I like reading your honesty about it.
Thanks, Aisling! It’s hard not to convince myself it’ll go away, as that’s what happened for the first couple of years of my travels. But regardless, I’m taking it slow and working towards fully recovering.
It sounds like you’ve been going through a tough time, and I think you made the right decision to cancel. If the thought of cancelling makes you so happy, there’s no reason to stick it out because you feel you should. Hope you enjoy your time at home :-)
I hope you feel better soon, it sounds like you made the right decision to cancel your trip and making the money back in a week is seriously impressive too! Sounds like you have some great plans coming up, enjoy.
Thanks, Amy! There’s no doubt it was the right decision — I feel so much healthier and stronger already!
You are so brave, and I really mean that. The easy thing to do would have been to go, as strange as that sounds. Or not to go, and then not to write about it so honestly. I think it is so important to have open discussions about mental health and so every conversation people can have openly will help to pave a path to a world where discussing debilitating anxiety isn’t considered “constant nagging”.
(Seriously – fuck right off people who say that. Probably the people who tell their depressed friends to snap out of it.)
Yeah. I think it can be tough for people who have never experienced anxiety to understand and relate, which is why I’m always so nervous to share anxiety-related updates, but, uh, some sympathy would have been nice haha. Thanks so much for the lovely comment, Francesca! :-)
As always your honesty amazes me. Suffering from something like Anxiety is difficult as it is but being able to voice those anxieties in posts and books is incredible. Unlike some of the haters on here I don’t find it whinging at all- I actually find it incredibly brave.
I also think its an important lesson for many. Sometimes you need to take a break from travel and settle down for a bit. There is no use travelling if you aren’t going to enjoy yourself because you are sick, exhausted and burnt out.
I would also definitely second how amazing Agoda is. They are my number one booking site for the exact same reasons. They even called a hotel I was staying at one time to ask them to move me to another room with more privacy (ours was backing on to a kitchen area), because I was too afraid of the witch at the front desk to do it myself.
Your travel insurance won’t cover your cancellations? My friend recently had to cancel her trip because of her grandmother becoming really sick and she got almost everything back on her insurance. But I do know Aussie travel insurances seem to a bit more inclusive than those from other countries.
That’s so great to hear that about Agoda — that’s awesome! And no, my travel insurance hadn’t kicked in yet as I’d just had a stint at home where it had expired. Even if I had had insurance, I wouldn’t have been able to get proof from my doctor — apparently you have to have seen a doctor before your flight for them to give you a note.
Hey Lauren, I’m so sorry you had to go through that! You’ve been through so much recently. I really get the anxiety about not wanting to let people down as you’ve told all your friends and they are so excited and jealous. By not going you feel like you’ve failed at something, failed them somehow. The reality is though that no one else can truly understand what you are going through as it’s such a personal experience. At the end of the day as you rightly said your health is the most important thing! I’ve read many of your blog and your battle with anxiety is inspiring. You pull back the curtain on a largely hidden and undisclosed disability and you have the strength to be honest about what you are going through. You should be proud of how far you have come. Some people will not get it, they will say unkind things but it’s mainly because they don’t understand or are just jealous that you have the strength to say it’s not always about the money, my health needs to come first! Stay strong against the hater, they are the ones with a the problem, if someone doesn’t like what you write then they don’t have to read your blog! I hope you feel better soon and have a great time on your adventures with Dave in Southeast Asia.
I do feel that way, but towards my readers more than my friends. I have been putting so much pressure on myself to jump back into the way I used to travel after finishing my book, because I had to stop writing here for 18 months when I had my book stuff to do, so I’m worried everyone is going to lose interest. I felt like I had to make up for the big gap by travelling to wonderful places and writing 5 posts a week and… it’s no wonder my anxiety hasn’t faded away!
I decided to take a break from writing for a month or so and it’s the best thing I could have done. I feel so good now :-)
I’m happy to hear you did what you needed to do for yourself, and I’m especially psyched to hear you’ll be making Madrid your base. Can’t wait to follow you there! Also: Melbourne for a month at Christmas?! After living there for four months earlier this year, it’s become one of my favorite cities in the world — and I’ll be back there showing it off to my sister in December and January, too!
Yay! Maybe our paths will cross :-) I’m really excited to get there and hop my way around coffee shops all month!
Sometimes we just have to listen to ourselves, and I admire that you have the courage to make the best decision for yourself. Seychelles is not going anywhere, still waiting for you a few years from now. Your health and your life is precious. =)
Thanks so much, Andrew! I know I’ll get there eventually, and will even be able to enjoy it more when I’m healthier :-)
I love your brutal honesty in this post. It’s great to see that you will be taking some time for yourself and slowing down a bit.
You can beat this anxiety – I’m sure that all of your friends, family and followers are behind you :)
I am also from Staines and am now living in New Zealand. Although I would love to spend some time in a tropical place, I am choosing to go home for a few weeks at Christmas. Prioritising spending time with loved ones can be the best medicine!
Thanks so much, Chelsea! I’m so excited I have a reader from Staines! That’s amazing :-D
Lauren, I’m sorry to hear that you were anxious. I completely understand anxiety and its hard for people to comprehend unless they’ve been through it. Only you can know what it is best for your body. It’s no one else’s decision to make.
I appreciate your honesty and sharing your experience with the highs and lows of travel writing. Even though you didn’t go on the trip, I’ve know learned that Mauritius and Seychelles are affordable on a budget. So for that, thanks! :)
Maybe you could do a blog post detailing each day and what you had hoped to do on your trip, like your other blog posts, so that others can still benefit from all the research you did.
I hope that you’re feeling more yourself.
Agree! That’s why I’m always so nervous to post about it — the vast majority of my readers haven’t suffered from anxiety and so I don’t want to seem like I’m posting miserable posts all the time! But at the same time, I don’t want to lie and pretend my life is wonderful right now.
Considering the blog post, but will probably end up heading back to them both next year once I’m settled in Europe, so can write about them then!
Feeling much better, thanks! :-)
Good for you! I feel like with everything you’ve been through over the years, with the success of your blog AND book, you absolutely deserve to put down roots, sit back, enjoy a little Spanish Rioja and reward yourself. I for one will still look forward to reading your travel stories, even if they happen to post a little less frequently :)
Thanks so much, Kirsten! Funnily enough, I think that once I find a base, I’ll be posting far more than I usually do, because I’ll actually have the time to sit down and write. Aaaaand I have about two years worth of travel to catch up on right now!
Oh — well, even better!! :)
I’m so sorry you had to cancel your trip! When I got really sick in July, we had to cancel our trip to Slovenia. I was so upset because I really wanted to go there (I have never been) and we were supposed to hang out with a close friend of mine at the same time. But instead I ended up in the hospital for 2 weeks. Not fun at all.
You definitely have to figure out what your priorities are and take care of yourself. If you’re getting burned out, not only will you not be healthy, but you won’t be happy, and none of the hard work will be worth it. Slowing down sounds like a great plan.
Enjoy your time with your family!
I think that’s exactly it: I haven’t been prioritising my health and it’s been affecting my happiness. I just kind of expected that I’d finish my book and everything would go back to normal, and I kept putting pressure on myself when it didn’t. My priority can’t be travelling as much as possible right now, because it’s just making me sick.
I’ve never been in the position where I cancelled a trip because I was sick – but I’ve been under the weather while travelling and it blows. It sounds like you made the right call for you.
I can completely understand wanting to have a base. Personally I couldn’t handle permanent nomadism. I also totally understand wanting to get AHEAD financially. Two years after our RTW trip I am still in about the same place financially as my partner has struggled on the employment front and it is beyond frustrating.
I always felt like travelling forever was the ultimate dream, but I’m slowly starting to realise it’s not as wonderful as it seems. Travel, yes. Forever moving, never owning much, never having a set of friends to see for more than a few days at a time, not being able to fully focus on work, not as much! I think having a base will improve both the quality of my travels and my life.
As I read this post I’m seeing so many familiar feelings. I’ve been traveling less time than you- only a year and a half, but other than a few days with friends I meet on the road every so often, I’m 100% a solo traveler. When I started, I thought I could do this forever. Any time I went home, it was just to plan my next trip. This summer after 4.5 of quite literally circumnavigating the globe, I got home and decided to leave again two weeks later because “what else is there to do at home”? But from the start, this trip has had me crying alone on the streets, walking to the hospital alone at 4am with a bloody hand, and screaming at tourists for no other reason than them not being alone. Bottom line: sometimes you have to force yourself to find yourself some peace and quiet and just slow down. I know that more than anything.
I hope that having a homebase will be good for you (and me too!). You’re incredible for doing what you do and sharing it with so many people. I’m sure everybody will keep following your stories no matter where you go. I know I will!
Oh, I’m so sorry to hear you’ve been struggling, Alex! I can relate to everything you’ve said. I’ve definitely pushed myself to travel when I should have been doing the opposite, just because I wasn’t sure what else I should be doing. Hope everything works out for you :-)
Thanks for the post. Difficult choices, and sickness, are no fun.
Even so the ability of us to travel to so many cool places is amazing.
I also have had very good experiences with Agoda for over 5 years. It wouldn’t be such a big deal except that dealing with so many companies is so annoying. Agoda is one of a few companies I really like and would care if I was no longer able to use them.
Happy to hear about your positive experiences with Agoda, John! If I’m not using Airbnb, I’ll always head to them first :-)
HI Lauren. Anxiety is strange stuff. For me the anxiety of working a job I hated for 16 years was grinding me down.
It was your video on how you pack your bag that made me realize I could be traveling instead of working; something I have always dreamt of. For the last year I have been happily unemployed while regaining my Canadian residency (I was working in the US). I am now taking a couple writing classes so that I can have a blog that is somewhat coherent.
In December I fly to New Zealand for the start of a grand, slow plan. I will continue traveling as long as I can.
Thank you for all the advice you have given me in the past. (I’m pretty sure I thanked you for it each time, but if I didn’t it’s because I assumed you were busy and I didn’t want to bother you.)
Your blog, and especially that video, has literally changed my life. I hope you find your center, a place to be calm, and continue your dreams.
I’m so happy to hear that, Keir! :-D I’m already doing so much better.
I absolutely believe in signs, and I think our bodies tell us things that we should listen to more often. I also know how hard that can be, when those beautiful beaches are tantalizing your every traveler desire, but usually our gut knows what’s best, and I’m so glad you’re happy with your decision because that’s all that matters. Also, I don’t think your readers (if I may speak for all of us) will ever get tired of reading about your anxiety because it’s real, and it’s relatable to so many, and it’s so brave of you to be so honest with the world. I developed anxiety during my last year of graduate school, and I too, like your book, thought it would go away as soon as I graduated. That was in May, and it still isn’t gone. I struggle to catch my breath as I type this. And I don’t know why. Thanks for being so strong and beautiful! Good luck in Madrid.
Awww, glad to hear you still would like me to continue writing about my anxiety! I’m always so nervous whenever I write about it because I fear my non-anxious readers will get fed up with hearing about my struggles.
I’ve learned that I’ll probably have my anxiety for life but there’ll be good years and bad weeks and hopefully the bad get fewer and fewer as I learn how to better cope with it. Hope you find a way to deal with yours :-)
Hi Lauren —
Longtime reader, first time (I think?) commenter. I just wanted to thank you for addressing your anxiety in such an honest way. I also suffer from anxiety (although not as severe as yours), and sometimes seeing the way other people portray their lives on social media makes me feel incredibly inferior. Everyone seems fearless, certain of their paths, and resilient in ways that I’m just not. I know that’s not really true, but the internet can definitely make it seem that way, which just exacerbates existing anxiety. So THANK YOU for being open about the struggles. Please continue to do so.
Thanks for commenting, Caroline! :-D And for your kind words. I’ve also spent many months/years beating myself up over the perfect lives you see online, and it’s part of the reason why I booked this trip and found it so hard to cancel. I felt like I *had* to go to take pretty photos and write articles about places people rarely visit and be an inspiration and… yep, all it did was increase my anxiety!
Hi Lauren. Sorry to hear you were sick. However hard it was for you, I think you made the right decision. Your health is the most important. I know when I have been ill travelling it has never been a pleasant experience. Hope you are a 100% now and ready for your next adventures.
Given how bad my migraine was for the first 48 hours I would have been in the Seychelles, I’m very glad I cancelled. I would have been miserable and wishing I’d never left!
You definitely did the right thing. Sometimes you just know. I for one am useless at listening to my body and being sensible; I get the impression it’s something that a lot of people have to work on! I recently had huge trouble trying to book a trip. All I had to do was book a short weekend away and I just could.not.do.it. I even had the time off work and everything. We ended up cancelling the thing because it just wasn’t working out, and it ended up being a very lucky call (for a sad reason which I won’t go into as it’s too depressing!).
Anyway, I think being a “Traveller” is as much about mindset as it is about miles covered. I think you’ll be just fine in your new base, and I’m looking forward to reading about it.
Hi Rachel! I’m the same as you — it’s taken me many, many months of suffering before deciding to cancel this trip and work on myself! Sorry to hear about your cancelled plans, but at least you know it worked out for the best.
You already have a sea of commenting here, so if you see this, send me an email when you get to BKK. I know you were live in Thailand for a while, but I will take you to some most kick ass Thai food in Bangkok na kha!
Ah, so sorry I didn’t see this until now, Yok! I’ve already left Bangkok. Next time, I hope! :-)
I had a similar experience two weeks ago. I booked a flight to Turkey and Greece to finally go to Cappadocia, see the Acropolis, maybe even shout “THIS IS SPARTA!” Unfortunately, my girlfriend decided to break up with me two days before departure (she was coming with me), and it’s the only time I can remember not wanting to leave the country. I did eventually step on that plane, but even on the way to the airport, I was considering just swallowing the cost; being emotionally dead will do that to someone. Did you get any money back?
Ack! So sorry to hear that! Hope you had a good trip considering? And yep, I got a few of the hotels refund my stay and Air Seychelles refunded my taxes and fees on my flight to Mauritius.
Love your blog ignore the rude comment, know the feeling of anxiety and can take hold in a horrible way, I read your blog and have done for a while now and love it I smile I laugh and even your not so good times have an empathy. Your making decisions right for you.
Thanks, Lilli :-)
You should know by now how to plan better in order to avoid 3k cancellation fees. I always book only the first hotel night in advance, and sometimes only when I’m on the plane. Based on how I like the hotel, I will either book additional nights or switch. One can also sometimes change dates for free, and cancel those later.
Yeah? Good for you! The majority of the $3000 was flights. And things are a little different in these countries that aren’t really known for budget travel. In the Maldives, for example, I was going to stay on a few islands that have one guesthouse. One guesthouse with three beds. Why wouldn’t I book it for the entire stay? And on some of the islands in the Seychelles, there was one guesthouse for $50, with the rest coming in at $150 a night. So, yeah, didn’t see much point in booking for one night, when there was often only one option. Your way works if you’re in Southeast Asia or Europe or somewhere where budget travel is well developed.
I always think of fighting anxiety as a war not a battle – you get your phases when you feel in control and like you can take anything on, make big travel plans and can’t wait to get out there, then something will hit you and suddenly you can’t face doing much more than getting out of bed. I’ve pushed myself to do trips when inside I was desperate to cancel it and sometimes it’s worked out and sometimes it’s been miserable – all you can do it what feels best for you at the time, be kind to yourself and keep on going. It’s always gutting to lose money but so much tougher to be somewhere you don’t really want to be and feeling awful. Take care of yourself and here’s to conquering those anxiety demons one day at a time!
I definitely allowed myself to get complacent when my anxiety seemed to fade away when I started travelling. I assumed I had been cured! The past few months/years have shown me that I’ll likely struggle with this for the rest of my life, but I’ll have good years and bad years, and hopefully more of the good the more I practice trying to control it.
I could tell this was going to be an unenjoyable trip if I forced myself to leave, so I’m glad I cancelled.
Ah damn that really sucks but interesting enough post to read I’ve done trips when I’m just getting over a cold or food poisoning (once) and it’s the worst time to travel.
It really sucks that you had to bail but you probably made the right decision as you wouldn’t have enjoyed yourself as much and it’s hard to get the right medicine and recovery is slow when you are away from home.
Maybe look at some different travel insurance options but yeah most won’t cover cancellations unless you have medical issues which it sounds like you did.
Look after your health it’s the one thing you don’t want to mess up, look after yourself!
Yeah, travel insurance is tricky. I wouldn’t have been able to get a doctor’s note unless I had seen one before my flight departed, so I’m not sure I would have been able to get refunds regardless of who I went with. I did manage to get a few refunds on ferry rides and one guesthouse I booked, so it’s not as bad as I originally thought!
While I’m sad that I won’t get to see any of your awesome photos from the Seychelles and Maldives, good on you for listening to your body and doing what you needed to do for your health.
After all, those places will still be around in a few months or a year. But if you don’t take care of yourself, you might not be!
Thanks, Amanda! Definitely toying with the idea of heading there next year when I’m feeling stronger :-)
What a shame u felt so bad! I would say u made a right decision. I remember once I was filling so terrible I canceled my skiing trip, it was no big deal coz I took it next weekend but it was so frustrating. Can’t imagine how u would be filling canceling dream like vacations costing u so much money and I had to cancel 2 weeks in turkey at 5 star hotel because my close friend died two days prior leaving.
I would like to tell u don’t worry about what anyone else thinks, do whatever u like. Shakespeare was genius and even he got critics and negative reviewers, so u will get to. Just do whatever makes u happy, get base, leave your life and be free. There always will be people, like me, who likes u, trust me! Happy u, will get more – me
Ah, thank you so much for the lovely comment, Teo. I’m slowly developing a thicker skin and learning not to take the negative comments to heart, but it can be tough sometimes. Sorry to hear you had to cancel a few of your trips as well.
I find your blogging about anxiety very relatable and honest, so thank-you. I hope you are feeling better!
Thanks so much, Angie! I’m getting there! :-D
Thankfully this has not happened to me, yet, and hopefully never.. but I think I would do the same. I would cancel a precious trip because I don’t want to risk my health on a foreign country no matter how much I would lose because I might just end up in a hospital and stay there longer than my supposed trip and be miserable with no companion and I’ve lost my entire savings. oh god, that’s the worst thing ever.
As for your plans, that’s a good thing.. experimenting is a great thing. I think you should always follow your instinct.. follow what your heart tells you. ;) and good luck!
Ha! Exactly. I was also pretty concerned I’d be given the Yellow Fever vaccine on my flight in to the Seychelles as I had a layover in Ethiopia… and that was the last thing I wanted when suffering the flu! But overall, yep, definitely the right decision to stay and work on my health :-)
Lauren, I can’t even explain how touched I was reading this post and how much I admire you for admitting that you needed to cancel your plans to focus on yourself. So many people would go, suffer and then write about the amazing time they had just because ‘that’s what people want t read’.
Anxiety is a bitch. I’ve been struggling myself for the past couple of weeks and although my flight home from Australia is booked for December, I desperately want to move it forward. I miss my family, my dog, my boyfriend and it’s really getting my down. It’s so hard to admit to yourself that you need to cancel plans because you feel like a failure or you’re letting people (and yourself) down. You’re not a failure, in fact you’re incredibly brave.
It’s refreshing to read such an honest, open post and to know that it’s not just me that has similar feelings/thoughts. Quite frankly I think it’s disgraceful to describe someone as whining and being ungrateful – is the blogging community not supposed to be supportive and encouraging?
Anyway, I just wanted to say thank you for sharing such a tough decision to make and I believe it was the right decision. It’s unfortunate that you’ve lost money over it but at the end of the day, your health is more important and you can always make more money.
I hope you still to feel better soon and you WILL overcome, or at least be able to cope, with your anxiety. Bxx
Ah, thank you so much for the lovely comment, Becka :-) It’s now a month after I wrote this and I can tell you that I’m feeling so much better! After having daily panic attacks for the past six months, I’ve just had a two-week streak without any. It feels great! And proves I made the right decision in cancelling my trip.
Re: the person saying I was whining: I think people forget that there’s a human behind a blog. It doesn’t help that so many travel blogs are so heavily curated that it’s rare to hear about someone’s struggles. But I try to share an honest look at my life. Just like anyone else, I go through bad days, weeks, months, years. And yeah, I don’t have any time for people like her in my life so I’m glad she’s unsubscribe. People who think mental health isn’t a real thing are awful.
Glad my post could help you out, and hope you also feel better with your anxiety soon :-)
Lauren, I have anxiety myself from working as a dishwasher for 22 months at a Shithole Mexican Resturant in Sydney. That was 6-8 yrs ago and haven’t had a panic Attack since them.
But still have a hatred and fear of Australian Border Force as they are a bunch of asshole to their citizens and I have slammed them many times and I refuse to use a shitty Australian passport.
Your not the only person that has bailed out of travel at the last minute and wasted 100’s if not thousands on airfares.
Here is my examples
I brought a 300 Euros airfare between Hong Kong and Istanbul for July 2012. Reason I didn’t use it, I didn’t feel comfortable with Aeroflot or transiting in Moscow
In June 2012 I paid like $400 to go from Kuala Lumpur to Tehran and onto Istanbul. But I bailed out cause I was worried about having to use my Iranian visa just to transit Tehran Airport.
I ended up paying $800 to go Direct to London from KL as I had to be at a Heavy Metal Festival in Germany the next week
IN 2013 I wanted to move to England so I brought a flight from Sydney to London for July 2013, but I ended up pushing the flight towards June 2013 because nobody hired me after I lost my job at Harvest. I came home in July 2013 because I got a job
In 2013, I had plans to see my mates band in Japan. But because I was wasting my money on women, I couldn’t go over. So I ended up postponing my trip to July 2014 and I didn;t end up taking it.
I booked a ticket to Istanbul in Jan 2014 to leave in Nov 2014. But I was too busy work so I canceled my plans and just went to Asia.
I had plans to visit: Laos, Cambodia, Vietnam, Myanmar, Thailand and Manila in Jan 2015. But I got a mysterious chest infection illness that made me so weak I had to come back to Sydney.
I was supposed to go traveling to Sweden in Oct 2015. But because my own mother gave me the shits I ended up leaving for Europe 4 months earlier and I even lived in Birmingham for a month.
But I came back to Oz to see my mother have heart Surgery and I would go back in 2016.
The problem with me is I have a habbit fo booking thigns too early and not taking the flight because of work, career, family commitments.
I can’t wake up 1 day and say I want to go visiting Laos next week. It becomes exepnsive if you do that. One time I ened up going to Port Moresby for 2 days because my work was closed for 2 weeks and I didn;t want to stay at home.
JUst don’t book anythign in advance and bail out on it like I have done. I have resheduled my Swedish flight till next year even though I have to pay more than $221 than what i apid for it.
That’s an awful lot of cancelled plans, Martin!
uau!!!! amazing place, how much it cost??
The entire trip? $3000.
Lauren, I truly admire you.. I read few of your post.. specially that Chinese girl scam.. It was eye opening.. I really like the way you share your experience.. because most of the post by bloggers is full of where to go and where to eat but never heard about that much realistic post.
Thanks so much, Intakt! I try to be honest and portray a realistic view of travel and, I guess, life. Sometimes things don’t go to plan and we go through rough patches. I prefer not to gloss over them :-)
Wow. After seeing all those pictures, cancelli g that trip truly truly sucks!
Never heard of underwater waterfall.
This is my next trip!
Have a great time!
Sad story. I’m sorry that you didn’t manage to go. This place is amazing. Not to mention the hotel you were going to stay. But don’t worry. This place isn’t going nowhere and as for the money, is more important to be healthy!
Absolutely. I can hit up the Seychelles and Mauritius next year when I’m in a much healthier state of mind :-)
As someone who suffers from anxiety and travels a lot, I can absolutely say that going slow and giving yourself a routine while travelling with help your anxiety so much!
Also, the food you eat is incredibly important as well. Have you heard of Whole30 – it was single most helpful thing I’ve ever done for my anxiety. I haven’t had a major attack since I first did it a couple years ago.
Hope everything works out but know you’re definitely on the right track :)
Thanks for the Whole30 recommendation, Dayna! I had a look at it and it seems like it would be near-impossible to do while I’m in Vietnam, where I am right now, but I’m excited to experiment with it when I’m settled down somewhere for a while :-)
Way to see the lesson! I think this event only helped to cement ideas that you’ve been struggling with accepting and putting into action. It really takes times like these to get us to finally make a decision on things and to feel it’s okay to accept what we already know to be true. I’ve experienced this with my own life experience, and while I may go against what people see as “logical” and “rational,” it’s really about doing what FEELS right. Tapping into that intuition and paying attention to where you’re at mentally and emotionally. $3K doesn’t mean shit when it comes to having a solid grip on your sanity and happiness. You know what you need above everyone else, so good for you for taking a stand for yourself. You rock!
Yes! I’ve known I’ve needed to make a change for a long time now, but I kept persevering and assuming my anxiety would fade away if I just kept travelling. Of course, the opposite happened :-). You’re right — while this seems like a crazy decision to many people, it was absolutely the right one for me and was such a relief when I decided not to go.
Sucks that you had so many sunk costs in the trip you planned, but ultimately, you made the right decision. Your health comes first!
Thanks, Beth! It was definitely the right decision :-)
I think you’re amazing!
Always have been so relatable to me. I too have memorable travel moments.
Just wanted to say so proud of you! Losing $3000 of course is terrible but at the end of the day …you would have been miserable through it all and probably wouldnt have been able to do most of the things on your itinerary anyway. But staying home sick in your comfort place is the best you can do for your health. Very nice to see a traveller choose their well being over a trip.
Exactly! I’ve chosen travel over my wellbeing quite a few times over the past year or so and it was time to start taking care of myself. The Seychelles will still be there next year, and I’ll be in a much better frame of mind to enjoy them (I hope!) :-)
So sorry you had to go through this, but I guess it turned out to be a blessing in the disguise. Those few hours before the flight must have been a nightmare – guilt and regret are the worst feelings in the world. I’m glad you didn’t regret it and that something good has come out of this.
Thank you for writing honest posts – I hope that these will continue raising more awareness about people suffering from anxiety disorders.
Thanks, Daniela! I’m always a bit nervous to hit publish on these honest posts about anxiety, but seeing them resonate shows me I’ve made the right choice. It definitely worked out well to cancel this trip, and hopefully I can visit next year when I’m feeling a bit stronger.
i just discovered this blog and I m so glad I did.
I have been canceling lots of flights and trips in the last year, one as well at the airport, with similiar thoughts going through my head, and afterwards friends looking at you like “what? you ve been at the airport and didn t go?? whaaat?”… what I learned was that money comes and goes, but if it doesn t feel right, if everything inside you doesn t want to do it… then don t. Thank you so much for your honesty and this post. And believe me… of course people would have loved to read about the trip, and one day you’ll probably go there and write about it and people will love it.
But you know, there are probably a million travel blogs out there, but I never came across one that s so honest and that I can relate to so well. So thank you. I wish you all the best.
Hey Nina! I’m sorry to hear you’ve been struggling. Well, as you know, I’ve definitely been through the same and I know that when you’re suffering with anxiety, you don’t give a damn about how much money you’re going to lose by cancelling the trip; you just want to feel well again. I’m glad I didn’t go on the trip to the Seychelles, because I know it would have been a huge struggle for me.
Thank you for the lovely comment! :)
I’m canceling my trip to see my best friend tomorrow. The anxiety just grabs you, and everything feels miserable. I feel so guilty about canceling on my friend, but what fun would I be in this condition? I don’t care about the money lost, I hate feeling restricted, and ashamed I can’t control my emotions.
I definitely relate to how you’re feeling Alisha. When I’m feeling anxious, the money stops mattering any more. I just want the anxiety to end so that I can breathe again. But don’t worry — things do get better. It took me a few months, but I am finally feeling able to travel again once more. I hope your friend understood the reasons behind you cancelling, and hope you feel better soon :-)
I was supposed to go to my dream trip today and decided to cancel my trip last night due to the stress and anxiety level, I been depressed because I have never cancelled a trip before, I been suffering from this for a long time and I have no idea how to deal with this. I don’t know what to do, I feel sad and frustrated. I think about how much fun I was going to have and it kills me feeling this way. I knew about this trip for months and thought about it way too much and ended up buying the tickets 2 days ago. Why is this happening? How can I fight this?
Hi Alex, I’m sorry to hear your anxiety prevented you from travelling. I’ve definitely been there, as you can tell, and most importantly, I can tell you that I came out of the other end and can once again travel anxiety-free.
The first thing to do is to stop beating yourself up. This wasn’t the right time for you to travel and that’s okay. The world is still there and you can still explore it, but you’ll be feeling better when you do so, which will help you enjoy it even more. The second is to get your anxiety under control, whether it’s seeing a therapist, trying medication, or experimenting with self-help. I’ve had a great deal of success with meditation through the Headspace app. And the third thing to do is to push yourself to travel again. It’ll be tough the first time, because you’ll associate travel with anxiety, but you have to push past that and make yourself go. And the second you step on the plane, you’ll most likely experience all of your anxiety fading away.
Best of luck!
I’m late on reading your blog (saw a link somewhere and enjoyed the post I read so much, I’ve been going back through your posts). I so admire your honesty of the good and the bad. I’m so annoyed at that comment you thought you were being naggy, that’s ridiculous. And I hope the negative people (I know you are dealing with some of them now) don’t stop you from sharing.
I’m a historical costumer, and there was a meme going on last year, about people posting the “behind the scenes” of some of their best photography of themselves. It’s really easy, when you see a perfect photo of someone, to be down on yourself for not being able to live up to what looks like perfection. And it was interesting to see people say, yeah, I look great, but I had horrible cramps and my boyfriend had broken up with me the day before, and I felt awful that day. Social media is such a weird thing, because it can be so carefully crafted to only show our best. And that is not life and it’s not real. So I admire that instead of showing gorgeous island photos (because the ones of that island where it rained and you were kind of stuck in your hotel were beautiful) and acting like everything is perfect, you gave an honest picture. It was all bad, but it wasn’t all good. And seeing the ups and downs of travel is so important. Because that stuff happens, and when it does, you don’t want to think you’re some kind of failure, because things are always perfect for this or that travel blogger.
That was long winded, but I just wanted to try to make up for some of the negativity, which I’m sure is wearing. I’m really enjoying reading your blog, and I hope you don’t let the commenters stop you. I think you are really courageous for dealing with everything the way you are. It’s not easy when life is tough, going, and anxiety makes everything tough. Thanks again for sharing. Best wishes.
I’m 17 and two days ago I was supposed to travel to Nepal as an orphanage volunteer all by myself.
This meant a 9 hour flight from heathrow to Mumbai an 8 hour layover there and then another hour to Nepal where I know no one and can’t even picture what it looks like in my mind.
I had already checked in on Saturday when I had a panic attack. All morning I had been feeling sick, gagging on everything I tried to eat, and I felt like I had no sense of reality.
I couldn’t go. I couldn’t put myself in the dangerous position of getting to India and having another major panic attack. Especially since none of my family have any travel experience or passports to come and help me.
Thank you for writing this because I’ve been feeling really alone and embarrassed over the last couple of days because I so badly want and need to travel.
You’re so brave for sharing your story,
I realize that this is an old post. But I just cancelled my dream trip one 10 minutes before needing to leave for the airport. And 2 hours before the flight took off. I’m struggling with anxiety bad and this is so new to me I don’t know how to deal with it. I’ve been pretty much in tears for 2 weeks thinking about the trip and completely incapable of talking about it for 2 days. This. was. my. dream. trip. Everything I ever wanted. Every place I ever wanted to see and all of things. You know. You’ve been there. So anyway, It’s nice to see this has happened to someone else. Lots of other people in fact. I’ve been feeling stupid for hours now…..
Like Jess – the commenter above me – I realise this is an older post, but I just found your article after literally Googling the phrase “I’m so over the whole travel thing”, and I was really struck by what you’ve shared. I’m quite moved, to be honest. I can relate, and I find it super brave, authentic and refreshing to read what you’ve written. I really wanted to thank you for sharing it.
I too have been feeling this way for around the last year, after spending about seven years constantly uprooting my life due to a couple of serious transatlantic relationships I was in. For me, it wasn’t constant global travel, but constant three-month overseas trips, twice a year. I loved it at first, but over time, I found myself feeling so displaced – and the rest of my life (financially, pyschologically, etc.) was a total shit-show.
It’s been about a year now since I settled back into my home country, and although I found it jarring and felt lost and panicked at the prospect to begin with, I actually realised that I had a deep longing or craving to just feel settled and stable. When your whole world is constantly changing, in any capacity, it IS de-stabilising – even with the many positives that come with it.
What I’ve personally noticed is that the closer I’ve come “home” to myself, the less interested I’ve become in travel overall. And I’m wondering if there might be something in that. I noticed that the periods during which I had the most intense wanderlust were also the same periods in which my inner world was not in a good place. It’s almost like I feel so much more comfortable within myself that I’m not constantly seeking a new external environment to answer issues within myself that I hadn’t addressed previously. That’s my take on it, at least.
Another thing I wanted to say is that I wholeheartedly believe anxiety exists to show us where something needs to be attended to, like an inbuilt survival mechanism. I have dealt with it too, and I now view it as a friend that is trying to alert me to something I need to pay attention to. I think that security is a really vital human need, and I feel there is zero shame in experiencing that. There is so much pressure to have checked off XYZ number of places, and sometimes there’s a whole hell of a lot to be said for wanting to put some roots down and get grounded, long-term or even for a certain period.
So… thank you again for writing this. I loved reading it.
I am so glad to see I’m not the only one dealing with this – I’ve had go/not go angst on several trips for years – tend to reschedule, reschedule, then cancel outright. I hate traveling, but love the idea of visiting destinations – and my misery with long plane flights causes me to book trips when I’m feeling optimistic, then cancel when I start feeling the anxiety (luckily within allowable cancellations so I don’t lose $). It’s a crazy and sad way to be – but I can’t seem to break the cycle.
Your comment has some pretty great timing, as I actually just cancelled a trip to India this week! It turns out anxiety will always be there to try to convince you you’re making a mistake by leaving. I know that the key to getting over this is to force yourself to leave and prove that everything will be fine, but it’s definitely easier said than done when your anxiety makes it seem as though your gut instinct is keeping you safe. Best of luck with everything, and I hope you’ll be able to take your next trip.
Dear Lauren, though I never cancelled a trip, I really needed to read this. I am a bit of a perfectionist and have been trying to find myself again the last 3 years after a major life change – I thought I always have travel? But I am getting more and more anxious about big trips especially, wanting the perfect balance of itinerary, sights, food, budget, luxury, etc… while feeling relaxed, care-free, in control?! About to go to China in 3 sleeps, after trips to Scotland, NYC and Chicago the past 2.5 week, mostly juggling work… even though I visited all these countries before, I feel anxious, too last minute, and not well prepared. Maybe I should just write more old fashioned packing lists, and to do lists… I felt our visa was only just on time, 3 weeks ago… Even though boyfriend seems calm. And struggling with my perfectionist side. Your comment on having a base and slower travel hit home. Hope you are well, reading the Jan 2019 comment. Thank you.
I know this is an older post, but I wanted you to know how much it meant to me.
I just cancelled my dream flight to Switzerland, it was a short one, but am still out $400. Why? Anxiety. I was sobbing in the airport when my best friend pointed out over the phone that I didn’t need to go. And she was right. So I left and didn’t get on the flight.
I feel a lot more at peace not going on this trip, even though it was my dream. My anxiety has been high lately as I just moved abroad and was already struggling with feeling out of place, and my grandfather passed away. It was my body’s way of telling me, “Elise, you need to take care of yourself.” And that’s what I’m going to do.
I am so thankful to have found someone like yourself; much of the time I feel that I am the only one in the world who struggles like this. Your post made me feel less alone, and right now living abroad and having no friends nearby, I really needed that. Thank you ?
Thank you for this blog. I have a holiday to Florida booked next month, but am struggling with some health issues with my stomach. I am excited about the holiday but am so anxious as I don’t want to be ill travelling or when I’m there. We booked the trip the beginning of last year and have planned so much towards it. Your blog has really resonated with me. At the moment I am unsure whether to go or not. We will lose quite a bit of money for the trip but I’d rather feel well to go. Hope you are well.
I know that this blog is pretty old, but I came across this because I typed in a search “feeling like I want to cancel my trip”. This was the first link to show up. I read it and very glad that I did.
I’m leaving in a few days from now to go about 2000 miles away to a place I had never been to before. I am a single male, aged 62, and going by myself. I had booked this trip about two months ago. I have been excited about going, but now I’m asking myself, “do I have to?”.
A year ago at this time I went on a solo trip about 2000 miles in another place and direction. It had been my first trip in nine years. I had the very same feelings at that time. About a few days before going, I wanted to cancel. But I didn’t. When I got a ride to the airport, I felt sick to my stomach. But when I got settled into the gate, I felt better. And then I felt great when I got to my destination. I worried a lot about how long it would take to get to where I was staying because the routing seemed complicated. But it all turned out alright.
I had anxiety every morning while I was away, but had breakfast and felt better. And then I went to places I wanted to go to. During the evenings I went online to an travel forum board to talk about my anxiety. I felt like I didn’t get much sympathy. But then I remembered that on the last day at where I was, I cried. I felt like I didn’t want to go back home.
I did push myself in going when I had anxiety. But I have nice memories about that trip last year. I hope that this year will be the same.
I needed this. I just cancelled my flight to go on my dream trip too. I had a panic attack two hours before I was supposed to leave the house and I’m currently sitting on the bathroom floor trying to figure out why I have no control. I understand the severity of your panic attacks because I literally almost blackout.
I never feel like anyone understands how I feel and I can never justify anxiety to anyone. I feel alone all the time. This helped. Thank you!
Wow this article hit me in my core. You are so brave to share your story and you made the right choices by listening to your mind and body so that you can have future trips full of joy, not anxiousness and stress. Your story is so strikingly similar to what I’m going through right now. I have had a rough past 3 years from stress at work to starting an even more stressful job, a miscarriage, an extensive injury that prevented me from walking for almost a year, catching Covid, to heightened depression, anxiety and debilitating panic attacks. Like you, my mind always plays the blame game and assumes that there is just something wrong with me that will never allow me to be my old self or an even a better me. But, travel fuels my soul and is my go to, so why not indulge in a trip to “heal myself,” and do a total reset. There is just something about being in another culture and a new environment that ignites our being, inspires creativity and new thought processes, and allows for a complete digital detox. I do a ton of solo travel because I don’t like to wait around for friends/family and I’ve conquered many successful trips on my own, making friends along the way. So I was comfortable in my own skin to continue doing these trips and felt that solo travel is for me and each trip would get better and better and I would become stronger and stronger. But when we have anxiety and depression, the last thing we need is to be so far away from friends and family and hope and pray we get human interaction along the way. When those episodes occur, we need support more than ever and we can’t feel isolated and secluded in remote parts of the world. So like you, I decided my dream trip in 3 magical countries was going to heal me. Despite my reoccurring anxiety and depression, I told myself I would be fine as I was with my other trips. I didn’t care if I was alone, I would make friends like I did in the past. But what was different now, was the darker place I was in. The feelings of stress were at an all time high. I thought this would be the trip that resets me. With everything booked, I was so excited to start this journey. But, I started to have panic attacks when I realized some of the areas were going to be difficult to reach by foot, boat, or minimal cabs and no Uber service. I thought, it can’t be that bad, I’ll figure it out when I get there. I even pre booked a few transfers to ease the burden. So I proceed with my trip and upon arrival I was already panicked about how far it was from the airport to the coast where I was staying. Online it said 1 hr and change, and the ride was over 2 hrs with no traffic. As we got farther and farther away from the city center, I felt trapped and I feared I would get stuck there. From there on, it was nothing but stress panic attacks everyday which turned into insomnia, heart papiltations, crying spells, isolation, and the unwavering decision to leave or stay. I had a hard time meeting people because some areas were just too remote or there were nothing but newlywed couples. I even downloaded bumble app and attempted to meet up with people but they took too long to respond before I was onto my next designation. I even went on Instagram to hashtag where I was and find travel accounts of people visiting nearby but unsuccessful there. Looking back, this was a learning experience and I should have booked some meet and greet excursions and did some solo prep work. But I told myself to keep going and stick it out. I thought look around look how beautiful these places are, just make the best of it and I pushed through for days, with a lot of ups and downs. I was preparing to depart a hotel on a difficult spot on a cliff and needed a transfer to the airport to the next country. Well there was a shortage of cabs and I was unable to secure one to the airport in time for my flight. I ended up having to leave that evening as I secured a driver but had to give up my $250 per night hotel room, and slept in the floor in a closed airport that wouldn’t reopen until 4am. From there on out, I continued to travel to the next country and had some good solid days but my mind and body were not well, I could not get on a sleep cycle, and I started having panic attacks and issues with eating and digesting. I had to have a doctor come to my hotel room and was given a shot and some medications. I started to feel better and continued traveling to the next area. I had another good day and bad day. I even contacted a crisis hotline and they got me through a rough day. I finally made a decision to fly home early despite having a beautiful villa booked for 4 nights, I only spent 1 night there and had to return the rental car I had just gotten for the week. I felt terrible and a huge sense of regret, but I told myself to listen to my mind and body and going home would be the only way to get my body back to normal. I successfully negotiated for 3 hours with the airline to change my flight for a low cost, I felt relieved. I checked in to my flight and headed to the airport only to find out the flight was delayed. The delays continued as there were mechanical issues with the plane. Finally, after 7 hours sitting in the airport they cancelled the flight and put everyone up in a hotel and gave food vouchers. I had little time to change my flight back to the original flight and try to stay to enjoy the rest of the trip. It was going to be a lot of work to go back and pickup the rental car and contact the villa that I would be returning, and I was quite embarrassed to try to do that and not my happy myself. So I continued with this flight the next morning only to find out they would be flying the same plane and did not fully fix the issue so they would have to take a different flying route over more land than sea. It ended up taking an additional 3 hours, so now I was panicked o
21st March, 2023
Hey, wow what a read. So insightful and selflessly honest. I can’t thank you enough.
Tonight, I cancelled a solo trip to Chamonix in France, skiing as you’d imagine, as a complete beginner (apart from one intense lesson at home in a local ‘Snowdome’). In total, the trip would have cost me somewhat £700, and including my pre-ski lesson, I’d already spent somewhat £400 on flights and deposits.
However, I hadn’t really had a great start to the year, but I was adamant that I wasn’t going to let anything stop me from doing as I’d normally do, and for me, that was going traveling. I had done my first solo travel the December before, and so was feeling the momentum.
But, to help with the issues that had arose at the start of the year, I began going to counselling.
Right now, I sit here uncertain as to exactly why I cancelled, but I know that the past two days have been horrendous, with what has felt like sleepless nights, and constant pacing around my room thinking and stressing.
I overthought it so much, that in a way I forgot why I didn’t want to go in the first place?
However, by that point, the damage had been done, and I was leaning towards not going. I’ve lost £400, but saved the other £400 I would have spent had I gone.
I do plan to travel the world this January coming, however I clearly have some work to do between then and now. And, as I’m already in counselling, I may as well make the most of it, and see if that can help me overcome the insecurities which prevented me from going on this trip.
Thank you for your continued selfless honesty.