Confession: I Think About Cancelling Every Trip I Book


Bora Bora airport

It was the 16th July 2011 and I couldn’t stop crying.

The following day was set to be the biggest of my life. After five years of planning, saving, and dreaming, I was now mere hours away from setting out to travel the world. This had been my sole focus for the past 2000 days. I’d taken on multiple jobs and worked every spare second I could in order to save up for this trip. I’d moved back in with my parents. I’d turned down the opportunity to get a PhD. I’d bought ugly travel clothes, subjected myself to a ton of vaccines, and spent many 12 hour days breathlessly poring over travel blogs. After counting down for months on end, my departure date had finally arrived.

But I didn’t want to go.

I really didn’t want to go.

And I very nearly didn’t.

Suddenly, I was convinced leaving to travel would be a huge mistake. Now that my departure date was looming, I had to face the fact that this was really going to happen.

I couldn’t stop thinking about the things that could go wrong.

What if my plane crashes? What if I arrive in Dubrovnik and there aren’t any taxis to take me to my hostel? What if I get to the hostel and they’ve lost my booking? What do you even say when you arrive at a hostel? What if I hate my hostel? What if somebody steals all of my things? What if everyone there looks down on me because I don’t have any travel experience? What if I can’t figure out how to get to my next destination? What if I don’t make any friends? What if I get homesick? What if I get malaria? What if I get lost? What if I get scammed? What if I get robbed? What if I get kidnapped? What if I get raped? What if I get murdered? … What if after all of this planning, I discover I don’t like travel?

I get a lot of emails from people telling me I’m brave. I guess back then, with all of those irrational fears bouncing around in my head, I kind of was. I kind of am. But at the time, I felt anything but courageous. I felt like a fraud. I felt ill-equipped. I felt as though I’d most likely be back home within a week.

I get a lot of emails from people telling me they wish they were as brave I am, and I guess I’m writing this post for them. Because leaving your comfort zone and everything you’ve ever known can be really freaking scary. A lot of travel bloggers make it sound easy, like they just packed their bags, hopped on a plane, and immediately began living the dream. Maybe for them it was that easy. But for me, it wasn’t.

And that means that if I can find the courage to travel, you most likely can, too.

Lauren with her backpack
A very pale Lauren with her brand new backpack

And if I’m being honest, if I hadn’t started Never Ending Footsteps, I’m not sure I would have left.

I’d spent the past six months counting down to this trip online, sharing why I wanted to travel, what I hoped to gain from it, where I was dreaming of visiting. On that day before my departure date, my social media feeds were full of people wishing me luck and cheering me on. How could I then tell everyone I’d chickened out at the last minute?

If you’ve read How Not to Travel the World, you’ll know the first chapter opens with me oversleeping and discovering I had mere minutes to pack my bag and leave. The reason why someone who’d planned out every single step of their trip hadn’t managed to fill their backpack yet? Because I wasn’t planning on even going.

But I left anyway. I knew that if I didn’t, I most likely would end up spending the rest of my life wondering what could have been. I didn’t want my brain to be filled with regrets, so I forced myself onto the plane and into my new life, telling myself that if I hated it, I was only a plane ride away from home.

You know how the next chapter of my story unfolds: travel was incredible for me. It was transformative. It changed my life, and me, for the better.

That decision to get on the plane was the best I’ve ever made.

But that doesn’t mean I’ve lost my travel nerves.

Lauren at the airport
At the airport on the morning of my trip. I probably shouldn’t have stopped to take a photo, because I nearly ended up missing my flight.

I Almost Didn’t Go to Southeast Asia

I was three months into my trip, had spent time hopping around Eastern Europe and Eastern Asia, but Southeast Asia intimidated me. It had been the one place I’d fantasised about the most when I’d started travelling and I’d built it up in my mind as this paradise I’d fall in love with.

So far, though, my trip hadn’t been going as smoothly as I might have hoped. <– This is an understatement. China had been a disaster from start to finish, full of scams and aggression, where someone spat in my hair and the locals fought to take advantage of me. I got lost all the time, I had never-ending stomach cramps, and the pollution had given me what felt like a sinus infection.

I’d been so excited to visit China, then practically hated every moment I’d spent in the country. I was exhausted, I was unwell, and I was over travel.

The thought of going to Southeast Asia and having similarly awful experiences was enough to have me searching for flights home. I was worried it wouldn’t be as great as I was hoping. I was worried the party scene would be too intense and my fellow backpackers would think I was boring. I was worried I wouldn’t make friends. I was worried I’d get dengue or rabies or cholera. I was worried I wouldn’t have the same awesome-sounding experiences I’d read about in other travel blogs.

beach in koh phi phi
Of course, I LOVED Southeast Asia and it ended up being my favourite region in the world.

I Almost Didn’t Go to Morocco

I flew from Vienna to Barcelona, and then during my layover at the airport, it hit me that I was hours away from taking my first steps in a brand new continent. I’d done my research beforehand and read my fair share of horror stories online about solo female travellers in Morocco experiencing nothing but harassment. I thought I could handle it when I was booking my flight, but I was suddenly having second thoughts.

I was so nervous about flying to Marrakech that I walked through to the departures hall in Barcelona’s airport and started scanning the boards for flights to London. I was so close to cancelling my trip and heading home for a few weeks instead.

I was concerned that Morocco would shove me too far out of my comfort zone. That I’d be sexually assaulted by the men. That the public transport would be unsafe. That I’d be mugged, or be a victim of a scam. That I wouldn’t like the food and would get food poisoning. That I wouldn’t be able to find a tour operator to take me to the Sahara Desert. That I wouldn’t make any friends (this is always a concern of mine).

Lauren in the Atlas Mountains
Morocco was as challenging as I’d expected before arriving, but to my great surprise, it still ended up as one of my favourite countries. I’m so glad I went.

I Almost Didn’t Go to the South Pacific

I was having a panic attack in the bathroom of Dave’s parents’ home in New Zealand. In three days’ time, I was supposed to be boarding a flight to the Cook Islands and I was on the verge of cancelling.

It had been a challenging year for me, and my anxiety disorder that had remained dormant for the first four years of my travels had unexpectedly reared its head.

The last time I’d experienced panic attacks so close to the departure date of a trip was when I was about to spend a month in the Seychelles, Mauritius, and the Maldives.

I’d cancelled that trip, and in doing so, had calmed my anxiety for a while.

Was I supposed to cancel this trip, too? I was close to deciding to do exactly that.

I was worried I’d have a panic attack in the Cook Islands. That it would happen in a dorm room and everyone would think I was insane. That my anxiety would get worse once I left Dave’s side. That my anxiety would get so bad that I’d struggle to eat. That it would be full of honeymooning couples and I’d spend the entire trip alone. That I wouldn’t be able to communicate with anyone in French Polynesia. That people don’t talk about visiting Bora Bora on a budget because it’s awful to do so.

Bora Bora airport
My trip to the South Pacific actually helped to massively improve my anxiety! Although I experienced some struggles, I’m still glad I visited.

You’re starting to see a pattern, right?

I freak out about an upcoming trip, I think about cancelling it, I push myself to go anyway, and everything works out for the best.

So eventually, you’d think, I’d stop panicking so much. That I’d realise things often work out and that even when they don’t, I’ll never regret taking a trip.

But my brain doesn’t work like that.

Even though it’s entirely true that I’ve yet to regret taking any of my trips.

It’s About Fear of the Unknown

Every single time I think about cancelling a trip, it’s to a destination I’ve never been to before.

I wanted to cancel my trip to Southeast Asia because I was scared I wouldn’t like it.

I wanted to cancel my trip to Morocco because I was scared it would be too intimidating

I wanted to cancel my trip to the South Pacific because I was scared I wasn’t strong enough to handle it.

Now, if I was to plan a trip to any of those places, I wouldn’t dream of cancelling it at the last minute! I’ve been there, I know what to expect, and I know I love it. It’s no longer unknown, so I no longer have that fear.

Nice beach
Nice from above

I’m embarrassed to admit this, but my summer trip around Europe scared me. I thought about cancelling it, too.

I was nervous to visit Paris.

Paris! 

I’ve been to almost every country in Europe at this point, and I was scared to go to Paris? Yup. I had no idea what to expect. I was worried I’d hate it, I’d get lost, I’d be raped, I’d be murdered.

I was nervous about Venice. Berlin. Luxembourg. Nice. Monaco. Andorra.

These are all easy places to visit. They’re safe. They’re familiar. They’re not hugely different from any other European city. As a European who has seen so much of Europe, I shouldn’t have been intimidated by them.

Anxiety can do some wild things to your brain.

Lauren in Rarotonga, the Cook Islands

Sometimes I’ve given into my fear of the unknown and cancelled my trips.

I was supposed to go to Palau after my trip to the Philippines

I was supposed to go to India after my trip to Sri Lanka.

I was supposed to go to Malta after my trip to Morocco.

I was supposed to go to Sierra Leone this month, but cancelled it because I’m still nervous about travelling alone to African countries.

It’s a hard question to face, but when I think about whether I regret cancelling these trips, the answer is almost always mostly-sort-of-yes. It’s tough, though, because I know I made the right decision for me at the time. But now? Yeah, there’s definitely a bit of regret and guilt surrounding my decision to give in to fear.

After all, I’ve never regretted taking a trip.

Lauren as a terracotta warrior
If I was a terracotta warrior, I would feel no fear.

Yesterday, I booked a solo trip to Mozambique for early next year.

I’ve wanted to go to Mozambique for forever, so to score return flights from Lisbon for around $250 was basically my ultimate dream come true.

But I’ve never been to a Southern African country before, so I have no idea what to expect. I’m fearful about my safety, about logistics, about how I’ll get around, about what the country will be like, about whether I’ll make friends. I’m massively intimidated about going there.

Since booking my flight twelve hours ago, I’ve thought multiple times about cancelling.

The Travel Nerves Are Always With Me

That’s what I’ve learned.

I’ve come to discover that every time I book a flight to a place I’ve never visited before, it’s inevitable that I’ll want to cancel it. That I’ll be nervous up until the moment I arrive, no matter how safe and well-visited the country might be.

I’ve learned to live with it and to expect it, but there are several things I do to minimise those nerves and ensure I actually step on the plane.

I think about whether I’d regret not going: Knowing that I could end up regretting my decision to not going on a trip is often what pushes me to get on the plane. I really don’t want to be someone with regrets, and who spends all of their time wishing they’d done something when they’d had the chance. Whenever I think about cancelling my trip, the fear that I’ll end up wishing I hadn’t is what makes me go.

I remind myself I can stop whenever I want: If you can afford to take a trip, you can most likely afford to cut it short and leave. While I’ve rarely done this, just knowing that I have the option to go somewhere else if I hate a particularly place sets my mind at ease.

I meticulously plan my first few days in the country: One of the easiest ways to beat fear of the unknown is to research your ass off about a place until it almost feels like you’ve been there before. Look at photos online, watch vlogs of people exploring the destination on Youtube, buy guidebooks, and book your first few days in advance. I’ll usually hand in my hardcore traveler card at immigration and take a taxi to my hostel, because I know it gives me one less thing to worry about. I’ll stay in the best reviewed hostel or budget hotel in the city. I’ll put together an itinerary for my first couple of days; maybe sign up for a tour to keep myself busy. By the time I come to leave, I’ll have a much better idea of what to expect and won’t feel as nervous.

I listen to Headspace in the weeks leading up to my departure: I feel as though I mention Headspace in practically every single one of my posts these days, but it’s so good at calming travel nerves and fears! I’ll meditate each morning and evening in the run-up to a trip to put me in a much better, um, headspace.

I run through previous trips in my mind: As I mentioned above, I’ve never, ever come to regret taking a trip, so when I start thinking about cancelling a future one, I always remind myself that I’ve felt this way dozens of times before.

Next stop: Mozambique!

 

Do you suffer from pre-travel nerves? How do you overcome them?

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40 Comments

  1. Brianna
    November 28, 2016
    Reply

    I’ve heard really great things about Mozambique! The beaches there look absolutely incredible. Sounds like an up-and-coming destination, and I can’t wait to hear your take on it!

  2. Laryssa
    November 28, 2016
    Reply

    LOVE this post, very relatable.. I get hit with some waves of pre-trip anxiety, too. Like, OH CRAP, I’m really doing this. What was I thinking?! WHY DO I KEEP DOING THIS TO MYSELF?!

    And then I get there, and it’s fine. And, 95% of the time, it’s better than fine, it’s fantastic! (Subtracted 5% for nearly always getting lost on the way to the hostel, hahaha)

    • Lauren
      January 9, 2017
      Reply

      Leaving your comfort zone can be SO HARD at times. I have the exact same thoughts before leaving on a trip, and like you, I’m always so glad I fight past my fears in order to leave. And I also get lost trying to find basically every single hostel I’ve stayed at too!

  3. Nick
    November 28, 2016
    Reply

    Hi Lauren,

    I totally feel you. For trips to far away destinations I pass through a series of pre-booking and post-arriving phases ranging from excitement to anxiety to what the hell am I doing!

    It first occurred to me at the age of 19 when I was super thrilled to book my solo trip to French Polynesia. The plan was to spend 1 month island hopping. But, upon arrival at my hotel in Papeete I went in my room and broke into tears. The next day I changed my tickets. Decided to stay 3 days in Tahiti and then return back home. And that was one of the biggest mistakes I ever made. On the way back to the airport, before leaving PPT I was already contemplating about changing my plans again and stay as programmed, but I didn’t. On the plane, now, having left PPT, we flew over Rangiroa, saw the shades of blue and it just hit me. How stupid could I have been. What had I missed!!

    1 year later I booked again a trip to French Polynesia, but I cancelled it before I actually left home.

    Another time I threw out of the window an opportunity to visit California.

    An important benchmark for me was my solo trip to Thailand a few years back. Till arriving, I was thinking about cancelling everything again. And then in my hotel room I was living the same déjà vu situation with Tahiti; minus the tears this time.

    But I had predicted it. I had told myself many times over and over again for weeks before the trip that upon arrival I would want to go back. And that I should resist. That my judgement would be poor. I had thought about writing a letter to myself that I would open it after I had arrived, describing the situation I would find myself into, with a big STAY at the end. Finally, I didn’t write the letter but it helped just thinking about it.

    The next day I was “cured”. I even ended up extending my stay.

    A thing that helped was that I had booked a 5* hotel.

    I have figured out that booking higher class hotels, at least for the first stay/leg of a trip, helps both for the before and for the arriving part. I think of it like this: why wouldn’t I want to stay at the Sofitel or Hilton in Bangkok? There are foreigners who go there for work and I can’t even go for a trip?

    Fortunately, 13 years after French Polynesia and after lots of traveling, for business and pleasure, I have overcome that fear; sort of. I am always hesitant when I book any trip, especially new destinations, kind of nervous the final days before departure and uncertain upon arrival. But I know what is going to happen and I deal with it. However, I still haven’t figured out why this is happening. What is it that makes me scared?

    Keep it up with the traveling and the writing!

    Best Regards,

    Nick
    Corfu, Greece

  4. Dominique
    November 28, 2016
    Reply

    It’s so incredibly cool that you’re going to Mozambique! I can’t wait to hear those stories!

    I recognize your doubts and worries. I overthink and stress about everything too before a trip or the night before I have to travel to a train station for example. It’s cool that we push ourselves and do it anyways :) Kudos for us!

  5. Stephanie Craig
    November 28, 2016
    Reply

    Mozambique is one of my new travel dreams. I know this is not directly related to the topic here (which I think is really great btw), but have you checked out the Amateur Traveler’s episode on Mozambique. I literally haven’t been able to stop thinking about it for 2 months. Sounds epic.

    It’s brave to travel. Sometimes it doesn’t feel like it, because we know so many people who travel all the time. But think about the percentage of people who never get on an airplane or leave a small circle outside of their homes, even when money is not the reason.

    • Lauren
      December 1, 2016
      Reply

      Oh, for sure. My grandmother had a panic attack on a flight about forty years ago and never got on a plane again. I do agree with you that it probably feels like traveling isn’t particularly brave because a large percentage of my friends are travel bloggers, and don’t think twice about jumping on a plane at a moment’s notice.

      I haven’t listened to the Mozambique episode, but I’ll definitely check it out now. Thanks for letting me know about it! :-)

  6. Patricia
    November 29, 2016
    Reply

    In case it helps, I toured a few countries in Southern Africa (including Mozambique) by myself (no tours, no travel buddy from the get-go) when I was 25, and it was one of the best experiences of my life. No issues whatsoever in any regard, met tons of people I keep in touch with to this day, did not get sick once, did not get mugged, did not get harassed at all. Getting around was a breeze, English was widely spoken pretty much everywhere (broken sometimes, but perfectly understandable).

    The flight to Johannesburg (where I started) was the most terrified I have ever been, but it turned out to be completely unfounded. Trust me, it will be great!

    • Lauren
      January 9, 2017
      Reply

      That does help! Thank you so much for sharing :-) I’m so excited to get there now.

  7. Alouise
    November 29, 2016
    Reply

    I think a lot of us travellers can relate to this. Friends and family will sometimes ask if I’m scared to travel somewhere. I’m usually anxious and nervous, like thinking “what if I don’t like it?” “what if I hate my hostel?” , etc. But I’ve learned to separate that anxiety from legitimate fears, you know when you get that gut feeling not to do something or take a different path. I haven’t had that yet to cancel a trip, but I get if anyone does. Like you showed here it seems the more you travel the more you learn about your fears and the more confident you are traveling to more places.

    Congrats on booking your trip to Mozambique. Sounds like it will be amazing.

  8. Natalie
    November 29, 2016
    Reply

    I am glad you shared that you still get anxiety over all these amazing places you visit. I’ve had a lot of time to reflect on my life since having kids (2 of them and they are 12 months apart) and I wondered why I didn’t go to all of these places I wanted to visit before. Now, the anxiety is worse (in a way) and the trips are going to be far more expensive. I’m currently planning only “easy” destinations because my kids are fairly young and I’d like to get into the swing of traveling before attempting “more difficult” places.

  9. Simon Pierce
    November 29, 2016
    Reply

    So excited you’re going to Mozambique! If you end up in Tofo (and who doesn’t end up in Tofo?), you’ll meet lots of great people. Do an ocean safari (for the whale sharks / mantas) with Peri-Peri Divers, they’re brilliant :). Someone from our whale shark research team will likely be on the boat with you.

    • Lauren
      December 1, 2016
      Reply

      Ah, amazing! Thanks so much for the recommendation, Simon :-)

  10. Lily
    November 29, 2016
    Reply

    Hi Lauren! If it makes you feel any better, I traveled solo to Mozambique by myself last year. The beaches were beautiful, the food was delicious, and I had an awesome time. I’m in the peace corps in Swaziland so I am pretty comfortable traveling around Africa solo (in addition to Mozambique and Swaziland, I’ve traveled solo in South Africa and Tanzania). I also have an anxiety disorder so I can see how this area is intimidating! If you have any questions about what it’s really like down here let me know.

    • Lauren
      February 19, 2017
      Reply

      That really makes me feel better — thank you so much for your comment, Lily! :-)

  11. Beverly
    November 29, 2016
    Reply

    Hey there! I’m a Returned Peace Corps Volunteer from Mozambique and, of course, have traveled all over. If you want, I’d be happy to put you in touch with volunteers still in-country for tips about great spots, affordable housing, most authentic food, and tons of safety info. It’s slowly attracting more tourists since a lot of people are wary about traveling around southern Africa alone… and that’s a shame because it’s great.

    I marathon read your blog in the days leading up to my departure for service and it definitely helped assuage some of my anxieties about moving overseas and traveling alone. Thanks for your never-ending candor; it’s been a real inspiration.

    Also, don’t forget to go to Botswana.

  12. Kira Petersen
    November 29, 2016
    Reply

    Thanks for sharing a Lauren – a very relatable post!!

    I almost cancelled my trip to Senegal – first time ever going to Africa and I was moving there for 6 months none the less – I was totally anxiety stricken. Luckily I tried to make some connections before going and that really helped a lot! That was 8 years ago and I have been traveling/relocating solo ever since and love it most of the time!

    For my upcoming trip to India – I decided to join a group for the first time ever – 2 weeks cycling in Rajasthan. I never do tours but only had 2 weeks after my trip to Nepal so didn’t want to use too much time worrying about logistics( usually part of the adventure :)) and many others told me about safety issues – so you can always join a group if you are nervous!

    For Nepal I am mostly worried about the cold at night in the mountains – but right planning and packing should help! Plus i Think about amazing people i hope to meet:)

    In my opinion you should always be a bit nervous otherwise you let your guard down too far!

    Have a great trip to Mozambique – cant Wait to Read about it on your blog!!

    Cheers
    Kira

  13. Jessica Jenkins
    November 29, 2016
    Reply

    I plan our month long international trips each year and have the same thoughts when it’s time to leave!!! Luckily I’m like you and always end up loving it! The fear of the unknown does crazy thing!!!!. My motto is “Feel the fear and do it anyways!”

    P.S. Just got back from Mozambique in October-it was the highlight of our Africa trip. We took our 12 year old niece as well and she just loved it-I’m sure you will too!

    • Lauren
      January 9, 2017
      Reply

      Knowing that I’ve loved practically every single trip I’ve ever taken is usually what pushes me to get over my nerves and get on the plane :-) And I’m usually only nervous until I get to my first hotel and then, well, there isn’t much fear of the unknown left by that point.

      I’m so happy to hear that Mozambique was the highlight of your Africa trip! I leave in 10 days now and I’m so excited! :-)

  14. chewy
    November 30, 2016
    Reply

    This comes at such the right time for me! I’m leaving tomorrow for a few months in Australia and Southeast Asia, and though I’ve been to both parts of the world before, I’m a little nervous about it.

    Partly this is because I’m finishing my PhD now, and while on the road over the next few months! And that makes me extra nervous. I’ve never had to work this hard while traveling, but we’ll see if I can keep my productivity up! I plan on drinking lots of lovely coffee in Melbourne for the first 2 weeks :) I have thought about what if I didn’t go, but I know I will go. I am registered for a conference that starts this weekend, and it will be a great experience!

  15. Katie
    November 30, 2016
    Reply

    I’m about to leave for the Caribbean and Mexico for two and a half months tomorrow and I am really nervous about the flight. I used to be fine flying but after a few scary experiences, I hate flying now, although it has gotten a bit better in the past year. I have also been close to cancelling trips before but am yet to do so.

  16. Victoria @The British Berliner
    November 30, 2016
    Reply

    I’m really excited to read about your on-coming trip to Mozambique!

    I don’t suffer from pre-travel nerves myself and neither does our teenage son, but my German husband does. He doesn’t really like travelling away from Western Europe. In fact, anything further, makes him extremely anxious!

    I usually do all the family travel organisation, and while I’m happy to wing things, go with the flow, and change destinations here and there, he defintely isn’t!

    So what do I do? I plan things out. I go to better standard hotels, and luxury hostels. I reduce changing destinations, pre-book shuttles to collect us from the airport, and take walking tours so that he can get a litte more relaxed about where we are. I also fly a bit more as he doesn’t like sailing, or over-night trains.

    In short, we compromise, and a few times a year, I travel solo, or with son in tow, and do things in my unique adventurous way lol!

  17. Alissa
    November 30, 2016
    Reply

    Hi Lauren! As always, thanks for being really honest about difficult topics. I also suffer from anxiety and my anxiety spiked a tremendous amount before leaving for a 2.5 month backpacking trip (to date, my longest solo trip!). The trip itself has been fairly anxiety-free, but you hit the nail on the head that it’s all of the anticipation and uncertainty and fear of the unknown that feeds anxiety about travel. I think that for me, the worst part about all of the pre-trip anxiety was the guilt! I felt like, I’m about to go travel for a few months, what exactly do I have to feel bad about? And the guilt just made it worse. Fortunately, though, after a few days of being on the road, I felt way better. I think that the act of traveling helps my anxiety a lot because it forces me to be really present… it’s just unfortunate that the time before a trip can spike my anxiety. But knowing this means I am better prepared for the next time! Thanks for sharing your thoughts/experiences on this topic – you’ve helped me reflect on my own situation. Much appreciated!! :)

  18. Rachael
    December 2, 2016
    Reply

    So thankful that you wrote and shared this post! It’s comforting to know there are others who get the same anxiousness when facing something unknown. You’re right, though. Whenever you face a fear, it tends not to scare you so much anymore, or if it does, you know that you can handle it!
    Hope you have an amazing time in Mozambique!!

  19. Scarlett
    December 11, 2016
    Reply

    Wow Lauren, that’s so interesting to hear a pro-traveler like yourself gets cold feet! I always get a little jittery too… I never book a flight without researching to death all the possible ways and times I can get to/from the airport lol. That’s the part I freak out about! Loved reading your tips and experiences!

    • Lauren
      January 9, 2017
      Reply

      I freak out about that part, too. It’s always disorienting to take your first steps in an unfamiliar place, and if the public transport system is complicated, it makes it even more stressful!

  20. Jasmine
    December 14, 2016
    Reply

    This post is half completely settling my own anxiety and half making it go crazy!

    Thankfully I haven’t got close to cancelling my first solo backpacking adventure starting in January 2017 (there’s still time though!?) I’m more panicked that I won’t want to leave the house come the day I fly!

    I am filled with a lot more confidence that a girl from the UK (same as me) who suffers with anxiety (I have had various ‘mental health’ issues since my early teens, most of which stay under control a lot of the time) has managed to travel the world and keep sane! Bloody hoping I can do the same!

    Looking forward to reading a lot more of your blog x

    • Lauren
      January 9, 2017
      Reply

      Yes!! You can definitely do it too, Jasmine! But absolutely — I’m always so nervous about every single trip I take, so if the pre-travel nerves do hit you, remind yourself that it’s normal and push past them. And have an amazing trip! :-)

  21. Georgina
    January 11, 2017
    Reply

    This was such a reassuring post! Thank you for writing it!

    • Lauren
      January 12, 2017
      Reply

      Glad to hear it! Thanks for reading :-)

  22. Caroline
    January 12, 2017
    Reply

    Thank you so much for your post. This makes me feel less crazy!! I love to travel, and I’ve never in my life had a bad trip — some have been just okay, but nothing has been a disaster. And yet I get SO anxious before I travel, even within my own country. Obviously I don’t worry about culture shock when I travel domestically, but I still worry about being so far from home if something goes wrong (I’m an American, so domestic travel can sometimes take the full day). I’m glad I’m not the only one. It’s always worth it in the end!

    • Lauren
      January 12, 2017
      Reply

      Oh, I’m glad to hear I could make you feel less crazy! :-) It’s only natural to have a fear of the unknown, but it’s pushing past that fear that helps us to grow.

  23. Charlotte
    February 4, 2017
    Reply

    I have been to South Africa alone and I am profoundly deaf. I was terrified but it was the best thing I ever did! I have also been to Mozambique with a friend. We stayed on he coast. It was stunning and the locals were friendly and spoke broken English. You will be fine. Have fun! :)

    • Lauren
      March 2, 2017
      Reply

      Thanks so much for sharing, Charlotte! Your comments helped to calm my mind :-)

  24. Natalie
    February 25, 2017
    Reply

    Just reading this passage:

    “What if my plane crashes? What if I arrive in Dubrovnik and there aren’t any taxis to take me to my hostel? What if I get to the hostel and they’ve lost my booking? What do you even say when you arrive at a hostel? What if I hate my hostel? What if somebody steals all of my things? What if everyone there looks down on me because I don’t have any travel experience? What if I can’t figure out how to get to my next destination? What if I don’t make any friends? What if I get homesick? What if I get malaria? What if I get lost? What if I get scammed? What if I get robbed? What if I get kidnapped? What if I get raped? What if I get murdered? … What if after all of this planning, I discover I don’t like travel?”

    Made me laugh so much! It’s like reading my own thoughts!

    I don’t think it ever gets easier, I was the same about Tokyo and pretty much every country I’ve been to! I’m currently stressing myself out over my trip to Khao Lak next eeek, and I’ve convinced myself I’ll end up contracting everything from dengue fever to rabies!

    • Natalie
      February 25, 2017
      Reply

      Week*

  25. Leah | Nomad'er the Distance
    June 11, 2017
    Reply

    I’m so glad I stumbled on this. I struggle with anxiety as well and the night before I left for four months of study abroad in Thailand I completely broke down in the middle of a Whole Foods. I told my parents I wasn’t going — I couldn’t go. Then four months later I returned home after the most incredible journey of my life and never regretted a second of it. I just booked a flight to Belize and I’ve thought about canceling it a million times because I feel like I’m going to spend too much money. Glad I’m not the only one who deals with this.

    • Lauren
      June 12, 2017
      Reply

      You’re definitely not alone, Leah! And it’s always fantastic to hear of someone who experienced the same as me — wanting nothing more than to cancel a trip, leaving anyway, then having the time of their life! I’m actually flying to Tanzania tomorrow and am currently wishing I could cancel my trip. But I won’t, because I know I’d regret it if I did :-)

  26. Laurie
    September 26, 2019
    Reply

    You wrote this ages ago but I found it when googling for advice on why I so often want to cancel trips! I’ve struggled with anxiety off and on too, and travel is a big trigger. I’m curious if you can say what the difference is between the trips you canceled and the trips you wanted to cancel but didn’t?

    One of the things I’m working on is allowing myself to change my mind about things, and to be kind to myself, so I think there are some situations where canceling a trip is the brave thing to do, but of course more often the right thing to do is to go!

    I’m wondering, as a frequent traveler who has struggled with an anxiety disorder, if you have any advice on discerning the difference? Thank you!

  27. Alina
    December 22, 2020
    Reply

    Thank you for this amazing post. I’ve been in a similar situation once – travelling was always everything to me.
    When I travelled to Sweden, I met my partner there. I lived in Germany at the time, so the distance wasn’t too far.
    Leaving Sweden with a new long-distance relationship, my whole life had changed. Travelling wasn’t that easy anymore, I was confused. For the first time in my life, I had anxiety. Wanted to stay in my comfort zone and stay with my partner.
    I had a trip to Hong Kong upcoming with a friend, a place I always wanted to see. I didn’t understand was going on with me at the time, I had all these irrational fears. This one time, I let them win. I had a panic attack, called my friend 1,5 month prior to the journey and said I can’t go, I was overwhelmed. My friend never spoke to me again, I had disappointed her.
    I regret that I cancelled that trip. I regret that I disappointed a friend. But as you describe in your post, in my situation back then, it was the only choice I could make because I didn’t know any better.
    But the lesson I learned was that I won’t let my anxiety win and to accept that you can’t always have control over your life.
    The regret that I feel for cancelling this trip is what will push me to travel more. I know now that I won’t be able to endure the regret I’d feel of not seeing the world. And this will push me to travel further. A tough lesson, but one that I won’t forget.

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