mental health self-care travel

The Five Reasons I Kinda Hate Travelling: Confession of A Woman with Anxiety

Don’t get me wrong. I love the concept of travelling. And I really do love to visit new places, experience different cultures, learn new things, eat good food and meet new people. There is just a lot of stress that goes along with travelling, especially for someone with pretty bad anxiety and with a mental illness like bipolar disorder. It can make things pretty complicated and things can go sour fast.

This past May I went on a trip to Germany that was actually amazing and a really good example of why, most of the time, I actually DO like to travel. I experienced almost zero anxiety the entire trip, except for a 15 minute period of time where I thought my friend and I were going to miss our bus. I was able to focus on the activities and the sights and the sounds and the tastes. I was able to do some activities all on my own. I was able to get around on the subway and bus system without stressing too much. I didn’t panic too much when I couldn’t find Wifi. I was able to venture far away from my Air BnB without worrying about whether I would find it again. I even got a little drunk one night and still made it back in one piece. So all in all, it was beautiful and eye-opening and fun and special and I will cherish it forever.

However, as I prepare for a couple of upcoming trips to Boston and Washington, I am again reminded of why I hate to travel and why I somewhat prefer smaller trips to familiar countries whose primary language is English.

  1. I hate pretty much all modes of transport. I hate to fly or take the train or the bus. I pretty much only like the car. And even then I get anxious. Why?  I hate modes of transport with a lot of people because I am irrationally and terribly afraid of terrorist attacks. Airports and buses seem to be common targets so every time I am waiting in a terminal, the panic seeps in. Even imagining waiting in a terminal makes my skin crawl. I usually feel a little better after I pass the metal detectors and baggage check, because it’s pretty hard to sneak anything by them. But that’s why I hate the train and the bus, because often there IS no security at all and it’s super easy to waltz on with a weapon if someone wished to do so. I know I am crazy but I can’t help thinking about this. I feel safest in a car because although I can’t drive, I feel more in control of my surroundings. But then I get anxious about getting into a car accident. That’s the other thing I hate about traveling. I am also terribly afraid of a mechanical failure and my plane crashing.
  2. I hate being late. I get super anxious about missing my flight. I love to get to the airport HOURS early because then I know that I will catch my flight. I think I worry about this because one time I cut it really close and actually DID miss a flight. I worry about missing the flight a) because then I won’t get home on time and I might have to wait hours for another flight and I might have to miss work or b) I hate the idea of wasting money because of a personal failing (being late). Being late is something you can technically control in most ways. Obviously, weather, traffic, and other accidents can cause you to be late without it being your fault. But that’s why I like to leave hours early for everything. But not everyone wants to show up to the airport four hours early. Sometimes they want to spend more time sleeping or enjoying the city. A few years ago, I went to Spain and Greece with my sister. We went to a few different cities so we took a lot of flights and some of them were pretty early in the morning. A few times, we had to wake up around 3-4 a.m. My fear of missing our flights was so severe that it was almost all I thought about. It almost ruined the trip for me to be honest. Most of the time, I kept thinking about whether the bus to the airport would be late or whether we were going to the right spot to even catch the bus. I made my sister go with me a few times the day before to make sure we knew where the bus stop was. And even then I panicked. I have an upcoming trip to Washington that is literally less than 48 hours. I am really terrified that there will be a big snowstorm and my flight will get cancelled and I won’t get back in time for work. Like this literally keeps me up at night.
  3. I hate being lost. I hate not being able to use Google Maps when I need to in a pinch. I like to know where I am going. At home, I can just use my data but abroad, it would be much too expensive. Luckily, most major cities have tons of Wifi spots. But I still panicked about it a lot on my trip to Spain/Greece. My sister’s phone was really cool and you could load a map and the GPS could follow you on it without needing data. However, I really relied on that feature and I panicked all day long about my sister’s battery dying and not being able to find our Air BnB.
  4. I hate being disconnected. That’s another thing I panic about. I hate being phoneless and not able to call someone right when I need to. When I travel, I get legit anxiety whenever I notice that my battery is low. Scratch that. Even if the battery was at 80% I felt my chest tighten and my heart race. For Germany, I brought a second battery on the trip. It’s not healthy that I am so attached to my cell phone that I almost have a panic attack about not having access to it.
  5. Finally, I hate missing out. Don’t get me wrong. I love the idea of a vacation and taking time off work. But preparing for a vacation and making sure you finish everything you need to is stressful. Worrying that something will go wrong while you are away is stressful. I attach a lot of my self-esteem and self-image to my career, so taking a small pause causes me a lot of anxiety.

This isn’t meant to be a list of complaints. Rather, I am just curious if anyone of my readers or friends has these same thoughts as well or whether I am just ridiculous in my anxiety and everyone else can travel fine like a proper adult. Let me know!

21 comments on “The Five Reasons I Kinda Hate Travelling: Confession of A Woman with Anxiety

  1. i love your blog so so much!

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  2. I also struggle with travelling, and my anxiety is at an all time high. My biggest trigger though is all the people, the noise, etc at airports.

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  3. You aren’t ridiculous, except for the last one, now that’s just silly. LOL. I get pretty anxious too, over all of those reasons. Even the last one, when I worked. Maybe we’re both weird.

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  4. I also hate traveling! Although once I’ve arrived at a place, I’m usually ok. But I also prefer English-speaking countries because I have this fear that I’ll get lost or sick and no one will be able to help me! But I loved our trip to Ireland and the U.K. several years ago and would love to go back! I didn’t find it very stressful at all, thank goodness.

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  5. So there’s hope of future trips, (& not just acid trips.) YES!!
    Ty for sharing!

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  6. I really agree with the one about being lost & no Google maps! I obsessively carry round Lonely Planet city maps. Mapsme can be a good offline substitute – used it in India.

    I think my biggest mental challenge when travelling is being alone. I travel alone sometimes because it’s also the biggest rush and biggest teacher – but it can be so scary and sad if you don’t meet people you click with. and then the mood swings that come with rocky-at-times mental health – they get magnified by the stress and strangeness of travel in a foreign land!

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    • Thanks for your comment! I have never truly travelled completely alone. I’ve flown alone, true, but I usually meet up with someone at some point. I have had a few days abroad alone though and it was tough but amazing.

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  7. I think for anyone who struggles with anxiety, these are all totally legit and understandable. To be honest though, I feel a lot of people without anxiety would relate to one or two also. I definitely relate to some of your points. Some of it makes me wonder though – is part of it our lifestyle? You know, this day and age I mean, in the modern age of technology. With you mentioning that worry over phone battery and google maps – that would have never come into play years ago when that stuff didn’t exist. I guess we all probably rely on technology a little too much! Great post by the way 🙂

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  8. I don’t handle new things well. I hate to fly. I even have trouble packing. But I’m visiting friends I haven’t met face to face yet in a city I’ve never been to in a couple months. I’m anxious about it already.

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    • Sounds overwhelming! Just try to find ways to reduce your anxiety a little if you can and find ways to get excited. I promise it will be worth it! Whenever I am anxious, I spend time trying to figure out practical things I can do to reduce it. It won’t completely go away because some fears aren’t easily fixed. But it works mostly!

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  9. Oh my goodness I can relate TREMENDOUSLY to this post. When I was first reading it, I thought it was something I had written. I can’t begin to explain how much I feel you on number 1. I have the same exact fear- plane crashing, a hijacker taking over, anything of the sort. I’m even afraid to go on flights within the country because of it. I’m going to Hawaii over spring break and that’s TEN hours on the plane. I don’t know how I’m going to survive!!! Like what if the plane runs out of fuel? Ugh i’m just really nervous about it. But anyway, this article is super well written and relatable!!!

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  10. Thanks for sharing. #5 is totally me! I have OCD and when I travel, I am always. Thinking something bad is going to happen to my family while I’m away. Sometimes, I will pray so many extra times in a hotel room because scary thoughts come in my head and it’s not even like I would be able to stop them most of them if god forbid something happens while I’m at home! They scary thoughts include someone forgetting to turn off the stove and a fire burns down the house, my dad (who has often done this) forgets to close the gate and my dog runs out and attacks someone has to be put down (interestingly enough I never think anything else like him getting hit by a car if he runs out of the gate…), a car accident, a heart attack, a bar fight where someone gets stabbed ( always have this fear about it happening to my brother because he’s an angry young soul) etc etc. Its so scary, I totally get where you’re coming from!!!

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