Happy World Introvert Day! I thought this post would be appropriate for today. Hope you enjoy!
When an introvert is pushed or desires to travel, it can cause a lot of anxiety. So, how to deal with travel anxiety: from an introvert, is something I would love to share with people who are struggling. Allow me to show you how I deal with travel anxiety and why I believe you should still travel in spite of it!
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Introverts usually feel more comfortable in the safety of their own home, with a small group of people, or one-on-one. We don’t usually like to leave our comfort zone. If we leave our comfort zone, we expend a lot of energy, and it may cause anxiety. It takes a lot of energy to interact with people at a party, or to do something new or exciting. That usually means a lot of introverts don’t travel unless they are pushed to. When an introvert is pushed to travel or experience something new, it can cause a lot of anxiety. So, how to deal with travel anxiety as an introvert? Allow me to show you how I do it.
The Daily Struggle
As an introvert, I handle life better with small groups of people. My comfort zone is at home with a good book and my dog! If I had a choice, I would spend alone time in a coffee shop or on my couch researching pretty things on Pinterest. However, I have a crazy desire to travel and see the world. That is all thanks to my family. As a kid, I went camping every summer and took many plane rides to Massachusetts. I traveled to England, and went on five missions trips throughout high school and college. I’ve experienced the wonder and amazement that is traveling, and I never want to go back. It’s addicting and I love it!
However, introverts and wanderlust usually don’t go together. People often ask me how I travel so much. And not like in a “wow you go a lot of places,” kind of way. What they are really asking is “how are you not afraid?” They ask questions like, “How do you not have anxiety going tent camping when there are bears?” “Why do you want to travel to Europe, don’t you watch the news? Isn’t that place kind of dangerous right now?” Or, “How do you get on a plane when you travel?”
They ask me all these questions because those are the things they are afraid of. Those are the barriers keeping them from traveling or trying new activities. There is always an excuse or reason why we can’t or won’t do something. What they don’t know is… I am afraid. I do have anxiety. Now, initially when I am planning the trip or thinking about where we should travel to next I am fine. But once I realize that we have a plan to go somewhere or do something, I start to get anxious.
My introvert brain takes over and says, “You’re going to spend a whole weekend camping in a tent? You know that’s going to make it hard to go to work on Monday.” Or, “Why in the world would you spend so much money going to a new place you’ve never been before? What if the whole trip sucks? Then you wasted so much money!” Or how about this one, “You have all of these crazy excursions planned. You aren’t really that adventurous. You’re going to get hurt somehow.” My brain tells me all these crazy things. Once I actually start to believe them, that’s when I start getting anxious.
How To Deal With Travel Anxiety
HAVE A PLAN
Having a plan is key to decreasing travel anxiety. Now I’ve said before, I plan all of our vacations and trips. B sometimes helps with the planning. I ask him what he wants to do on our trip, he tells me, then I take it from there. Just kidding. But I really, really plan out our trips. I think I plan more than the average person because it gives me some control in a new environment. It helps me feel better when I know we have a plan. And, it also helps B feel better if I have a plan since he is an introvert too. He is even less likely than me to leave the house for adventures!
If we are vacationing in a place we have never been before, I will research the crap out of it on Google and Pinterest. I use Skyscanner to find cheap flights and hotels. Download the app by clicking on the app icon below. It’s the best app to compare flight prices and find the cheapest flights! Check out Skyscanner’s Deals Updated Weekly!
I also look at the tourist things to do, if it’s a relatively safe place, the popular activities, and the best city/place to stay. For example, when we planned our trip to Hawaii, I looked up the best side of the island to stay, good snorkeling places, best excursions, and best hole in the wall places to eat. Once we booked the hotel, flight and car rental, we were going. There was no turning back. So in order to assist my comfort, I chose everything we did and everywhere we went. If something was cancelled, I had back up plans.
Now, I’m not the kind of person who plans every day down to the minute of what we are going to do. However, I feel much more comfortable and have less anxiety if we at least have a skeleton plan of fun things to do and where to eat. Beyond that, it can happen or not, and I will be okay. However, I always know that no matter how hard I plan, something is going to go wrong.
BE PREPARED FOR THE WORST
Travel is not always gorgeous scenery and amazing experiences. Sometimes, you get food poisoning the night before your snuba trip and still try to make it on the boat, but the weather is terrible and your snuba gets cancelled. Or, you try to go to the top of a volcano to see the gorgeous view, and the fog is so thick you can barely see 2 feet out from the car! Yeah. I will write a Hawaii post to tell you more about these very real events.
My point is, even if you plan and plan and plan, life happens. Weather can change everything. It’s always good to have a back up plan. During our vacation to Hawaii, there were two days in the middle of our trip where we almost went home early. The first three days were indescribable. And then the weather turned bad, and literally everything we paid for in advance was cancelled. Even our back up plans didn’t work out. (See the volcano story!) But at least we had a backup plan. We had lots of options of other things to do.
Knowing that things didn’t work out made me sad. Of course! Who wouldn’t be sad that their snuba trip and luau got rained out? Or that their four-hour back up plan to a volcano was an utter disaster? Or that they got food poisoning and were up all night? Those things would ruin any trip. However, it just made me sad. It didn’t make me anxious. Because even though it didn’t turn out the way we thought, we learned a lot! Travel always teaches me extraordinary lessons. And for that, I am grateful. And I will always have a backup plan!
KNOW YOUR LIMITS
As an introvert, I sometimes think I can handle more than I actually can. I plan long days of hiking in between 4 days of 12-hour shifts. During vacations, I try to pack in all the fun things in a short four or five-day trip. By doing this, I stretch myself and my husband very thin, and we end up not relaxing. This can increase my anxiety and make me think I have more travel anxiety. But it’s really poor planning on my part.
Make sure you know your limits. Since we have been married now for three years, I know much better what our limits are. We need at LEAST one day to recuperate from a trip before going back to work. We need at least a half day to pack and prepare before our trip. And during the trip, we need time to relax, sit in the hotel and read a book! Check out my post of the best books I read in 2017 to find a good one! That is what works for our introvert personalities. And I am totally okay with that!
If we push ourselves beyond our limits, we end up cranky and not enjoying our vacation. That ends up causing more anxiety. Anxiety about if everyone is having a good time, if this trip was a waste of money, if we should ever travel again…… Lots of worries and anxieties start to come up if you don’t know your limits when it comes to traveling. However, anxiety and worry should never keep you from chasing your travel dreams.
DO IT ANYWAY
Like I said at the beginning, a couple of days before every trip, I start to feel anxious. Travel anxiety starts to kick in. I start to second guess whether this is a good idea, if it’s going to work out, if we are going to die while we are there! Okay, maybe not always the last part. But it’s real worry, and it could stop anyone from going through with their adventure. So, like my parents always told me, “Step out of your comfort zone, and do hard things!” If you don’t push yourself, you will stay in your little comfortable, routine life and never experience the excitement of travel.
Even though we had never been snorkeling, I got the equipment anyway. Snorkeling with turtles and possibly dolphins is one of my biggest dreams.
However, before we did it, I still had anxiety. Once in the water, I got very nervous about being too close to the coral. After only about 30 minutes in the water, the waves started getting bigger and the rip tide was getting stronger. Rip tide somewhat scares me so I signaled to B, I’m done. While I was sitting on the sand taking off my fins, the strong waves pushed me backwards and I felt my back rub across a huge rock. B got out of the water and got pummeled by a strong wave and I thought he broke his arm or collar-bone! After that, I was done. My back was raw and bleeding from the rock, and I now had anxiety about the dangers of snorkeling and the ocean.
To make up for it, B suggested going to the aquarium to see the turtles instead. But I was so mad at myself for giving up! I didn’t want to go see turtles in the aquarium, I wanted to swim with them. But my anxiety about going back in the water kept me from ever wanting to snorkel again. Luckily, I am married to a heavenly man who gently pushed me to get back in the water. We started again in shallow, calm water and practiced. Then, we drove back to a spot just outside our hotel where I knew there had to be turtles. Then we tried it again. I was still anxious, but my drive to swim with turtles and enjoy myself outweighed the anxiety.
And you know what?! I DID IT! I gained confidence back in swimming in deeper water so I didn’t hit any coral. We found a group of people surrounding the turtles. And I snorkeled and swam with turtles for 60 whole minutes! It was literally one of the best things of my life, and to think I could have missed out. The anxiety of the unknown and fear of getting hurt could have prevented me from ever snorkeling again. I would have missed out on my dream.
WHAT ARE YOU WAITING FOR
So what are you waiting for? What is holding you back from grabbing your travel dreams and making them a reality? Hopefully these ways of how to deal with travel anxiety help you to keep chasing your dreams. Don’t let travel anxiety hold you back from experiencing new things. Travel is worth it. Travel will teach you so many things about yourself, others, and God. So come on. Let’s do it!
Have you ever suffered from introvert/travel anxiety? Has it held you back from traveling? Share your tips in the comments so we can all travel with less anxiety!