December 14, 2016

The Team Sent Me One

I wrote the first draft of this post on my flight from JFK to Cartagena, and I’m embarrassed to say that I almost didn’t get on the plane.

As the departure date of my Colombia trip loomed, knots grew in my stomach. Was I only traveling because I thought I should be traveling? Did I want to be away from my friends and family in New York for 19 days when I had so many more travels coming up this fall?

The Team Sent Me One

Would I be able to get work done there? Would I miss a lot of cool events at home? What was the point of paying rent in expensive New York if I was going to be paying for simultaneous accommodation as well?!

I flipped back and forth a lot. As late as the day before, I told my friends I was split 80/20 in favor of not going.

This happens to all of us — even the pros.

At some point before your trip, you’ll likely feel a few doubts creeping in. Usually at the last minute, within a few days of your departure.

This is completely normal and it happens to everyone at some point.

What can trigger this? Something as innocuous as hearing friends make plans for when you’ll be away. It could be an offhand comment from someone about how your destination is dangerous or boring. Or realizing that you accidentally booked a trip during the Olympics and won’t get to watch them.

Soon, those doubts can snowball into a monster, making you second-guess your thoughts and feelings. But if you plan a strategic defense for this anxiety, you’ll be able to manage it better.

Practice Extra Self-Care Before Your Trip

Even if you feel confident, it’s good to guard against anxiety triggers before you go on your trip. This is especially important if you’re trying to finish up big projects at work or home before you leave.

Here are some ways to practice self-care:

Exercise. Whether you’re a fitness pro or couch potato, make sure you break a sweat regularly. I’m a fan of the 7-minute workout app and dance workouts on YouTube.

Take long walks. Save your podcasts or audiobooks for these walks if you need the motivation.

Meditate. I’m a big fan of the Headspace app, which is ideal for beginners.

Read, write, make music, or release creative energy. Have an outlet that lets you express yourself and your feelings, even if indirectly.

Spend time with loved ones. Let them know how much they mean to you, even if you’re planning a trip without them.

Stay healthy. Eat well, get enough sleep, don’t go on any benders with your friends.

Give yourself an extra financial cushion.

One of my top tips for travelers, especially solo female travelers, is to financially invest in your safety. That means spending money on a cab if you’re not comfortable walking or taking public transportation at night. Or booking a more expensive hotel if it’s in a nicer neighborhood.

I think the same advice holds if you’re nervous before your trip. If you want to do a day trip somewhere that requires a lot of bus changes, why not book a direct organized tour? It will be easier and you might meet new friends. If you’re not sure whether you can handle a dorm, book a single room for your first few nights and then see if you feel like doing a dorm later on.

Just knowing that the extra money is there to spend it if you need it can be reassuring.

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