Are you heading out on an adventure and starting to feel the pre-travel nerves kick in as departure day approaches?
First of all – it’s normal!
Take a deep breath.
Travel usually means heading to a destination you haven’t been to before. So, along with the excitement of new experiences and memories right around the corner, travel can mean change and a step out of your comfort zone.
Of course it’s going to feel weird, but with unfamiliarity come tests.
With tests comes learning, and with learning, the development and progression of you as a person.
It’s a positive thing.
I find a lot of my nerves can be addressed in the preparation for the trip. Here are a few things that help reduce my nerves and stress and that you should definitely consider doing…
- Get visas and vaccinations sorted in advance.
If you leave visas too late, you simply won’t be able to get them and your trip will be aborted. Processing times and application requirements vary and so it’s best to organise and apply for these AS SOON as you book your tickets. Sometimes you can get fast processing done, but it comes with a price tag and it’s unnecessary stress. Vaccinations too can require courses to be given over a specific period of time, and if you don’t leave the nurses time to administer them, you won’t be protected.
- Pack everything you need (and don’t leave it ’til the last minute).
This is my biggest downfall by far. I just can’t seem to pack until the pressure is ON. But the earlier you pack, the better, as you have time to get to the shops for anything you notice is missing before you leave. Plus, you can take stuff out you decide to be unnecessary, making you a more efficient packer. Realising the night before that you only have one pair of socks left and no thermal layers for a ski trip is going to make things a little uneasy.
I have a hand luggage check list that I refer to every time I go away, so that I know I have everything with me to ease the plane journey and make it as comfortable as possible. Check out my ultimate carry on packing list here.
- Plan your arrival.
Arriving in a new country to unfamiliar surroundings, and more often than not a new language too, can be overwhelming. Combine that with jet lag and heavy bags… patience can be low. I always make sure I look in advance and take note of how I’m going to get from the airport to my chosen destination. As spontaneous as I like to be when I travel, I pretty much always book my first night in advance so that I can rest in assurance I will have a bed, which completely takes the pressure off.
And then there’s the goodbyes…
I have never been good at goodbyes.
Ever since I was tiny, goodbyes have always been emotional and at 22, having just said goodbye to embark on a 4-month solo travel adventure, I can confirm that I have not changed. Saying goodbye makes me upset and nervous, no matter how excited I am about the adventure I’m embarking on.
You’d think that after 12 months of travelling (pretty much every other week) with goodbyes flying left right and centre, that I’d be getting good at them!
I’d say that I’ve certainly developed independence when travelling, so I don’t miss home as much as I once did.
But home is what one associates with the location of friends, work and time most spent. And for me that has no specific geographic location, so there’s not so much of an adjustment to make when I leave these days.
Family. That’s the hardest part though, right? And it never gets any easier.
In fact, the older and wiser I’ve become, the worse it gets.
You start to fully realise the value of family and life.
Time with loved ones becomes precious.
There’s no escape route from emotion, and it’s not something you should try to do either.
Emotions make you human and they prove your ability to care, which is an amazing thing.
‘How lucky I am to have something that makes saying goodbye so hard?’
So don’t try overcome emotion, just find ways to deal with it and don’t let it shadow your excitement too much.
Here are my goodbye thoughts and how I counteract them…
- What if someone I love gets ill whilst I’m away?
This is something that always crosses my mind when I leave.
But there are many things in life that ‘could’ happen, and if you spend your life not doing things or being nervous about doing things because of this potential… you’ll never do anything.
Unfortunately things can go wrong, and sometimes they might but you’re only a plane ride away. If someone you care about is ill before you leave and deteriorates whilst you are away, then sometimes insurance won’t cover a flight home and that’s something you’ll have to consider. But if something was to happen unexpectedly, a lot of travel insurance will cover your flight home. Failing that, you can always purchase a flight home, or if you book through STA Travel you could consider a Multi Flex Pass.
- What if I want to come home?
You know what? I love travel, but it’s not for everyone. It really isn’t.
For some, a couple of short breaks a year is all they need, and for others 6 months on the road only just begins to satisfy their wanderlust. We are all different and until you go travelling for the first time you won’t know how you’ll feel.
If you want to come home – you can. Travel teaches you a million things about yourself and let’s you wander into the unknown to see what you can handle. And if all you learn is that you love being home and extended travel is not for you – well then that’s a very valuable lesson to learn.
‘I’d rather have a life of ‘so whats’ than ‘what ifs.”
- What if I get lonely?
Travelling on your own, or even with people, can of course get lonely at times, and the thought of loneliness is often the cause of pre-travel nerves for many people. You have left your comfortable and familiar home surroundings to experience contrasts in culture, weather and people. This comes with unbelievable advantages, and whilst it can be tough, it’s nothing you can’t handle.
- Check yourself into a hostel where you’re surrounded by other solo travellers in a similar position to you.
- Take your mind off thinking too much. Indulge in an experience or some pamper time.
- Source some busy surroundings where you can interact with people, like a local market.
- Watch your favourite programme or FaceTime home – give yourself a shot of familiarity to soothe yourself.
- Take a deep breath and listen to a soothing playlist
Don’t be hard on yourself; the best of us get lonely at times. It’s normal. Listen to your body and give yourself what you need.
- What if I’m doing the wrong thing?
There is NO wrong thing in life. The only wrong thing would be to not pursue a dream or a desire that is lurking within you. If you’re reading this and you’ve booked your trip, then something within you has been led to travel… right?
‘The only things you’ll regret in life are the chances you did not take.’
Travel for YOU. No one else.
If you want to do it, do it. If you don’t, don’t.
You can always change your mind along the way and you can always come home. I can pretty much guarantee that you won’t want to, but it’s comforting to know that you could.
Embrace your pre-travel nerves. Use the adrenaline to your advantage and live the life you’ve always imagined.
Your comfort zone is a beautiful place, but nothing grows there.
How do you deal with pre-travel nerves and saying goodbye?
Do you have any top tips? I’d love to know!
Love as always and happy adventuring,