The thing I’ve learned over the years is that everyone has their own way of traveling. This becomes very apparent when you travel with big groups like I have, but you can also see the differences by just observing people in the airport or meeting someone who is beginning their journey. The firs time I ever flew internationally was when I was 21. The program that I was traveling with provided me with the plane ticket, but because none of the other travelers were leaving from Minnesota like I was I had to fly completely alone. Fast forward to almost exactly a year ago, I was getting ready to head back over to Europe with a school trip, followed by a week long solo adventure in a few countries afterwards. Quick disclaimer here is that I had the time of my life on both of these trips. Here are just a few photos that hold such amazing memories for me.
I had flown around the US by myself many times before and spent a night alone in a new city or state, so I somewhat knew the ropes and what to expect. However it wasn’t until the week before leaving for these trips that the nerves started to set in. Suddenly, instead of daydreaming about how amazing getting to be in a new country was going to be, my mind was jumbled with a million to-dos, scenarios and what ifs. I do believe that a little bit of nerves can be helpful because it prompts you to get your stuff together and think about things you may have forgot about or have been holding off on. But nobody enjoys the kind of unexpected anxiety that can be out of your control due to the fact that you are going somewhere unknown and new to you. Fast forward to right now, these nerves have arose once again because I am traveling to Costa Rica for 2 weeks on Monday. This time around I am able to identify these anxious feelings through my morning meditation practice, so instead of manifesting on how to get rid of them I decided to figure out ways that I cope with them instead. Here are some tips for preparing for travel that work really great for me:
- Make a list of every single thing you need to get done before you leave, but do not try to do them all at once! This has been huge for me because while I love my to-do lists, I used to push myself to get everything done as quick as possible which wasn’t always necessary. I like to make this ‘master’ list a week or so before I’m leaving to give myself enough time to get things done. Then I write 1-3 of these things on my daily to-do list and check them off the next morning after they have been completed. This not only makes it easier to really focus on the things you’re doing like packing certain clothes you’ll need or planning out travel arrangements, but it also gives you the chance to really visualize your trip and what it might look like. That alone can really help lessen some of the anxious thoughts because you feel more prepared and ready.
- Talk to someone else about it when needed. This may sound silly if you are traveling with someone, especially someone you live with because you are most likely already talking about it quite a bit. But if you are traveling alone, with people you don’t know that well, or meeting someone at your destination, then it can sometimes feel lonely or isolating to be so jumbled up in your thoughts about the trip especially when it gets overwhelming. I think talking it out with someone whether its a loved one or stranger can really relieve the feelings of worry. More often than not, this person is able to hear you out and then remind you that in fact that scenario you just explained won’t happen, and that if it does you’ll be perfectly okay.
- Do activities that distract you. This one can be the hardest of all, because the last thing you want to do is leave all of the packing and planning for the last minute and forget to do something important. But in retrospect, its unlikely that you are going to forget the one thing you need most, and that if you do you’ll still figure it out. For me, the best way to get my mind off of thinking about the empty suitcase sitting in the corner of my room that needs to be filled is to get outside and enjoy the things around me. It can be so easy to get wrapped up in your thoughts about travel that you forget whats going on around you or that where you are at right now is pretty great too. Go to the beach, go for a run or a walk, listen to podcasts, read a book, go shopping, do what you would usually do – believe me it helps!
There are so many more things that can help, and like I said before everyone has a different way of traveling which requires more or less time to prepare mentally and physically. This can go for traveling across the world, or traveling a few states over, as well as going on a week-long trip or completely moving to a new place. The most important part is realizing that you have the nerves, and that its okay! Its normal, and it means you are getting ready for a really great adventure. Always remember that the best is yet to come!