I’ve never been diagnosed with anxiety, but for as long as I can remember I’ve always had a sense of apprehension towards new experiences, places and social situations. It has kept me from taking on a lot of cool opportunities, making friends and for most of my life has had a negative impact on my self-confidence. Traveling to many people sounds like a dream, but for me the first things that come to mind are airplanes that can crash, getting lost in a foreign place, Ubering with a stranger who can kidnap me…..the list goes on and the extremes continue. – “Fear of Flying”; Kandee
I took my first solo flight to Philly to visit a close friend last year and shared a short reflection on my blog. (full post) Less than a year later, I’ve already conquered one of my 2019 goals – take one solo trip. My only rule was that I couldn’t know anyone where I was traveling to; something I’ve never imagined doing before.
I wish I had a super interesting and fearless back story to share about how I spontaneously booked a flight to an exotic location, but that’s the farthest from the truth. I work with children in foster care and a lot of changes have occurred that have prompted our agency to pursue accreditation. Training happened to be in Florida and because I manage all the paperwork for the company, it made the most sense to send me. I took this as an opportunity to vacation as well and added an additional two days to the trip for some much needed r&r. I didn’t even remember until a week before my flight that I’d be checking off a bullet on my goal list.
You read that right. I’m just as shocked as you are. All the knots in my stomach, sleepless nights, sickness, panicking and sensitivity were pretty mild for the first time ever while prepping for traveling! Not saying there weren’t moments of worry or fear at the thought of traveling alone along the way, but I was able to bounce back quickly enough to enjoy the excitement most people feel when they’re about to take an amazing trip.
My flight was delayed THREE TIMES. To be honest, it’s probably the best thing that could have happened to me. Instead of stressing and letting myself go into panic mode in anticipation of the flight, I was practically pleading to get on the plane so I could be on my way to sunny Florida. When I felt I could leave my hotel room without getting too anxious I started by spending time out in the hotel lobby and pool area, then walked to nearby restaurants the first two days of my trip. When the last three days came around, I was finally itching for a bit of social interaction and started picking restaurants a distance away to try some of the local restaurants that don’t exist at home. (Also out of my comfort zone because I’m known to visit the same restaurants and get the same meals every time. haha) I’ve been using Uber to get around for the first time and it hasn’t been bad at all.
I’m sure these things are minor to the average traveler, but they’re huge victories for me. My next trip will likely include a lot of site seeing, but I really just needed this one for a mental break…
- PLANNING WAY AHEAD – I know how easy it is to sweat the little things so I did my best to sort out all the details the same day I booked my hotel. A month before my trip I knew how early I’d be arriving at the airports, the distance between my hotel and the training center, what days I’d eat out and order in, etc. Of course some things are subject to change later based on how I feel, but the idea is to give myself an outline for peace of mind.
- PACK EARLY – I’m almost always convinced I’m forgetting something when I leave my house at any point so imagine how stressed traveling makes me! Packing early helps me a ton with those constant thoughts and gives me the opportunity to do as many inventory checks I need to feel comfortable. For this trip to Florida, I packed my outfits one week in advance and my toiletries four days in advance.
- REST – More rest, less stress! At least that’s how I tend to operate. Sometimes I feel like there’s a constant battle going on with the negative thoughts in my head and it can get pretty exhausting. As an introvert and someone who’s easily overwhelmed in uncomfortable situations, I made sure to rest up the entire week of my vacation. This gave me the energy to stay upbeat and excited about my travels, warm towards strangers, and gave me the boost I needed to manage any anxiety.
- THINK OF THE GOOD – Traveling, encountering new people, taking in new views….all of it is absolutely beautiful. I’m tired of missing out on so many things I want to experience because of fear and doubt. Instead of focusing on everything that could go wrong, I constantly reminded myself of how much there is to gain and remember from this experience.
Traveling alone is a bummer in some ways. There’s no one to create memories with, no one to take cute photos of you, no one to explore with; however, I’ve found that this was the most empowering traveling experience I’ve ever had. I’m glowing these days; not from the pretty Florida sun, but because I feel like I blossomed so much in the few days I spent there. More travels to come in the future!
Until next time…
(Photos taken with my iPhone because I didn’t feel like carrying my camera. lol)