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The emotional experience no one talks about while travelling.

Mamamia logo Mamamia 9/07/2018 Riley-Rose Harper
a woman standing in front of a group of people posing for the camera: "When I went to Europe, I went with two of my friends and you’d think that would be a comfort in some way." Image supplied. © social "When I went to Europe, I went with two of my friends and you’d think that would be a comfort in some way." Image supplied.

I’m not an anxious person. I have my moments in a stressful situation, but I’m relatively pretty chill.

I’ve been reminded recently of something that I do suffer peak anxiety from though: Travel.

I love to travel and I’ve always wanted to do it; I feel massive FOMO when I see people’s pictures ‘holding up’ the Leaning Tower of Pisa or nursing a pina colada on a beach somewhere. Growing up, I always imagined myself getting lost through cobblestone streets. Until I actually did get lost through cobblestone streets and it gave me heart palpitations.

I’ve done a bit of travel and it’s always been such a rewarding experience but it’s come at a bit of a cost. To me, travel is like a green smoothie; I have to force myself to drink it because I know it’s really good for me.

In a couple months I’m going overseas again for the first time in almost five years. I’m worried because I’m going on my own, I’m worried because I’ve forgotten how to navigate myself through an airport and I’m worried because my sense of direction sucks.

When I was 19 I really wanted to travel but I wanted to do something meaningful, mostly because I was reading Eat, Pray, Love at the time. I didn’t necessarily want to spend three months with a Balinese medicine man; maybe something in between that and a Contiki tour. So I chose at random. My nan had taken me out for pho once (a Vietnamese noodle soup) so based on the deliciousness of a hot broth, I chose Vietnam.

This wasn’t only the first time I’d been overseas by myself, this was the first time doing pretty much anything by myself. The car ride to Melbourne to get on the plane was bloody painful (for both my family putting up with me and also me putting up with me). I spent most of the car ride crying based on the big scary fear of the unknown.

Getting to the airport was peak anxiety too – checking every ten seconds my passport hadn’t been nicked and worrying about getting stuck somewhere with no snacks.

When I went to Europe, I went with two of my friends and you’d think that would be a comfort in some way. It was but it was also extremely exhausting to hide my travel anxiety from them. When it came down to getting on the plane, I had internalised everything and ended up pretty sick which was disappointing to me because I missed out on some top-quality economy plane food.

I know it sounds crazy.

When I go on my trip in a couple of months, I’m sure I’ll upload some kind of poxy quote to my Instagram account like ‘live with no excuses, travel with no regrets’ and when I get back I’ll pretend I never had any travel anxiety to begin with. Until the next trip.

Travel is good for us, it takes you out of your comfort zone and seeing how another culture live can sometimes shape the person that you are today.

And, let’s face it, the scary travelling times where you felt really alone and just wanted to go home sometimes make the best travel stories.

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