Conquering the Anxieties of Solo Traveling
Hello and welcome back! This week I’ve been hitting a little bit of a writer’s block and wanted to reflect on something that helped spark the adventurous person in me that’s writing this today.
Let’s get something out of the way, a lot people say I’m brave. For getting onto a plane(s) by myself, going to a countries where I don’t know anyone or speak the language, or just taking chances in general. But I’m the person that gets startled at every small noise, still sleeps with a night light, and even Disney movies scare me sometimes. I’m a firm believer that anyone can be brave or adventurous if that’s what they choose. But also, keep in mind that bravery is a subjective term, because everyone’s fears are different.
Today I’m going to address the fear of flying alone. I still get nervous on flights, especially take off and landing (mostly landing). It’s never really gone away but I do get better at it.
There are tons of remedies to dealing with the fear of flying physically. Sleep (melatonin induced if needed), entertainment, breathing exercises, alcohol, etc. There’s a ton of things you can Google from people with far more expertise than myself. But there’s another type of fear, emotional. Leaving behind everything you’ve known, your friends, your family, and going to something very unknown. So write it down. The anxiety and worries you feel will always circle in your head unless you release them. It’s also fun to read about them a little later into the future. Here’s a little reflection from my blog circa 2012 when I took my first international flight for what I didn’t know would turn into 6 months of exploring.
February 6th, 2012
I can’t believe I actually did it, I really left Canada.
Okay, so this post is a little bit late. But I took excerpts of it from my journal entries while I was on the plane and at the airport. I’m probably going to do this a lot. I don’t have a computer/internet wherever I go, but I always have my journal where ever I go. I even have a special travel journal thanks to one of my best friends Jeannie, who got me one before I left, because I’m obsessed with writing things down. I usually never let anyone read them, but I’ll make a special exception since I left the country.
On the Plane to London:
“I’m not sure what to write or think. Well, let’s start with the fact that right now, I’m sitting on a plane. I’ve officially left Vancouver and am now London-bound. It still hasn’t hit me that I’m not returning for another 6-7 months yet. Everything feels so incredibly surreal. It’s almost like I’m numb. I don’t know if it’s because I’ve spent the entire day packing/cleaning or if my mind thinks I’m in a dream, but right now I don’t feel anything other than tired. This is a really strange feeling, because usually I’m the super-sentimental type, I think my mind is just trying to repress it, because if I actually came to the realization, I won’t stop crying. And I hate crying in front of people, it just makes things awkward – especially in front of plane full of strangers.”
The flight from YVR – LHR was really good. I flew British Airways. The worse thing that happened was boarding. One of the flight attendants scolded me for having an extra tote bag on the flight. She just stood there with her arms crossed and I’m just thinking, I’m already on the airplane. She was not very helpful, but thankfully there was a guy flight attendant who was super nice and helped me put my suitcase in the overhead compartment.
The flight went by really quickly – probably cause I slept for most of it. I watched The Ides of March. It’s a movie about the dirty side of politics. It follows Congressman Morris (George Clooney) and his team as they try to win US primaries to run as the Democratic candidate for the next presidential election.So basically it’s a movie about politics. With George Clooney. And Ryan Gosling. On the same screen. Enough said, this was my kind of film.
Even though I was in the middle seat, the people next to me more really nice. I took breaks in between the movie to sleep – but I always woke up in time for the food and drinks. I didn’t eat that much….nerves, I guess.
Then we landed in London. And if anyone’s been to Heathrow, you’ll know it’s HUGE.You have to take the train everywhere, and it’s an airport! Again, everyone at LHR was super nice, but London had experienced a lot of snow the past couple of days, so there were a lot of delays and cancellations.
My best friend Leah tweeted me this picture from Coldplay’s twitter account (they were also at LHR).
Thank goodness my flight wasn’t cancelled. But I do not like London’s flight system. So basically this is how it works. You find you’re flight number and destination on the screen. Then it’ll say “Gate opens at ____ time.”
My gate opened at 3:52. My flight left at 4:28 (it was delayed). But, there are three terminals that the gate could be located at, Terminal A, Terminal B, and Terminal C. You start at Terminal A (after going through security), but to get to Terminal B and C, you need to take you a train….that could take up to 20 minutes (according to their estimates). But you find out your gate about 30 mins before your flight, so basically you have to book it as soon as you find out your gate. Naturally, everyone does this, so the train get’s back up. I almost missed my flight because it was at Terminal B and I didn’t find out my gate till 4pm and the train stalled. I did make it on time. And my flight from London to Rome went really smoothly!
And so just like that, I landed in Rome. I’m really here. Now, I can’t feel anything but happy.
Keep a travel journal. It’s so fun to read about your emotions later on and as I said before, I still get nervous on planes, but that anxiety quickly goes away because it will be okay. It always works out, maybe not exactly the way you expected, but it does. When it comes to solo travel, I am such a firm believer that people are stronger than they think.