Traveling can procure some of the most enriching personal experiences of our adult life and undoubtedly contribute to aesthetic digital photo albums that we excitedly share with our peers and loved ones for years to come. However, it’s just as important to highlight the very real anxieties that creep up as we pack our bags just like it is to acknowledge when we’re experiencing FOMO in the middle of an overcrowded street in Germany, millions of possible activities limited by our constrained number of hours.

Photo by rruthie via Unsplash

For years, I had never been able to put my finger on it – the sinking feeling I often get in the middle of sightseeing while traveling to a new place, i.e. the weight of the unattainable expectations of my type A self coming to a head with reality. 

We are often told to just “live in the moment”, to “be present” but I have often found myself restlessly struggling with those concepts. I have tried to schedule every single moment of my day to keep my mind and body busy, my best friend and I running across Amsterdam as we had back to back activities to bottle up the essence of the city supposedly. Used to the grind of school, work, extracurriculars, and my social life, travel became another part of my existence that I felt I should experience every once of until I was drained otherwise I just wasn’t doing it right – right? Wrong!

And here are some things I have found helpful to cope with my travel anxiety:

  1. Leave 30 minutes for yourself at the beginning, middle, and end of your day to simply practice self-care: read, wash your face, message a loved one (if you have wifi!), go for a walk, doodle.
  2. If you have a schedule – leave more than travel time between each activity or visit so you allow yourself impromptu discoveries or detours and aren’t constantly anxious to finish up to get to the next thing.
  3. Acknowledge other tourists – a lot of you might be in similar situations battling between relaxing while getting the most out of every penny spent.
  4. Take the time to greet locals, enjoy local food, culture, traditions, and festivities if applicable – stray away from Trip Advisor whenever you can. 

Photo by Leio Mclaren via Unsplash

Whether you’re feeling homesick while trying to enjoy the view or competing with people you’ve never met on the best places to see and the best things to do, remember to take care of yourself and to repeat to yourself daily that you are just one person who has to eat and sleep. No flimsy photo album or souvenir shop debt should cost you your mental health. 

Whenever it is safe to do so again, book that trip, make your plans, but make sure to give yourself some flexibility to simply enjoy and perhaps make unprecedented discoveries along the way!