Travel Anxiety

airplane over high rise buildings
Photo by Austin Zhang on

“Courage is not the absence of fear,

but rather the assessment that something else is more important than fear.”

― Franklin D. Roosevelt

Some people are nervous about travel. Particularly now, as strange virulent germs threaten our safety and confidence.

I have always loved travelling. Perhaps it comes from a Great Grandparent, who loved to travel. Perhaps it is just me.

I admit to being slightly terrified on my first overseas trip.

It was 1986.

Seated in the airport lounge, I remember being so startled when I heard the boarding call for my flight. In my panic, I knocked a full can of soft drink over my lap!

My destination was Nepal. Not exactly the most elementary of countries for an inexperienced overseas traveller to visit.

Nepal was so very different to home. It wasn’t hugely popular with tourists.

I saw jaw-dropping historic architecture, older than when my country was just a twinkle in the eye of a medieval explorer.

I saw grinding poverty and children afflicted with leprosy. I saw small blind children begging at temples. But I also saw loads of colour and many smiles on the faces of the Nepalese people.

I witnessed religious traditions of blood sacrifices of live goats, their throats cut and the blood turning the dusty ditches red. I saw open-air butchers slaughtering beasts and hanging them on hooks in the street.

A storm hours after our arrival resulted in a stampede at a soccer match killing around 80 people. Kathmandu mourned its dead.

It was confronting for a city girl from Australia. I suffered culture shock the first day or so. I frowned a lot, not from being unhappy, on the contrary, it was from feeling so utterly privileged to live in a first-world country. The contrast of what I now judged to be my luxurious life, was significant, even as one who was only just scraping into a middle-class income level.

I felt guilty about what I had at home when I saw others had so little.

Are you wondering why I chose Nepal as a destination?

I wanted to open my eyes to the world. To see how other people lived. To see something other than a duplication of what I saw on my own home continent.

nepal 1986

Courage is not freedom from fear. It is being afraid and still continuing.

Once you have looked fear in the face and have overcome it, you can repeat that again and again and again.

Travel Advice for Nervous First-time Travellers

If it is travel you yearn for, get your mind ready before you leave.

You cannot and most likely will not have the level of control you have at home.

You can expect to be uncomfortable at times, often delayed, bored occasionally and most certainly frustrated.

Things will be different.

That is why we travel.

If you have been lucky enough to travel overseas, what was your first destination?

Were you nervous, surprised or delighted?

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109 thoughts on “Travel Anxiety”

  1. How exciting that you are going to spend six months in a foreign country? So much to experience. My advice, having had exchange students come and stay with me is to do as much as you can to start with. 6 months passes so quickly and the last month will be a frantic rush to do everything on your list of must-sees. Integrate as much as you can with the locals and skip spending time on social media as much as you can and journal instead. Note, really look and observe everything. That way it stays in your mind for longer. Talk to people. Those experiences are more educational and memorable than sightseeing! Have fun!


  2. Those photos look wonderful. I remembered my first time as a solo traveler a decade ago. I was anxious and had lots of negative thoughts, but at the same time, I was excited. Now that I’ve been to a few countries already, I’m not as anxious as before. I do hope to keep my excitement, though because traveling would have been meaningless without it 🙂

    Liked by 1 person

    1. You are correct Bahanur! The more you do something the more the anxiety lessens. The quotes on courage allude to that. Without excitement about travelling somewhere, why would we do it?


  3. The first time I travelled overseas was to Spain. Loved it, the travel, the country, the people. Now I’m much more reluctant to travel abroad, not because I dislike seeing how other people live, but because I don’t have the energy to do so. Worldwide travel is for the young!


    1. It is funny you talk about the energy required for travelling. I used to travel independently and loathe those group tours. I still dislike them but have taken some in latter years and so enjoy the fact that I don’t have to drag around suitcases, backpacks, children, supplies, water bottles etc on my back. I just pop the cases outside my hotel door! And it magically appears at the next stop! Marvellous. Of course there are many downsides and endless planning and preparation needed. I will still travel but agree I travel in a much slower, less frenetic way these days.


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