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?

stpa logo

152 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 2 people

    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!

    Liked by 1 person

    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.

      Liked by 1 person

  4. Nepal was quite a brave decision. Compliments.
    My culture shocks went the other way round. Since I was born and raised in the third world biggest shock was when I started College in France. I’d been there every summer for the Hoilday, but to live there full time was quite a shock. 😉
    My first flight ever was on a DC4, from Karachi to Paris. I was 6 months old. 😉
    I don’t remember of course, but I do remember later on the last propeller planes, the Constellation, and the shock of flying on the first commercial jet, the 707. Everything so close in a snap of fingers.


    1. Flying the Constellation is impressive! I have only seen that in documentaries! But I have been on plenty of DC4’s and 707s. I even flew on a brand new Airbus A380 with Lufthansa back in 2010. The plane’s very first flight. Had the Senator class upstairs, not that I was allowed up there, being an economy passenger! I do remember it took over an hour for all passengers to board and that was with German efficiency!
      Funny how you experienced reverse culture shock. It must be like that for many foreign students who gain scholarships in Western countries. What did you struggle with most?

      Liked by 1 person

      1. “Connie” was a very nice plane. You do have an impressive flight record. The A380 was too big. Ages to board.
        Struggle most? The total tunnel vision and short-sightedness of the French. I.e. an utter disregard for the outside world. No curiosity whatsoever as to what was happening or how things were done outside our tiny little borders. Plus a good bit of psychorigidity. Which is still going on… LOL


  5. French psychorigidity and Xenophobia, hey Brian? Maybe tourists to France should be made aware of this before they travel to Paree?! I think the tunnel vision you noted, is a shame for the French. They might even benefit from ideas that come from elsewhere. Perhaps this accounts for that reputation of being snobs!?? No doubt they do have outside influences anyway purely from the sheer number of people that want to gravitate there to study, live,work create and play?


  6. Fantastic read! I always tell people to work with the anxiety than against it, like if worried about missing your flight get the really early and sit by the gate to get kind settled 🙂

    Liked by 2 people

  7. Hi Amanda
    It sounds like your first trip was really interesting and I like how you added in tips and quotes!
    Cheers to traveling and overcoming any fears that could hinder going or enjoying the trip once underway

    Liked by 2 people

    1. Thanks sweet Yvette! Travel is amazing and although I don’t do so much now I am very glad to have been able to do it safely and happily! I think of the people who are forced to flee – due to war or famine. That kind of travel is not so attractive, I imagine! How are things at your end?


      1. We have that in common with much less travel for me too (even though most of mine was to see family and was working the states)
        Things here are nice – thanks for checking
        Oh and you are so right about feeling bad for those that have to “flee” and relocate not By their choosing!
        Prayers for the dissolved

        Liked by 1 person

    1. Hi Jona, Sorry for the late reply. I had to rescue your comment from the spam folder! You mentioned your first trip was filled with horror. I do hope it turned out okay. I agree some of the immigration officials are very intimidating. Where did you go on that first trip?


  8. Hi Amanda- I loved reading this post. I think it is beautiful that you travelled to Nepal with the intention of opening your eyes to the world. Travel really does have that special way of inspiring gratitude in us for the lives that we have.

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Thank you, Laura and it is kind of you to remark on my post. I so agree with you that travel has a special way of inspiring gratitude for the lives that we have, if you have a mindset to appreciate the differences. Some travellers seem to think it is a bucket list that needs to be ticked off. I did Cinque terra last year and Spain the year before…. I think they miss the point, don’t they? Aussies are great world travellers but some miss the point. Where are you situated?

      Liked by 1 person

          1. I hope you have the chance to visit someday- it really is a stunning island. I would love to know the name of the blogger you mentioned so that I can follow them! 😊

            Liked by 1 person

  9. I’ve been planning on writing on the subject of travel anxiety. I get value out of travel from the experiences and understand that it’s good for me, but I hate leaving home and worrying about everything that needs taking care of in my absence.

    Liked by 1 person

    1. When you have a household to care and maintain, travel is always an issue. I disliked paying rent while I was on holidays. Thankfully I have a husband who doesn’t like travel and is happy to stay home and mind the fort while I travel. It might not be ideal but it works. Ping me when you post your piece about travel anxiety, Tracey.

      Liked by 2 people

  10. My first International travel destination was Greece in 2018. I have been travelling since then and I was never nervous. But post covid, I am nervous even for a domestic trip. The ever changing covid rules had left me shaken. So thoughts it’s my 12th or 13th foreign trip, I was nervous for Austria trip in July 2022 – What if they make me take swob test. I have no symptoms, but what if I get positive results ? What if I get locked in that country ! My god. This thing stressed me out a lot -post covid travel is stressful. I need more time to adjust I guess!

    Liked by 2 people

    1. The different rules I a part covid world make travelling to multiple destinations tricky. One good thing is that they are slowly relaxing. Let’s hope they continue. We have to be ready for anything when we travel.

      Liked by 1 person

  11. Courage is not the absence of fear, but rather they are two contradictory components, and we need to adjust them wisely according to the situation we face to arrive at the balance of our character.

    Landious Travel

    Liked by 2 people

  12. Hi, My name is Melanie. I am still a teenager and my parents are still heavily involved in my life (even though I moved out of the house). Everytime I start to talk about travelling, alone or in a small group of women, they get so worried (They are my parents, so It makes sense.). But it’s so much that I have started to feel anxious. I feel like I’m scared and that I don’t know what to do in preparation or when I get there, but I also feel like I need to do it. For myself, to develop and become more independed. But, what if something does happen? What if I did something wrong in my preparation? What if my parents don’t allow it? Because people keep telling me I’m an adult now and I can do things without my parents approval, But I still want their approval, that’s not weird right? Also, Travelling now keeps getting more expensive, how do I make sure I’m not over or under spending?

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Melanie, you ask many questions and I am afraid that my answers may not suit your circumstances as I don’t know you or your family. I can only go on what I feel is right for you, given what you have told me. Take from this and any advice given to you, what sounds reasonable and right in your gut, discard the rest. Regarding your parent’s concerns, it is natural and if you are an adult, you can decide what you want to do, but it is kind to respect your parent’s wishes. Having said that, I do feel that it is a lesson for them also, to let ‘go’ and allow you to become independent. There are ways to soften that blow for them and for you. You can take short trips together with them or one of them, gradually taking more and more responsibility to do the arrangements and the organization of the trip. Perhaps there they would feel more confident in you going on a short trip alone, or if that is too hard, with a trusted friend.
      Do your research so that you have contingency plans if something goes wrong. Have copies of all your documents with you in your suitcase or securely online in case your personal effects are stolen or go missing. Have travel insurance and keep the numbers of your travel embassy and other emergency numbers on your phone and a hard copy in your bag. Have all suitcases labelled in case they go missing in transit. All these things can make travelling smoother and lessen anxiety. A small travel pack of medicines for travel sickness, headaches, diarrhoea etc is also wise to carry. Start out small and safe destination wise and then branch out. Knowing you have covered all bases will lessen your anxiety and postive experiences will give you and your parents confidence. Having sais that, expect that something might go wrong but that you will handle it. Good luck! Let me know how you get on.

      Liked by 1 person

  13. Such a great post. I’m heading out on a big solo travel adventure next year and am certainly feeling some anxiety about it – despite having travelled lots and studied abroad this will be the biggest thing I’ve ever done alone… any advice?


    1. Expect the unexpected and have several contingencies. Plans will be disrupted from time to time by factors outside your control. Try to be observant and notice EVERYTHING – that way the trip will stay in your memory for longer. When you travel for an extended period, the prolonged stimulation can result in overload of the senses. Take time out between destinations to relax. Good luck!

      Liked by 1 person

Everyone is important. What do you have to say?

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in: Logo

You are commenting using your account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s

This site uses Akismet to reduce spam. Learn how your comment data is processed.