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Forums / Young people / Travelling and anxiety (advice needed)

Topic: Travelling and anxiety (advice needed)

10 posts, 0 answered
  1. Mate_23
    Mate_23 avatar
    4 posts
    22 June 2015

    Hi all! 

    Before I get to the main idea of this post let me tell you a bit about myself:

    I am 23 and have been suffering with anxiety probably my whole life. I remember as a child I was really shy and had silly inhibitions. Anyhow at around age 12 I had a traumic experience and since then I have been suffering with intrusive thoughts, worrying, fear and general anxiety. I have never sought professional help or told many people because of the stigma but I think I would have General Anxiety/a panic disorder. I've also experienced the side effects of anxiety just as depersonalisation/de-realisation and some panic attacks. Over the years it has had an enormous impact on my life. It has made me quite introverted - I've not created strong bonds with people, generally stay home and as a result I don't have many friends (or any 'real' friends for that matter). I get scared when I am 'far' from home. Its like I start to panic for no real reason and I feel on edge. I feel like I something 'bad' will happen and then this triggers intrusive thoughts (or vice versa). This has lead to the 'fear of the fear' and is why I avoid going out to places far from home usually. Anyhow, this year I decided enough was enough and tried to learn more about anxiety and some of the symptoms I was having. I found that things like depersonalisation/de-realisation and intrusive thoughts are quite normal and it has helped me a lot. I've also began telling people about my feelings but I am yet to seek professional help. I've also  been taking the exposure approach to my anxiety. I try to go out more, talk to more people and get out of my comfort zone. It has helped heaps. 

    Anyhow after much effort, I've finally finished my degree and would like to go on holiday. I am thinking of going on Contiki to Europe alone. However I'm still quite scared of this. I am scared that my anxiety will inevitably kick in and I'll get panic attacks. I feel that a trip would be a really good way to battle my anxiety in terms of exposure. I've never travelled alone or done anything like this. For example I've never been to a nightclub because of the fear of feeling anxious and having some sought of embarrassing attack. 

    Anyhow, I guess my question is, am I setting myself up for failure? Is this too big an effort? Should I try go into therapy and leave travel until I'm certain my anxiety has gone? I don't want this to control my life anymore and want to be able to do things without worrying!!

  2. Angela_Faye
    blueVoices member
    • A member of beyondblue's blueVoices community
    Angela_Faye avatar
    7 posts
    22 June 2015 in reply to Mate_23

    Hi, I am the same as you!  I have my comfort zone area which used to be a small circle, fortunately it has widened and I have been able to travel on short flights (which is terrifying).  I too have a problem and looking at going to New Zealand next year for my 10th wedding anniversary.  I would so love to go, but like you am terrified about panic attacks kicking in and me being so far away from home.  And what a waste of money if I freak out and want to go home.

    I think that it is good to challenge ourselves otherwise I would just stay home all day long and never get to experience anything.

    Ask yourself what is the worst possible thing that could happen - then ask yourself exactly factually how likely is this to happen - what is your plan - what is your back up plan.  There is always a plan and just knowing that you have one often helps.  Perhaps you could speak to your GP before going and they may be able to give you something 'in case' you feel completely unable to settle.

    I too want to do things with my life without worrying and all this anxiety.  I'm starting to learn that it is what it is and I can only try.

    1 person found this helpful
  3. morgs29
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    morgs29 avatar
    44 posts
    23 June 2015 in reply to Mate_23

    Hi there!

    Can I start by saying 'wow'! You are inspiring! I'm amazed at how much you have been able to achieve through your willingness and hard work. Seriously, pat yourself on the back for that. Also, a huge congratulations on finishing your degree. I have been dealing with depression & anxiety for the past 10 years and I haven't yet finished my bachelor. I know I'll get there, but it such an intense thing to do when you experience challenges with mental health.

    It sounds like you know yourself incredibly well, what situations trigger you and how far you can push yourself before it's too much. I notice you say 'until my anxiety is gone' but then I can also hear really strongly that you don't want it to control your life whilst you are experiencing it. What does your gut tell you about travelling at this time in your life? If you were to travel, have you got safety plans in place; such as close people you can call, advice from a GP (so you have a safety net) and what you plan to do if the anxiety kicks in at some point? What helps you? I think it's really important to be able to answer those questions and feel safe with the answers. 

    It can be really scary going to a professional to seek help, but I think before making a really huge step it could be a good idea to have the best tools up your sleeve in case you need them :) Remember, you can also chat online here or call the helpline for any further advice or tips you might need.

    Best of luck,


    1 person found this helpful
  4. Mate_23
    Mate_23 avatar
    4 posts
    23 June 2015

    Thanks for your replies. I think that in the last few months I have made some really good progress. Part of me really wants to travel so that I can fight against this feeling but even just looking a brochures makes me worry. I suppose I should use this time for self improvement with a professional; but at the same time this makes me feel a bit sad because I may miss out all together if I don't go now...

    This really sucks.

    1 person found this helpful
  5. Narniakid
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    348 posts
    23 June 2015 in reply to Mate_23

    Hi Mate_23! Welcome to BB and congrats on finishing your degree!

    I don't think you are setting yourself up for failure if you want to go travelling by yourself, however it may be wise to start with a smaller trip first, even just a week-long one in a neighbouring capital city. The key to battling anxiety whilst on holidays is being prepared - plan for as much as you can; where you're staying, where you're going - make a timetable. 

    I also highly recommend taking a few things that will help calm you if you do have an anxious night - perhaps your favourite novel, a couple of DVDs you like, a diary (that's a MUST) and even your favourite pair of socks. Things that you like and calm you. When I went travelling overseas, I made sure I had my drawing pad and pencils with me, a diary, and some DVDs of comedies I like. And I am glad I took them because there were a couple of nights I felt down in the dumps, and I was able to keep myself stable and finish my holiday. 

    Keep yourself distracted and busy, take some deep breathes when you need to, and look after yourself. The best part about travelling on your own is the freedom to do what you like, so if you do wake up one morning feeling stressed and anxious, stay in bed, and do what you need to do to get back to a stable state of mind.

    I hope other people have some more helpful suggestions. Hopefully you'll be too busy exploring and having fun on your holiday that you'll forget the worries back home. At the end of the day, it doesn't matter if you embarrass yourself on holidays, because you'll never see those people again! (Plus we're all human, we all have those moments)

    Read up on the resources for anxiety here on BB, and you can get them sent out to you in the mail for free as well, which I'd recommend you take on your holiday.

    Good luck and stay positive!


    1 person found this helpful
  6. blueangel
    blueVoices member
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    blueangel avatar
    12 posts
    26 June 2015

    Hey Mate_23! 

    Let me just say that when you were telling a bit about yourself I felt as if I was reading my own thoughts. It seems that you do indeed possess the characteristics of anxiety and although you may not realise it, it seems you are coping incredibly well.

    Congratulations on completing your degree! I too, know how difficult conquering uni is with an anxiety disorder constantly in the way. I do believe you could go on a Contiki trip however there are a few things I'd advise you to address prior to planning your trip.

    1. Take your time and ask yourself - Should you have a panic attack, could you manage alone? What strategy/strategies could you put in place to ensure you are supported and safe throughout the duration of your trip?
    2. Although your symptoms strongly match that of an anxiety disorder and you have educated yourself (which is fantastic!), I would still strongly advise you visit a health professional to ask their advice on your trip and get an official diagnosis. I understand that a diagnosis can be a daunting thing at first but in the long run it really does help. Your health professional can also provide you with extensive resources, recommend strategies and provide treatment options to assist your anxiety for your trip and in the future.
    3. Seek guidance from your family. After all, they know you best and they can provide a different perspective and insight to assist you making your decision on whether or not to pursue your trip just yet.

    Your wellbeing is of far greater importance than your trip. Whether you choose to go now or later, just remember the opportunity won't go away and you can always go sometime in the future. 

    I really hope that I have helped and I wish you the best of luck in your decision-making. Take your time and take care of yourself. 

    Best of Luck!






    1 person found this helpful
  7. Lori
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    Lori avatar
    117 posts
    27 June 2015

    Hi Mate_23

    You are definitely not setting yourself up for failure! i think it great that you are wanting to challenge your anxiety and your thoughts.

    Going on a big trip like this alone of course will be challenging at some points, but you need to look beyond the tough parts of it. Look at the big picture a trip like this will be an extraordinary experience and you will get to see, learn and experience new things! Its definitely going to challenge your anxiety but that is a good thing! You want to try and challenge your anxiety and your thoughts as much as possible to get a greater outcome.

    Therapy will help with your anxiety and your panic attacks but its not only talking that can help, Challenging them psychically like you are wanting to do with this holiday is brilliant!

    I say go for it, this holiday will be really good for you and the outcome of it could really surprise you. Always challenge your thoughts and keep pushing forward. It will be a holiday, you wont regret!

     - Lori

    1 person found this helpful
  8. LottieRay
    blueVoices member
    • A member of beyondblue's blueVoices community
    LottieRay avatar
    4 posts
    1 July 2015 in reply to Mate_23

    It's great that you've decided to travel overseas and I believe there are some things you can take into consideration to help moderate your anxiety whilst travelling.

    I've done a bit of solo travelling as well as group travelling myself and here are some things I have learnt:

    You only have to do as much as you re willing and able. You do not have to do every activity planned if you do not feel up to it. Know your limits and if you feel uncomfortable it's okay to step aside. In the same regard, if there are new things you want to try, like going to a nightclub, know that there are supportive people around you when travelling, even if you only know them on a first name basis. There is the opportunity to branch out if wanted but you do not have to force yourself into beings social butterfly at places like hostels if that is not always within your interest.

    I feel that a contiki tour will be a good option and I wish you all the best with your decision.

    1 person found this helpful
  9. Mate_23
    Mate_23 avatar
    4 posts
    1 July 2015

    I really appreciate everyone's reply. Unfortunately I've decided not to go. I don't think I'm really ready. It sucks but maybe this is not that time. I hope I'm not discouraging anyone else.

    Good luck to you all with your battle with anxiety!

    1 person found this helpful
  10. Michaelhc
    Michaelhc avatar
    4 posts
    19 July 2016

    Hey guys

    I am so happy I stumbled upon this forum. @Mate_23, I think it was such a brave effort to even consider travelling overseas (especially on your own... wowweee). I am sure that one day you will take on the challenge and never look back. As for myself I am travelling to India and Bali in just over 5 weeks. My trip is small (10 days), but like you @Mate_23 I still have my doubts. I have suffered from GAD for over 2 years now.. and through that period I have limited myself something shocking. Only 2 and half years ago I would have jumped at the chance to travel overseas (if i had the money), I am currently still studying. Fortunately I have been given the chance to travel through work. I would love to hear from you guys what back up or safety net plans are the most ideal plans to have when your overseas. I know I am setting myself up for disaster by even thinking this but as all of you guys have pointed out, you need to have some back up plans in place. I will always have medication on me just in case, but only as a last resort.

    I know this post is over a year old now!! but anyone with any response.. please fire away!!! I want to desperately start living my life again.. I think this would be a great stepping stone and the best thing is I actually am very excited. Even positing this I am tingling with excitement. I know that given my condition though I will no doubt have some incredibly anxious moments leading up to the trip.

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