I remember the drive to the airport was the hardest part. The ride was slow. The steady stream of news over the radio distracted from the noise of early traffic as the taxi continued on. What I was afraid of was that I had to get out. I kept thinking to myself, “I could just go back home.” But as I considered; I knew I couldn’t give up until I even started.
I have always been afraid of travel of any kind. After winning a paid trip abroad three times in a row for employee of the month placement, I knew I was about to travel. I toyed with the idea of giving up the prize several times, but I couldn’t. Well, here I was sitting in my seat on the flight to Thailand, tired from not being able to sleep the night before, and a little nauseous and anxious.
The problems I faced and how I dealt with them
My worries and fears developed into acute travel anxiety that threatened to derail the entire holiday. But with careful planning and some help, I was able to manage my anxiety.
Fear of traveling alone
Leaving the country for the first time was a terrifying experience, so I invited my friend Devin to support me. Devin had a passion for travel, having been to different parts of the world I thought he was the best person to take with me to keep myself calm as judging by all the regal stories he always told me after each share journey, cope with problems .
a. Fear of flight
The flying experience itself did little to ease my travel anxiety. The journey was extremely long, over 18 hours. I was restless and excited.
Video games have always been my escape from reality, so I started a game on my Nintendo Switch. I’ve increased the difficulty of the game to keep myself deeply involved. After a while, I unloaded some comic books that I had brought and read. While reading my fatigue caught me. Luckily I was relaxed enough to go to sleep.
Accommodation and excursions fear
When landing on Suvarnabhumi . International Airport and when I went outside, I suddenly noticed how different everything was. The noise of traffic, the colorful surroundings and the roar of life in the background as people went about their daily business; looked so different. A taxi took us to our accommodation, a cozy four-star hotel. I had repeatedly worried about where I would stay before the journey even began. As part of my sponsored holiday I was told my accommodation was also included but that didn’t stop me from being concerned.
Devin had advised me to plan my trip ahead. He had made a list of fun activities to do and asked me to make my choice and decide how I wanted to experience them. I needed something to plan my activities and make sure I could experience it all within two weeks. I needed an itinerary. I downloaded one of them here and with that I structured my planned activities, down to the exact time and date. This helped a lot in managing my anxiety as I knew exactly what I was going to do on my journey. This, in my view, had helped bring a little bit of certainty into the uncertain future I was facing.
a. Fear of heights
One of the first activities on my list was rock climbing. I had made this choice consciously because, as I slowly built up the tension for this journey, I secretly hoped it would fail.
When I arrived in Chiang Mai, I had turned pale with fear. Our guide was clearly used to dealing with terrified tourists like me. He took his time with me and encouraged me to try a little climb. His understanding of my predicament reassured me, and he wasn’t trying to force that rock climbing was easy because he could do it, but all I had to do was do what I wanted. I’m not proud to admit that I lasted the longest on even the smallest of climbs, but the fire of triumph ignited inside me was amazing to feel.
The financial impact of the trip weighed heavily in my mind at the beginning. I did not want to spend more than I could afford, and although much of my vacation was paid for, I had to take care of several things myself. I researched the exchange rate and estimated my small expenses and what I paid for Devin. I put some money aside to cover this. I also chose to carry some credit cards with me to help me through, in case I ran out of money.
a. fear of illness
The thought of getting sick abroad had occurred to me while planning this trip. I had been concerned about the food, water, environmental conditions and local diseases. I bought travel insurance. I was also given a list of healthcare providers that I could use abroad. Before I left I got all my vaccinations and got new ones based on my research on the local disease.
b. Fear of getting lost
I was on my way to an area that was virtually unknown to me outside of my geography classes. I always kept my phone with me along with a paper map that I could use if my phone battery ran out. Devin recommended that I create and maintain a phrasebook that would allow me to ask questions in the local language and get help if needed.
At the end of the two weeks I was very sad to leave. I had crossed out all the items on my itinerary, and yet I felt like there was so much more I wanted to do. I had experienced my first taste of daring and adventure, and needless to say I wanted a lot more.