Anyone else not a good traveller?

labelwhore04

Member
Apr 14, 2011
9,201
626
We the North
Something i've come to realize this past year and makes me sad is that i'm not a good traveller. I get frustrated, grumpy, tired, nervous, paranoid, etc. It's upsetting because i want to see the world and experience new things, it just seems like i can never actually enjoy it in the moment. This past year is the first time i've done some travelling by myself(as in 'not with my parents'). I haven't gone anywhere major, mostly just small trips by bus with my boyfriend but i get so stressed out every time and can't enjoy myself. I'm scared to go somewhere overseas. I read all of these travel horror stories and think of all the bad things that can happen(robberies, food poisoning, etc) and it freaks me out. I already get paranoid and worried just going on small trips in my OWN country, let alone in a foreign country where people don't even speak english. I envy those free spirited people who can just take off and travel around without a care in the world. So many of my friends travel, some from high school are even living abroad and it makes me feel like there's something wrong with me. My dad always says "getting lost while travelling is the best part." I was like what?? For me that's my worst fear! I always liked traveling with my parents because they took care of everything and i never had to worry but when you're an adult and you're in charge, it's stressful and nerve-wracking.

Is anyone else like this? Is there anything i can do to curb this type of mentality? I want to travel so badly but i feel like this is holding me back. I want to be a good, fun traveller, not someone is constantly worried, stressed and frustrated.
 
I love love love travelling. But I get where you're coming from as well, I'm not a "go with the flow" traveller and plan as much as possible ahead of the trip. For me, that's ok, because I love the planning proces as well, it gets me excited for the trip ahead. I guess I'm just not the spontaneous type. I love knowing what I'll visit, where I'll stay,... So I definitely understand your apprehension of "getting lost" as an adventure.
Everyone should travel the way they feel comfortable. For some people that's getting on a plane and seeing where the day takes 'em. For me it's going a planned trip and seeing all the places I've dreamt of :smile: and there's always some time left for some spontaneous sightseeing, which is a bonus.
I always encourage people to travel. It doesn't have to be far or super adventurous, it will always broaden your horizon.
Maybe you could look into travelling with a guide/group so you can just be there and enjoy it and not deal with some of the hassle of travelling?
 
Mar 14, 2006
5,519
845
the lowcountry
do you have any friends or friends with family that live in a foreign country that you could visit? it would be a good way to start to get more comfortable with it, you'd stay in someone's home and have someone who speaks the language to show you around and make plans.

if not, what about going somewhere with a friend that has been to that place many times before?
 
Nov 20, 2007
2,669
1
Canada
I was definitely like you too - I travelled extensively with my parents when I was younger and they always took care of everything and hand held me. It definitely gets easier with practice and preparation.

I still remember the first trip I took by myself when my dad told me he couldn't go with me. I went to Versailles from Paris, got lost, couldn't understand the language (I learned Canadian French, which to me sounded nothing like France french), couldn't get my credit card to work, couldn't figure out the train system... I was near tears. To top it off there were these sketchy looking men crowded around the door of the train station gathering around everyone who walked out the door, so I was terrified I'd get kidnapped (they were selling umbrellas.) I swore I'd never travel alone again - fear of getting lost, mugged, kidnapped, and killed were too much for me.

I hadn't looked up directions, or safe neighborhoods, or brought along a translation guide with me. Those were some mistakes I picked up on.

Now when I travel, I google extensively before I go. Some good tips that I learned are:

- research the general facts about the area before. This helps you get an idea of the general feel of the city, whether it's safe, sketchy, walkable, whether you should rent a car, etc.

- I like to look up the area I'm going to the next day, the night before. This helps me identify whether there are any sketchy areas to avoid, how to dress, what cons to watch out for (ie don't exchange money in Myanmar at the bank - rip off)

- get a local SIM card. If you get lost, it's easy to google or use maps to find your way back

- don't bring or wear expensive things if you're travelling somewhere less nice. I backpacked Southeast Asia with nothing more expensive than a pair of Abercrombie jeans.

- budget lots of time. A lot of the time when I got freaked out it was because it was nearing the last bus or night time. If it should take you an hour to get back, budget 2 hours. Don't aim for the last train. Don't stay out too close to nightfall.

Those are some things that helped me, hopefully some of it is useful! The poster above also mentioned travelling with tour groups - great way to transition to travelling alone!
 

labelwhore04

Member
Apr 14, 2011
9,201
626
We the North
Thanks! That's all great advice. I never thought of using a guide/group but that actually seems like a great idea. My bf and i were planning a trip to budapest/prague next year so maybe we'll look into that.
 

boxermom

O.G.
Aug 26, 2006
27,084
591
North Carolina
wonderful advice above. I sympathize with you--I am a person who doesn't like change and I love predictability. Obviously when you travel those 2 things aren't part of the experience. I developed the understanding that probably at least one thing will not go as planned during a trip and accept it. Sometimes it's several things and then you chalk it up to bad timing. But honestly if I can be less rigid I enjoy myself knowing that I will get through it and the horror stories are just a tiny minority of those who travel abroad.

We just returned from Europe and had a wonderful time. Did everything go as advertised? No, but it didn't really diminish the enjoyment we had.

p.s. if you really like to travel among the very familiar, stick to the U.S. until you're ready for the differences that make other countries and people so fascinating.
 

Lady Stardust

Je m'en foutiste
O.G.
Nov 28, 2009
3,582
144
30
NYC
www.instagram.com
- research the general facts about the area before. This helps you get an idea of the general feel of the city, whether it's safe, sketchy, walkable, whether you should rent a car, etc.

- I like to look up the area I'm going to the next day, the night before. This helps me identify whether there are any sketchy areas to avoid, how to dress, what cons to watch out for (ie don't exchange money in Myanmar at the bank - rip off)

I 100% agree with this advice. I travel by myself a lot and I love it but it's not for everyone. I think the biggest thing to remember too is that solo travel is just different. You have to be your own entertainment director and tour guide etc. I know what you mean about traveling w parents, it's a totally different experience when you can relax and let someone else worry about everything! This past summer I visited my friend in London and I almost didn't know what to do with myself bc I actually got to relax and ask where we were going instead of picking a place myself and I didn't have to know directions ahead of time etc it was just totally different from my do everything myself mode!

Like daphodill84, I always do extensive research online before I travel. I love the TripAdvisor forums you can find absolutely any answer or info you're looking for and people respond quickly. I also always google maps a place I'm going to the night before so that I know where to turn and what to look for etc. for example you might know the street name but in some cities (especially old European ones) streets go off at weird angles or break up but still have the same street name etc I think it helps a ton to see a visual so you can remember to turn at the red awning or something.

Definitely check for local scams etc as well, you'd be surprised just how many you actually see after looking them up! Helps a lot to read up on those. For me the pre-trip research also really helps to get me excited about going!

I also download some local apps before I go esp for transport like for London I download the Underground app, and for Paris I always keep RATP on my phone bc I'm there a lot. It really helps to always have a reference w you to check

Also for the horror stories, take them with a grain of salt. Just because it happens doesn't mean one will definitely happen to you or that the odds are high. Be aware of course but don't be preoccupied with that stuff!
 
Oct 20, 2008
4,155
1,216
manhattan
When I travel I make sure the big things are taken care of: flights, hotel/housing, and transport from and back to the airport.

I also have only one or two things that are must do/see and once I tick those off, I consider it a successful trip and the rest of the time I'm wide open to new things and relaxed. I think having too much on the itinerary is stressful. I figure if I feel I missed out on something by the time I leave, I can always go back.

I also highly recommend traveling light. The few times I've been frustrated when traveling is when I was dealing with too many or too heavy bags. It's so liberating to be able to get off the plane, through passport control, and stroll out of the airport bag in hand without delay.

And if you have the means, going first class is a great way to reduce anxiety because you're taken care of. Customer service is generally better when you're plunking down a mint.
 
I love that there are plenty of well prepared travellers here, we're not alone!
You already have Some great tips here to travel and stay in your comfort zone as much as possible.
GoogleMaps is my best friend when planning a trip, it can definitely make sure you're not caught off guard by some things. I like to do as much by foot as possible, so I always check the route from my hotel to the places I wanna visit. When you actually get there you already know the surroundings a bit!
About the language... I don't know which countries/places you'd like to visit, but in Europe you shouldn't have any trouble finding people who speak English. Might be with a heavy accent, but hey, that's charming, right? ;)
 

boxermom

O.G.
Aug 26, 2006
27,084
591
North Carolina
I love that there are plenty of well prepared travellers here, we're not alone!
You already have Some great tips here to travel and stay in your comfort zone as much as possible.
GoogleMaps is my best friend when planning a trip, it can definitely make sure you're not caught off guard by some things. I like to do as much by foot as possible, so I always check the route from my hotel to the places I wanna visit. When you actually get there you already know the surroundings a bit!
About the language... I don't know which countries/places you'd like to visit, but in Europe you shouldn't have any trouble finding people who speak English. Might be with a heavy accent, but hey, that's charming, right? ;)




I hate that most Americans can't speak any other language. We have found that if you try to use a few words in their language or ask how something is pronounced they are really happy to help you out. We had fun in Amsterdam learning how to make the *G* sound pronouncing Gouda (their wonderful cheese) and pronouncing Van Gogh correctly.
 

ninjanna

Bag addict!
May 25, 2012
1,206
34
Australia
Yikes. I mainly travel with my boyfriend and he's my favourite travel buddy, and recently I've travelled with my friends and I prefer travelling with my boyfriend so much more. Everyone's a different kind of traveller, and I think that just all depends on how much you've travelled. Some get more tired than others, some more free spirited and more willing to do things. It's just a fact of life.

All I can say (and I say this to a lot of people in the same boat) is that you just have to research the place you're going to, extensively. Until the point where you will know it at the back of your hand. Then you'll become more confident with being in a completely new place. I always, always, always make an itinerary before I go, and carry it around with me. On the itinerary, it includes everything, from transport to and from the airport to the hotel, and transportation throughout the trip (including times, and other time options), how to walk/get to places, tips, any ticket prices, restaurants to go to etc. Practically the whole trip. By then, I feel more comfortable and especially when we arrive, we know exactly what we need to do. It's hours and hours of research but you'll become less scared of being in a new country. And it comes with time and experience. You'll get much better at travelling.
 
Nov 20, 2007
2,669
1
Canada
Yikes. I mainly travel with my boyfriend and he's my favourite travel buddy, and recently I've travelled with my friends and I prefer travelling with my boyfriend so much more. Everyone's a different kind of traveller, and I think that just all depends on how much you've travelled. Some get more tired than others, some more free spirited and more willing to do things. It's just a fact of life.

All I can say (and I say this to a lot of people in the same boat) is that you just have to research the place you're going to, extensively. Until the point where you will know it at the back of your hand. Then you'll become more confident with being in a completely new place. I always, always, always make an itinerary before I go, and carry it around with me. On the itinerary, it includes everything, from transport to and from the airport to the hotel, and transportation throughout the trip (including times, and other time options), how to walk/get to places, tips, any ticket prices, restaurants to go to etc. Practically the whole trip. By then, I feel more comfortable and especially when we arrive, we know exactly what we need to do. It's hours and hours of research but you'll become less scared of being in a new country. And it comes with time and experience. You'll get much better at travelling.

ITA with this. I create an excel spreadsheet with a summary, a detailed itinerary, directions to hotels, airports, train stations, etc. so I have everything printed at my fingertips. Also print out copies of hotel confirmations, airline reservations, etc..
 

saintgermain

Celine addict
Feb 20, 2012
534
1
TriBeCa, NYC
I am a really awful traveller as well. I am paranoid from the beginning until the end, starting with my intense fear of airplanes. Then, once I arrive, I tend to get tired and annoyed about everything. I try not to travel that often anymore because of this fact. Unless it is absolutely necessary, I would rather just relax at home, or go to a place within train travel or driving distance. I am sad though, because that means I am not able to go overseas as much
 

DrDior

Yes? May I help you?
Jan 13, 2012
3,810
824
Nowhere near you.
I travel for work by myself a fair amount. In August it'll be Dubai and then Durban (where my husband will meet me). I've been doing this for well over 10 years. In year 1 it's highly unlikely I would've went to South Africa or to the Middle East by myself.

The key is to start small and build your confidence.

As someone suggested, guided tours are always a good option. They plan everything for you, so that all you have to do is follow directions. Not much to worry about. If a 10 day guided tour is not your thing, you can also do day tours at your destination.

Going with someone else helps. I went to the south of France and northern Italy with a girlfriend 10 years ago. One of our best shared memories is standing on the platform of the train station in Ventimiglia when they announced "treno cinco cinco quatro" and we looked at each and went "oh, sh**" and burst out laughing. Neither of us speaks Italian. We managed just fine.

Learn a few key phrases. Please and thanks goes a long way. I like coffee without milk, and club soda rather than flat water, so I know how to ask for them in a variety of languages.

There are also ways to reduce grump and irritation. Most European flights are overnight, but you can do a day flight and it's much easier on your body. If you are a nervous flier, try Gravol. If you're really that bad (as in you'll start screaming if the plane rocks a bit), you can get try a benzo like Ativan (but they are addictive if misused and should only be used carefully and as a last resort). And there are other non-pill options: I love British Airways because they have a program you can watch that talks about fear of flying and you actually feel better watching it. Lastly, I highly recommend reading Cockpit Confidential - a badly named, but excellent book, which demystifies flying.
 
Top