TRAVEL ANXIETY

TRAVEL ANXIETY

Upon returning from a seven-week trekking journey to Nepal, I couldn’t get the mountains out of my head. I was day-dreaming regularly about returning to the Himalayas. After talking about it for months on end I finally convinced a friend to commit to going back with me. He is adventurous and fearless, but had never traveled to a third-world country. It would be his first international backpacking trip. I was thrilled when he said he could go, and quickly got to planning (my favorite). I decided that 6 weeks would be a perfect amount of time for us to spend in Nepal. Half of our time would be spent trekking, the other half left open for relaxing and exploring.

Photo of 3 girls hiking in Nepal
The mountains are calling...
I arbitrarily chose our dates and got on Skyscanner to book our flights. I double and triple checked the dates, as I always do, to avoid a booking disaster. It all looked great, I hit the purchase button, 1800$ was charged to my credit card (the cost of 2 RT flights). I would be returning to the Himalayas, this time bringing a friend to share the magic with.

After fully committing to an adventure, it would make sense to be giddy with excitement.  Jumping for joy.  Ecstatic about the trip to come. That was not the case. I was instantly flooded with a wave of anxiety. I wondered what the hell I was doing. Traveling alone was one thing, but to drag another human across the globe to Kathmandu, one of the most hectic and overwhelming places on the planet?  There are monkeys in the airport for goodness' sake. Was I insane? What if he hated it? What if Kathmandu overwhelmed him to the point of wanting to go back home? What if travelling wasn’t for him? What if we got in a fight or argument and were stuck with each other across the world for 6 weeks? What if he was injured, would he and his family blame me for convincing him this was a good idea? Were we really going to fly to the "world’s most dangerous airport?” to start our Everest Base Camp trek?

monkeys in the kathmandu airport
What will he think of the airport monkeys?
I spent the next few weeks with these feelings swirling around in my mind, unable to sleep some nights. As a seasoned traveler, this wasn’t something I expected. It was common for me to feel nervous but mostly excited about venturing off into the unknown. I realized that most of my anxiety was coming from bringing someone with me. I wondered if the bad vibes I was feeling should be taken as a warning. Should I cancel our tickets and forget this wild idea? Maybe the universe was telling me not to go to Nepal.

I kept telling myself that it was all okay, I should trust in the universe to take care of things. I felt some relief after Googling “Travel Anxiety” and finding out that even the most experienced travelers get this. It wasn’t uncommon, and it wasn’t a bad omen. But I still had to live with it. In hindsight, it may have been helpful to talk it out with my travel partner, but I didn’t want to freak him out before his first big trip. I mentioned it to a few people, but mostly kept these feelings inside. Hopefully they would fade and I wouldn’t be a nervous mess the whole trip.

The two months time between booking the flight and our departure date were rough. Finally, it was time for us to leave. After 24 hours of travel we arrived in Kathmandu, the capital of sensory overload. Here was the true test- would my friend love it or hate it?

Photo of Chad and Tooch at the airport in Kathmandu
Freshly landed in Kathmandu, the moment of truth
The next few days were spent wandering the vibrant streets of the Nepali capital. When I realized that the human I dragged across the planet was having a blast, my anxiety melted away (except for the part about the world’s most dangerous airport). Only then was I able to be fully present, and soak up every moment.

Chad and Tooch holding tickets for the Lukla flight
Holding the tickets to our certain death:  The flight to Lukla
I waited until we arrived safely back in the US to disclose my anxiety and worry to my friend.  Chad is now my boyfriend, so I guess you could say I was an excellent tour guide! We frequently reminisce on our first trip together and how special it was. Now both of us are dreaming about going back.

Chad posing with Mount Everest
The happy human posing with Mount Everest

Have you experienced travel anxiety? How did you deal with it? What was the source of your worries? I’d love to hear your stories!

Happy Trails,

Tooch


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