Actually, you were on fire: Off abroad, out of home, let’s go! But a few weeks or days before the departure, suddenly a queasy feeling spreads: What if something happens to me, I run out of money, I feel homesick…? Fears of a long stay abroad are quite normal. We reveal which are the most common travel fears and how you can defend yourself against them.
Suddenly the fear is there…What now?
Travel anxiety can also pack the biggest adventurers. Typical signs before departure: sleepless nights, sudden snap breathing and the secret wish that there is some reason to cancel the planned time abroad after all. Fear should protect us from danger, not block our dreams. So it is no reason to leave your travel backpack in the closet.
There are various strategies for overcoming fears. The so-called “confrontation training” has proved its worth: you are afraid of travelling, then travel! Expose yourself to the situation that frightens you, and the fear gets smaller. It may sound absurd, but in practice it often works pretty well. But of course it does not help against the unpleasant feelings of fear in the time before the journey. But what helps?
In order to counter the physical and mental reactions associated with fear, you can first try relaxation. Just like before school exams: drinking tea, yoga, breathing exercises… What suits you best.
Set your fear against something rational. Facts and figures can minimize anxiety. So gather information about the area you are traveling to and exchange ideas with people who have been abroad for a long time.
It sounds banal, but it is extremely helpful against fear: Make all necessary travel arrangements, as timely and conscientiously as possible. The feeling of being well prepared and prepared for certain situations can be very reassuring.
The top typical fears of a trip… and how to deal with them
#1 Do I really have to get on the plane? Fear of flying
If you don’t want to spend weeks on a cargo ship to cross the ocean, you can’t avoid a flight at many destinations. But almost every fourth German is afraid of flying. Statistically seen, the airplane is the safest means of transport at all, but statistics do not care about fear. The best antidote is “confrontation”, i.e. flying. The more often one experiences a safe flight, the smaller the fear becomes. In severe cases, however, it may be advisable to attend an anti-flight anxiety seminar at the airport beforehand. Also the theoretical discussion with the (really safe!) technique of flying can help.
During the flight itself the tension will probably still be there. A few tips to deal with it better: Wear comfortable clothing (without a constricting collar!). Don’t drink alcohol on the flight; contrary to popular myths, it doesn’t contribute to relaxation, but can even cause panic. If necessary, use gentle herbal sedatives such as valerian or St. John’s wort. Travel tablets can help against nausea. To stop the thought carousel in your head, distract yourself with a film, book or music.
Also a great help: Fly together with a familiar person. Whether partner or best friend – it’s a good feeling when someone is there whose hand you can cling to during turbulence.
#2 Something happening to me? Fear of crime
“If one is not afraid, he has no imagination,” wrote the writer Erich Kästner. And yes, with a little imagination you can very quickly think of many things that could happen along the way: Robbery, rape, kidnapping. Some regions have a particularly bad reputation when it comes to crime. Up to a certain point this fear has its justification. Of course, something can happen on the way.
That’s why it’s important to be vigilant and adhere to a few safety rules, among others:
Avoid unsafe neighborhoods
not to walk out alone at night
only use licensed taxis
With common sense, the dangers can be kept as low as possible. Calm yourself by remaining realistic: There is not a criminal lurking around every corner. The fear of crime is often stirred up by news and films. For example, the probability of being a victim of a crime in Mexico is often estimated to be much higher than it actually is. Sometimes, therefore, a look at crime statistics can even be reassuring: Allegedly, it is three times more likely to die in a car accident in Germany than to be attacked in Mexico.
#3 What if I catch something? Fear of diseases and poisonous animals
The fear of diseases or poisonous animals is very common among travellers from Central Europe. Good preparation alleviates the anxiety: Before travelling, have a doctor advise you about risks and vaccinate you if necessary. Also put together a small first-aid kit to help you get there quickly against headaches, diarrhoea and the like. Take disinfectant spray and insect repellent with you. If you are travelling outside Europe, it is advisable to take out health insurance so that you can see a doctor without hesitation in worse cases.
If you still feel queasy despite these preparations, make it clear that the fear is usually worse than the actual situation: If you break your leg abroad or are bitten by a spider (although you have always looked good in your shoe), this is extremely unpleasant, but with the help of fellow travellers, locals and doctors to master.
#4 Everything is so unpredictable! Fear of the unknown and unpredictable
A stay abroad for several months can be frightening because it seems so big, so abstract and unpredictable. A good antidote: Think of the trip in smaller units, imagine the first days after arrival in concrete terms, perhaps draw up an approximate itinerary. This makes the whole thing more tangible.
Good as well, with the help of blogs, travel guides and documentaries, you can get a little familiar with what awaits you. But, of course, uncertainty is also part of being on the road. To let the unknown come to you is part of travelling. You only know what this unknown really looks like when you experience it. Then it is real and you will be able to deal with it. So try to ignore this unsightly fear and vividly imagine the beautiful aspects of your journey instead.
#5 Can I do it alone? Fear of loneliness and homesickness
Leaving your accustomed environment, travelling to a foreign country, where people, language, customs and traditions are unknown to you, can cause insecurity and feelings of fear. This is normal. Talk about it with friends and family before travelling. And be sure: they will also stop you from afar.
Maybe you can arrange to Skype with a good friend or your parents for your first week abroad. And tell yourself: The challenge of being alone abroad is part of the adventure. You are guaranteed to grow with it. In addition, you will never really be alone.
Maybe there will be moments when you will feel a little lonely. Then distract yourself, read or do something, write diary. But you will certainly meet a lot of new people on the way – wherever you are, in hostels, buses, in high school, at your volunteer placement, at work, in your host family…