As much as I have a serious case of wanderlust, I’m also a seriously anxious traveller. From the initial planning and research to the pressure of actually making it all worth your while when you’re there, I’m Queen of Overthinking It.
1. Don’t overdo the research
Let’s kick off with a habit I’m desperately trying to break.
You know, just quickly Googling this or that. Trawling through beautiful pictures of the place I’ll be visiting, the hotel I’m staying in, nearby restaurants… to the point where any chance of serendipity is has been completely diminished. No-one wants to get there and feel like they’ve already seen it all.
2. Try not to form a complete itinerary
I have serious FOMO. The last thing I want to do is get home from a great trip away and then find I missed something incredible that had been on my doorstep only a few days ago. (Note: I have been known to torture myself by perusing Instagram after a trip. 0/10 would not recommend).
There can be an immense expectation with any planned holiday – but it’s important to acknowledge that you only have so many hours in a day. You’ll knacker yourself out by trying to see absolutely everything – and, let’s be honest, even the most serious planners amongst us know that wouldn’t be fun.
A guide or rough idea of what you want to see and do is a good starting point – but just be sure to work in some breathing space to alleviate any stress.
3. Leave yourself something to discover
Some of the most unforgettable moments I’ve had abroad have been those that could never be planned.
Seeing La Grand Place engage disco mode in Brussels nearly brought me to tears (though I’d had some very strong Belgian beer), while seeing our first wild tortoise clamber past us in Athens made for an enchanting moment with my bewitched boyfriend.
I remember these moments so well precisely because I wasn’t prepared for them.
4. Talk to the person you’re travelling with
I mean, your trip obviously isn’t going to be done in silence (that would be a bit weird). Still, if you know your pain points, let them know too.
Guilty of TripAdvisor-ing every possible restaurant to make sure it’s good? Sure, just don’t do that with everything. All those who struggle with the chaos of airports, routine-breaking early flights and the sheer anticipation of it all, SAY I. I knew it wasn’t just me.
Give the people travelling with you some context, so they’re a little more sympathetic when you’re seemingly losing your shit about a menu.
5. Accept the things you cannot control
If you put yourself on a time limit with an expectation of PURE ENJOYMENT lest the entire thing be a waste of time (see how stressful that sounds like that?), you’re gonna have a bad time.
While you’re at home you know you can’t dictate the weather, the people you’ll run into when you’re not looking your finest and the general stuff that just happens to you.
It’s no different abroad. You might have wanted picturesque, sunny photos of you on the beach, but damn, sometimes Tenerife just wants to be a cloudy son of a bitch.
6. …but do prepare a bit
If you’re anything like me, you’ll want some things in the bag. Flights, accommodation, travel insurance and transportation all go without saying for me. Occasionally I’ve also been known to book certain attractions ahead of time and email vendors with any questions I have.
This is total overkill for some people – my other half would be happy rocking up somewhere foreign and rooting out the nearest B&B or acceptable launderette floor. He’s super laid-back (imagine his surprise on our first holiday where I frogmarched him around Budapest for 3 days).
Anyway, the moral is, prepare and print the essentials to give yourself peace of mind and save any confusion later down the line.
Of course, as with most other things on this blog, none of this is rocket science. Sometimes we just need to be reminded to marvel at the fact we can travel and savour the experiences that our uniquely ours. Happy travelling!