Sometimes you find yourself standing in a train station in a foreign country, looking up at all the signs, unable to read any of them. You have less than ten minutes to figure out which platform your train is leaving from and how to get there. Safe to say, the stress is real.
I recently found myself in this position while on a trip to Italy. I was travelling from Copenhagen, where I was studying abroad, to Florence, Italy to visit friends from my home university. I had flown in to Bologna, a small town a half hour away, to save money and had meticulously planned how to take the shuttle to the train station and then the train to Florence. Upon arrival, the anxiety and stress of travel hit. What if I missed the train? What if I lost my phone, or ticket, or passport? What if I got off at the wrong stop?
When travelling, it is extra important to come from a place of positivity. It is so easy to get lost in the stress of finding the right transportation, or worrying about not eating at the best restaurants. But ultimately what you want to remember from your trip are the fun moments and cool experiences you had. When travelling solo, or if you are the person responsible for planning the trip, it can be incredibly stressful to manage transportation or reservations. I also feel pressure from myself and others to eat the best, most beautiful food and visit all the right spots when travelling. This can be difficult to juggle in your head as all the worries bounce off one another. You can, very effortlessly, slip into the anxious mindset of constant worry and fear.
But this is no way to travel. As someone who is a meticulous planner and organizer, I get stressed about travelling very easily. What I have found is that the best way to combat these fears and anxiety is to fight back with positive thinking. How we talk to ourselves about our travel is incredibly important. If you are telling yourself that everything is stressful and it will all go wrong, your experience will ultimately be unpleasant. But if you approach your travel with a positive mindset that even if things go awry you can figure it out, your travel will be a good memory.
I found that when travelling alone, I had plenty of time to think to myself. With no one to share my thoughts with, I was stuck with the same ideas bouncing around my own head. Sometimes, my thoughts included things like “What if I don’t have enough time? What if I get lost? I’m definitely not going to get to see the best thing here.” These thoughts were toxic to my experiences. Other days, even when I was struggling, I forced myself to think “You are strong and confident. It will all work out. You know how to fix this if the bus does not come.” Telling myself that things would work out was so important for my mood and confidence in my own abilities.
Positivity allows you to think of new options when faced with a setback. Later on in my trip, I was travelling in Croatia and planned a day trip to the island of Brač from where I was staying in Split. The island is very popular during the summer and a hot spot for its beautiful beaches and boat rentals. The only problem was that I was visiting in November- the ultimate off season. I didn’t realize how real the small town of Bol took the term ‘off season’ until I got there via a ferry and bus ride, only to find that nothing was open. While this was a rough realization to come to, instead of wallowing in the thought of a ‘wasted day’ I chose to think of the positives. I had still gotten to see another new place, I got to sit in the sun which I had been missing up in Copenhagen. I had found the one open art gallery of Croatian art. I had learned the lesson that it is important to do research about your destination more than a day ahead of time. This day was not my most exciting, but I was able to frame it in a positive light and that made all the difference.
In the end, what you take from your travels is going to be the memories of your experiences and maybe some souvenirs. Why not make your memories full of positivity instead of anxiety? The best way to do this is through how you talk to yourself while you’re travelling and when you’re reflecting on your trip. So on your next trip, instead of focusing on the ‘what ifs’ tell yourself- you can do this and you will. Happy trails!
Author: Helen Thompson
Author Bio: Helen is a mountain loving, travel inspired, creative student who has spent the past semester studying in Copenhagen, Denmark. Find her drinking large amounts of coffee at a cozy cafe or out hiking some trails.
Link to social media or website: http://www.helensyearofadventure.wordpress.com