Ever since I made the decision to quit my job to travel the world indefinitely, I spent the last month of work waking up anxious every day because I was so excited (and maybe a little scared) to leave. I thought that once I hit the road, my anxiety would dissipate. In many ways, it has. In other ways, it’s surfaced and made traveling difficult. But even in these short four weeks, I’ve learned quite a bit about how I personally need to plan my travel experiences in a way that is kinder to myself and my mental health.
I was diagnosed with generalized anxiety disorder and panic disorder at age 18, after a months-long nervous breakdown that began in my first year of college, hit fever pitch on my first solo trip to Ecuador, and kept at it until halfway through my sophomore year. Despite my love of new places, traveling with anxiety this intense felt impossible.
I’ve since addressed my anxiety through counseling, reflection, journaling, building my friendships, and seeking medical treatment. This has been my journey. Yours will, invariably, vary. Since attaining treatment, I became well enough to travel to over 30 countries over the last 9 years. My anxiety has not disappeared, but it is in check. I am aware of it. I acknowledge it. At times, I give in to it. But it does not rule me.