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American exploring the world on her own for the next 5 months is doubting her sanity.

After a very bad year back in the states, I decided I needed to get out and see the world. However, a month into my world trip, I am not handling it well and I'm contemplating canceling the rest of the trip and going back to familiar ground. Anyone else experience this?
9 years ago, December 26th 2009 No: 1 Msg: #97416  
Just did a 22 day tour with a group and while I did have fun, I can count on one hand the moments when I was truly happy and stress free (and I would think, "Wow, this must be how others feel all the time"). Most of the time I'm fighting off panic attacks and none of the local food seems to be agreeing with me (to put it delicately). I'm thinking maybe I don't have the mental fortitude for this kind of trip, but I also shall acknowledge the holiday blues- they are playing a factor.

So, my question, any other single ladies (or guys even) who have travelled on their own felt like this? And, if so, what did you do? I'm giving myself another week or two before I cancel the trip, hopefully this will sort out.

😊 Thanks! Reply to this

9 years ago, December 26th 2009 No: 2 Msg: #97432  
Hello Amanda 😊

Though most of us here love travel, we wouldnt deny that there is stress involved. But, I think most of us feel somehow it is still all worth it.

I personally wouldnt cancel the trip because of panic attacks. I dont think you can accurately assess what you want and like, while you are panicking. I would wait until a time when you feel more balanced, and then consider how you feel about travelling. Maybe if you went home because you are panicking, you will regret it later.

What is it about the trip that makes you panic? Is it the amount of money your are spending, missing your friends and family... or is it just because it is Christmas and you are not with the people you usually spend Christmas with?

So, my question, any other single ladies (or guys even) who have travelled on their own felt like this? And, if so, what did you do?

I travel alone most of the time. Once, when I moved to another country and worked there, I had a few bad experiences and those caused me to be desperately lonely, depressed and homesick. That time I went home, because I just did not feel I had enough energy to do what it takes to keep working and living where I was. But, it was only once ever that bad. All the other times had their pros an cons, but I carried on with the working and travelling in other countries. I have not been travelling on and off, sometimes alone and sometimes not for 20 years. The time I went home, because of bad experiences was 18 years ago.

Mel Reply to this

9 years ago, December 26th 2009 No: 3 Msg: #97480  
First, congratulations on making it a month already. Travelling on your own is serious business, and doubts and bouts of loneliness inevitable. At such times, consider why you are travelling and what you hope to get out of it. Your answers can help you find you way to better experiences.

More generally, where are you travelling? There are easier and tougher places for the single person, and which is which is not always obvious. As a single traveller, meeting other people -- both sympathetic locals and other travellers -- can make all the difference. In my experience, the developing world offers the best opportunities for both. Also, some places are better set up for travellers, easier to move around, find accommodation and things to do, etc. For novice global travellers, esp. singles, I find it doesn't get better than southeast Asia, where everything comes together to make possible a memorable experience -- convenient transportation, good food, cheap prices, fine weather, lots to see and do, friendly local people, relatively safe, and lots of other travellers looking for people to do things with. Turkey is also a good exotic destination, with unsurpassed sites. Europe, which might sound like a safe choice, is both expensive and offers limited opportunities to meet local people. The same with North America. And place like India, Africa and South America are best left for experienced solo travellers.

Good luck Reply to this

9 years ago, December 27th 2009 No: 4 Msg: #97550  
Thanks Brian & Mell- both of your responses help 😊 Mell, I think the panic is just missing friends and family and mixed in with the fact that I never know which meal will make me sick- not a good feeling! Hopefully my stomach will adjust and I'll just continue to stick to blander foods which seems to help. And Brian, I'll definitely just take a step back whenever I get overwhelmed and remind myself why I'm here. I'm in Europe right now and will be here until end of January when I go to Egypt, then New Zealand, then Australia, then Vietnam and ending in China in May. I'm sure all will be well once I get past the holidays, my freak out post will prove to be premature.

Thanks again guys!
Amanda Reply to this

9 years ago, December 27th 2009 No: 5 Msg: #97553  

... my freak out post will prove to be premature.

Let us know how it goes. 😊 Maybe travel isnt for you, but maybe on the otherhand you will come out of this as much of a travel addict as most of us here. 😊

Reply to this

9 years ago, December 27th 2009 No: 6 Msg: #97576  
B Posts: 37
Hi Amanda,

I hope things get better for you. It can get lonely and sometimes frustrating travelling on your own. I remember being very upset over things that were planned not happening, and regretting the length of my trip. Then I decided since I couldn't b*tch about it with anybody local, and didn't want to upset or scare the friends at home, I'd just write out my frustrations in a journal. That helped a lot, as well as telling myself to "go with the flow". I also recognized how much the locals I knew wanted me to enjoy their culture and how much they appreciated my interest. Things got a lot better and of course, by the end of my trip - I regretted leaving.

Oh, and by the way - whenever I glance at that journal, I skip the cranky parts - they're really not worth reading - it was just a means of relieving my feelings.

Give yourself a pat on the back for being adventurous enough to do what you're doing - there's lots that dream about it, but you're actually doing it! Reply to this

9 years ago, December 28th 2009 No: 7 Msg: #97712  
😊 Thanks Katie, I'll give the journal a shot. I've been cleaning up my thoughts for my blog - I do need to put the real emotions somewhere. Reply to this

9 years ago, December 31st 2009 No: 8 Msg: #97947  
There seems to be something more going on here. You had a bad year back home, you decided to "get out and see the world"... but perhaps the full sensory experience and cultural shock of seeing the world (and all that it entails) isnt quite the escape from the terrible year that you'd expected? As for Panic Attacks... maybe the stress you sought to escape from is actually inside you and not outside? Ive suffered from Panic Attacks for years due to my anxious nature(its from my mother), even on the road.

Traveling is definitely harder for anxiety prone people because of the unknowns and unfamiliarity and uneasiness of the situation, but Ive realized that while it may be hard at the time if you can manage your stress you will emerge a better person! Like exercise, its tough but the response to the stress makes the body thrive. You definitely need to get your mind straight, be it prayer, meditation, yoga or just plain old deep breathing. Train the mind to calm down, it wont do it on its own. To me the mind is like a child in a toy store, trying to grasp on to anything it sees, more more more and then *poof! I have a panic attack because of the overload. Growing up in the rapid fire stream of multimedia doesnt help our thoughts go any slower, the only thing that has helped me is meditation and exercise. A journal is great because it gets the myriad of thoughts out- but the root problem is an overactive mind that needs to be calmed down. We exercise our bodies because we know it is the healthy thing to do- but our minds control our bodies and the power of belief can even cure disease- so why don't we train our minds?

I know what you feel though, Ive had panic attacks while abroad and Im 100%!c(MISSING)ertain the tummy issues make it worse. Its a 1-2 punch! You feel like crap and arent confident in the foods you eat and have general anxiety for whatever other reason... you meet people who have been on the road for 6 months and seem to be ok with everything while you are questioning the next week. Ive found I am more anxious when I am places I dont care for that much. Like in Thailand- I was tense and looking over my shoulder, at the mercy of public transportation and having diarrhea - but while in NZ I had a rental car, safe and easy food , there was far less people everywhere and i was surrounded by mountains and forest... Anxiety free!

But first and foremost I agree with Mel to an extent- you can't assess whats going on when you are anxious, you just want to feel better! The last thing you would want is to kick yourself down the road for cancelling a trip when all you needed was to calm down and work on stress reduction. Then again, if this anxiety is serious and debilitating it might be in your best interests to get yourself home and figure out whats really going on.

Dont forget the old adage ""if you can't boil it, cook it or peel it- forget it!"

In closing my advice! Get your head straight with relaxation techniques to shut up that darn anxiety. If that doesn't work don't go home yet- make a dramatic change of scenery to the one place on that list (Europe, Egypt, New Zealand, Australia, Vietnam, China) you really really want to go- I guarantee you will be less anxious in a place youve wanted to see all your life vs a "sounds like fun" place!
Reply to this

9 years ago, December 31st 2009 No: 9 Msg: #97984  
Perhaps you should slow down your trip a bit... I don't know how fast you are travelling, but when one changes scenery every day and meets new people every day it can be stressfull and very tiring, the best thing to do than is find a place you feel comfortable and just relax for a while... Stay a week or longer at some beach in a nice hostel/hotel/guesthouse, or in a city you really enjoy, or wherever. This is also a good way of meeting some locals and other travellers and make some more contacts. So if you are travelling fast, remember to take it easy and enjoy it, and that you don't have to see the whole world in one go. Don't hold on to your itinerary too tightly, don't try to do everything, and don't pack too much into those 5 month.

Another thing to relieve your stress is just talk to your fellow travellers about your anxieties (like you are doing now on this forum), because the great thing about travelling is that even if they declare you crazy or stupid, it doesn't matter, you will probably never see them again 😊 And most likely they won't and you will discover that every one of those travellers and backpackers has been going through similar experiences at one point or another during their wanderings... I have been travelling for years and still get stressed at times, and sometimes when I am travelling alone for a long time, I feel lonely and depressed and wonder what I am doing it all for. And I wonder why after all those years I still feel like I am a beginner at all this and if travel is really for me, but than I try to think of all the things I have done and experienced and all the good parts of it and I know that anything else would make me terribly unhappy. Travel won't always be fun, and there is stress involved in various different ways (trying to make contact with new people almost every day, looking for a place to sleep, a restaurant, the next bus/train, thinking about your budget, and not being around people you know and places your are familiar with), but if you get past all that there is also a lot you get out of it.

Don't worry, be happy and have fun! Hope you will find a way to make your travels more enjoyable for yourself, and if not, it is not the end of the world. Maybe travelling is not for you, maybe something else will make you relaxed, there are lots of things apart from travelling. Some people skydive, others dance, yet others get their happiness from doing absolutely nothing.

At least you know now that you have heard from a few other travellers, that we all have had similar experiences and at times still feel stressed and lonely. So you are not alone.. Reply to this

9 years ago, January 1st 2010 No: 10 Msg: #98016  
N Posts: 1

I've travelled quite a bit on my own and concur with other folk's suggestion to not try to do too much. You can always go back to places that still interest you.

I also find on a longer trip that it is good to have a home base for as long as possible so you can go to the local supermarket to buy fruit, bread and cheese for breakfast; makes friends with the folks at the bakery, and it gives you time to wander and explore. One of the best trips I had travelling on my own was to Portugual where I rented an apartmento-hotel for one month in the Algarve and after a exhausting three day coach tour to Spain, I was happy to come back alone to my own apartment and cook a steak and salad to eat with the oranges I picked right off the trees in Seville.

On that trip I also panicked once when on my second day there I went out to explore and forgot the name of my hotel. I dimwittedly had not written it down. I wandered for over four hours, up one street, into hotel after hotel, then I tried to retrace my steps down to the beach and back up the stairs. After having a good cry, suddenly a revelation, I called my son in Canada and he read off the name and address of the hotel from the itinerary I had put on the corkboard in the kitchen.
Juls Reply to this

9 years ago, January 1st 2010 No: 11 Msg: #98018  
After reading other postings here, I'd like to add (to what I wrote above) the necessity, when travelling for months at a time, to take a break at regular intervals. For me, a month on the road and it's time to hole up somewhere comfortable for a week or so where you have nothing more pressing to do than explore the local community or relax on a beach. It provides time and space to settle road-jangled nerves and reorient yourself for the next leg.

I'm also a little concerned about your anxiety over the local foods. The occasional bout of diarrhea is to be expected when you're change diets, and usually nothing to worry about. Carry lomotil and use as needed. Almost always, however, familiar and nutritious foods are available, and if you follow the time-tested rules of eating on the road, you need not fear your dinner plate. Reply to this

9 years ago, January 1st 2010 No: 12 Msg: #98034  
It has been quite hectic, a 22 day tour of Europe doesn't leave one much time to sit back and relax. Luckily, I'll be spending a few days in Nuremberg with a friend and her family then it's Budapest for a week and Athens for a week before I start the next tour. Hopefully that'll help me readjust my brain/attitude again.

Thank you one and all for letting me know I'm not alone in my anxieties. I'm going to continue to push thru and try not to dwell on my anxiety.

😊 Amanda Reply to this

9 years ago, January 3rd 2010 No: 13 Msg: #98153  
B Posts: 27
Amanda, it sounds as if you are doing mostly organised coach trips. My husband and I did a 24 day round Europe coach trip in 2008 (the first time we had ever holidayed in this way). The pace they set was exhausting and we were already wondering if we would survive at Day 14. We found the group we were with to be quite clicky and were only really comfortable with a few of the 36 people we were travelling with. We kept going because we were seeing wonderful things we knew we would not have chance to see again. There were many frustrations, especially not being able to spend as long as you like looking at the places and sights that you are most interested in. However, we didn't have to worry about any of the travel arrangements or lack of language skills in the many countries we visited.

The hectic pace they set on these tours, with the early rising nearly every day (they gave us a "sleep in" occasionally, to 7.30am!) and the non-stop action all day (especially if you are like us and did all the optional extras - not wanting to miss anything special) nearly killed us and we needed at least a week to recover once we got back home. I'm not sorry we did it as we have lots of amazing memories now, but it certainly took its toll.

My daughter, on the other hand, has just spent 3 months back-packing around Europe and has done it at a more leisurely pace (although she did have a rough timetable as she needed to be in UK for Christmas and then work in the New Year). She seems to have found most of it fairly stress free and has met lots of interesting people while staying in the hostels. Some days she went sight-seeing with others she'd met and some days she went alone. She also gave herself some relaxing days - which is something you don't really get on coach tours.

My husband and I have also had a 15 day coach tour of Egypt and Jordan in October 2009. It was wonderful, too, and the group was a lot more friendly, overall, which added to the enjoyment. I managed to get heat stroke and my husband suffered a sore bum from the camel ride but those things did not detract from our trip much at all. I also have to be very careful what I eat as I cannot eat fatty, spicy or rich foods without feeling the consequences, which is a pain because I love to try new foods in each country. However, there are lots of healthy alternatives on the tours we have been on, including salads and fruits, which can form the bulk of your meals. I just sampled a taster of all the foods that looked interesting but I knew I couldn't really eat - and there were many delicious ones. Just be careful in Egypt - only drink bottled water and do not eat even fruit or salads from stalls or local shops as they will have been washed in local water, which we were warned by our tour guide is not good for many visitors.

If the rest of your touring is on coach tours - make sure you get some down time between each one. If this is not possible, then take some of the "free" afternoons off and don't go on all the "extras". You will miss out on a few things but you will enjoy the rest of the tour much more if you are rested (it will save you heaps of money, too). Go somewhere that is relaxing and good for your soul - a park, beach, concert, sauna etc.- whatever makes you feel whole and happy. (I found a deserted river bank one day and sang opera at the top of my voice, with no worries about people hearing me. Something I had missed greatly while travelling. Felt MARVELLOUS.)

Hopefully you will feel a little more comfortable in NZ and Australia where we all speak English, too. The culture is similar to your own, too, so if this is what is stressing you, remember you have those places to look forward to. We love visiting NZ and, of course, think our country, Australia, is great, too. A lot can depend on who is in the group you are travelling with, too, but don't let them spoil your trip. You can usually find someone to share experiences with and you don't have to become bosom friends to do it.

Have fun and just try and go with the flow.
Reply to this

9 years ago, January 4th 2010 No: 14 Msg: #98299  
Thanks for letting me know I'm not alone Kathy! 😊 Some good tips that I'll definitely keep in mind! - Amanda Reply to this

9 years ago, January 4th 2010 No: 15 Msg: #98307  
B Posts: 281
Hi Amanda. Hang in there. I think when you come back home and think about all the things you did and saw, you will appreciate the entire experience!!

Yes, it can be terrifying to travel alone, as well as kinda lonely. Like me, you learn pretty quickly how to be good company for yourself. Don't worry about things and try to 'stay in the moment'. OMG does that phrase come in handy when you are waiting around for a bus, or something goes wrong with your luggage. Just take a deep breath and tell yourself to stay in the moment.

...nd hopefully what ever you were running away from 'bad year' wise won't be waiting for you when you get back homr. Best of luck and looking forward to reading your blogs! Reply to this

9 years ago, January 4th 2010 No: 16 Msg: #98398  
B Posts: 10
Hi Amanda

Firstly, I have to say HUGE respect for not only making the decision to go off travelling, but to actually go ahead with it. Personally, I think that takes more courage, guts & determination than dealing with your current situation and you should feel rightly proud of yourself for making it this far. Even if you decide to go home you should not feel bad about it as you've done something that many many others talk about but never do.

The other thing about travelling is that all of these experiences, feelings etc are what actually make the trip memorable and something you will use to inspire, educate, amaze and downright annoy your friends and family with.

With the great advice from the others on this forum embrace the challenges, grow with them and before you know it you will have finished your trip, will be back home and at work planning your next adventure!!

Great stuff Amanda. Keep that chin up and enjoy the rest of your journey (and blog it!!).

I may just see you in 'Nam, or Oz or NZ.

Reply to this

9 years ago, January 9th 2010 No: 17 Msg: #98908  
Hi Amanda,

Firstly, whatever you are feeling now, and whatever you decide to do, you have already acheived more than many, many people do in a lifetime. What is more, you are creating great memories that you will look back on with increasing pleasure as the years go by.
Travelling is always a mix of highs and lows, especially when you travel on your own, because it is constantly changing.
I can offer you my experiences, and you can see if you can relate to any of them.
The first time I travelled alone was after a relationship break-up, and at first, it just seemed to highlight the fact that I was now alone. The turning point for me came when I realised that my expectations of the whole 'getting away' thing were too great. The reality was that while I could get away from situations and places, I still had to take myself, and all my feelings and emotions with me. So I changed my expectations.
If this is familiar to you, what I suggest is that you accept that the trip would be like life - up and down - and then see it as a wonderful opportunity to have the time and space to identify the things within yourself that are unsettling you, and work out what you need to be happening / doing etc. for them to bother you less. Then when you do go home, you will be an even stronger, happier you.
Some people find it useful to write down what they need, and then make a mini 'action plan' as to how they can meet each need as they go along.
After your hectic touring schedule, perhaps find somewhere you can slow down a little and just enjoy being there. New Zealand and Australia are fantastic places, and the food and language are much more familiar, so that should help to reduce the anxiety. Why not spend a few days staying in one place, which should mean that you meet a variety of other travellers 'passing through', and see if you find someone that you get on with, that you could travel with for a little while.
Make the effort to talk to people, but make sure you listen to their stories too. Everyone has an interesting story to tell. Also, your experiences may be able to help someone else.

I do agree with all the other blogs too - plus, food wise, I would add avoid anything with ice - especially drinks - , and anything like salad which could have been washed in local water etc, especially in Egypt. However, for most of Europe this should not have been a problem, and I wonder if your tummy problems were partly anxiety. That will get better!

Finally, I think the journal is a great idea, and I would also add the following two suggestions.
1. Get someone to take photos of you in the places you visit, rather than you just taking pictures of the scenery etc. They will be much more interesting to look at, and show people in the future. Ask people you have met to be in the shot with you too.
2. For me, having someone to share experiences with is very special. If you are in a wonderful place, and feeling lonely, think how you would like to share it with someone else, then take the photos, collect the leaflets or do whatever you need to, so that you can share it with people in the future.
I have done this whenever I have travelled, and, in 8 days time , I am about to go travelling again for 4 months with my husband, to take him to many of the places that I first visited alone...and of course to discover lots of new ones too.
Enjoy....your travel now will last a lifetime. XX Reply to this

9 years ago, January 9th 2010 No: 18 Msg: #98940  
B Posts: 77
Hey there. I too am new to travel on my own. I started off with a buddy for the first month but quickly realized he never wanted to do anything and was traveling for the wrong reasons. So I'm on my own now and although there are times when I feel quite lonely there are also times when I'm loving being so independent. When things do go wrong you have to deal with them on your own and generally it can suck while it's happening but when you get through it, it leaves a sense of pride at what you were able to accomplish. Imagine how many people are too afraid to ever step out of their bubble back home? Reason being that yes it can be difficult but it's also very rewarding and enriching, and you'll be a much wiser person upon your return.

I'm sure traveling at a hectic pace really does take it's toll and contributes to the anxiety, just try not to think too far ahead and chill out whenever you can. Shop at the supermarkets too, healthier in generally and way cheaper! Plus you can eat lots of stuff you're used to, while sampling local foods here and there if they don't agree with your stomach much. Reply to this

9 years ago, January 19th 2010 No: 19 Msg: #100365  
So a huge "THANK YOU" to all of you who replied with words of wisdom and suggestions.

It's now been 24 days since I posted my "SOS" post (sounds like the beginning of an AA meeting) and I'm happy to say I'm still truckin'. I've since been back to Paris and then to Prague again, then a week at a friends in Germany, a week in Budapest (where I met up with a friend for a few days) and now a week in Athens. The slower pace is helping as did seeing familiar faces. Plus, I have found myself chanting in my head "It's an adventure, it's an adventure" a few times when things go wrong and it tends to help me not take traveling problems as seriously.

I should change the blog name to "How Amanda Got Her Groove Back." Except, I'm uber white and never had groove to begin with. Same gist though.

Thanks guys!
Amanda Reply to this

9 years ago, January 19th 2010 No: 20 Msg: #100367  

Plus, I have found myself chanting in my head "It's an adventure, it's an adventure" a few times when things go wrong and it tends to help me not take traveling problems as seriously.

Like a lot of situations in life, I think it is more about how you feel, than what you are doing and what problems and situations you are experiencing. I didnt read all the posts above, but I think Stephen Paul hit the nail on the head. You would likely be feeling the same about the ups and downs of being at home as you are about the travel ones. Now that I think about it, that time I did go home because I got homesick and things were not working out, well they hadnt been working out before I left home that time either. I think it is certainly a case of wherever you go, you take yourself with you, so trying to escape something never turns out to be the escape you expected it to be.

I should change the blog name to "How Amanda Got Her Groove Back."

Well done! Next time you feel very down in the dumps, you can keep this in mind and remember that things can and will get better. I actually had a situation today that caused me stress, worry and panic. I actually managed to tell myself to remember all the other times when I felt like this and then things got sorted out as they always do. This thought actually immediately made me the stress less even though the situation that caused it is not yet sorted out. I now have a milder version of the stress, but I am not making it worse by panicing that I wont be able to sort out my problem or that I have to run away in order to make it gone. ie It is not clouding my judgement, as stress can do.
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