>> Over the years I noticed travelling had an immensely positive impact on me. Especially solo travel can push us out of our comfort zone and teach us many aspects of our personalities. It highlights our strengths and weaknesses and helps us develop tools to live a richer & more fulfilling life. I knew I wasn’t the only one who reaped the benefits of travelling for personal development.
This guest post series introduces you to others who have, in one way or another, travelled for personal development: be it to learn a new language, to mend a broken heart or to overcome an anxiety. Hopefully it will encourage you to travel more yourself and perhaps even help you to overcome barriers. <<
Meet Sally who decided to tackle her anxiety through travelling solo. She one day decided to leave her comfort zone and confront her fears. She hopes to encourage you to do the same!
How to Overcome Anxiety Through Travel
Being independent from a young age, anxiety was never something that plagued me. Sure, I was always introverted and shy but I had never suffered from anxiety in a way that it physically affected me. At the youthful age of sixteen, having just had a friend return from Germany, I decided I wanted to go on exchange to Italy. This was quite the transformative, life changing experience as my first solo adventure in a foreign country where I was expected to participate in school and daily Italian life.
This two month stint opened my eyes to the world and diversity of culture. I have never had such concentrated learning as I did in that two month period. I learnt to order a coffee or wine in Italian, catch the bus to school and the train to Florence. But more importantly, I learned about myself and where I fit in this world. I learnt to trust my instincts and that I could overcome anything that was put in front of me!
So you may be thinking, when is she going to talk about how to overcome anxiety? In 2012, a few years later, and a few more international trip since then, I was in university and had put my name down for a six month exchange in Mexico. Having had to apply almost a year in advance, I was initially excited to go but as the time got closer I got more and more anxious. My body and mind were at conflict with one another. I remember leaving Australia being upset and not excited in anticipation of the adventure that was to come.
When I arrived in Mexico, I immediately felt more alone than I ever have in my life. And for an introvert who doesn’t mind some ‘me’ time this was something new for me. I struggled eating, I had no energy, I felt nauseous, I had panic attacks. After two weeks of struggling with this, I made plans to return home to Australia where I could recuperate in my familiar surroundings.
Things did not immediately get better upon my return like I expected them to. I wondered how to overcome anxiety and I discovered the key was to travel solo once again, to do something that challenged me as a person. I needed to learn how to be independent again, how to overcome anxiety through realizing my strengths and capabilities through solo travel.
In February of 2013, I booked a last minute tour with G Adventures from Bangkok, Thailand, through Cambodia to Ho Chi Minh City, Vietnam. Boarding that plane again was nerve-racking but I realized I was excited this time for the adventure to come. My main reason for booking this tour over anywhere else in the world was to see the amazing feat that is Angkor Wat and its surrounding temples. And waking up at 4:30am to see the sunrise over the temple was just incredible and the highlight of my trip!
During this trip, I met some great people from all over the world who I stay in touch with even now and felt more alive with my passion for travel! One of the more harrowing experiences was visiting the Killing Fields in Cambodia and really put into perspective how lucky I am to live such an amazing life and have the freedom to travel wherever I want at any given time.
Whilst overcoming anxiety is a process and not an immediate result, solo travel certainly helped me on my journey and I am sure it can a lot of other people. Don’t be afraid to get outside of your comfort zone and try new things even though they may be daunting at first. It is through these challenges that we grow as human beings!
For more on solo travel to destinations that will show you how to overcome anxiety, click here.
What about you? Has travelling helped you to alleviate your aniety? I would love to read your thoughts in the comment section below.
Sally is a 23-year-old travel consultant, blogger, foodie and lover of all things travel. Head over to her blog to read about her and for your free 5 Day Guide to New York City. Sally has currently travelled to 24 countries on over 4 continents. Among many other experiences, she has skied down the Austrian Alps on Christmas day, gone for a ride in an army tank through the mud in Slovakia, relaxed in the Greek Islands, woken up before dawn to see the sunrise over Angkor Wat and attended university in Mexico. Her goal is to create a community of like-minded travellers and life enthusiasts.
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