I admit. I have travel anxiety. But i also love to travel. How does one not get anxious when you are travelling? It took me to ‘almost miss’ (shudder) a flight to Bangalore to have this deep rooted travel anxiety. Couple that with the fact that I travel with a 5 year old most times (who is mostly always unperturbed) adds to the anxiety all the more.
And then I decide to take a solo trip to Nepal. Bad idea for someone who has travel anxiety but THIS was necessary for two reasons. One to get rid of my travel anxiety and one to see if i can really do this alone – for myself.
Here are my tips (all for anxious travelers) in preparation for your trip to Nepal. You can replace Nepal with any other destination but trust me the anxiety ALWAYS IS THE SAME.
1. Speak to enough people who have been to Nepal. I spoke to Divyakshi and Deepak who helped me chalk out my itinerary. I almost never ‘go with the flow’ on a trip. I have to know what I am doing everyday – even if it means I have a day of doing nothing – I just have to plan doing nothing. Period.
2. Book your tickets in advance especially when your travel coincides with public holidays and festivals. Be sure that everyone is going to do the same and go to the same location as you are – which is going to make the airfare skyrocket
3. Find out about internal travel – how much the road trip costs, how much the domestic flights and generally about how long it takes. You don’t want to be spending your short vacay trekking up and down an unknown country. Some of that is fine but you know I am an anxious traveller so no surprises for me. (And also reach the airport much in advance – i reach atleast 3 hours in advance to an international flight)
4. Book your stay in advance. I got some amazing options at AirBnb in Nepal. More on the stay in my other blog post. But booking in advance kind of helps you to figure your itinerary as well.
5. Know from the locals how to get around. I spoke to the Airbnb hosts to tell me about how far the stay was from the airport, to help me plan my local itinerary every day. They can also help you with details about local activities , crafts to see and help you book those at a local price.If you do this online you might end up spending a lot more.
6. Plan your finances. Now here is the tricky part. No one gives you foreign currency to go to Nepal so the big bills are out. To top that all because of the demonetization shebang not only are we reeling under the shock, our neighbors like Nepal are reeling too! So INR 500 notes are accepted in very few establishments and INR 2000 are accepted in even lesser. Safest to take INR 100 in multiples if you are anti-bingeshopping and credit cards like I am.
7. Carry snacks and water: When you are on your own and as lazy to go out and eat like me, carry some energy bars and nuts with you. It’s not like the Bnb guys are going to like it if you raid their snack boxes, so it’s best to carry your provisions. And I believe in not buying bottled water. Just my way of showing the Earth I love her. So I carry an empty bottle – fill it with potable water everywhere instead of littering along the place I visit. Oh I also avoid straws but this is something I just started and it will need a little more discipline to get that one into practice.
8. Travel light: Yes for god’s sake travel light. I hate waiting at conveyor belts. It’s not the best thing to do with your time and when you are already are anxious of several other things (like will they let me into this country!) you don’t need fancy toiletries and cutlery in you carry on baggage. Your hotel or Bnb gives you enough of that. And you won’t have the time to moisturize your legs and condition your hair because you will be so busy taking in the moment and passing out of exhaustion or laziness everyday.
9. Keep your valuables with you at all times: yes there are safes and locked rooms. But I rather not be rudely shocked. Keep your passport and your money with you at all times.
10. Have printed copies of everything: Don’t rely on your phone to pull out the ticket or boarding pass. If your phone dies out of battery or your network doesn’t function? It’s the worst ever thing to go hunting for a flight ticket in a new country
11. Keep your phone charged: All cars and hotels have a charging station. Make sure you are traveling with a travel adapter so you are not left struggling with the power points wherever you go.
12. Local SIM card: easy to get its useful to call local numbers and calling back home via data services in your Bnb or hotel.
And then there are other tips of sending back your location to your family back home, not eating what others offer you, not going away with strangers (that’s a bit much) and not going to lonely uninhabited places alone (that too is too much).
These are my 12 tips for anxious travelers. Happy to hear some hacks from you too. Let’s all be anxious together. No surprises just can’t deal with them!