I wrote this as I sat at the San Jose airport on my recent flight Colombia. I almost didn’t get on the plane.
As the departure date for my Colombia (Cali and Medellin) approached, doubts started to creep in. Was I travelling only because I thought I should be travelling? This wasn’t my first trip to Colombia. And not the first time last-minute doubts set in.
What was the purpose of my trip? Unlike the other trips, this one had no specific agenda, it was just go, have a good time, get away for a couple of weeks.
Would I be able to get my work done? Will I miss things going on back at home? Why am I paying for a home in Costa Rica and now paying to stay somewhere else?
Even though I was at the airport, I debated back and forth. Even in the last moments before boarding. The flight was not refundable, got a great deal a few weeks ago when I chose this day to travel. Why this day? It wasn’t a Friday or a Sunday. I found I have to travel on Fridays and Sundays and do not if I have choice of dates. The last time I flew on a Friday, a day of no choice, the flight went horrible. I experienced security checks I have never before. Was it my demeanor? My attitude? A Friday? I am not superstitious, but something had an effect on my travel that day.
This happens to all of us, I am sure, even seasoned travellers. At some point before your trip, you’ll likely feel a few doubts creeping in. Usually at the last-minute, within a few days, hours or even minutes of your departure.
This is completely normal and it happens to everyone at some point, is my rationale.
What causes this? Something maybe a friend or loved said or hearing of their plans without you while you will be away? It could be a simple remark, comment, maybe about the destination and how dangerous or boring it is.
If not checked, the doubts can become a monster, making you second guess yourself, your feelings, your wants, your desires.
My solution? Practice self-control. Even if you are the confident type you need to take care against the anxiety building up ahead of your trip. And anxiety it is without question.
Here are some ways to practice self-control that work for me:
Exercise. Whether you’re a fitness pro or couch potato, break a sweat regularly, get the blood pumping, the juices flowing. I am not one for regimented excercise, so I look for ways to get active without the negative I associate with excercise. This is where Luna comes in, my four-legged companion, an American Stafford that loves to chase a ball. My other dogs, huskies, couldn’t care less, they will run for it the first time, then take the attitude, “you want it, go get it yourself”.
Luna loves to chase and is still 50/50 on getting it back to me. A game of handball with her, for 10-5 minutes, letting her get the better of me once in a while, works. For me. Don’t try this with a tennis ball, you will need a ball that the dog can’t easily tear apart, had a lot of bounce (important!).
Take long walks. Save your podcasts or audiobooks for these walks if you need the motivation. In Santa Ana or San Jose or most places in Costa Rica putting on headphones to music or anything else not highly recommended. No, you won’t get it ripped off, or at I don’t think you will. No, you won’t be able to hear the cars or motorcycles.
Meditate. Find what works with you to lose yourself in your thoughts.
Read, write, make music, or release creative energy. You need an outlet for your creativity. Me, I update my blog.
Stay healthy. Eat well, get enough sleep, don’t go on any benders before you travel, plenty of time at your destination.
Give yourself an extra financial cushion. My top tips for travelers, especially solo female travelers, is to be financially prepared for you safety. That means using a cab or Uber if you don’t feel safe taking public transport, especially at night. Spend a little more in accommodations, a hotel or an Airbnb in a nicer part of town, maybe a place that you can feel safe when you’re inside and your stuff when you’re not.
Carry enough cash to get you back home in case you lose all your plastic or in some places, like Cuba for example, ATM’s and credit cards are not a reliable option.
Now, for perhaps the most important part of all of this, when you get to your destination, enjoy. Don’t be a tourist, be a traveller. See the things that interest you. Do the things you like and at your time. Discover, sample, live. If that doesn’t seem right to you, why did you travel in the first place?