Traveling with anxiety is a real doozy. And I want to be honest about it because too often I’ll post the highlight reel. You see a pretty picture and think “oh wow! Katie is so adventurous…so easy going!” Or maybe you don’t…Idkkk what goes on in your brain.
The truth is, I am scared of pretty much everything. And the older I get, the more fearful I get. I am fully aware of it. I fucking hate it. And I actively fight against the feeling of fear so it doesn’t win.
But let’s roll back a year. When my mom was diagnosed with cancer, we didn’t really know what her life post cancer would look like. In my head and heart, I was fully prepared to stay close to home, close to her and caretake as much as was required of me. The outlook ended up being better than we originally thought and my mom has recovered beautifully. She is more active than I am most of the time.
She got a second chance and I often feel like I got a second chance too. I’ve always loved to travel but watching her get this shit circumstance handed to her in an instant made me realize just how fleeting life truly is. Cheesy I know. But it’s true. Cancer takes a lot from you but it also makes you realize how fucking beautiful and precious life is.
Anyways, she’s doing great and I am beyond relieved/grateful…really no words.
So back to travel. I knew after the shit show of a year we had through her treatment, I was ready to travel again. But now that I’m older…I’m more fearful. Of what you might be thinking? It would probably be easier for me to list the things I’m NOT scared of. All the things that can go wrong play in a loop in my brain. But then I remember…it’s NEVER as scary as my brain wants me to believe it is. So I do it scared. And that’s been my motto for a lot of things “do it scared.” Fuck fear. Do what you want to do in spite of it. And when you really think about it, people who are scared but do the thing they’re scared of anyways…how brave is that?
So here are a few things I do personally to help tackle some of the anxiety that comes with traveling.
- Pack an actual bag. I know “packing light” is highly regarded in the circles of savvy travelers but for me personally, I feel better being prepared. This way all of those “what if I need…” questions are already answered. I bring a little personal item with all of my must haves.
- Bring supplements that serve multiple purposes. Magnesium is great for stress relief and also helps keep things regular while on vacation…if ya know what I mean. I also love lemon balm to help with stress. This combo usually helps me feel immediate relief from anxiety.
- Always stop to pee when you can. Nerves = constantly having to pee. When I see a bathroom, I use it even if I don’t have to go…ya know…kind of like a toddler.
- Noise canceling headphones and earplugs for light sleepers. I also have the Calm app and listen to rain sounds when I sleep to drown out any weird hotel noises.
- Be smart about your travel dates. I try to avoid crowds and prefer to travel during slower seasons when I can. I also try to avoid travel during my period. As someone with endometriosis, I can experience a lot more pain and anxiety during my period so I prefer to be in the comfort of my own home during that part of my cycle.
Now let’s actually talk about Ireland and why it’s a great place to travel if you’re anxious but want to experience a new place anyways (proud of you, boo).
- Ireland is magical. The air feels cleaner and you just breathe a little bit deeper.
- It’s a country that naturally prioritizes a more relaxed way of a life. People are generally patient, easygoing and welcoming of tourist. Coming from the NYC area, we were always surprised when people let us stop to walk ahead or moved over on the road to let us pass. It just seemed like the natural way.
- It’s fairly easy to move travel throughout the country. We flew into Shannon which is a great little airport perfect to fly into if you want to see the West Coast. Highly recommend. We started in Doolin, went to Dingle then ended in Killarney. The drive on the Dingle Peninsula was a little tricky but overall way easier than we had anticipated.
- The B&B’s also known as Guesthouses are a great alternative to hotels. We hugely prefer them because the value, hospitality and breakfast is unmatched. We loved waking up and heading down to breakfast instead of trying to find a coffeeshop that was open. We had the pleasure of staying at 3 top rated B&B’s and I cannot recommend them enough – Sheedy’s in Doolin, Pax House in Dingle and Heaton’s in Dingle. A hot tip – book these well in advance, they are very popular for good reason.
This was my 4th visit to Ireland and I am confident I’ll be back. I highly recommend to anyone and everyone but especially those who travel with anxiety. Do it scared.