Destinations Magazine

How to Handle Feeling Miserable When Traveling

By Livingthedreamrtw @livingdreamrtw
How to Handle Feeling Miserable When TravelingTravel can be infinitely rewarding, even life-changing. It can also be exhausting, stressful and distressing. Feeling miserable on the road can feel embarrassing - you’re supposed to be intrepid, right? Having the time of your life? You’ve worked hard to get here - you saved up, did your research, haggled for cheap flights, negotiated hectic travel hubs. To not relish every minute of your adventure can feel like an enormous waste.  (Photo "One Pill a Day" by alifarid)
But there really is no shame to it. Most travellers experience moments of acute loneliness and alienation. Crowds and constant heckling hawkers can really suck your energy, while poverty, with all its symptoms and implications, is inevitably saddening, no matter how admirably people seem to be handling it. These are all aspects of seeing the world, which is why you’re out there - to see it for yourself -and it would be perverse, if not deluded, to ignore them.
That said, it’s crucial to stay responsible for your own health, including your mental wellbeing. You probably will feel psychologically awful at some point on your trip, be it culture shock, homesickness, plans going awry or due to physical illness. Before leaving, acknowledge this to yourself. Be unafraid of it. You’ll deal with it to the best of your capacity and move on, in whatever way you need to feel well again.
However spontaneous you’d like this adventure to be, research your destination to reveal potential triggers to decide how you’ll deal with them in advance. Polite assertiveness may be needed to deal with persistent merchants, whose approach can seem aggressive if you’re used to a demure “can I help you?”. Learn what potential cons are currently circulating. Trusting yourself to recognize and politely evade a con should let you feel more relaxed about engaging with everyone in the first place.
Begging is a tough call, especially in cities like Delhi, where ragged children dart through several lanes of insane traffic to beg from tourist rickshaws. Some travellers, unwilling to encourage the adults who send them out, avoid giving kids change altogether, donating instead to reliable local charities. Avoid handing out sweets instead of money - if they’re begging, they can’t afford dental care.
How to Handle Feeling Miserable When TravelingMaintain small personal daily routines. Even if you’re habitually chaotic, develop a couple of stabilizing rituals before you travel. These should be uncomplicated and healthy - ritually getting blind-drunk every night may reduce your capacity to handle stress in the long run. Examples include keeping a journal (words or pictures), 10 minutes of guided relaxation on your iPod, an exercise routine in your room, and organising your belongings. However miserable and demotivated you feel, undertake your ritual each day; it should center you, make you feel cared for and provide a sense of continuity.  (Photo "Rest" by Eastop)
Have a safety net, especially if you’re traveling alone. Reserve a “phone home” fund in case you really need to speak to friends or parents. Be honest about how you feel, with yourself and them. They’re probably worried about you anyway, if you’re 1000s of miles from home; at least let them help you. It’s also useful to know where your compatriots hang out, in your destination, even if you don’t intend to go there. In a city where nobody speaks your language, contact with someone who does - whatever you lack in common - can really lift your spirits.

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