Believe it or not, there are delightful advantages for those who are easily overwhelmed when they actually manage to kick up the courage to travel.
We are forced to go slower and therefore can see in more detail. We are more sensitive to sound, motion, and color and therefore can more fully absorb the changing beauty around us. We have to be more in tune with our bodies and therefore get to experience the tactile experiences of travel to a higher degree. The difficulties of immersing oneself in the unfamiliar is heightened, but so, dear friend, are the joys.
As such, here are a few things to practice, keep in mind, and hold on to as you set off on a new adventure whether you or your travel partner is easily overwhelmed.
Take only what you need and always take what you need.
Your packing list should look like your packing list, not anyone else's. If you're exploring a new method of travel or type of trip, you should certainly take other people's advice on what to take. However, you have the last say in what goes and what stays and, as someone who is easily overwhelmed, that can look very different from a standard packing list.
Do one thing a day. Everything else is a bonus.
Get up when you wake up. Make your own breakfast. Venture out with a simple plan that you're excited about. Pack a lunch even if you plan on eating out. Go slow enough to stumble across unexpected and new experiences without spinning out. Don't ever feel guilty about going home early. Ever.
Don't read excitement as panic.
Excitement and Panic often manifest as the same buzzy tension inside your body but they have very different outcomes. By simply reminding your body that you are excited and not scared, you can allow healthy tension to build up and then slowly release it during your trip when you need it rather than having it explode into a panic attack before you leave.
If you travel with a companion, be sure to set up clear expectations.
There are innumerable benefits gained by traveling with a good companion for people who are easily overwhelmed. Support, conversation, a safety net are just a few. However! It is vital that they understand that you will need to travel slower than they might want to. Otherwise, you will most likely spend your time fighting guilt (from slowing them down) or overwhelm (from going at their pace).
This doesn't mean that they have to slow down to match your pace. They can head off on a solo adventure while you take a slow day. Where this kind of co-travel breaks down is when you expect them to spend all of their time with you or vice versa. Clear communication at the beginning of your trip may not give you smooth sailing all the way through, but it will give you a vocabulary with which to talk through frustration in the moment.
Create rituals in your new space.
By all means one or two of your favorite rituals from home to soften the blow of new surroundings. Maintain your before-sleep routine as best you can no matter what time you end up going to bed, or bring a box of your favorite tea and curl up with a cup of it each day. However, don't pass over the precious opportunity to create new rituals in this one space and time. Perhaps you pick a little food shop and make it your local. Choose a time of day and take a walk in any direction from your front door. Learn a new yoga routine and only use it on your trip. When your trip is long over and the memories are fading, you'll be glad of these cherished moments and rhythms to bump into, transporting you back into your travels.
Give yourself a theme to follow.
Before you leave, create one sentence. It can be as specific as learning more about a particular person or subject or as simple as picking a color or neighborhood. This theme is certainly not to limit you in what you are allowed to do -- you should definitely feel free to get that cruffin even if it has nothing to do with street life in the 1880s. Your theme is simply for those moments when you are paralyzed by all of the things you "should" do piled on top of all of the things you want to do PLUS all of the things you just learned you could do. Slow down the torrent and refocus by making the next thing you do fit into your theme.
What are your travel tips for the easily overwhelmed? Comment below or share it with everyone on facebook.