2 Months As A Backpacker – A Reflection by Kelly

Ok, so most of the blogs I have written before have been very matter of fact!

I have explained where we have been, what we have seen and any amusing moments. However, I don’t really feel I have explained how this trip has been making me feel – that’s what this piece of writing is for.

For those of you that have followed from the start, I explained that I do become very anxious at times. It is never something I have had looked at (personally because I feel fairly self-aware and can deal with the small, inconvenient and irrational panics I have) but it does have an impact on a lot of my thoughts and experiences.

I was very nervous at the start of this trip. I knew there would be lots of ‘unknown’ moments, hours of travelling and situations out of my control. That is my main trigger point – lack of control. Those who know me may laugh at this, as control freak really does tend to be one of my features but it feeds in to a lot more than you may realise.

Anyway, in Dubai, I was anxious – I was weary about my behaviour, the culture, what to expect. We actually had a hotel room too (rather than a hostel) which I thought would help.

I always tried to wake up confident but always became really resistant when it came to leaving the hotel to see the place. I am putting this down to beginning of travel nerves, but I was really hoping I would pull myself together for the rest of the trip.

James knows me very well, which is such a blessing at times as after four years he can accept my behaviours, but I think even he was becoming frustrated with me at times – which I completely understand. He told me “you are always fine when you are out” which is true nine times out of ten, but it’s the needing to feel ready and prepared to leave for a day – especially when it may be a long day.

The idea of staying in hostels (although necessary for such a lengthy trip) was something else of a worry. Out first hostel being in Delhi. It wasn’t the sleeping in a bunk bed, or even in a room with numerous others that bothered me.

My irrational head was worrying about ‘Delhi Belly’ which a lot of people liked to keep teasing me and reminding me about. I was so concerned about getting it and being stuck in a toilet all day that was supposed to be shared with another nine people in a dorm room!

It led me to brush teeth and clean my toothbrush with bottled water (which I am still doing actually) and be very wary of the food I was eating. It really does hinder your experience. Yet, I was fine (which could have been due to my wariness, but just as possibly it would have been fine in the first place).

Good news is, familiarity with hostels has made me feel more comfortable and I am more than happy to stay in them. Something I never thought I would say! Although a private room is still fairly luxurious at times (don’t worry I haven’t completely changed!).

We have been on a lot of day trips so far – the advantage of this is seeing so many extra places and having more experiences. The downside is that they are planned to capacity with very little wiggle room and that itinerary is out of my control. Most trips have an early start of around 7am. I get nervous at early starts due to many previous experiences.

So, I was finding myself setting my alarm earlier and earlier so I could feel prepared for the time I had no choice to be ready for (see the control freak part seeping in?) This would lead me to feeling tired which doesn’t help with the anxiety.

I would get ready but still feel nervous sitting waiting for the bus to pick us up, usually manifesting itself by my foot tapping. Next problem – the bus. I found myself researching the travel times of the places we were visiting so I would know how long the bus journey would be, how long I would be surrounded by strangers, how long until there would be a toilet.

If it was a long journey it would increase my panic feeling. One journey to Ayutthaya, I wasn’t feeling too great – I had a stomach ache and felt we had to leave before I felt ready. Half way through the journey, I felt desperate for the loo and my anxiety rocketed. I grabbed James leg and told him I needed the toilet. He was brilliant – he held my hand, told me to breathe and asked if I wanted him to speak to the driver to pull over.

I kept changing my mind (the British in me not wanting it cause a problem/disrupt the journey). I closed my eyes and tried to focus on breathing and tried to sleep. As soon as we arrived James got me off the bus and ran me to the toilet. I felt a little better but was still on full alert the rest of the day.

I will comment, this was the worst panic moment I have had so far on the trip. It wasn’t nice, and I felt upset with myself that I get myself like that, but it is experiences like that which annoyingly contribute to the reasons I get anxious in the first place!

However, in contrast to day trips where James and I have made my own plans, I have felt fine. The reason is because I (we) have control – If I want to go back to the accommodation, I can. If I need 5 minutes to run into a bar to go to the loo, I can, if I am feeling unwell, I can do something about it without disrupting a bus load of people!

As much as I have enjoyed the day trips, I have really enjoyed just doing what we want to do also! This is a really good way to travel if you are a bit like me, but it cant be this way all the time, and you do have to push yourself at times too – but isn’t that what travelling is all about?!

The other thing about travelling is the tiredness. I feel like I am always tried – even after a full night’s sleep, or a day sunbathing by the pool. Its not like we are having late nights either. The energy used living out of a bag, constantly moving, trying to fit everything in, working out our next step is frankly, exhausting.

It is a lot more tiring than I anticipated. I am really enjoying seeing so many new places, and compared to some travellers, we are giving ourselves longer periods of time in areas but having a day off from time to time is really necessary!

James is even struggling with both the time and motivation to get blog posts up and running (I will give him his due, he contributes a lot more to getting them online) because when there is a day free do be productive, it’s the last thing you want to do as it requires more thinking and energy! Not only that, but free days are needed to plan next adventures/plans. It’s all a balance game.

Travelling as a couple, especially with James is wonderful. I have found myself more relaxed as time goes on as things are becoming more familiar and I understand what to expect. I still have to know where, when, how, who etc but I am a lot more accepting. Which is really positive for me.

James knows exactly how to deal with me too which is so helpful to calm me down or talk sense into me! If I was a lone traveller, I doubt I would have seen half as much as I have! I really did wonder how James and I would get on spending so much time together. I honestly thought we would get irritated with each other frequently and need some alone time, but if anything, it has brought us closer together!

Without work stressors, bills, responsibilities to think about, it is so much easier. We chat about our experiences, our future, we giggle, we are silly together, we are comfortable in silence together. Short times we have spent apart we have missed each other! It really is an amazing experience to have together and I couldn’t be happier I found someone to help me make the most of it!

A lot of this post has seemed negative, and I don’t want it to be at all. I am having the most incredible time with the most amazing man and trying to soak up as much as I can knowing its not going to last forever.

I also have an exciting outlook for the future when the time comes to come home. I wanted to slant my posts around how an anxious, nervous and uncomfortable person gets on with travelling for those that experience similar mild feelings as me, and I hope this has given a little insight as to how I have been dealing with things so far.

It started off rocky, but day by day I am feeling more settled, more comfortable and more accepting of things. I will continue to still have wobbles at times but I am willing to make the most of this trip as I know how lucky I am to have the opportunity.

Missing you all at home!


2 responses

  1. Oh bless your heart Kelly thank you for letting us know how you have been feeling I bet it is to ring its bad enough going away for a week xc love you xx

  2. Well done Kelly. It was very brave of you to bare your soul and let everyone know your weaknesses – not something a control freak would find easy doing! I’m very proud of you for doing the trip, coping so well and for telling others how you have felt about it. It mistakes me miss you all the more! Xxxxx

Leave a Reply

Your e-mail address will not be published. Required fields are marked *