Travelling With Social Anxiety

Not many people know this and it will probably seem like a bit of a shock especially as I travel the world by myself and have now been to 75 countries but I suffer from bouts of social anxiety.

If you haven't heard of it, it's a phobia that makes you feel unable to leave the house and is similar to those of a panic attack (which I experienced many of in my twenties) and although I don't believe in labels, this is a recurring symptom for me.

And as I'm writing this, I'm experiencing another bout of it. I'm sat in an apartment that I found on Couchsurfing and have been sitting here alone for the last three hours unable to go out. The longer I sit here, the greater the anxiety of going out is rising. It feels silly as there's no real logical reason why I'm feeling like this but the very thought of opening the door and going outside fills me with dread.

As an introvert with social anxiety, it doesn't happen often but when it does, it's hard to overcome.

The only way for me to combat it is to tell myself it's not a logical fear. It makes me feel as though I can't face the world but I know I have to. When I'm travelling with others, staying in dorms, and being in the company of people I don't even feel it but being alone for a long time seems to trigger the symptoms.

I'm writing this post to try and inspire others who get the symptoms to overcome it too. It does not stop me from travelling and does not hinder my experiences but only because I don't let it. Sometimes the thought of going out is too overwhelming but the worse thing you can do it is give into it. Make plans, arrange to meet someone so you have to leave the house, plan the next part of your trip to take your mind of the anxiety or just open the door and take a few deep breaths to tell yourself that it's okay out there.

For me, surrounding myself with others is the best cure, but it's just getting to them that causes the mind block. If I can travel solo experiencing these symptoms, anyone can. Don't let fears stop you from living your dream. They are only what's in your mind and not real.

So for now, I am going to open the door with a deep breath, and get myself back out into the wide world…soon

11 thoughts on “Travelling With Social Anxiety

  1. Beverley | Pack Your Passport

    I completely empathise with you, I’ve been there myself although I had no idea up until I read this that what I was feeling actually had a name and that other people experience it too.

    When I was in my final year at uni in Leeds (UK) I was renting a flat on my own – I think this makes it harder, being or living on your own. I’d be fine going to work or going to uni but if I didn’t have a specific time to be somewhere it would literally take me hours to pluck up the courage to go out.

    I used to stand at the window and see other people walking around or see traffic passing by but the thought of people in front of other people made me really anxious.

    I sometimes still feel like this but it hasn’t stopped me travelling. I tend to sometimes tell flatmates or friends about this as the help get my ‘out of my head’ and out of the house.

    1. Girl about the Globe Post author

      Thanks Beverley. I’m so glad it hasn’t stopped you travelling too. I don’t know if it’s something that stays with you forever or that passes in time. I hope it’s the latter. Enjoy your travels x

  2. Bisa

    Thanks for sharing. I think a lot of people will be surprised someone who loves to travel will have this problem. I’ve experienced it myself. Having things planned does help but I have cancelled many things and made up excuses because I just couldn’t get out. I’m turning 40 soon and I don’t think it will every really go away. Like you pointed out was to overcome it and not give into it.

    Happy Travels

  3. Joni

    I found this by googling Agoraphobic World Traveller…talk about an oxymoron….I am very proud of you for acting in spite of your fear because, having suffered from panic attacks from the age of 18 to about 38 I know exactly the courage you must have to move…move on.. I haven’t actually had an anxiety attack for over 20 years, yet as I count the days to my 3 month trip to Australia, the memories come back…causing some mild anticipatory anxiety… I don’t know if it is mild, as I have actually thought of cancelling the trip even though it would cost me 3000.00….hence, why I googled and found your site….it helps to know that there are others out there, like me… thanks…

    1. Girl about the Globe Post author

      Hi Joni, thanks so much for taking the time to comment. I’m really proud of you too for booking a trip to Australia. That must have taken a lot of courage. Take it from me that you will have such an amazing time and have absolutely nothing to worry about. As soon as you get to the airport you will be fine 🙂 It is so natural to be anxious and I always get anxiety before I go anywhere but you can’t let it take over your amazing three month trip. In my four months in Europe, it only happened once and that’s because I had spent too much time alone and was ill too. There are many travellers in Australia that I promise it won’t happen to you. Email me if you need to chat (email – x

  4. Hunt

    You don’t have “bouts” of agoraphobia. Either you have it, all the time, or you don’t. Take it from someone who’s had it for decades. Please don’t trivialize it; it’s insulting to those who have to deal with the real thing.

    1. Girl about the Globe Post author

      Hi, I’m sorry that you have had it for decades. I don’t mean to trivialize it and to insult anyone. This is my experience of it and I seem to be fortunate that I don’t have it all the time but when I do, this is my experience x

    2. Becky

      Agreed, although perhaps the bloggers symptoms are fairly mild and come on in bouts? I’m working through early panic disorder/agoraphobia/OCD, and whilst my own knowledge of dealing with these is almost always a constant, I do find that there are days and moments when it subsides and others when it is unbearable. I couldn’t imagine travelling on my own right now though at all, although I’ve gone on many solo trips around Europe for extended periods in the past! Sending you good thoughts from one agoraphobic to another.


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