27 Nov 2012

The Initial Panic Period

Having just started my third trip abroad, it is clear to me now that the general insecurity and vulnerability some people feel in the first few days never gets any easier.  You might know the feeling - your mojo has unexpectedly gone AWOL and you just don't feel like yourself.  All you can think about is how far away from home you are.  I recently wrote this guest post for Manu at My 1st Impressions.  After that experience I expected to feel fine second time around, but I didn't.  Arriving in Kuala Lumpur a year later I felt the same uneasy feeling of not really knowing what to do or why I was there.



Third time around and in a place as Western as Melbourne, I still felt like this.  The first two days here were spent enduring an unpleasant feeling of insecurity, confusion and homesickness.  It kind of surprised me I guess!  I think it's just a part of the travel experience that I will always go through.  I do think there are things you can do to help pull yourself out of this though, because if you let it take over it can leave you feeling very alone and can be extremely unpleasant.  The whole point of you going away was to feel good, not bad, right?

First off, eat and drink properly.  Taking care of yourself physically is really important, especially to help you get over the jet lag (which I think is a big contributor to this weird initial period).  Get nutrition in your body and stay hydrated, and get out and walk too!  Keep your body working and your mind will follow.

Say hello to strangers.  Just force yourself to talk to people, even if you really, really don't want to.  A simple exchange of words with a fellow backpacker will immediately make you feel better and will give you confidence in yourself.  Plus it's the only way you'll make new friends.

Contact your friends and family back home.  If you can skype or email them, do it as soon as!  They'll send you waves of support and encouragement over the internet and will leave you feeling motivated and grounded.

Last but not least, when your mojo finally decides to return to its rightful place, go out.  A good night out with some new friends, whether it be heavy drinking or a relaxed meal, is so good for starting you off on your backpacking roll.  Socialising is one of the best thing about backpacking and travelling anyway, so the sooner you start the better.