Eje Cafetero

In just a month from now I’ll be boarding a plane and travelling to a new and unfamiliar destination. What am I doing? Can I handle this? All these thoughts were buzzing through my head not long before I packed my bags and moved to Colombia. My thoughts were filled with self-doubt and fear. Can I really do this? I was nervous and worried that I was making the wrong decision. I was worried that I was going to fail, or look stupid, or feel alone. But there are ways to avoid the pre-overseas freak-out, or at least lessen its intensity. Here’s how I managed to do it.

1. Make connections
Do you know people from where you’re heading? Get in touch with them, organise to meet up and see if you can stay with them for a night or two. If you don’t know anyone in the area you’re heading to, why not stay with a host family, make connections with people on CouchSurfing.org or ask around, perhaps your friends know people where you’re going.

2. Make Plans
Look up all the places you want to visit and write a list of things you want to do while you’re away. I jotted down things like “Visit Cali and dance salsa” and “See the wax palms in the Cocora Valley” (pictured above) and looked up photos of these amazing places to help me feel inspired. Before you know it, your fears and anxieties will be replaced with enthusiastic heart-pumping because there’s no time to be anxious when you’re over-the-moon busting-at-the-seams excited.

3. Set Goals
Revisit why you’re doing this in the first place. Is it to gain independence, to learn a language, to get work experience, to meet people, to learn about yourself, to reengage with your culture, to meet your partners relatives? Whatever the reason, remind yourself of why you’re heading overseas at all and write a list of the things you want to accomplish while you’re there. Don’t come home until you’ve crossed everything off your list, or at least given it a really good shot.

4. Be as prepared as you can
Check your passport, your visas, your vaccinations, addresses, flight details and all that extra stuff that you’re bound to leave until the last minute. Write a list of things you need to get done by a certain date and then do them! I really need to take my own advice on this one.

5. Get Going
Buy a journal and a camera and get ready for the best time of your life. Don’t forget to shares your photos with me. I’d love to hear how your plans to travel abroad are going.

Have you ever had a pre-overseas trip freak out? What do you do to calm the nerves?