Traveling while (innately) anxious can be challenging.
I’ve got an anxious mind. I feel worried about a multitude of “things,” all of which when I say out-loud makes me seem strange in a uniquely awkward way. I’m scared of elevators, petrified of being locked in a room, and airplane bathrooms make my heart stop.
Barring these phobias, my anxiety rears itself at unforeseen and uncontrollable moments. When you’re, “on vacation,” there is a pressure to do it right. To see all the sights, to try all the local cuisine — to adhere to the perfect summation of “Carpe Diem.”
When I travel, I succumb to this pressure. Every meal must be divine, every experience must be rich. Or at least, that’s what I thought. This go around, like I mentioned in this blog post, I feel more calm. I am actively getting myself out of my head; I’m more engaged. I’ll admit, embarrassingly, that I think a lot of my shifted perspective has to do with the fact that my cellular data is turned off.
Less time scrolling on my phone while I’m out of the house means I’m more in tuned with my innate sense of self. Striking up conversations, being more engaged, using my intuition. And while those things don’t really have anything to do with my digestion, they have everything to do with reintroducing myself to me. I can hear myself think. I have time alone with my thoughts. It’s refreshing because it makes me feel more confident. And when I feel confident, I feel happy, and when I feel happy, things taste, look, feel and smell sweeter.
I’d like to caveat this anecdote of sorts by also saying that using my phone doesn’t mean it’s causing my stress, anxiety and worries. My phone is a wonderful little device that allows me access to share my experiences, research delicious restaurants in the UK and provide pivotal directional information. The trouble with my screen is that it can detract from my desire to want to explore facets of my interests that I’d be too wrapped up with instagram to delve into.
I’m still sorting through the conundrum of constant connection in relation to my predisposition for anxiety and worry, but what I do know for certain is that when we leave our quarters for the day and venture without data, it feels good.
The irony here being much of the inspiration for my travels comes from following various accounts across different social media based platforms.
So on a nondescript Wednesday afternoon I suggested we venture to Battersea. I follow this plant-based- “eco-friendly,” “influencer,” on instagram who has mentioned the location of a waste free shop in a town called Battersea. Intrigued, I dragged my sweet cousin across two different tubes and an overground train to check it out. Walking into the store we were greeted by a sign that read, “we are a plastic free zone,” and I immediately felt flushed with excitement. They had bulk everything. Dark chocolate covered dried banana, all the grains, legumes, powders and spices you could think of, raw nut butters, plant based protein energy balls and kombucha on tap. It was marvelous!
I consume a lot of single use plastic, don’t recycle nearly as often as I’d like, more than not I buy conventional over organic produce because of the price, but I’m intrigued by this wave of activism and would really love to do more. The world needs us and I’m very much grappling with how I can make a difference. Too often I get bogged down wanting to make a positive impact but feeling pointless in the face of singularity, will I really make a difference?
With bellies full of an array of organic trail mixes, chocolates and odd waste free concoctions, we perused the streets of Battersea deciding to attempt to rent bikes and try our pedals at navigating home. We lasted all but five minutes before realizing such bikes would lead to our imminent demise as bike lanes are not quite as real in the UK as they are in the states, and London double-decker buses don’t quite care for the feelings of comfortability of a pair of cyclists.
We opted instead to become passengers of the iconic double-decker bus. Taking refuge from the incoming rain about to soak our clothes and newly acquired plastic free purchases, we hopped on the second story of the bus and got a fun tour of Battersea before finding a tube stop and making our way home.
While nothing life altering happened on our afternoon adventure, it was marvelous to tour the town and spend time together. Bella indulged me in my making her stop at Whole Foods (again) to see what this one had; namely a means to buy more tea and chocolates. We almost got run down multiple times trying to cycle our way back to Camden but also got to take a train to journey approximately seven miles from our house. Adventures, right?
We’ve been operating at this kind of speed during our time here. Finding points of interest that pique our minds and then finding a route to get there. Be it a vegetarian ramen restaurant, a show with rave reviews, or even just wanting to stroll through Hyde park. Being tourists for us means waking up whenever and doing the things that bring us joy.
We’ve been rating our meals on a scale out of ten, and it’s been quite the fun adventure trying all new foods and comparing them to one another. I think for me it’s also having such delightful company that makes it experiential. To this end, I encourage the anxious traveler to try acknowledging that not every meal or day planned must be “perfect.” Instead of striving for the picture-book “way to do it right,” just do it and see where you end up.
Locate the places that fill you with energy; I’m not central tourist, meaning I don’t get a rouse out of guided tours. Knowing this, I don’t do them. I prefer picking a borough or city, landing at a cafe and asking the waitress what her favorite spots are. Do it your way and you won’t feel like you’re missing out…because it’s yours.