Travel Anxiety Tips: What I Learnt From My Trip to Naples, Sorrento and the Amalfi Coast

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The Power of Travel

All good trips have to come to an end. And as I boarded my dawn bus back to Naples airport, passing through sleeping villages, playgrounds seemingly guarded by a friendly statue of a clown at the gates, and coffeeshops with a scattering of bleary-eyed Italians standing at the bar, I reflected that my trip to this area had been life-changing. I’d discovered so many tips: for visiting the area, and really making the most of it on a budget, which massively boosted my confidence as a traveller – no more was I the unsavvy tourist! I hadn’t even gotten too lost! (well, apart from the Steps of Death in Positano) But much more importantly, I’d discovered how to beat the travel anxiety which prevented me from travelling for so long, and how to improve my life in general.

That might sound like a bit of an exaggeration – ‘what, with one single trip?’, the cynic in you is possibly thinking – but it’s absolutely true. Sometimes, that’s all it takes, especially if you have a little bit of help along the way. All of the tips that I’m about to tell you completely improved my trip, added to my experience as a traveller, and boosted my confidence. And the the best bit is that they’re completely transferable to travelling in general, so you can use them for your next trip, whether it be Naples or Nepal.

So let’s get this travel-lovin’, tip-sharin’ smorgasbord started!

view from a plane

Tip 1: Take Lauren Juliff’s Outstanding “How To Overcome Travel Anxiety” Course

When I wrote above that my trip was life-changing, taking Lauren’s course was the single factor. It has changed my life, and it will continue to do so every time I travel, as well as helping me in day-to-day life. Yes, it really is that powerful.

The night before I left for Italy, I was deep in the grip of a severe anxiety attack. The cause of that attack: the thought of travelling. I remember sliding my feet between my duvet and my sheets, thinking this could be the last time I do this. I was convinced that I was going to die, that my plane would go down in flames, and that my parents were going to be sobbing on national television. I was certain that if I somehow made it to Italy in one piece, that I would be mugged or killed whilst I was there. If I hadn’t taken Lauren’s course, I am 100% certain that I wouldn’t have made it to the airport. I would’ve cancelled the flight, shut down this blog, and never spoken of it again, just like I did with my failed trip to Arizona.

Fortunately, I’d purchased the “How to Overcome Travel Anxiety” course a couple of weeks previously, and it squished that anxiety attack into lasting probably no longer than about ten minutes – I actually accessed it on my phone that night, and read it in bed to reinforce it in my mind before I went to sleep. For a full description of the course, click here – if you’ve ever suffered from any form of travel anxiety; if you’re an absolute beginner to travelling, or you’re an experienced hand who suffers from anxiety, or who still worries about flying or what to do if it all goes wrong whilst you’re away, I wholeheartedly recommend this course. It will help you so much, and you owe it to yourself to ease that energy-sapping fear.

It also helps me when I’m at home, with tips and strategies for coping with anxiety day-to day, and they work! It’s not a magic cure – sadly, such a thing doesn’t exist, but I’ve noticed that my anxiety levels have been significantly lower since I’ve been following the course’s tactics. It’s now unusual for me to have a bad day with it, and I’m on the way to being able to ignore anxiety completely.

Sounds good, but still not sure? Not a problem: Lauren offers a 30-day money back guarantee if you’re not completely satisfied with the course.

 

 

 

Tip 2: Apps Are Awesome

No, not Neko Atsume (okay, that’s awesome too, gimme all the cats!!), but the kaleidoscope of travel apps that are readily available to you through your own mobile phone. And if you have anxiety, knowing that the phone in your pocket has the power to get yourself out of trouble is absolutely brilliant.

The best apps for travel are the ones that help you to get around, keep you navigated, let you make the most of your trip, and don’t drain the battery until it’s emptier than the cold, dark depths of a politician’s heart. My personal hero during my trip to Italy was Maps.me, an app available for Android and iPhone. It works offline – a godsend for keeping that precious battery life topped up – but still shows your precise location, as well as everything of interest that’s in your area. A particularly good feature is that it’ll even show you where all the good views are; perfect for snapping that perfect shot! When I was on Capri, I noticed a viewpoint of the Faraglioni marked on the app which was a bit further out from the popular ones, and ended up having it all to myself.

view of i faraglioni capri

Apps make getting around a lot easier too, and can really help with specifics such as knowing which number bus you need to catch, which is something that normally sparks my anxiety sky-high. Apps like Citymapper and Rome2Rio are invaluable for this, and can be set so that they’ll only access your location when you’re using the app. Another bit of battery life saved! Citymapper has some particularly useful features: it’ll alert you when you’re nearing your stop, which is brilliant when you’re in an unfamiliar location.

Want to make the most of your time in your chosen location? Most tourist boards have their own apps, which are worth checking out when you’re planning which attractions you want to see. Add to that apps such as Cool Cousin, Culture Trip, Musement, and Lonely Planet Trips, you literally have a city guide in your pocket. And the best thing is that the guides are made by the public, written about their home cities, areas they know and love. You’ve just acquired a friend who can tell you all the best places to eat, or dance, or see street art.

 

 

Tip 3: Pick a Good Base

This was particularly relevant on my trip to the Naples area, and is probably my best tip for anyone staying in that area. You’ve probably seen photos of the Amalfi Coast, or Capri, and fallen in love with them. I don’t blame you; they’re beautiful! But that beauty comes with a cost: namely, all the hotels in the area know that you really want to stay there, and they’ll raise the price accordingly. So, as a canny traveller, you think to yourself “okay, I’ll just stay in Naples, because that’s much more affordable.” And you’d be right, plus Naples is a wonderful place, and Capri is in easy reach. But what about the Amalfi Coast? You’re now quite a long trip on public transport away from Positano and all the other treasures on the coast, and may find that you have to shell out for a tour or a hire car in order to see them. Well, that’s just annoying, right?

So here’s the tip: if you’re in an area with lots of things that you want to see, but they’re not necessarily the easiest to get to, choose your base wisely. Do your research: can you stay in a town that’s roughly in the middle of it all? Is there a town or village that has better transport links than the other locations? Are you willing to pay extra for that balcony view? You can save yourself a lot of money, or find a hidden gem of a village, just by staying somewhere a little bit different.

fruit_sorrento

For anyone who’s wrestling with the above scenario for the Amalfi Coast, my tip is to stay on the other side of the peninsula in the town of Sorrento, which has amazing transport links. Regular buses and trains to Naples, Positano, Amalfi, Pompeii, and Herculaneum, regular (and fast) boats to Capri and Ischia, and it’s a wonderful town in its own right. It has fantastic places to stay, good shops and restaurants, some stunning views, and it’s considerably more affordable than Positano or Capri. Have a look at my Sorrento guide here.

And if you do end up in Sorrento, check out Franco’s Pizzeria on the Corso Italia. Best pizza on the peninsula.

Looking for that perfect place to stay? Have a look over at Booking.com!

 

 

Tip 4: Public Transportation Is King

I admit, the first time I visited the Amalfi region, I went on organised tours. I paid through the nose for coach trips along the Amalfi Coast (because catching the bus was too scary, and I didn’t trust bus drivers to have the expertise not to plunge off a cliffside), and to Pompeii (because I’d been told that the areas around the archaeological sites were a bit rough, and I wanted to be safe). I dread to think how much I paid.

Please please please, don’t go on a tour purely because of anxiety and fear, because you can save yourself a lot of money and have a far more authentic travel experience by taking public transport!

view of positano italy

In my example above, I paid roughly about €60 for a tour of the Amalfi Coast on my first trip there. Whilst I had an absolutely lovely and informative guide, I could’ve caught a bus which did exactly the same journey for €6, and which didn’t try to persuade me to buy from a particular shop or eat in a particular restaurant. And let me assure you, no-one is more of a talented driver, and in-journey entertainment provider, than an Amalfi Coast bus driver. Watching them herding visitors and yelling at fellow bus drivers  out of their window is part of the joy (check out my day in Amalfi here). Similarly, whilst the areas around Pompeii and Herculaneum might not be the most scenic, they’re not nearly as crime-ridden as the tour operators would have you believe.

But this is a tip which works the whole world over. Ditch the tours, get on the bus or train, and mix with the locals. Which brings me to my next tip…

 

 

Tip 5: Travel Like A Local

And that doesn’t just apply to public transport.

For me, a large part of the joy of travelling is meeting and interacting with the people who live there, experiencing everyday life and local culture. So my golden rule for travelling is “do as the locals do”. If it’s a choice between a busy tourist trap restaurant, and that intriguing-looking place busy with locals, go for the latter. They live there; they know what’s good and what’s not. And don’t feel afraid to strike up a conversation, even if you don’t speak much of the language – it’s amazing how much you can convey with some basic words, and mad mime artist skillz. I struck up a conversation with some Neopolitan barmen in basic Italian, just by showing them the Leicester City Football Club keyring on my bag. And I’m as socially awkward as they come, so if I can do it, so can you.

Plus it’s great for deflecting some unwanted attention – reduce the neon sign over your head that’s flashing “I AM A TOURIST” as much as you can. Be assured, try to learn a few words of the local language, and do your research as to what’s acceptable in a location and what isn’t. Try to dress vaguely similarly to the inhabitants: when I went to Naples, everyone wearing shorts and t-shirts immediately drowned in a sea of selfie-stick sellers, whilst the Italians in their autumn knitwear (and cunning visitors who followed suit, *cough*me*cough*) slipped by with the greatest of ease. Plus, it significantly reduced my worries about being pickpocketed or mugged.

And I’m sure I don’t need to remind you of this, lovely enlightened reader, but above all – be respectful. I’m tired of seeing visitors barking orders at local residents, and I don’t want us nice travellers to be associated with them.

 

 

Tip 6: Travel Lots, Because It’s Good For You

I really can’t describe how much the trip to Italy changed my life, and I’m so thankful for it.

Lauren’s Overcoming Travel Anxiety Course was the kickstarter I richly needed for this trip, and once I was in the air, I just blossomed. I could feel myself relax, and become more interested in my surroundings. I immediately started to feel what I call the “travel effect” – you suddenly start to notice colours more, and scents, and weird little things like the way sunlight dapples through the trees, and you get hypnotized by the shadow of a branch waving in a warm breeze.

I’ve written about mindfulness on this blog before, and I absolutely believe that travel is the best form of mindfulness out there. Time goes more slowly, and you’re not wrapped up in the worries and stresses of your everyday life. You’re focused on the here and now, rather than on whether you’re going to get that promotion at work, and how your colleague keeps stealing your chair because she’s just that annoying. Your biggest problem is finding the absolute best restaurant for dinner that night. You have an eye on tomorrow, but you’re not worried about it – it’s going to be another beautiful day of exploration and possibility.

And most importantly, anxiety just evaporates, and becomes so much easier to deal with. Unless something goes wrong, and if it does, you can equip yourself with the tools to defeat it.

boat in the sea amalfi italy

Travel opens your mind, makes you more experienced and worldly, and boosts your confidence immeasurably. I know it’s certainly had that effect on me. I’ve been far better at dealing with all aspects of my life since I’ve returned, and I’ve gotten hooked on the feeling – I have four trips being planned for this year, and I’m not stopping there. I have the confidence to do it now.

Travel, as much as you can. Be international. Make new friends from around the world. And meet the best version of yourself.

 

 

 

Travel anxiety sucks. Don't let it rule your life: read this article to discover tips for coping with anxiety abroad, how to keep it under control - and how to overcome it completely. https://thatanxioustraveller.com #travel #anxiety

 

 

 

 

44 comments
  1. I absolutely love that you wrote about this. I deal with anxiety on a daily basis, and it of course comes with me on my travels. It’s something I’m working on, but it’s tough! And a lot of your tips above have been things that have helped me massively over the years and gotten me to bite the bullet and just keep traveling. Thanks for such a helpful, encouraging post!

    1. Thank you so much! I also get it on a daily basis – but it’s so much more manageable when I travel. It’s so funny that the thing which should really spike my anxiety seems to be controlled by it! I hope that my tips really help you too! <3

  2. These are some great life lessons. That course you took just sounds amazing and I am so glad that it changed your life for the better. I always need a good base for when I travel. I like to have a feel of home while traveling, so that is always something I need to feel at ease. You had other great lessons learned as well!

    1. The travel course was such an awesome investment; it’s really opened my world up. And that’s a great feeling! 🙂 I love a nice, homey travel base too!

  3. What a great selection of thoughts and practical advice. I do some already (Citymapper is my bestie, while mime’s so worthwhile) and I’ll certainly be adding others. Thanks for putting together such an inspiring collection of tactics. And for that comment about a politician’s heart, which will be keeping me smiling for hours.

    1. Citymapper is awesome, I’ve got it loaded up for my next trip – it seems to work in a lot more locations than it advertises, too!

  4. This is a brilliant post. I am so impressed with you for using the tools you learnt to subdue your anxiety, get out into the world and have fun!!

    Your travel tips are excellent, and I love your writing. Now, I’m on a bus so I better be off before my phone battery is as cold as a politician’s heart. 😉

    1. Haha! Thank you very much! 🙂 Those darn politicians!

  5. As someone who suffers from anxiety, depression, and insomnia, I totally love these suggestions because I refuse to let anxiety get between me and my lovr of travel. Thanks for showing me and others how to persevere through lifes challenges to do what you love. Also gotta check out Lauren Juliff’s course!

    1. <3 Same - I spent too many years letting anxiety and fear get the better of me, and make me think that I'd never see places I'd always dreamt of visiting. No more! I'm not letting it stop me! And I HIGHLY recommend the course; it helped me so much, beyond what I could've hoped for - truly life-changing.

  6. That’s great that you found a course to help you! And definitely agree that tours often seem the easy route but can cost a fortune and have their own pressures!

    1. The course really was invaluable! Yeah, tours always seem like the easy way to do things, but I always end up kicking myself afterwards – you can miss out on some wonderful experiences!

  7. This is a great post! I always get really anxious especially when I solo travel and fly. You offered some great tips that I need to follow!

    1. Aw, I hope my tips help! 🙂 I know exactly how you feel; sometimes it’s just breaking down that barrier!

  8. So proud of you Nicky! These are wonderful tips! I wholeheartedly agree with all. Traveling like a local is probably my favourite way to travel! 🙂

    1. Thank you so much! Much love to you! <3

  9. “Travel like a local” is great advice! I lived in a homestay in Kenya and felt so comfortable and safe since I was always traveling around with my host siblings. It’s a way more fun and genuine experience than just hanging out in tourist traps, too!

    1. That sounds wonderful! What an amazing experience that must’ve been! Doing things like a local is always my top advice for any form of travel – as well as being less of a target, it’s just so much more authentic.

  10. This is a great article! Super informative! I myself have had some negative thoughts and anxiety during flights, especially long-haul! One thing that helped me was actually an app, Thrive: Feel Stress Free. I used it in aeroplane mode as a distraction technique and we were there before I knew it! Helped calm my flight nerves too! thrive.uk.com

    1. Ahhh, I’ll have to look into Thrive! I’ve also got another app for helping with the fear of flying – I’ll be reviewing that soon! 🙂

  11. Thanks you so much for sharing this and being so transparent and vulnerable about traveling! This was really helpful and it’s great to know I’m not alone out there!
    Cheers!

  12. I love the point about traveling like a local. I try to experience places I’m at like a local, at least a little bit, I still want to do the touristy things too! Great article!!

  13. Omg I haven’t heard of the maps.me app until now and I’m thinking it’s going to be lifechanging! Not really for the directions, but for the tips on where to get the best view. How handy!

  14. Love your tips and how you managed to change everything in positive way. I love Napoli too, one of the most chaotic places I visited, yet so beautiful. Keep traveling, it’s good for you. 😉

  15. I have just recently experienced what it even feels like to have an anxiety attack and now I have SO MUCH respect for people who choose to travel in spite of its triggering effect sometimes. I’m so glad that there are more and more resources out there and people who really get it!

  16. I love your tips on how to battle anxiety! I have never really experienced it personally but I had a friend who did! Forwarding this on to her 😉

  17. I hate anxiety, the worst thing ever. I had so much anxiety before I started traveling but now its getting much better. Thank you for all the great tips! Travel like locals is definitely the best one 😉

  18. I remember our trip to the Amalfi coast. We stayed further away but Sorrento was our launching point everyday. We took the train into Sorrento and would use the ferry to go to Amalfi or Capri. It was a beautiful town! You are offering great tips. Thank you for sharing.

  19. Italy for all its beauty can be a source of anxiety as it runs at its own pace and beats to its own drum. I’ll never forget trying to drive in the center of Firenze. I almost had a nervous breakdown. Great tips.

  20. That’s great that you were able to overcome your travel anxiety. And I never thought of having a travel anxiety course. I sometimes suffer from anxiety at home, but never when I travel. I guess that’s why I travel so much. Naples seems like a great place to step out of yourself and meet some locals.

  21. Awesome tips! I can’t wait to try out some of these as a fellow anxious traveler. I look forward to reading your future posts.

  22. I love that you posted this. Thank you for being honest and opening up! Totally needed to be said.

  23. There are some great tips here for all travellers. I have often taken public transportation, but mostly metros 🙂 It is really inspiring to read how you continue traveling despite your anxiety. ❤️ Keep going 😊

  24. I really enjoy your posts as they discuss topics which so many travel blogs shy away from! These are excellent tips and the Amalfi coast looks like a dream – yet another destination for the never ending bucket list!

  25. Awesome post! I love the Amalfi Coast and it was really neat to read all these amazing tips coming from a unique perspective/angle. I love Lauren’s blog and had no idea she had a course about anxiety! That’s super neat. I love that football was your “in” to some local interaction. My boyfriend always says it’s a universal language haha

  26. That last paragraph encapsulates the reason I travel in such a beautiful way! Keep traveling, keep discovering and keep overcoming! It’s so worth it 🙂

  27. Amazing story! Finding a way to conquer your fears is something I always tip my imaginary hat to. I can’t say I know where you are coming from, because I haven’t had to deal with anxiety, but I have a friend that has had this battle. So congratulations and keep on traveling. As for Amalfi coast… it is one of my favorite places by far. I did a short trip to Capri of half a day and didn’t had time to explore it full on, but I would go there in a heartbeat. And talking about “Steps of death”… imagine I took the stairs in Capri… from the port to Anacapri… damn GPS played a number on me.. 1.7 km till the center (vertically measured probably) :)) I wrote about it on my blog if you want to have a laugh 🙂

  28. As I was reading this, I felt like you were reading my mind. I cannot tell you how similar we are!! I experienced this just recently, right before a solo trip to Prague for a week. I love travelling but anxiety gets the best of me and I have cancelled many trips prior to this because of it. But Prague was life changing for me as well. Your tips are incredible and I am so glad I stumbled on someone who goes through the same that I do!

  29. I`m not afraid of flying or of traveling alone (I actually love to travel by myself, especially in Italy, my favorite country of the world) but lately right before a trip, I`ve been feeling super anxious. I don`t know if this has to do with my dog, Chilli the Yorkie is 12 now, and if I leave him with someone, I get anxious cause I`m leaving him and I know he hates it. If I take him, I feel anxious because the trip is tiring to him… Either way the night before a trip, my stomach is hurting and feels like I have a giant rock pressing it…

    I`ll look into the course you took! Thanks for sharing!

  30. There are some fantastic tips in this article that will help those with travel anxiety, but not only. It also helps me to understand better my relatives who have travel anxiety. Thank you for sharing.

  31. Glad to hear the progress you are making. I havent really had anxiety about travel before until my last trip. I injured my knee so everything is more difficult including walking. I had to rely on a wheel chair and after I had issues at Heathrow, I started always worrying whether the wheelchair would be there. Luckily I will be better soon and hopefully won’t have the anxiety again but now I feel like I can relate better to your posts.

  32. wow what an honest and beautiful post! Italy is so great but southern italy can be tough – glad you stuck with it!

  33. I’m so glad that Lauren’s course worked for you and that you were able to make the trip! Italy is one of my absolute favorites. I totally agree with you on the maps.me app – it’s saved me multiple times! 🙂

  34. I sometimes suffer with a spot of travel anxiety too. I get anxious about packing to the right weight and making sure I don’t include forbidden items in my carry-on bag, and in May I am flying back from Grenada into LGW at 9am, and the following day, I fly to Amsterdam from Cardiff at 10am – this makes me really anxious!

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