Meredith Arthur is the writer, creator and editor for Beautiful Voyager, a website designed to connect the world of mental health awareness and show each other that while we all struggle, we all have the tools and wherewithal to overcome our struggles. She uses her platform to share people's stories of mental health in the hopes that they will resonate with others and bridge the gaps the anxiety desperately tries to create in us. She even tags her fellow "overthinkers" on a world map to show us just how international the struggle of anxiety can be.
I interviewed Meredith with some of my travel & anxiety questions to get her take on how our concerns can affect the world of travel.
1. Could you briefly detail your relationship with anxiety & how it's affected you?
From what I’ve heard, my story is a bit unusual in that I didn’t realize I actually had anxiety until I was 39 years old. I had lifelong migraines, neck pain, nausea, and lightheadedness, but I had no idea that those things could be a sign of an anxiety disorder. It wasn’t until a neurologist diagnosed me, saying, “in Silicon Valley, this is more common than anyone thinks,” that I started to understand not only how Generalized Anxiety Disorder had been affecting me, but how it also touched many of the people I was around every day. I started Beautiful Voyage in order to have a place for people to share their stories and tactics, since what works for one person won’t necessarily work for another, and it’s only through experimentation that we can start to feel better.
2. Did you ever think that your anxiety would prevent you from traveling? (and why)
This is an interesting question for me because I spent years during and after college traveling a ton, even when my anxiety was at its worst. I lived in Japan and taught English for a year after college, and studied languages as an undergraduate. Since I didn’t realize it was the anxiety making me sick, I figured I might as well try to get out in the world, since I’d have my migraines either way.
3. What is one myth about travel that you think is important for people to know?
I feel like I see a lot of black-and-white thinking when it comes to travel. People feel like they have to go for long periods of time and cover lots of ground to consider the location "done." But the truth is that getting into a new place for just a short time cause also cause you to change your perception and get out of your head. I'm a big fan of NOT moving around a lot when travel, and trying to get to know a one neighborhood or one place, a bit more like a local would. Not trying to do everything can be freeing.
4. What's your advice for anxious people or first-timers who are considering travel?
My advice for anxious people considering travel is the same as anxious people in general: learn about the wave. The first step to riding the wave of anxiety is to know that it’s happening in your body as these fears emerge. The more you see the pattern of the wave, the easier it will be to embark on new adventures (and see new places!)
5. If you had one bulletproof travel tip what would it be?
Don’t forget to download your podcasts to your phone before your board your flight. Two podcasts I love right now are The Hilarious World of Depression and Heavyweight. If you're nervous about flying, sinking into a compelling story can make the time fly by, lol, pardon the pun.