Writing and photographs by Freya Bennett
Traveling is one of the best things a person can do, but everyone is different and some people need to give themselves a bit more kindness than others. Here are my tips for sensitive people traveling!
ON FLYING: Flying is a different experience for everyone and being crowded into a plane with hundreds of other people is always going to be interesting. Work out what makes you feel comfortable; take your own pillow, moisturiser, headphones, or eye mask. If you’re a nervous flyer, work out what seating helps you feel safest. Personally, I like the aisle seat. I like to be able to get up easily and walk around or use the bathroom as often as I want without disturbing others.
ON ACCOMMODATION: Book yourself into a hotel or an Airbnb that suits your needs. Some people thrive in crowded and bustling hostels, where you sleep side by side with strangers! Other people need a place to chill out after all the excitement of being in a new place. There is no ‘right’ way to do it, and if you don’t know what you like, try a few different things on your first trip. But just make sure you are safe and that people know where you are.
ON THE TIMING OF TRAVEL: Give yourself an adequate amount of time in each place you visit. It can take a little bit of time for you to properly ‘arrive’. For me, it can take anywhere between 3-5 days to feel like I’ve fully ‘arrived’ in a city. It would be such a shame to only be in a place for a day or two and not feel like you’re really truly present.
ON TRANSPORT: Train, tram, and bus rides are a great way to take ‘time out’ and dreamily take in the city. Especially if you take the regular transport and not the touristy transport. You can sit on a tram in San Francisco with the locals and just watch the world go by.
ON SEEING THE SITES: Do some research and find some places that you think would really suit your personality. For me, in San Francisco, the Palace of Fine Arts (pictured below) was an amazing place to centre myself and quiet my mind. It all depends on what YOU need. I need a body of water, beautiful views, and quiet places to help me centre myself.
ON CHALLENGING YOURSELF: Don’t be afraid to challenge yourself. In my past experience traveling, I have found great joy in doing things I thought I would really struggle with. Like climbing the Duomo in Florence–a long and very skinny climb through a crowded, claustrophobic and very steep stairwell. It was a challenge and an achievement to reach the top and take in the amazing view of Florence. Pushing yourself to do something you know will make you feel amazing is important but don’t ever feel pushed to do something you really don’t want to do. Trust your instinct!
ON CONSOLIDATING IDEAS: Write tips for other travelers from things you have learnt (like I’m doing right now!). It helps others AND yourself because it really consolidates what you’ve learnt about your way of traveling.
ON MEETING NEW PEOPLE: Depending how long you are in any one place, there are a lot of different places to meet people. If you’re traveling alone and want to make friends, you can stay in an AirBnB that suits your needs. Staying with locals is a great way to make friends because you are going to be living with them for awhile. You can ask them lots of questions about the area and ask them places to meet other travelers if that’s your thing.
ON BUDGETING: Something that I have only just learnt at 27 and after 5 international trips is that I need to pretty much DOUBLE what I think I will need in regards to money. I am someone who thinks they won’t spend much, but then ends up spending a lot more, so it’s all about who YOU are. I would always recommend taking more than you need and NOT using a credit card… I am still paying mine off from my first trip!
ON HOW LONG TO TRAVEL FOR: This is something that is very personal and everyone is going to be different. For me, 3 months is probably the longest I would want to be traveling, (unless I am actually moving to a different city and then I could stay years). The reason being, I need the comforts of home. Traveling can be so exhilarating, but after awhile, you can get very tired and just want to be in your own bed, eating your own food, and having quiet time. For sensitive people like me, I would suggest planning a shorter trip first (3 weeks-ish) to see how you go with travel. It would be really hard if you planned an epic 12 month adventure and then realised a few weeks in that it just wasn’t for you!
Everyone is going to be different; there is no shame in doing travel YOUR way! If that means spending a bit more money on a nice hotel room, taking time out away from people, or planning every single detail of your trip, then that’s FINE, as long as you are happy and safe, then no one can make you feel bad about what you need to do. Have fun! See the world and love yourself and others![share]