Travel will see an upswing for many people with warmer weather ahead and the world reopening. This can mean travel for vacation, business trips or solo getaways. If you haven’t traveled recently or have had bad experiences in the past, your travel anxiety will likely stay with you.
What is travel anxiety
The definition of anxiety is:
“a feeling of worry, nervousness, or unease, usually about an impending event or something whose outcome is uncertain.”
So travel anxiety occurs when you feel uncomfortable about traveling. You don’t have to have an anxiety disorder to experience travel anxiety. Given all the unknowns when traveling, this feeling is normal and not uncommon. Many people develop travel anxiety due to negative travel experiences.
However, travel anxiety shouldn’t stop you from visiting new places, meeting new people, trying new things or collect experiences. This article explains how you can control and overcome your travel anxiety to get the most out of summer and relax!
Ways to Overcome Travel Anxiety Before You Go
There are some steps you can take before you go anywhere. Nothing can change overnight, but small changes and actions leading up to your trip can make a big difference.
Practicing meditation, in general, is a great way to relieve anxiety, reduce stress, and help you refocus your thoughts. By meditating regularly at home, you will be well equipped to meditate while you travel, helping you stay calm and distract your mind from anxious thoughts.
Traveling with a companion
Having a friend with you can help ease travel anxiety. Knowing you have help navigating a new place, dealing with the crowds and craziness can go a long way in making the entire experience less stressful.
Sometimes a good outcome happens because we imagine it. Imagine arriving at your destination safely and having a great time. Imagine a sweetness flight, and think positively about the experience. Instead of worrying about delays or unappetizing food, treat the whole process as an adventure. Be excited to try something new and collect all the stories you can tell next!
One way to reduce anxiety is to write down your thoughts. Logging is a great habit to relieve your mind of worries. Seeing your thoughts in black and white can also help you see them objectively and give you a new perspective.
So, in preparation for your next trip, start writing down everything that worries you, concerns you, or scares you. Then go back and read everything. You might end up solving some problems on your own!
Plan ahead and prepare
Often, anxiety arises because we worry about what might happen. With so many unknowns that can arise when we travel, it’s an understandable feeling.
In this case, you can reduce your travel anxiety by planning and preparing as best you can. Of course, you must understand that there will always be things beyond your control. Identify what you know you can control and try to plan around that.
For example, things you can control:
What mode of transportation do you want to use to get from the airport to your hotel How do you spend your time at the airport How much do you pack How will you spend your time at your destination Where will you stay at your destination Activities that you will do once you get there
Things you can’t control:
Flight delays Behavior of other Lost Baggage Weather
You can prepare for situations you can’t control by having a contingency plan for each one. Pack multiple layers, don’t put anything valuable in checked bags, distance yourself if you see rowdy behavior, and be prepared to pass the time if you’re delayed. Not only will you feel better with a plan in place, but you will also travel smart and ready for anything!
Talk with a professional
As with any issue that affects us, speaking with a mental health professional can be extremely helpful. A therapist can help you understand the causes of the anxiety you’re feeling and healthy ways to cope. Additionally, certified specialists can offer cognitive behavioral therapy (or CBT). This treatment offers a safe way to revisit past bad experiences and separate your current state from your past.
If you know you have a big trip coming up, then connecting with someone and working on your travel anxiety before you go can go a long way in helping you relax.
In the plane
Take supplements to help you relax
Don’t take drugs, of course, but something to help you sleep or relax can reduce travel anxiety and help pass the time.
Consider natural mood enhancers like 5HTP or herbal teas to reassure you. You can also use sleeping pills to sleep for hours.
Listen to calming music
Calm those brainwaves with calming tunes. Music can do wonders!
Avoid alcohol and caffeine
While alcohol has a calming effect, it can also disinhibit you. So any anxious thoughts you experience while drinking may manifest as acting out or panicking. Avoid this scenario completely by skipping the drinks and staying in control.
On this note, I also recommend avoid caffeine. Being wide awake and hyper aware of your surroundings can further exacerbate your anxiety.
The hardest part of any flight is passing the time, especially if it’s a long haul. You can control this! Plan to take things with you to distract yourself. Examples include reading books, playing games, doing arts and crafts (knitting or sewing), or watching movies or TV shows.
You cannot predict how your trip will turn out; all you can do is focus on the present. Develop the meditation and mindfulness skills you’ve been working on and put them to good use!
On the plane, just focus on that. Absorb this experience as it happens and try not to worry about anything else. After all, you’re already on vacation!
Use deep breathing techniques
In addition to mindfulness and meditation, use your breathing. Deep breathing exercises can help lower your stress hormones, lower your heart rate, and relax your muscles. Focusing on breathing is another way to stay present and distract from anxiety.
If you have been diagnosed with an anxiety disorder
For those with an official anxiety-related diagnosis, consider speaking with your doctor or healthcare professional before traveling. The anti-anxiety medications you use may help you when you travel, and your doctor may recommend additional prescriptions.
Travel anxiety can happen to anyone. However, it doesn’t have to control you or stop you from doing everything you want. You have the power to overcome anything you decide. Use these tips to practice reducing anxiety and controlling it.
This article was originally published on Hello Sensitive.
Sanjana is a doctor, anesthesiologist, travel enthusiast and entrepreneur. She founded The female professional to give women a voice and a community, and provide them with resources to help them overcome obstacles and succeed. Through her experiences as a doctor, startup CEO, and as a writer, she understands the struggles and frustrations of women. She also understands what it takes to rise above these things and come out on top. Through this platform, Sanjana aims to empower women to be their best, authentic selves, achieve work-life balance, and live life to the fullest.