Travel Anxiety: My Top Tips for a Stress-Free Trip
Are you someone who suffers from anxiety? Do you find it hard to travel because of your condition? I know how exactly you feel. I used to be one of those people who was petrified of travelling. I would worry about every little thing and it would ruin my trip, however, I wasn’t actually diagnosed with anxiety until 2021. After that, I noticed that a lot of my worries during my travels were a result of my anxious tendencies.
This helped a lot and I was even able to learn some tricks that helped me overcome my anxiety and have stress-free trips.
In this blog post, I am going to share some of the top tips I’ve picked up along my travels with you. Hopefully, they will help you enjoy your next trip!
Before Your Trip
– Make a packing list: This might seem like an obvious one, but it really helps to have a list of everything you need to pack. That way, you can check things off as you go and not worry about forgetting anything important.
– Don’t forget your meds: If you take medication for your anxiety, make sure to pack it in your carry-on bag. That way, you’ll have it with you in case of any delays or lost luggage. Set an alarm to remind you to take it if you think that you’re going to forget due to a lack of routine. Personally, I unpack them onto my bedside table right away so that they’re always there when I go to bed.
– Plan your route: If you know where you’re going and how you’re getting there, it’ll be one less thing to worry about. Make sure to look up directions in advance and have a backup plan in case you get lost.
– Give yourself plenty of time to get from one place to another: This is especially important if you’re taking public transportation. Make sure to factor in extra time in case you get delayed or have to wait for a connecting train or bus.
– Bring snacks for the journey: Nothing is worse than being hangry, especially if you feel lightheaded when you start to get anxious. Avoid getting cranky and give yourself something to eat to get your blood sugar levels back up by packing some snacks for the journey. Cereal bars work great and you can also take them out with you each day if you need to!
– Bring a friend: If possible, travel with someone you trust. This can help alleviate some of the anxiety as you’ll have someone to rely on if things go wrong. They’ll also be there to talk some ‘sense’ into you if you’re worried about something that to them, isn’t a concern.
– Research emergency numbers you may need while away: This is more for peace of mind than anything else. Knowing that you can easily contact someone if you need to will help to ease any anxiety about being in a foreign place. If you have panic attacks often, knowing what number to call quickly will definitely help.
– Get travel insurance: This is always a good idea, but even more so if you have anxiety. Having insurance gives you one less thing to worry about and means that you can get help if something does happen.
– Create a ‘calm down’ kit: This is a small bag with some things in it to help you calm down if you have a panic attack or start to feel anxious. It could include items such as a water bottle, snacks, a travel pillow, a book, and anything else that makes you feel better.
– Keep a list of your accomplishments: This might seem strange, but it can be really helpful to have a reminder of all the times you’ve travelled before – even if it’s just around your city. If you start to doubt yourself, take a look at the list and remember all the times you’ve managed just fine.
Top tip: Remember, you can always talk to your doctor or a therapist before your trip if you’re feeling particularly anxious. They’ll be able to help you come up with a plan to manage your anxiety and make sure that you have a great time on your travels. Safe travels!
During Your Trip
– Plan your days (loosely): Having a plan for each day can help you feel more in control and less anxious. That being said, don’t plan every minute of your trip as this can lead to disappointment and anxiety if things don’t go according to plan.
– Set some ‘me time’ aside: Make sure to schedule some down time into each day where you can just relax and do whatever you want. This is especially important if you’re travelling with others as it can be easy to feel overwhelmed trying to keep up with everyone else’s schedule.
– Get some rest: If you’re feeling anxious, it can be helpful to take a nap or get some extra sleep during your trip. This will help you feel more relaxed and less stressed, at the same time as giving your body a chance to recover too.
– Don’t try to do too much: Sightseeing is great, but don’t try to pack too much into each day. This will just leave you feeling exhausted and stressed out. Choose a few things that you really want to see and take your time exploring them.
– Avoid drinking too much caffeine: Again, this is good advice for everyone, but it’s especially important if you have anxiety. Caffeine can make anxiety worse, so try to limit yourself to one cup of coffee a day.
– Avoid drinking alcohol: Alcohol might seem like a good way to calm your nerves, but it can actually make anxiety worse. It’s best to avoid it altogether, but if you do drink, make sure to do so in moderation. Personally, I feel really anxious the day after a night out so I try to limit my intake as much as I can. It doesn’t always go to plan, but I do notice a huge difference when I’m able to remember what I did the night before.
– Practice relaxation techniques regularly: This could include things like yoga, meditation, or deep breathing exercises. Taking some time out for yourself to relax will help to ease your anxiety and make it more manageable.
– Talk to people: When I’m feeling anxious, I tend to isolate myself and not talk to anyone out of habit. This just makes me feel worse as I’m not distracting myself from my thoughts. Talk to the people around you, whether it’s the person sitting next to you on the bus or the barista making your coffee. It doesn’t have to be a deep conversation, but it’ll help take your mind off of your anxiety.
– Pack a day bag with everything you need: This is another one of my top tips for travelling with anxiety. I like to have a bag that I can easily access that has all of the essentials in it. This includes things like my water bottle, a portable fan, snacks, anti-chafe balm, hand sanitiser, toilet tissues and a cover-up.
– Keep busy: If you’re feeling anxious on your trip, try to keep yourself occupied. This could involve exploring the city, visiting museums, or even just people-watching in a park. By keeping your mind focused on something else, you’ll be less likely to dwell on your anxiety and instead have a great time!
– Stay hydrated: It’s important to stay hydrated when you’re travelling, especially if you’re going to be in a hot country. Bring a water bottle with you and make sure to drink plenty of fluids.
For me, being warm and dehydrated makes me anxious and so I like to make sure I’m doing all that I can to prevent this from happening.
After Your Trip
– Give yourself time to relax: Once you’re home, it’s important to give yourself some time to relax and recover from your trip. This might involve having a few lazy days where you don’t do much or taking a long bath. Do whatever makes you feel better and try not to put too much pressure on yourself.
– Talk about your experience: Talking about your trip, both the good and the bad, can help you to process it all and make sense of any anxiety that you might have felt. If you don’t feel like talking to anyone in person, there are plenty of online forums where you can chat to others about your experiences.
– Write about your trip: Another great way to process your trip is to write about it. This can be in the form of a blog, journal or even just some notes. It’s a chance for you to reflect on all that you’ve seen and done, and how it made you feel.
In Case Of Emergency
– Have a plan: If you’re worried about your anxiety getting the better of you on your trip, it’s important to have a plan in place. This could involve carrying medication with you, or knowing where the nearest hospital is.
– Know your triggers: It’s also helpful to know what triggers your anxiety so that you can avoid them if possible. For me, being in large crowds or in small spaces is often a trigger. If I know that I’m going to be in a situation like this, I make sure to do some deep breathing exercises beforehand and bring my portable fan with me.
– Tell someone: If you’re feeling really anxious on your trip, it’s important to tell someone. This could be a friend or family member, or even a staff member at your hotel. Letting them know will help to put your mind at ease and they might even have some helpful advice for you.
– Get medical help: If your anxiety is really bad, don’t hesitate to get medical help. This could involve seeing a doctor before you go on your trip, or even going to the hospital if you’re feeling really unwell. I’ve had panic attacks in foreign countries that have ended up with a visit to the hospital and honestly, sometimes it’s your only option.
Anxiety and Travelling: My Must Haves
– A day bag: As mentioned above, this is essential for carrying all of your essentials with you.
– Snacks and water: These are important for keeping your energy levels up and staying hydrated.
– Clothing that makes you feel comfortable: It’s important to wear clothes that you feel comfortable in, especially if you’re going to be in a hot climate. It’s one less thing to worry about and if you have any comfort clothing, you can wear it if you’re starting to feel particularly anxious.
– Medication: If you take medication for your anxiety, make sure to pack it in your carry-on luggage. If you use anything else to stay calm, like essential oils, make sure you bring those with you too. Note: you cannot travel with CBD.
– Something to fidget with: This could be a stress ball, a fidget spinner or even just a piece of string. Having something to fidget with can help to ease your anxiety.
Travelling with Anxiety: FAQs
Q: Is travelling with anxiety common?
A: Yes, it’s actually quite common. It’s estimated that around 20% of people experience some form of anxiety when travelling.
Q: What are the most common triggers for anxiety?
A: Some of the most common triggers for anxiety include flying, being in unfamiliar surroundings and not having a set routine. It’s different for everyone, so it’s important you keep note of what your triggers are as and when they happen.
Q: I’m worried about flying, what can I do?
A: If you’re anxious about flying, there are a few things that you can do to help ease your anxiety. Firstly, make sure to choose a seat that makes you feel comfortable. If you’re claustrophobic, try to get an aisle seat. You can also ask the staff if they have any blankets or pillows that you can use during the flight. And lastly, don’t forget to bring your medication with you.
Q: What if my travel anxiety gets really bad whilst I’m away?
A: If your anxiety does start to affect your trip, it’s important to tell someone. This could be a friend or family member, or even a staff member at your hotel. They can help to put your mind at ease and might even have some helpful advice for you. If your anxiety is really bad, don’t hesitate to get medical help. This could involve seeing a doctor or going to the hospital.
Q: I’m going on a long trip, how can I make sure that I don’t get too anxious?
A: If you’re worried about getting too anxious on a long trip, there are a few things that you can do to help prevent this. Firstly, make sure to plan your trip in advance and have a rough idea of what you’re going to be doing each day. This will help to ease any anxiety that you might have about the unknown. Secondly, it’s important to stick to a routine as much as possible. This means things like eating at regular times and getting enough sleep. And lastly, make sure to bring along any medication or other items that help you to stay calm.
Q: Can travel help with anxiety?
A: For some people, travel can actually help to ease their anxiety. This is because it allows them to get out of their comfort zone and see new things. It can also help to take a break from any stressful situations at home. Personally, for me, it has done so much for my confidence and my anxiety, even if I do struggle at times.
I hope that these tips have been helpful and that you feel more prepared for your next trip! Remember to take things at your own pace and to listen to your body and mind. If you’re feeling anxious, it’s okay to take a break or slow down. Travelling should be enjoyable, so don’t put too much pressure on yourself to do everything perfectly. Just relax and go with the flow!
If you have any other tips for managing travel anxiety, please share them in the comments below! I’d love to hear from you.
P.S. If you’re struggling with travel anxiety here are some helpful resources: