Travel anxiety is something that plagues so many of us and it’s something that I used to deal with every time I had to take a trip away from home. For me that could be anything from a weekend mini-break away, to a long haul trip… It didn’t seem to matter what I was doing. Although I really wanted to go on so many levels, I would often be tortured by this nagging anxiety which inevitably had a massively negative impact upon my trip.
Anxiety can manifest itself in all sorts of ways…for me it was a very physical manifestation where I felt breathless and tense, I couldn’t really pinpoint the source of my distress. For others it can lead to irrational thoughts and will have you forever worrying about a million different worst-case scenarios. Anxiety can be anything from a twinge of fear to full blown panic attacks but if you are someone like me who has an ever-present sense of wanderlust, you’ll want to learn how to tackle and manage your travel anxiety for good! Confronting travel anxiety is empowering and allows you to regain your freedom. I’ve detailed my best ever travel anxiety tips and included a list of what I keep in my carry-on luggage because being prepared is a big part of keeping calm and managing that nagging anxious feeling.
Top Travel Anxiety Tips:
Expect it: If you are someone that has always found that you get anxious when you travel, try not to panic if you feel that anxiety creeping in. Sometimes we can get really distressed simply by the fear of our anxiety manifesting and so if, or when, it does, it can feel like the worst has happened. I find it’s better to ‘get to know’ your anxiety so if it does show up, you can remind yourself that you are prepared and know that you can deal with it.
Prepare your travel docs: I write out a list of all of the travel documents that I’m going to need for my trip and I keep them all together in a separate folder that I travel with. This includes info about my tickets/flight times, passport, Visa documentation, transfer plans, where I’m staying and I now include a map of the local area that I’m staying in. Having this all prepped in good time helps me to feel calm and in control.
Focus on your breath & slow down: Like many of my anxiety coping strategies I would strongly advise that you practice with each of them and see what you feel works for you. I find that reminding myself to slow down and to breathe is a really useful tool for keeping calm.
Give yourself time: I always give myself plenty of time to get to where I need to be. I find rushing super stressful and have found myself in plenty of situations where I have cut it a little too fine and ended up feeling panicked. When you are travelling in new places, it’s often difficult to predict how long things will take (if you’ve ever travelled through LAX then you’ll know what I mean!). Giving yourself time takes so much pressure off and allows you to cope calmly with unpredictable eventualities.
Use affirmations: I’m a big fan of affirmations and find that giving my mind something grounding to focus on is a great way of turning my attention away from anxious thought. Try out some different affirmations to see what works for you… my favourites are ‘I am safe’ and ‘this will pass.’
Buy a weighted blanket: Weighted blankets are a really good thing to use to help you to feel grounded and safe. The trick is to make sure that you buy one at the right weight… you need to aim for one that’s 10% of your own body weight.
Feed your body: Before I leave the house I always make sure that I’ve eaten something to sustain me long enough to get me to the airport and through Security. Hunger can be a real anxiety trigger for me and so making sure I’m well fed also keeps me feeling steady and happy! If you get anxious about your food, make sure you know what the eatery options are so that you can be prepared.
Do your research: Going to a new place can be intimidating and overwhelming. It’s good to do your research on where you are going so that you can focus on feeling excited, rather than worried about what to expect. One of the biggest triggers for me is getting from the airport to wherever I’m staying, so I always make sure that I’ve researched my best transfer options and that I have enough cash and info on how to get to where I need to be.
Journal: Putting pen to paper is an excellent way of calming the soul. Taking some time whilst you’re travelling to write down your thoughts and feelings can be really grounding. Quite often it’s also a space to ‘ride out’ any anxious thought in a contained way. Journals are often fun to look back through to reflect on past experiences but also to see how far you’ve come.
Media Prep: I commute a lot from home to London and, although it’s not a long journey, I really don’t love a late-night train. I always make sure that I have a decent supply of podcasts and programmes that I like to watch, and I don’t go anywhere without my headphones. If you are travelling longer haul and you know that you are prone to anxiety, then make sure that you are watching and listening to things that will counter that…. I’m addicted to Love on Netflix at the moment!
Meditate: A long haul flight is a great opportunity to get in some good meditation time. I download different scripts that I want to try out, but if you already have something that you know is grounding and calming, make sure that you have that at your finger-tips. I also find that wearing noise cancellation headphones and an eye mask is an ace way of blocking out the world for a bit.
Ok…that’s it from me! Go ahead and enjoy your summer travels all! Please let me know if you have any awesome anxiety tips that you’d like me to know about!