5 Tips For Overcoming Travel Anxiety
Dictionary.com defines anxiety as “distress or uneasiness of mind caused by fear of danger or misfortune”. That uneasiness, tension, eagerness, apprehension, fear and other emotions you feel when you’re anxious is very draining and taxing on a person both physically and mentally.
If you are traveling, and have anxiety like me, it doesn’t take much to trigger that anxiety. There are so many unknowns with traveling, new surroundings to adjust to, no matter how much we try to prepare for it that can increase your stress levels. There are many thoughts that race around in your mind, fears that are so great that they ultimately may hinder or prevent you from traveling. I made a video on my YouTube channel where I discussed some of the challenges I face while traveling and one of those challenges is anxiety. I’ve also talked about my anxiety with flying before and why I got a specific tattoo to remind me to not let my fears get the best of me.
I’m here to tell you that you’re not alone and I’m going to share 5 tips that may help you with overcoming travel anxiety.
1. Positive Thoughts
If you have travel anxiety it is best to practice positive thinking. It is so easy to get wrapped in a triggering situation which creates all these negative thoughts and feelings that before you know it, it is spiraling out of control. The thing that keeps that anxiety there is the constant presence of negative thoughts and feelings. If you keep that type of thinking then you won’t be able to manage your travel anxiety.
I know it is a lot easier said than done, I’ve experienced it myself plenty of times and I know it’s hard to think positively, but it is important to try to focus on the positive aspects of your travel. Or, if you’re not able to think positively (like I have at times), then try to remain as neutral as possible. Even in the moment, take a minute to take a deep breath, recollect yourself, and use positive or neutral words and phrases which will transform your mentality. As long as you’re not on the negative end of the spectrum you stand a better chance of managing your travel anxiety.
2. Relaxation Techniques
Relaxation will look different depending on the person, but whatever relaxation means to you I encourage you to practice it! Some examples of relaxation techniques are deep breaths, meditation, calming music, being in a quiet place, even sensory items can be relaxing for some people. Personally, I’ve found that having something soft and taking deep breaths works for me when I’m traveling. Either way, find a relaxation technique that works for you!
If you’re able to, try to exercise before you travel. Sometimes, anxiety can manifest itself through physical reactions in the human body. Feelings of fatigue, stomach aches, headaches, shortness of breath, shaking or trembling, insomnia, nausea, and more. I know I am anxious when I start to tremble, become cold even in hot conditions, have butterflies in my stomach or stomach aches, and horrible headaches.
By exercising you are creating a healthy outlet for your body to manage the anxiety and stress. Moving your body not only reliefs that physical response to anxiety but also the mental response as well. You have the opportunity to clear your mind, focus on positive thinking, while being active and releasing all that anxiety and tension at the same time. It doesn’t have to be physically exhausting or hard. I personally love going on walks or doing a little bit of strength training and HIIT mix but that may not work for you. Some examples of exercise are walks, yoga, stretching, cardio, HIIT, strength training, kickboxing, swimming, etc.
Having some distractions along with you while you travel can be great tools for helping you cope with travel anxiety. There are a variety of ways you can distract yourself while traveling. Whether you’re traveling by plane, train, bus, car (while driving responsibly of course), having that distraction helps to take your mind off that anxiety and provides positive, or at least calming/neutral, feelings as a replacement. You can use your iPad, Kindle, books (physical and audio), games, music, phone, coloring book, podcasts, and so much more to serve as a distraction.
5. Give Yourself Extra Time
If you watch the YouTube video I created, I talked about how I get very anxious around timing while traveling. I get very anxious and stressed because I do not like being late to scheduled times, and I have fears of missing flights, trains, or anything else if I do not follow a schedule. I know that sometimes things happen that are beyond our control but it is still something that triggers me. On my most recent trip to Florida, two of the people I was traveling with left to find food in the airport 20 minutes BEFORE OUR FLIGHT! The flight starting boarding, and while the attendants called the last group to board they still weren’t back!!! This triggered my anxiety so much!
If you become anxious about appointments and timing like me then definitely give yourself ample time to get to your intended location. If your plane is schedule to depart at 6pm don’t wait until 5pm to leave for the airport as you run the risk of missing your flight. Try to leave around 2-3 hours prior to your departure, or earlier depending on how far you have to travel to the airport, so you ensure you have plenty of time to get to the airport, go through security, and try to manage your anxiety before boarding. This goes for any other mode of transportation or scheduling with activities or events to go to.
I hope these tips help and know that you’re not alone! If you experience anxiety and phobias please don’t hesitate to reach out to a mental health professional who can provide you with resources and other techniques for managing your anxiety/phobia.
Even if you have travel anxiety that shouldn’t stop you from traveling. Check out these other posts!