It’s never fun to travel with anxiety. To make your trip a little better, we’ve found 8 tips that will help you through those moments!
Whether you’ve struggled with anxiety your entire life, or you’re new to this phenomenon (welcome!), travelling with anxiety can leave you with, well, more anxiety. Aside from dealing with anxiety in my daily life, I also suffer from a “sickness” called wanderlust. Thankfully, my desire to explore far off places often trumps the fear that gets caught in my throat when I step on a plane.
In all seriousness, travelling with anxiety can leave you exhausted, both mentally and physically, which is not a great experience to have when you’re about to go scuba diving off the coast of Australia. Experiencing new cultures and exploring foreign streets is what makes travelling such an amazing experience, but when you’re required to step outside your comfort zone, this natural part of travel can leave you feeling overwhelmed.
One of the greatest things I’ve come to acknowledge is that I am not alone, and therefore, you are not alone! Travelling with anxiety is definitely not easy, but it can be managed with lots of time and patience. If you’re like me and love to travel but suffer from the dreaded “A” word, here are nine tips that I’ve found useful for managing anxiety while travelling.
1. Do Research:
When it comes to tackling travel anxiety, “let’s wing it” is not a phrase you hear often. A well-researched trip is a great way to avoid feeling overwhelmed, so spend some time browsing online and reading articles about your destination. Not only is this a great way to get into the vacation spirit, but it allows you to map out what you’d love to see, the best ways to get around, and how to get to your hotel from the airport. This level of knowledge will empower you to walk the streets more confidently and ease your mind plenty.
Remember, a well-planned itinerary is great, but a jam-packed schedule will only leave you feeling rushed and contribute to your anxiety. Set a few hours aside to relax and take in the sights.
2. Pack Well. Pack Smart:
I’m sorry to be the bearer of bad news, but no trip is 100% perfect. You’re bound to hit a snag or two, and that’s okay. I know it’s a cliche, but when this happens, focus on the positive. Picture all the amazing adventures you’ll get to experience on this trip and all the wonderful stories you’ll get to tell. I find that this is a great way to calm my thoughts.
Another great way is to pack smart. I’m a bit of a scatterbrain when it comes to travelling, and forgetting my passport at airport security is not unheard for me – don’t be like me. Investing in a travel wallet is a great way to ensure that all your travel documents, such as; boarding passes, passport, emergency contacts, are all in one place. Make sure that all your packing is done beforehand because packing the night before your trip can be a nightmare in general. Include anything that will bring you comfort – your favourite travel pillow or music that calms your nerves.
3. Focus On Your Breath:
Breathe. This is possibly the best advice I’ve received when having to deal with anxiety. It seems like a simple task, but when your mind’s spiralling into a bottomless pit of anxiety, it’s pretty difficult. Take a deep breath in through your nose, focusing on the air that’s filling your lungs. Notice the way your chest expands as you do this as you hold this breath for ten seconds. Exhale through your mouth, letting out all the anxiety you have at that moment. Do this as many times as it takes you to calm down.
It’s a great technique to have in your back pocket, especially when you’re travelling since you can do this anywhere. It also helps you to stay present and to give your mind a mini reset in the process.
4. Listen To Music
Allow your fears and anxieties to melt away with a good music playlist. I’ve had many instances where music has saved my butt from experiencing a full-blown panic attack, and it’s a great way to distract yourself from your busy thoughts. I love grabbing my earphones and blasting some classical music (can one “blast” Beethoven?), it forces me to focus on something other than my panicked thoughts. Create a playlist that suits your taste, whether it be light jazz or hard rock, pick your favourite songs and listen to them when you’re feeling anxious. I promise it helps!
5. Speak To Someone:
It’s often so difficult to remember that you are not alone, especially when it feels that way during those tough moments. Don’t be afraid to lean on friends and family for support, they can be a great help in talking you through panicked thoughts and a panic attack. There are also great online communities for anxiety sufferers, which is extremely convenient when travelling. It’s also a great way to meet up with people who understand and can relate to what you are going through when travelling alone. Help is only a click away, cheesy, but true.
6. Use A Journal:
I’ve always been a fan of journaling. When it comes to feeling anxious, my mind often feels cluttered, and writing down my thoughts and feelings are great ways to get rid of them. Writing down your emotions will not only help you process them, but it’s also helpful when focusing on the root of your anxiety. It’s a simple way to identify your triggers, and an amazing method to shift your thoughts towards feeling more empowered. I love reading my journals after a period of time, it shows me how far I’ve come or what I still need to work on.
There are so many benefits to journaling, so put pen to paper and process those emotions! Whether you’re feeling happy, sad or anxious, write down everything you’re feeling. You’ll start to pick up on your triggers, and it’ll be easier for you to identify and avoid them in the future.
7. Avoid Your Triggers:
Once you’ve identified your triggers, write them down; it’s a great way to get familiar with your anxiety and what causes it. Perhaps you’re anxious around large crowds or getting too little sleep makes you more susceptible to panic attacks, write all your triggers down and simply try to avoid them if possible. Doing this while travelling is a great way to minimize your anxiety, and will make your trip a little more enjoyable thanks to a calmer and more in control mind.
8. Practice Self-love:
Attention: This is incredibly important.
There’s nothing wrong with taking a day or two from your itinerary to relax and practice a little self-care. Never be afraid to call a “time-out” when travelling, it’s the number one rule to feeling comfortable and enjoying your trip. Remember, whatever you’re feeling, it’s OK.
Whether you’re happy or sad, allow yourself to feel those emotions; suppressing them will only give your mind permission to manifest them in a worse way (hello, panic attack). Run a bath, relax in your hotel room and order room service or go for a massage, whatever you do, be gentle and kind to yourself.
You’re incredibly brave for stepping outside your comfort zone and exploring new and exciting places. Never forget – you are amazing!