Wed, 6 Mar, 2019
10 hacks to help you deal with travel anxiety
Travelling can be an exciting adventure, although for some people it can heighten anxiety, making their trip stressful and less enjoyable.
Anxiety can be heightened during travel for many reasons, including being in cramped quarters of a plane or battling with the concept of navigating an unfamiliar place
Here are 10 ways to help combat your travel anxiety
1. Don’t leave things to the last minute
Even for people who don’t struggle with anxiety, travelling can be stressful. To ensure you are going to have a calm journey, check everything is finalised 24 hours before you actually leave.
This includes having bags completely packed, printing out tickets or reservations, checking into all flights and organising an itinerary. Additionally, people might want to book taxis in advance, prepare meals for the travel day and lay out travelling clothes.
2. Travel with others
Travelling on your own, while rewarding, can be unsuitable for anxious travellers. Having a trusted friend, relative or spouse can help ease the burden of planning and creating schedules, and can also provide reassurance and support while in a foreign country.
If you need to travel on your own, ensure you dedicate time to talking to friends and family to help feel connected and to provide an opportunity to unload any travel-related stress.
3. Exercise before your trip
According to the Anxiety and Depression Association of America (ADAA), exercise and other physical activity produces endorphins, which is known to reduce tension, decrease stress and improve your overall mood.
If you are anxious about planes or navigating an unfamiliar city, a walk can help clear your mind.
4. Avoid alcohol and caffeine
ADAA reported that alcohol and caffeine can aggravate anxiety and trigger panic attacks. Although a holiday might seem like the perfect time to indulge, try and keep it to a minimum for the sake of your anxiety and stress.
You can still have a good time with these replacement options: smoothies, mocktails, sparkling water, juices and decaffeinated coffee.
5. Participate in soothing activities
Self-care is very important and tends to be more-so for those who experience travel anxiety. Ensure that wherever you are, and no matter what you have planned for the day, that you put some time aside for yourself to relax.
This can include participating in a spa day trip, yoga sessions or exploring national parks. Keep in mind, you shouldn’t overwhelm yourself with activities during the day – making time to relax and taking it slow is a good idea.
6. Practice relaxation techniques
Before you leave for your trip, find and practice some relaxation techniques that work for you. This can include breathing exercises, meditation or journaling. The more familiar you are with your relaxation techniques, the easier it will be to put them into practice during times of high stress.
Another idea is to compile a relaxation toolkit that contains things that help calm you. This can include music, a bottle of essential oil or a visualisation exercise.
Body-based relaxation techniques can also be highly beneficial. Progressive muscle relaxation is a practice where you tense the muscles on a focused body part for 10 seconds, such as your hand or neck, before releasing the muscles.
7. Research and save important information offline
Planning an itinerary and researching your destination thoroughly is a good way to combat travel anxiety, especially if feeling in control puts you at ease.
Focus on finding local restaurants you want to visit, when attractions are open, and the best way to get around the city, so you can feel prepared to navigate the new place.
Save the information you find to an offline source, so you can access it at any time on your trip. You can either print it out or save the information to your phone as screenshots or in the form of notes.
8. Fear-of-flying program or app
If your anxiety stems from the fear of flying, then it can be helpful to seek a program or app that is aimed to help ease nerves and anxieties.
The SOAR app, designed by Captain Tom Bunn who was a former US Air Force pilot and commercial jet pilot, includes anxiety calming factors such as turbulence forecasts and videos of Captain Bunn explaining every step of the flight process.
9. Travel insurance that covers emergency mental health situations
Most standard travel insurance health plans don’t cover mental health conditions, meaning if you require medication or hospitalisation due to your anxiety or panic disorders, you could be paying hundreds or thousands of dollars out of your own pocket.
Ensure your travel insurance covers psychiatric care and, depending on your situation and conditions, look for coverage for emergency medical evacuation and repatriation.
10. Talk to your doctor
Travelling can cause extreme panic and stress – a doctor may be able to suggest if therapy or medication could help deal with travel-related stress and anxiety.
Doctors can also recommend meditations or breathing exercises to help you calm down and manage your anxiety while travelling.
What do you do that helps you calm down when you are stressed? Let us know in the comments.