Even for the most frequent of flyers, travel can induce significant levels of anxiety. Have you remembered to pack everything? Have you left enough time to get to the airport? Did you remember your passport?
For those with persistent generalized anxiety disorders, the change and distance from comfort represented by travelling can cause a lot of anxiety. It’s an element of travel that is often overlooked and underestimated, particularly for those embarking on a big trip as opposed to a holiday. We’re expected to feel nothing but pure joy and excitement at the prospect of our trip and while travelling is an undoubtedly amazing experience for many and something that should provoke excitement, it’s also a big change and commitment. Perhaps it’s a solo trip where anxieties are amplified as you set off into the world on your own. It may be a trip that involves leaving behind friends, family and partners for a period of time, stepping away from familiarity and venturing into a world filled with uncertainty. Don’t get me wrong, all of this doubles as a means for a life-changing, incredible experience but the point I’m trying to make is that it’s ok if you feel anxiety creeping in around the time of a trip. Though it will be a personal journey, it’s one that you’ll work through at your own pace but it’s helpful to have some tips on hand to help ease some of the anxiety associated with travel.
Stay true to you
Yes, travel is about pushing through comfort zones and yes, this is a period of growth and soul-searching and you absolutely should embrace your surroundings and try new things while travelling but some things, however highly recommended they may be, just aren’t for you. Maybe there’s a particular dish you know you just don’t like or an extreme activity that’s just a push too far but all of the guide books, articles and locals have rated it as something you have to do. Go with your gut. There’s a difference between going out of your comfort zone and doing things you just don’t like.
Bring something from home with you
Whether it’s a holiday or a longer trip, one of the biggest causes of travel anxiety can be being away from home comforts. People develop a fear of being far from home because it’s their safe space and so the idea of being away from home for an extended period of time can cause a lot of stress. Bring something with you that reminds you of home. When packing, include items that will bring comfort to you while on the road travelling, things like your favourite book, a playlist of your favourite songs or a pillowcase that smells like home.
Plan your airport approach
Start your trip on as smooth a start as possible by planning out when and how you’ll get to the airport in advance so that from the get-go, you can arrive stress-free. The last thing you want is to be stuck in traffic watching the taxi meter go up or to realise on the way to the airport that your petrol tank is empty. Try using an airport transfer service that’s pre-booked and you know will arrive on time. It’s one less thing to worry about in amongst the mania of getting packed and getting everything and everyone out the door.
Anxiety stems from a feeling of not being in control so, by having things like your airport transfer planned along with familiarising yourself with the location and your itinerary for the first few days can help to keep these feelings at bay.
Take a break
It seems ironic given you’ve probably jetted off to faraway lands with exactly that intention but it’s important to take breaks during the holiday if you start to feel overwhelmed. This trip is for you and you’ve got to do whatever makes you happy and if that means a day doing nothing but staying by the pool or indulging in Netflix for an afternoon, go for it. You’re only human and travel can be exhausting. Anxiety can be impossible to fight in the sense that when you try to hide it this can increase stress and ultimately heighten the anxiety. Acknowledging the anxiety can be half the battle but once you’re able to do so, continue listening to what your body needs and honour that.
All in all, it’s important to remember that this is a once in a lifetime trip that will require throwing yourself into the experience and all of the opportunities it presents. Try and balance that with conquering any FOMO and remember you’re only human. You worked hard for this trip and likely spent a lot of time planning it. Relax, make the most of it and do your very best to enjoy the experience.