There are so many valid reasons to get anxious at the thought of travelling.
For starters, traveling is all about coming face-to-face with the unknown and the unexpected. It sounds fun, but fear of the unknown can cause even someone who doesn’t usually suffer from anxiety to start panicking, majorly.
Then, all the logistical concerns, like hotel plans, getting to the airport on time, and staying on a vacation budget, fill your head with worrying thoughts.
As if that’s not enough, there’s also the actual process of traveling to factor in, which can bring up all sorts of fears. All it takes is hitting one small patch of turbulence to send an already anxious mind into a tailspin.
Luckily, travel anxiety is a common issue that has received increasing attention from mental health experts in recent years. Read on for some tips on how to fight those anxious thoughts and start enjoying your trip.
Bring a furry friend
Companionship can be beneficial when it comes to staving off anxiety. It makes sense that going through an anxiety-inducing experience with someone else to turn to for support is usually far better than going through it alone.
You don’t need to limit yourself to just human travel companions, though. Having your pet with you can go just as far in terms of providing support and comfort during difficult journeys.
With the increase in emotional support animal acceptance in public places, traveling with your pet is easier now than ever before. Just make sure you check with your airline to see if they have any specific requirements for emotional support animal registration.
Most people who regularly grapple with anxiety know that there are certain things that tend to cause attacks. If you are one of them, chances are you have your unique list.
Anxiety sufferers often build their lives around avoiding such triggers, developing daily lifestyle habits that allow them to go about the world at their happiest and healthiest. Travel, though, can uproot such routines and confront individuals with many of the most common anxiety triggers, such as caffeine or lack of sleep.
Knowing your triggers well – and knowing which scenarios on the list you are most likely to come up against in the travel process – will help you plan how to avoid them best.
Pack some distractions
When you can’t stop those racing thoughts altogether, sometimes the best option is to reroute them.
Instead of exerting all that overactive brain energy on the airplane take-off, or everything that could go wrong on your cruise, try focusing on a simple, enjoyable task to distract yourself.
Sudoku or crossword puzzles are great options that you can easily slip into a carry-on bag. Lots of board games also make travel-friendly versions, so you can bring your favorite game to play with your travel partners.
If all else fails, splurge on that in-flight films you’ve been dying to see or that new best-seller at the airport terminal.
The distraction tactic also has the added benefit of replacing negative with positive associations. If you start to think of all your negative feelings around travel as reasons to treat yourself to some fun gifts, you’ll begin to associate travel with these positives instead.
While people often pitch traveling as non-stop fun and excitement, there are certainly some pretty significant downsides, especially if you are one of the millions of individuals who suffer from anxiety.
Travel anxiety doesn’t have to hold you back from experiencing new things, though. It’s just a matter of planning and investing in giving yourself the most comfortable, leisurely travel experience possible.
Having luggage when roaming from place to place during travel can add to your anxiety. Use Vertoe to safely store your bags. If you are in Chicago, Vertoe has locations near all major train stations. Click luggage storage near Union Station Chicago to find details.
Adam Mulligan did his degree in psychology at the University of Hertfordshire. He is interested in mental health, wellness, and lifestyle.
The articles we publish on Psychreg are here to educate and inform. They’re not meant to take the place of expert advice. So if you’re looking for professional help, don’t delay or ignore it because of what you’ve read here. Check our full disclaimer.