The idea of travel is supposed to be invigorating. Yet for many people, it’s a source of stress and anxiety. In fact, there are many things that can add to our stress levels while we’re traveling.
Common stressors include the fear of the unknown, such as worrying if you’ve picked the right hotel or not. People also stress about not being in control of an outcome, such as a storm delaying your flight or being stuck in a taxi in bumper to bumper traffic, making you late for your important business trip. Many people experience travel anxiety because they have a genuine fear or phobia of getting on a plane. In fact, according to Calm Clinic, fear of flying is the number one issue with travel anxiety.
If you find yourself anxious before a trip, you’re not alone. Here are our tips to help you deal with travel angst, so you can start enjoying the journey—instead of dreading it.
What Is Travel Anxiety?
Although some stress is normal during travel, anxiety is more intense. For example, travel anxiety is more than just your typical headache while waiting in the security line. You can tell the difference between travel stress and travel anxiety when your stressors start to interfere with your ability to travel.
Someone with travel anxiety may experience symptoms like a rapid heart rate, nausea, difficulty breathing, and restlessness while traveling—or even while thinking about traveling. If any of these symptoms sound familiar, here’s how you can help minimize them and prepare yourself to deal with your emotions for your next trip.
Plan Ahead to Reduce Travel-Related Stress
If you know you have a trip coming up and you’re already feeling anxious about it, make a plan. Planning for these feelings and knowing exactly what you’ll do when anxiety hits may help reduce it going into your trip. Consider these tips:
- Have a solid transportation plan in place to get to your hotel from the airport. This may include looking at a map of the airport, so you know the exact area for passenger pick-up. Also, save the address of your hotel to pass off to the driver and pre-map out the travel time using Google Maps so you know exactly how long it will take you. All of these things can help you feel more secure once you arrive.
- Use your smartphone to your advantage with travel apps. Input your flight reservations, hotel stays, experiences, directions, rental cars, and anything else you’ve reserved for your trip. This will help keep things organized and easy to access whenever you need them.
- If one of your main stress triggers is fearing your luggage will be lost, plan for it. Fill your carry-on bag with necessities such as your medications, an extra set of clothes, important toiletries, and chargers in case your luggage is lost. This way you’ll be covered no matter what.
- Plan out the activities you must do during your trip ahead of time so you don’t get overwhelmed in your new destination. If you’re able to, research as many details as you can ahead of time such as addresses, costs, weather, etc., to help things run smoothly.
By planning ahead, you can decrease your travel stress and feel more confident and capable of traveling without anxiety.
Remind Yourself Why You Want to Travel
Before you let your travel anxiety delay the planning of another trip, stop and think about why you wanted to take the trip in the first place. Traveling is important to your well-being and can even help reduce stress once you’re able to relax at your destination.
Repeating positive affirmations is a simple thing you can do that will have a powerful effect on changing your mindset. It even may help to say affirmations such as, “I choose to fill my mind with positive, nurturing, and healing thoughts,” out loud. Also, picture yourself taking that vacation and imagine doing amazing things without an ounce of anxiety.
Relaxation Is Key
There are a lot of exercises out there that are designed to help reduce anxiety. Whether it’s when you’re flying or traveling by car to your hotel, try one of these relaxing techniques to take control of your anxiety.
Breathe In, Breathe Out
When you’re anxious, your heart rate increases, causing you to breathe faster. It’s important to be aware of your breathing and start a breathing exercise to help slow yourself down. Take a long, slow breath in through your nose, first filling your lower lungs, then your upper lungs. Exhale slowly through pursed lips, while you relax the muscles in your face, jaw, shoulders, and stomach. Do this exercise for as long as you need to, and you’ll feel yourself feeling calmer in no time.
Meditation is really popular nowadays, and you can make it as easy or as advanced as you’d like. For example, meditation before a trip can be as easy as waking up 15 minutes early, finding a quiet space to sit, and centering yourself. There are so many resources available to help you get started. Start by downloading a meditation app like Calm or Headspace so you can have it ready whenever, and wherever, you need it.
Another helpful technique to calm your nerves is to focus on an object you can see clearly and that is stable. Try focusing on the back of someone’s seat three rows ahead or focusing on a picture on a wall. You can also close your eyes and focus on a calming image in your mind, such as waves on the beach or branches swaying in the breeze. Much like meditation, this practice clears your mind of the noise and allows you to quiet yourself.
If meditation and quiet focus aren’t your cup of tea, relax by keeping things familiar. Download your favorite music, television shows, and movies to your laptop or phone to watch while in flight. This can help you feel a sense of normalcy among the unfamiliar and allow you to relax.
Open Up About Your Anxiety
Communication is a widely accepted technique in dealing with anxiety. Try to open up to someone you trust who can help talk you through your anxiety and offer support. We’d like to note here that if your anxiety is proving difficult to manage, it’s important to seek support from a professional.
You can also find a community in person or online to voice your thoughts. This can help you to find comfort in knowing there are many other people out there dealing with travel anxiety as well. You are not alone.
Lauren Juliff, a popular travel blogger, has opened up completely about her travel anxiety and shares her experiences on her blog, neverendingfootsteps. She was able to face her anxiety head-on and use travel to ease it. She has now traveled the world for more than eight years non-stop and doesn’t show signs of slowing down anytime soon.
Don’t Let Anxiety Stop You from Traveling
It’s OK to accept that you have travel anxiety. You can use this awareness to your advantage and take control of it. The worst thing you can do is to let travel anxiety keep you from traveling. In fact, it has actually been proven through science that travel is good for your mental and physical health.
So say yes to more trips with these tips in mind and book your next hotel through Roomkey. We offer the most stress-free booking experience out there—without the flashy gimmicks that other travel sites put you through. And when you find the hotel that puts you at ease, we’ll transfer you to the hotel’s website to complete your booking directly at the source. We get straight to the truth, so you can get straight to your travel.
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