Travel anxiety can strike even the most even the most even tempered among us. I mean yeah it’s an incredible experience to break through our comfort zones and experience worlds beyond our wildest dreams, but there’s a lot of variables that stand between you and five days of horizontal beach reading bliss. Read on to learn more on how to get through those travel jitters and manage your travel anxiety.
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Traveling into the Unknown
The worst part of traveling for me is stepping out of my comfort zone. You can plan itineraries for months, check reservations, leave the kids/dogs with the parents, but nothing can really prepare you for those what ifs.
- Will if I miss my flight?
- What if my reservation didn’t go through?
- What if I’m stuck 1,000’s of miles from home and my husband decides to start an argument? (true story)
There’s a few things that really cause me anxiety when traveling. The first – FLYING.
I hate every part about flying. Talk about an anxious person’s worst nightmare. First you start out with security. Removing all of your belongings, hoping you don’t get pulled out and searched. Then the airplane. Placing your safety in a strangers hands. Being trapped. Worrying about embarrassing yourself. Sounds fun!
For me there’s also a worry about security. When I’m in the comforts of my own home I feel safe. I know where I can get food. I know where I lay my head at night. When you’re traveling it’s easy to worry about those comforts of home not being available.
Whether you’re a seasoned traveler or a once a year sort of type, leaving the comforts of home can cause travel anxiety for anyone. Here are five tips that have worked for me in dealing with my travel anxiety:
1. Make a list of the things that you are worrying about the most, and then come up with plans to avoid those worries from happening
A little planning ahead can help lower some of the most common travel anxiety. I know one of the biggest things I worry about is not having access to paleo or gluten free food. I always worry about losing my luggage flying, so I always carry it on if I can. Here are a few other items you can plan ahead for to make sure you are prepared in case things go sideways:
If you are always the last one to board the plane just as it is about to take off:
Visualize and plan for how you would like your perfect morning to go. If that includes having time for breakfast, or morning your favorite cup of coffee, utilize your alarm. Set an alarm for when you need to be completely packed, for when you should be out the door, and for when you should be at the airport. The morning before a flight is also when my anxiety is at it’s worst (you can read more about how I deal with my airplane anxiety here) so I allow myself more time for that. I know it is going to happen, so I allow myself time to just get it out of the way.
If you have specific dietary requirements, do your homework
Before we even book a hotel room, we scope out the area to make sure there’s a Whole Foods near by. One time while traveling we encountered a restaurant that grossly undercooked our meal, and I refused to eat there. It was late at night and most of the local restaurants were closed. We just so happened to have a Whole Foods near by, and I was able to get some tacos from the taco bar with Siete tortillas.
There are also a few apps that will tell you local gluten free spots near by your location. One of my favorite is Find Me GF.
2. Lists are your best friend
There’s no way I would be able to get through a flight without my tablet. So a few days before we leave for a flight, I make sure to make a list of absolutely everything I want before we leave. That includes making sure that all of my electronics are charged including my tablet. If you also tend to forget other important things like your passport or ID, make sure you include those on your list as well. I also bring a handful of magazines or books just in case. I bring my favorite flight anxiety books on long flights, just in case I need reminding of some of the things I learned when I am in the moment. This is one of my favorites. Yes I make sure to include that on the list as well.
If you are worried about getting lost, you can also print out maps for your travels as well. One of my favorite real – time travel apps to use is Waze.
3. Bring a Piece of Home With You
Bring a little piece of home with you to help keep you calm in those not so calm moments like a missed flight or getting lost in the middle of places unknown. This can be a picture of your loved ones, your favorite pillow, or anything that helps bring you comfort. For me that is a couple of crystals that I usually keep by my bed. I put them in the pockets in my purse, so I have them with me when I am traveling.
4. Start a meditation practice a week or two before your departure to lower travel anxiety
It’s easier to practice mindfulness in long security lines or during traffic jams when you have a little bit of experience under your belt. Trying to calm yourself in a stressful moment can be more difficult if you don’t have experience with mindfulness, so start practicing some stress relief techniques a few weeks before your trip.
One of my favorite is the 5 – 4 – 3 – 2 – 1 technique from the SOAR book I mentioned earlier. It distracts your senses when you are anxious, and might also be a fun game to play with restless kids.
- Acknowledge 5 things that you see around you.
- Find four things that you can touch around you.
- Look for three things that you can hear.
- Notice two things that you can smell.
- Acknowledge one thing that you can taste.
I also love utilizing the Calm app for practicing mindfulness while traveling, especially the flight anxiety meditation.
5. Remember why you are traveling in the first place
Whether you are visiting a family member, or visiting a new place, never lose sight of your why. It can be easy to forget your why when stuck in the middle of traffic or something else goes wrong on your vacation. Bring a journal with you, so that you can reflect on this new experience. It also helps to write down three things that you are grateful for. Writing down what you are grateful for in the middle of a figurative tornado helps shift your perspective. Because when something goes wrong as humans we tend to focus on everything that’s going wrong. When you chose to focus on the things that you are grateful for it helps shift to the things that you are thankful for.