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Tips For The Anxious Traveler

Tips for the anxious traveler

Traveling can be a hair-raising experience even for those who frequently travel. With missed flights, delays, road-trip detours and lost luggage, it is not surprising hitting the road can make you want to scream! But, some people have severe anxiety about traveling, and it is holding them back from enjoying all our beautiful, amazing world has to offer. But what are some of the signs of anxiety and what can cause it?

What are some signs of anxiety –
– Heavy sweating
– Rapid heartbeat
– Shortness of breath
– Disoriented
– Negative thoughts
– Irrational concerns
– Becoming immobile
– Feeling claustrophobic
– Trembling hands, legs or whole body
– Full blown panic attack which completely shuts you down

Many things can cause you to feel stressed –
– Missed flights
– Unknown destinations
– Traveling alone
– Going to areas known for unrest
– Fear of something happening (car trouble, lost luggage, etc.)
– Meeting new people
– Illness
– Unfamiliar surrounds and situations
– Eating unfamiliar or new foods
– Needing to handle situations you are not knowledgeable about
– Weather
– Unpredictable situations

Here are our top ten tips for managing anxiety and enjoying travel.

1. Check with a medical professional for consultation about any anxiety severe enough to cause you to avoid doing things you would like to do. A doctor or nurse can provide tips for handling stress and anxiety.  For severe cases you may be prescribed medication.

Travel anxiety
A medical professional can help you conquer anxiety and fear.        Photo credit: Mark Adams

2. Move past the negative internal voice -seek assistance from friends, family or support groups to control and eliminate negative internal talk.  Share with people you trust your desire to make changes in the way you think and feel about travel.

Help group
There are support groups in your area ready to help and guide you to positive thoughts and feelings about travel.

3. Plan, plan and plan again the details of your trip. Schedules, itineraries, and a set routine will help make traveling less stressful, and you’ll feel less anxious.  Plan ahead and leave 3-4 days before the trip free of planning and packing. Leave your last days before traveling for relaxing. Nothing is more stressful than last minute packing and planning. And, if planning and preparing are your anxiety triggers, call a travel agent to plan and organize your trip.  Leave the sorting out, calling and arranging to someone who does this for a living.

A travel agent can work one-on-one with you to plan your trip, making it less stressful for you. Photo credit: Wavebreak Media
A travel agent can work one-on-one with you to plan your trip, making it less stressful for you.
Photo Credit: Wavebreak Media

4. Budget your travel as one normally would, but also put aside extra money for emergencies and for any changes you may need to make if you start feeling too uncomfortable with your travel plans.

Travel budgets help you control what you spend.
Travel budgets help you control what you spend.  Photo credit:  Andriy Popov

5.  Prepare a travel pharmacy to include simple things like aspirin, bandages, antibiotics, ace bandage and antiseptic cream. Simple medicines can be difficult to find on international trips.  And, accidents happen all hours of the day.  Have what you need on hand for cuts, stomach aches, colds and headaches. There is no need to stress over these items.

Pack a small bag with emergency medical items. And remember to pack medications in your carry-on bags when flying.

6. Stay within your comfort zone – step outside your comfort zone – sounds like a contradiction – but, plan a trip that includes things that make you feel safe and secure; things that are familiar and you enjoy. But, also plan one or two things that are slightly outside of your comfort zone and plan to do them with a travel buddy. Successfully experiencing something you once feared will build confidence and self-esteem.

Paint and Sip
Try something new that’s not too out of your comfort level. You’ll feel proud of yur accomplishments  

7. Know your triggers – Everyone has a trigger point which makes them feel uncomfortable. Learning what triggers anxiety is important. But, also recognizing how your body reacts is vital to know when anxious feelings are about to start and how you can move to a more secure space both physically and mentally.  Bring with you any medication to relax and practice calming techniques.

What makes you anxious? Think of strategies to overcome panic or fear.
What makes you anxious? Think of strategies to overcome panic or fear. Photo credit: Kasto

8. Here come the butterflies – even the most seasoned traveler experiences butterflies. Controlling any negative thoughts and stopping to take a moment to create a positive way of thinking is crucial. Practice breathing techniques which calm you (ask about this when visiting the medical professional before leaving.)

You're not alone. Everyone experiences frustrations, fears and anxiety when traveling.
You’re not alone. Everyone experiences frustrations, fears, and anxiety when traveling. Photo credit:  Michael Simons

9. Get a good night’s sleep and eat healthy on the road.  Take care of yourself.  Do not eat foods you are not familiar with or drink too much. Some people  may suggest drinking alcohol to calm your nerves and make you feel more relaxed. Stay in control of yourself and your actions so your decisions are clear and in your best interest.

Sleep refuels the body and helps you deal with unexpected and expected situations.
Sleep refuels the body and helps you deal with unexpected and expected situations.                             Photo credit:  Cathy Yeulet

10. Purchase travel insurance which covers medical emergencies and trip cancellation.  These are the two most critical portions of your trip to cover.  If you are anxious about the money you’re spending and how you will be reimbursed with the “what if” scenarios and trip cancellation is essential.  And, a medical emergency can blow your budget quickly when traveling.  Travel health insurance can take effect and help cover the costs of a visit to the doctor while traveling.

Not sure about travel insurance. Ask a friend who regularly travels what type policy they purchase and what it should include.

And, our last and more encouraging tips – Just do it – find a travel buddy who will support your journey to traveling with less stress and more confidence.  Travel is all about experiencing those things you find fun and fulfilling and enjoying family and friends.

Get out an have fun with your family and friends! Photo credit:
Get out an have fun with your family and friends!                                 Photo credit: Cathy Yeulet


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