Traveling opens your mind to a world of ideas, cultures and adventures. Yet when you’re about to embark on your first major travel experience, you may find yourself feeling a little anxious. Thoughts of “what could happen,” fear of traveling alone, fear of being lost in a big group or simply the fear of the unknown are all common sources of travel anxiety. If you’re finding yourself battling travel anxiety before your first big trip, you can take back control. Consider these tips for overcoming travel anxiety that will make your trip an inspirational success.
Coping with Travel Anxiety Before You Leave
Often for people with anxiety it’s the anticipation of something that causes them trouble. This means that travel anxiety can pop up before you even head to the airport. If you find yourself constantly worrying about your upcoming trip, even to the point of wanting to cancel your trip, consider these strategies.
Why did you want to take your trip? Was it the desire for adventure? Was it to see a place you’ve only dreamt of seeing? If you went so far as to book this trip, chances are you have a great reason for wanting to go. Imagine yourself in the place you’re visiting, seeing the sights you’ve always dreamed of seeing, with no anxiety. By picturing these positive images and remembering your “why,” you will be able to calm your anxiety.
Consider the Future
Consider yourself in one year. If you cancel your trip and let your anxiety take over, what will you be thinking? Most likely you’ll be riddled with regret. Remind yourself that, even if you are feeling frightened now, the feeling of regret will be worse.
Explore the Location
Grab your computer and explore your chosen location online. Learn about its people, its food and its important sites. The more you know about your location, the more excited you will be to visit, and that excitement will outweigh your anxious thoughts. Also, education and information are empowering, because they take away some of the “unknown” of the trip. This can also help reduce feelings of anxiety.
Often, anxiety will come from feeling out of control. A solid plan, especially for your first few days of your trip and for your packing needs, can help reduce this feeling and improve your excitement about travel. If you’re using planning as a help for overcoming travel anxiety, you will want to plan a little more detail than you normally would, including looking at maps of the airport, knowing what to do if you lose your luggage at your destination, and planning for transportation from the airport to your accommodations. Giving yourself back a sense of control can reduce anxiety significantly. Also, remember to plan for the things you leave behind, like your home or pets. Hire a house sitter to ensure your stuff is safe while you’re gone, so you have the freedom to relax and enjoy your trip.
If you’re worried you will forget to turn off the stove or turn down the thermostat, take a photo on your phone that shows you’ve done this. If you forget whether or not you have, you can refer to the photo. You can also use screenshots and photos on your phone to capture important information, like maps of the town you will visit or the public transportation information you’ll need when you arrive.
Overcoming Travel Anxiety on Your Flight
For those with anxiety, an airline flight can be a huge challenge to overcome. To make the flight a little easier to manage, and even possibly enjoyable, you need a plan. First, make sure you pack some snacks in your carryon. Low blood sugar will make anxiety worse, and the timing of your in-flight meals may not be when you normally would eat. If you have a snack, you can avoid hunger.
Next, plan for some entertainment. Think about the book you’re going to bring with you or the movie you plan to watch. By building some anticipation for these pleasant experiences, you might find yourself looking forward to the flight.
If you feel anxiety about the actual act of flying, remember that this is something many people feel. It may be helpful to know that flying is statistically safer than driving. If that does not calm your anxiety, practice deep breathing and relaxation techniques during takeoff. Keep your destination and all of its wonders in the forefront of your mind any time you feel the anxiety popping up. Put on a calming music play list, pop in your ear buds, and sit back during takeoff. The music will help calm you, and soon you will be flying and on your way to adventure.
Avoiding Anxiety on Your Trip
Once you arrive, you may still find that you feel anxious. Landing in a new place with a new culture and maybe even a new language is a daunting task for many. Here are some tips to manage travel anxiety that pops up once you make it to your destination.
Make a Friend
To make things easier, start by making a friend. If you are traveling alone, consider joining a tour group or meeting someone at your accommodations that you can be friends with. Having another person to talk to can be helpful to reduce anxiety.
Give Permission to Make Mistakes
No trip is ever perfect. While it’s the perfect trip for you and you will be opened to new experiences and cultures, mistakes are gong to happen. Feeling disappointment over bumps in the road can trigger anxiety. Give yourself the permission to have a less-than-perfect trip with some bumps in the road, and you may find your anxiety lessening.
Take a Day Off
If you are finding your feelings of travel anxiety growing during your drip, don’t be afraid to take a day off. Sometimes exhaustion can make these concerns worse. Enjoy the amenities of your accommodations, watch some local television or simply soak in the tub to relax, and you will be ready for more exploration the next day.
Avoid Anxiety Triggers
Everyone has something that makes them feel anxious. Maybe for you it’s crowds or being in a dark hallway or alleyway. You can limit the anxiety you feel on your trip by avoiding these anxiety triggers.
Have someone at home you can call, and a phone card or other method to do so affordably. Sometimes talking to a familiar person and relaying all of the adventures of your trip is all it takes to reduce your anxiety.
For many, including many first-time travelers, travel anxiety is very real. Yet with the right strategies for overcoming travel anxiety, it doesn’t have to destroy your trip. Learn to face your anxiety head on, plan to overcome it and get ready to experience the thrill and wonder of traveling outside your comfort zone.
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