How I Cope with Anxiety When I Travel
Anxiety, I've learned, is not only something I experience while under stress, but it is also something I experience in times that are not necessarily stressful, such as anxiety during traveling. Just recently, my family and I went on vacation, and I realized, before the trip, that travel anxiety is something that I often experience before traveling away from home.
I love to travel, and it's something that my family and I have always made a point to do at least a couple of times a year. It can truly be rejuvenating, in my experience, to go somewhere new, go on a new adventure, or simply experience a change of scenery. However, I've noticed that while I tend to feel excited about a trip long before it is scheduled, I also tend to feel quite anxious about it immediately beforehand. Prior to our most recent trip, I noticed that my anxiety was quite high, and I thought it was a good opportunity to think about why I felt anxious and how best to cope.
Strategies I Use to Help Me Manage My Travel Anxiety
Upon reflection, I realized that travel anxiety is something that I've been dealing with for quite some time. I think, as many things in my life have triggered my anxiety, I have often felt that I should "just get over it" at some point.
But, I've noticed that before I travel, I may feel very anxious about leaving home and going somewhere unfamiliar, being in crowded places, and even the planning that takes place beforehand.
What I've realized about this anxiety is that it stems from a lack of control. When you travel, you're in an unfamiliar environment and somewhere that is often outside of your comfort zone, which is typically your own home. Because of this, I tend to feel that things are somewhat chaotic, and so I may find myself struggling to find my footing and solid ground.
Fortunately, though, what I've found is that a few factors have been key to being able to cope with this:
- Because uncertainty almost always results in my feeling anxious, I try to prepare as much as possible. I tend to plan ahead and have backup plans in cases of emergency. I have to be careful with this, though, because the simple planning aspect can be enough to result in more anxiety if I don't think these plans through logically.
- I've found that identifying any irrational thought patterns before traveling helps. For example, I tend to find that I remind myself that, realistically, I can't identify every single, worst-case scenario that may happen. Working through any irrational thought patterns, such as through journaling, is helpful for reducing that anxiety.
- Another strategy is to use distractions. I usually am prepared with shows, movies, music, and books to hold my attention while on a plane, in the car, etc. This helps to distract me from any intrusive, catastrophic thoughts that I may have that can trigger my anxiety.
- I've also found that traveling with my loved ones helps tremendously. Because my family knows that I struggle with this anxiety, they can help me to stay grounded and help me to process any anxious thoughts I may have.
- I also make it a point to focus on the aspects of travel that are truly enjoyable to me. As I mentioned earlier, when I am not worried or anxious, I absolutely love traveling. I enjoy brand-new experiences, new cultures, and different scenery. Sometimes, simply reminding myself of this joy helps me focus on it.
See this video for more tips on combatting traveling anxiety:
What do you do to help calm your travel anxiety? Share your strategies in the comments below.
Bermio-Gonzalez, R. (2023, January 19). How I Cope with Anxiety When I Travel, HealthyPlace. Retrieved on 2023, June 8 from https://www.healthyplace.com/blogs/treatinganxiety/2023/1/how-i-cope-with-anxiety-when-i-travel