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Traveling can be a major source of anxiety for some people.
I used to get panic attacks and feel like I was going to vomit almost every time I was about to travel somewhere.
It was miserable.
But over time, with frequent travel and the right resources, I was able to get to a point where I can control my anxiety and can actually start enjoying traveling.
This isn’t something that happened overnight. It took a lot of practice and a lot of trial and error, but I got there and I hope that you can too.
My biggest issue with traveling was feeling like I was trapped and that I wasn’t in control, specifically when flying.
These anxieties would then trigger either a panic attack or severe stomach issues that made me feel awful and like I couldn’t continue.
So I found ways to help calm myself down and alleviate the stomach issues so that I can travel more comfortably and not be miserable every time I fly.
I made a list for you of the ways that help me cope with my travel anxiety and I hope they can help you too.
Ways to Help Battle Your Travel Anxiety
- Identify your triggers
- This is important so that you know what is going to set you off and help counteract it before it happens. Maybe it’s packing that starts your anxiety of the traveling coming up, or getting in the car to head to the airport. Maybe waiting for the plane and being around a lot of people sets you off. If you’re like me, all of these set me off. But I think the thing that gets me the most is just the overall anticipation of it all. And turbulence. Who loves turbulence? Nothing like a quick jolt to send you straight into a panic attack. Know your triggers and try to prepare for them in any way you can.
- Plan for the trip, plan for what’s going on at home while you’re gone and plan for your anxiety to flare up. I always make sure I know every detail of every part of my trip. All the flight info, all locations, my lodging, and transportation, what I’m going to be doing while I’m there, and my trip home. I am the kind of person that needs to know details and these details help keep me calm. I also like to know that my home and my pets are safe while I’m gone and that I have someone reliable to keep me up to date on them. planning for my anxiety includes making sure I have distractions, medications, comfort items, and a way to write. I make sure to have a huge packing list and I start packing early so I know I don’t forget anything. I leave the house early and get to the airport early so I know I won’t have to rush and ill have time to breathe and relax. And I always dress comfortably so that I can feel safer and hopefully be able to sleep through the flight.
- Plan for certain scenarios
- Are there certain scenarios that you think are going to happen that trigger your anxiety? Plan for them. if it’s that you think you might get sick, make sure you have medications with you, you know where the bathrooms are, you get water, and you have a bag handy. If you think you will get lost, try to find a downloadable map of the airport or the place you are going and make sure you know where everything is. are you afraid you will have a full-blown panic attack? Pick an aisle seat so you can quickly make it to the bathroom without disturbing anyone, and bring the materials you need that will help get you through it. Brainstorm what you are afraid of, and try to come up with a way to cope with it ahead of time so you can tackle it easily when it comes.
- Bring distractions
- This is a big one for me. If I can get lost in a book, a movie, or a video game, then it makes it twenty times easier for me to get through a plane ride. Download movies or shows on your tablet or phone. definitely make sure you have a charger or extra battery. Always bring headphones. Download your favorite relaxing and upbeat music to keep you calm. Bring video games if you can or download some onto your phone. I like relaxing word games when my anxiety starts going crazy. Bring a means of writing, whether is electronically or physically. Or bring a book or two with you. Especially if it’s an uplifting and positive one. All of these will help you to forget where you are and help keep you calm.
- Practice relaxation techniques
- Take some time before you travel to learn or download some breathing and meditation exercises. Being able to control your breathing is vital to getting through anxiety, especially panic attacks. Learn how to control it and the different ways you can use your breath to calm down. I also like to download meditations to help me stay calm and they help me fall asleep as well.
- Avoid layovers
- This might not be possible depending on where you are traveling to. But it can help a lot to avoid layovers because it reduces the amount of stress you get from finding your terminal. I hate having layovers in huge airports where you have to run to get to the next flight. It’s just an added stress and no one needs that on top of anxiety.
- If you can, get medication from your doctor to help with anxiety. I know it can help me. I’ve been prescribed blood pressure mediation before to help with my anxiety and I always take it before flying. I also recommend taking motion sickness medication if things like motion sickness bother you. Other meds I keep on hand are stomach meds and headache meds. I always want to be prepared if I start to feel sick because feeling sick sets off my anxiety.
- Find the fun in traveling.
- Finding the fun in traveling can help to keep you distracted and enjoy the trip more. Try using car ride games on the way to the airport to help alleviate the anticipation anxiety of getting there. Find other games you can play with your travel partner if you have one. Try to look up the route of your flight and print a map so you can try to spot things like mountain ranges and lakes. Arrange for something fun or relaxing to do when you arrive to help you wind down from the traveling. If you like photography, try to take some photos of the airport, or the landscapes while in the air. If you’re a social person, make friends with the person sitting next to you. Anything that helps you to find joy will also help to alleviate the anxiety.
These are just a few tips that have helped me in the past. They may or may not work for you, as everyone is different. But it never hurts to give one a try.
One thing I also find that is helpful to combat my anxiety is to write about it.
When I feel anxiety coming on or a panic attack may be starting, I try to use the notes app on my phone to quickly type out what I am feeling and, if I know, why I am feeling the way I am. For instance, if I’m feeling a little anxious because there was a little bit of turbulence, ill write that, and then I will come back and write that it’s okay. It’s okay to feel this way and you’re fine. I will reassure myself that we are safe, the pilot hasn’t said anything negative, the attendants are going about fine, no one else is freaking out. So I’m safe.
It helps me to identify the problem causing the anxiety, and then counteract it and reassure myself that I am fine. Then I follow up with some breathing exercise or meditation to help calm myself back down.
Try whatever works for you. It will be a trial and error situation but the most important thing you can do is prepare, and breathe.
You got this.