10 Steps to Help Calm Travel Anxiety
Traveling can be an incredibly stressful thing to do. It requires a great deal of forethought and preparation and will toss you in to many unforeseen and uncomfortable scenarios. Simply being away from your home and routine can be jarring, but add to that the complete uncertainty of a new place, culture, and language, and it can be utterly and completely overwhelming.
If you struggle with anxiety before or during travel, here are some steps you can take to help put your mind at ease.
Go in the Off-Season
Huge crowds are disorienting and cause an already stressful situation to escalate when the simplest thing, like parking a car or going to the bathroom, seems like a Herculean task simply due to the large volume of people also trying to do those things. To alleviate some of this frustration, plan your trip in at a time when the tourist crowds won’t be around in such horrendous masses.
Drink Herbal Tea
Peppermint or chamomile tea is a magnificent calming agent and offers great health benefits to boot. Additionally, it can also sooth an upset stomach that may be on edge from nerves, exhaustion, excitement, or early morning nausea.
Bring a Comfy Sweatshirt
Or some other article of clothing that is non-restrictive and reminds you of home. A safety blanket, as it were. It’s amazing the amount of comfort something remotely familiar can offer when you are in the middle of a strange place.
Make a Plan
While wandering aimlessly through a new city is a wonderful romantic notion, once you’re dropped in the middle of one, the reality can be far less magnificent. Having a daily itinerary that maps out where you plan to go, how you’re getting there, and what it’s going to cost gives you a blueprint for what to expect from one day to the next. It also keeps you from wasting the precious time you have in your destination by not having to think of what to do next at every moment.
Lists of what to bring, lists of things to do to prepare your home for your absence, lists of things to do last minute (don’t forget your passport!), and a list for any other group of things you’re scared you may overlook. Having a resource to go back to in moments of brain-freeze panic can be a lifesaver and keep you from missing something important.
Be Kind to Yourself
If you are driving, allow yourself time to stop at a rest stop, stretch your legs and get some sun. If you have been sightseeing non-stop and feel like you’re headed for a breakdown, take a morning to sleep in or an evening to stay in your room with a hot bath and a movie. There may be a fascinating world outside your window, but there’s a person inside of you who needs rest and that’s okay.
Think About Transportation
It can be all too easy to spend all of our time thinking about actually getting to our destination of choice and not considering how we’re going to get around once we’re there. Choose a place to stay that is close to the majority of attractions you want to see. If you plan to use Uber or Lyft to get most places, make sure you factor that in to your travel budget, as those fees can add up quickly. If you are good at figuring out public transit systems, exhaustively research the public transportation available in your destination city and make a very detailed plan about how to get around. Having this sorted out before you arrive will be a huge relief once you’re trying to navigate a new city.
Understand that while you’ve done all you can in terms of planning and preparation there will always, always, always be many things you did not (and could not) account for. Try not to grow frustrated when this happens, but be flexible and work with the new arrangement, whatever it may be. You will have a much better time adapting to the new plan than fuming about the old one.
Use Your Carry-On Wisely
Stow your carry-on within reaching distance on the plane and make sure anything you may need is easily accessible in the front pockets. The last thing you want is an urgent need for Dramamine that is locked two rows above you in the overhead bin.
Breathe Through It
When you start to feel panic rising in your throat and tightening your chest, be mindful of the physical feeling and intentional about breathing through it. Take a deep inhale and let it out slowly. Your chest will loosen and you will feel calmer. It’s science, baby.