Traveling is a dream and a bucket list item for a majority of people. However, if you suffer from an anxiety disorder, you may feel like traveling is definitely not a possibility for you. But having anxiety should not hinder you from seeing the world and enjoying your trip.
Not only can you overcome your anxiety of traveling, you can overcome your anxiety by traveling. It has been scientifically proven that traveling has numerous positive psychological and physiological benefits. Travel brings you out of your element and comfort zone, which can actually be a good thing for anxious people. Travel is often associated with a vacation, a time away from your usual environments and stressors.
But traveling is more than just getting away. It allows you to be “present” in whatever new thing you are experiencing. Things tend to move fast during a trip, requiring you to make quick decisions – thus, your brain is not allowed to worry, overthink, or keep beating yourself up over your decisions later on.
Don’t permit your anxiety to stop you from traveling. However, don’t neglect your anxiety either. It most likely will rear its ugly head during your travels, so it’s best to be prepared for it. Here are some simple tips on how to avoid and deal with anxiety on the road:
- Plan your trip during off-peak seasons. If crowds of people and overstimulation of the senses can trigger your panic attacks, it’s a good idea to plan your travel during the off-peak travel seasons in the places you want to visit. You can target the times right before or right after peak seasons – this way, the weather is still great and there are less tourists, and thus less crowds. Check out travel guides and/or blogs on your destination to find out an ideal time to travel.
- Meticulously plan out your trip. Travel anxiety is often triggered because travel is associated with things that are new, unexpected, and unpredictable. Stay away from diversions from the routine. To help you reduce stress and have a better control of what happens during your travel, plan out the details of your trip beforehand. Eliminate as many unknowns as you can.
Research your destination extensively and create a detailed itinerary. Identify the attractions and spots you want to see, plan your routes, and learn about how local transportation works. Download an offline map and other useful travel apps in your phone. Save screenshots of flight details, directions, addresses, etc. in case you do not have internet. It helps a lot to be prepared, although you should also be open to allowing room for spontaneity and distractions.
- Create a packing list. After you have decided on the locations and activities of your travel, find out about the weather and culture in your chosen destination. This will give you an idea of the clothes and things that you need to pack. You may have a tendency to over-pack just to make sure you don’t forget anything. Listing everything down will help you properly evaluate and identify the essentials and cross out unnecessary items if necessary.
Write down everything you choose to bring, even down to underwear, jewelry, and electronics. Be detailed with the quantity, too – especially for important items like medications. Bring your list with you so that you can also check it as you are packing to go home.
- Listen to chill music while travelling. Bring along music that calms you down. The takeoff and landing parts of plane travel are usually the most anxiety-inducing. If music relaxes you, remember to prepare travel playlists filled with the kinds of music that work for you. Bring your earphones with you wherever you go. The same goes for when you’re traveling on the road or walking on the streets.
Music can provide an excellent distraction to the anxious thoughts that creep up in your mind. Often, it can help distract your brain enough to let the anxiety subside and get you through difficult moments.
- Make time for self-care. Just because you are on vacation does not mean your anxiety is, too. Know your limits and don’t force yourself to go along with your travel companions if you know you cannot handle it. Always make time for self-care.
If, despite your best efforts, you still come to a point where you feel like you are on the verge of an anxiety attack, don’t ignore the signs. If music or talking to someone aren’t working in distracting you from your nerves, then you have to take a break. Go to a quiet area and do some breathing exercises, meditation, or other relaxation techniques. Do whatever your self-care routine is. Don’t worry about inconveniencing your companions or ruining your travel itinerary.
Also, set aside some money specifically for bad days. While you want to save money when traveling, you want to be ready to spend a little when you get too overwhelmed from cramped hostel rooms and long bus or train rides. Stash away money for a fancy hotel room. Treat yourself to room service and some pampering, and then take a nice relaxing bath to recover. Going out of your comfort zone is important, but taking care of your mental health is even more important.
Lots of people have been able to overcome their anxiety and fulfill their dreams of traveling. You can do it too. Your anxiety should not stop you.
About the Author:
Lysha works at Lalco Residency – Short Term Apartments Mumbai and she loves her job. Helping clients and monitoring the progress of business strategies along with her leadership skills makes her perfect suit for Hospitality services. You can catchup with Lysha at Lalco Residency in Mumbai.