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Traveling With Anxiety: How To Get The Most Out Of Your Trip

Travelers Today       By    Staff Reporter

Updated: Feb 11, 2020 12:00 AM EST

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Traveling With Anxiety: How To Get The Most Out Of Your Trip

(Photo: pixabay)


Existing with anxiety is challenging enough within one's own environment and familiar routines, but travel can present an entirely new set of stress triggers. The excitement of journeying to and experiencing a new place can quickly dissipate when anxiety drums up worst-case scenario after worst-case scenario.

Travel with anxiety can mean fear of boarding flights, irritation at crowds, or the inability to adapt to a change of scenery and circumstances. That loss of control can seem like a very real threat; enough so that many prefer to stay home altogether.

At home or on the road, one thing's for sure: anxiety doesn't discriminate. No matter where you go, your mental health is right there with you. The good news is, you can stave off travel anxiety and make the very most of your trip with a few mindful steps.

The Benefits Of Planning Ahead

Anxiety often stems from fear of the unexpected, and the inability to control outside factors that might hinder even the most foolproof itinerary. While there's never a 100% guarantee that everything will go according to plan before and during your trip, you can definitely stack the odds in your favor by booking flights, lodging, transportation, and special activities in advance.

Doing so will eliminate the stress of last-minute planning, as well as ensure that you and your companions won't miss out on anything; not only will you rest easier with those confirmations secured, but free yourself up to genuinely look forward to your travels.

Let Yourself Get Excited

More often than not, anxiety forces us to focus only on the negative aspects of any endeavor, and travel is certainly no exception. Whether it's potential delays, threats to your safety, or dubious food options, it's easy to let those nagging "what ifs" overshadow the positives. Give yourself permission to set your worrying aside and start looking forward to your trip.

Watching movies or reading books set in the locale you'll be visiting, sampling some of the cuisine ahead of time, and taking joy in making plans with your travel companions can neutralize--or at the very least balance--mounting anxieties.

The How-to's Of Taking Care Of Your Health On The Road

Mental health aside, it can be difficult in general to tend to one's overall wellness when miles from home. Depending on your destination, certain amenities may not be a given, nor opportunities to tend to your mental and physical wellbeing.

Make sure you eat well and get plenty of sleep in the week or so leading up to your departure; the last thing you need is illness or fatigue to strike upon take-off. Make sure any medications are packed in advance, as well as vitamins and supplements. It's also advisable to stash some sanitary wipes in your to-go bag, for both convenience and added protection against germs.

If you're seeing an in-office therapist or communicating with an online counselor, ask if you can contact them in case of an unexpected panic attack.

Additionally, you can download one of the many available apps that offer simple relaxation techniques, guided meditation exercises, soothing natural sounds, and even group support. These are wonderful when traveling, and additional download options ensure that Wi-Fi or no, you're taken care of.

Go With The Flow, Even When Things Aren't Going Your Way

The biggest challenge for many when traveling is giving up control over factors they'd normally be able to navigate back home. Language barriers, getting lost, reservation glitches, and other uninvited hiccups can make or break an experience depending on the approach you take.

When you feel an anxiety attack come on in such instances, remind yourself that these are natural components of traveling, that many before you have survived them, and that the big picture is what matters.

Dr. Todd Farchione poses the question: "A lot of times by pulling from a mindfulness and acceptance-based approach, can you go into the situation in a way where you're not judging it so negatively?"

Don't Be Afraid To Take A Break On Your Break

Travel can be exhausting business, both mentally and physically. Squabbling, conflicting demands, and overstimulation can all lead to vacation burnout. If things start to feel too overwhelming (or just plain infuriating), it's best to hit the pause button and take some time out.

Excusing yourself to rest and regroup for a few hours may just be the necessary cure for vacation overload. Whether it's taking a nap, solitary stroll, or meditating, that downtime can calm your anxiety and provide some much-needed perspective.

Communicate What You're Feeling

If you're traveling with a partner, friends, or family, it might help to articulate your anxieties as they arise, rather than keep them to yourself. Think back to some of those less-than-stellar moments on prior trips: how often did you opt to suffer in proverbial silence, rather than burden your companions?

Calmly and clearly airing your insecurities or misgivings, and asking for support is hardly an unfair request, and you may find that others in your party share your feelings. Anxiety can strike anyone, and it's often while we travel that our mental fortifications get truly tested.

But, in its own way, travel is also the antidote. By experiencing different parts of the world and ways of life, as well as challenging ourselves to adapt to these differences, we inevitably enrich the value of our own.

See Now: The U.S. had the highest number of Most Wanted properties, dominating the Hotels.com Loved By Guests Awards 2018

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