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Tips For Traveling With PTSD

Travelers Today       By    David Thompson

Updated: Jul 19, 2022 05:19 PM EDT

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Many people encounter traumatic experiences that cause stress, fear, doubt, hopelessness, panic, and anxiety. Over time, some people overcome the negative encounter and go on to lead happy and fulfilling lives. However, others aren't so fortunate and develop a mental disorder known as Post-Traumatic Stress Disorder (PTSD). The trauma from their experiences triggers overwhelming emotions that adversely affect their relationships, home life, family, careers, and everyday functions. They may even avoid or withdraw from activities they once enjoyed, including travel. 

Visiting unfamiliar territories signifies a loss of control. Waiting in long lines or navigating crowds causes social pressure, panic, and stress. Traveling by car, bus, train, boat, or plane can exacerbate feelings of anxiety, doubt, and fear. Mood swings, fatigue, and the need for isolation, ultimately take the joy out of vacation. All you want to do is remain in the hotel room where it's reasonably safe and avoid the many triggers that could be present once you set foot outside the door. 

How To Travel With PTSD

PTSD is an all-encompassing and debilitating mental illness that affects millions of people every day. While learning what causes PTSD and how to live with or overcome it is a long-term process, there are practical ways to ease your symptoms so traveling becomes more manageable. Continue reading for suggestions. 

Visit Your Therapist Or Support Group

For some people with PTSD, the mere thought of traveling triggers anxiety and other overwhelming feelings. Before your scheduled trip, pay a visit to your therapist or a local support group. Talking about your fears, anxieties, stresses, and triggers can help ease your apprehension. These therapeutic resources can also offer suggestions for coping and reducing your PTSD symptoms. 

Get Prescriptions Filled

Sometimes medications are necessary to help treat PTSD symptoms. As having prescriptions filled out of town can be challenging (or impossible, depending on your travel destination), you want to ensure you handle this before you plan to leave. If you're traveling internationally or plan on putting your pills in another container, you'll want to ensure you have a doctor's note to avoid issues. 

Develop A Mental Health Plan 

It may be impossible to avoid every PTSD trigger, but a mental health plan can prevent things from worsening. What steps will you take if you're triggered during your travels? You might find a quiet place, take slow deep breaths, recite affirmations, or remove yourself from the situation. If there are books, mobile apps, or calming devices you use to keep your emotions under control, ensure that you keep those with you in a carry-on, backpack, or purse for easy access. You might also consider researching nearby therapists, mental health centers, or support groups you can visit if you feel overwhelmed away from home. 

Travel With Someone You Trust

While traveling solo with PTSD is possible, it's a lot better when you have someone you trust. It should be someone aware of your condition, knows how to provide support, and will keep your best interest in mind. That way, if you start feeling out of sorts, you have someone there that's familiar and willing to lend a helping hand (or seek help in emergencies). 

Plan Activities Wisely

Part of the thrill of traveling is participating in activities, learning new things, and socializing with new people. Be that as it may, overstimulation can exacerbate stress and anxiety. Therefore, be mindful of your itinerary. Schedule one or two activities per day and ensure that they won't trigger your PTSD. For instance, if you get anxious in crowds, chances are you shouldn't attend a concert or other major event. 

Traveling is a favorite pastime for many people. It can also boost your mental health. However, PTSD can alter your experiences, making things you once enjoyed, like taking a vacation, challenging. Fortunately, you don't have to allow your mental illness to prevent you from getting away. Using the advice provided above can ease your anxieties so you can have a good time on your much-needed trip. 

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