As someone who suffers with pretty severe anxiety, that can often leave me too fearful to just leave my house, travelling is a big anxiety trigger for me. In fact, I rarely even make the bus to town (a 20 minute bus journey) on my own very much which is incredibly frustrating (but that’s another story) so the nerves have well and truly kicked in over going on holiday next week. Thankfully it’s only a 3 hour flight, but it’s safe to say that I’m already sorting my ‘anxiety kit’ out. I’ve picked up lots of tips that help me along the way, so I thought I’d compile together a post of my advice to any of you anxious travellers out there as well as asking those on Twitter what they do to ensure their journey is as stress-free as can be.
My Own Tips & Tricks/Things To Remember:
– Pack yourself an ‘anxiety survival kit’ in your hand luggage. If you know me in person, you’ll know that I’m terrible for carrying everything but the kitchen sink around at all times. But what can I say? I like to be prepared for all eventualities. And trust me, you don’t want to witness one of my hysterical panic attacks. I’m sure everyone’s essentials are different but for me, it’s: chewing gum & mints, water, a plastic bag, anti-bacterial hand wash, painkillers and a puzzle book of some sort.
– Wordsearch books are your best friends. I swear. If you’re feeling anxious, wordsearches are perfect for breaking that cycle of anxious thoughts, whilst not being overly demanding on the ol’ mental ability (which lets be honest, can be somewhat elsewhere when you’re in anxiety overdrive). Trust me, don’t knock it until you try it!
– Same goes for a playlist of relaxing music. Now you may find it more beneficial to listen to music with words in that you can listen along to, but for me, music isn’t all that distracting for me and I like to do something active. So I have a playlist of instrumental music (mainly Yiruma, go listen now) that I love to listen to whilst I’m reading or something. It allows me to really just detach myself from the outside world and the hustle and bustle around me.
– A large part of my anxiety is around my phobia, emetophobia – aka the fear of being sick. Sounds sort of trivial, yeah no-one likes being sick etc etc, but for me, this fear is huge. From what I do, to wear I go, what I eat and even what I wear, it’s always at the front of my mind and I’ll do anything I can to avoid any situation where I may be faced with someone ill/or even myself getting ill. With this in mind, early morning flights tend to make me feel really nauseous, therefore triggering my mind into panic so I’ll often just snack before flying rather than going for a meal. Peppermint tea and plain biscuits are my go-to. Maybe it’s the not the most exciting food, but if it makes me feel ‘safe’ then so be it.
– Throughout the holiday, I don’t try to do too much out of my comfort zone. Of course I want to see the sights and experience the culture, but I know that if push myself too far, I’ll only find myself in a spiral of anxious thoughts wanting to be home and not enjoying the moment. Whether that means just taking it easy every other day, or simply eating foods that are ‘safe’ for me, aka those I’d be less likely to feel ill from eating, then I know the holiday as a whole will be a lot more enjoyable. Anxiety is a very personal thing, and I’ve learnt that you have to learn what does and doesn’t work for you. Everyone’s different and that’s perfectly fine.
– Comfy clothes are everything. When I’m anxious, normally the first place I’ll retreat is to my bed. Whilst I can’t really do that when travelling, I like to try to mimic my surroundings the best I can. Whether that involves taking one of those travel pillows, or an oversized hoodie, or fluffy socks, wearing something comfy always makes a big difference for me.
– Whether I’m travelling by plane or train, for me being next to a window (or at least being able to see out of one) is a must. Some people are the total opposite and favour an aisle seat (as it feels less trapped etc) I’m all about sitting by the window. I don’t necessarily get claustrophobic, but I don’t like feeling stuck in a place, so being able to look outside makes me feel all that bit calmer. Even if it is thousands of feet in the air!
– Go in with a positive mind. This goes for all anxiety-provoking situations really, but don’t talk yourself anxious before it’s even happened. Before those negative thoughts creep in, nip it in the bud. Recognise when your thinking has become detrimental, recognise it, but then push it to the back of your mind. Strike up conversation with someone next to you, try and take note of your surroundings.
Tips & Tricks from the Twittersphere:
– “A really good playlist of all of my favourite songs (and a book if its a long journey!) and water and sugar free polos” – @kizzyblackburn
– “You might be tempted to grab a coffee if it’s an early flight/you’re jet lagged but try to avoid caffeinated drinks as they can provoke anxiety!” – @CakeBarlow
– “I find doing a lot of research on where I’m going and how I’m getting there really helps!” – @allie_davis
– “Drink lots of water and I always take a bag of hard boiled sweets to distract and calm me” – @amygatenbyy
– “I’m really not a fan of flying but I find it really helps me to plan out the time on the flight down to a tee. I’ll make sure I have a movie downloaded that I know I won’t get bored watching and take note of how long it is, ensure my iPad that I’m watching it on has enough battery etc. I’ll then ensure I have enough reading material or writing to do or something that’ll definitely use up my remaining time. I don’t leave any time unaccounted for. Even if I’m travelling with other people, I find having actual solid things to do helps much more than just chatting for the whole flight” – @OnceUponASophie
– “Be organised, pre plan – know where you’re going and have a rough estimate of what time you’ll be where, leave yourself with time to ‘spare’ in case of delays/traffic. I find having a plan really reduce my anxiety, especially when travelling alone!” – @JesskaDenise
– “Keeping important traffic documents in an accessible place so you’re not juggling handbag, luggage & toiletries! Security is the worst part for me – wearing an ‘easy’ travelling outfit so that things are easy to take off/put back on inc shoes is really important so not to panic/get flustered. Also allowing time for some food and a drink” – @coldgirlfever_
– “Plan everything to a detail. It helps me having a detailed itinerary” – @teacupcocktails
– “Research is key. Look at where you’re going in every detail – even done to the layout of your hotel! Also take plenty with you to distract yourself whilst travelling, maybe even start a travel blog to think about during your stay” – @nicolacrossman1
My Personal Travel Goals (well at least the ones I can think of right now)
With anxiety having plagued my past few years, leaving my housebound and stopping my life in its tracks, it’s only made me more determined to travel and see as much of the world as I can. I’m slowly but surely learning to accept that my anxiety is going to be there whether I like it or not, I shouldn’t like it dictate my life. So with that in mind, here’s my travel bucket list.
– If there’s one place at the top of my list where I’d love to visit, its 100% America. I’d be here for hours if I were to talk about each every place I wanted to go, but from New York (so I can pretend I’m Blair Waldorf fyi) to Boston, San Francisco to LA, I want to see them all. I’m really intrigued by the adventures available over on Trek America which look like they’ll be real trips of a lifetime. When it comes to holidays, I’m certainly more of a exploring kinda gal as opposed to sitting on the beach, so it would a be dream to spend a few weeks touring America in the future.
– I like to live through other’s holidays via social media (y’know, whilst watching the British ‘Summer’ rain outside) and through doing so, one destination has firmly shot to the top of my list and that destination is Bali. Whilst I know the journey over would be a huge challenge for me, it looks like paradise.
– Sort of on the opposite spectrum on places to visit would be Tokyo. Despite my very anxious nature, I tend to strive in busy environments so I’d love to experience the atmosphere over in Japan in general really. Especially in Cherry Blossom season/Hanami. The dream.
– Of course not everywhere I’d like to visit jumping on a plane, I’d love to see more of the UK. Like I mentioned, there’s something about London that I just love. It’s that excitement of how much opportunity is there and whilst I do love Newcastle and living up North, the atmosphere is totally different. I’d love to travel down to London and spend a few weeks there exploring. I’d also like to visit many other cities such as Manchester, Bath, and Oxford too (the list goes on really).
– And when I’m talking about cities, there’s lots of European Cities that on my travel bucket list. Copenhagen, Berlin, Amsterdam, Stockholm, I would be here a while if I were to list them all but I’m certainly a city girl through and through.
– Oh and Austria too… but that’s just to take part in The Sound Of Music tour because I’m a little sad like that. Not even ashamed.
So what are your top tips for dealing with travel anxiety? And are there any places on your travel bucket list?