There is a confession I need to make; My name is Helen, I travel as often as I can and I suffer terribly with Travel Anxiety. Yep, there you go. I’ve said it. I often find travelling difficult because each trip has the potential to render me an anxious, irritable mess. This surprises some people, there seems to be an assumption that if you travel frequently, then you must travel with ease. But, for me, that really isn’t so.
It hasn’t always been the case. When I was younger, I was so relaxed about travelling it bordered on reckless. Even travelling as a single parent with a small child, I never really gave too much thought to the what-could-happens, never worried if everything was good at home in my absence. I didn’t worry about travel times ,itineraries or budgets. Nothing really troubled me. I didn’t appreciate at the time, what absolute freedom this state of mind was.
Travel anxiety for me always kicks in the day before I travel and for the first twenty-four hours or so of a trip. I love the research and booking process, I love being on the road once the trip is underway. But there is always a wedge of time and a gang of worries,every time. Since I’ve plucked up the courage to be a bit more open about it, I’ve discovered with some relief ...it’s not just me. Travel anxiety, in one from or another, is actually pretty common. It’s a spectrum. So, I’ve decided to open up a bit more (from the relative safety of behind the keyboard ha ha). Having confessed to suffering, here are my tips for easing the pain.
It’s a cliché, but a worry shared really is a worry halved. Stewing privately whilst trying to convince yourself it’s all fine isn’t really helpful.
Get Clear on Why.
The night before I travel, my mind almost always into a tailspin of doubt. Do I really want to go to ? Did I make a mistake booking? and so on and so forth. But if I’m clear on why I’m going and what I’m looking forward to, I have positive thoughts to counter the doubts. Research the destination and remember what inspired you to organise the trip in the first place.
Set A Budget (and Stick To It)
Nothing will create anxiety as efficiently as over spending or to afford a trip. Figure out what you can afford and build the trip to fit your means. It sounds basic, but it’s easy to get carried away and then not want to scale down plans. But its hard to embrace a trip if you know your going to be broke the day after you get home.
Manage the Basics.
If stress and anxiety might trouble you anyway, don’t create a breeding ground for it. Make sure you have enough time, enough sleep and do as much as you can ahead of time. Fuel up the car, double-check the documents, have the bags at the door good to go. Don’t over do the caffeine, alcohol or junk food either, especially if you’ve an early or late departure. Keep it simple, organised and calm.
Take Hard Copies.
I know its 2018 and electronic is the way. But there’s something really reassuring about having hard copies of your confirmations and itineraries. They’ll generally feature check in times, addresses and customer service contact details so you know you have all the details to hand if there is a delay, change of plan or emergency. You don’t have to keep them in a designated travel documents wallet, but it does make you feel reassured and organised.
Read the Safety Instructions.
Knowledge is power. Travel is generally very safe, the chances of anything major going wrong are tiny. But feeling like you’d know what to do if something were to happen is reassuring. So read the safety card, check out the fire escape map on the back of the hotel door. At larger venues and events, know where the exits are. It takes seconds and its knowledge you’ll hopefully never need, but it’s good to know.
Use Organised Tours & Transport
There can be an element of snobbery around this one, as if to say using an organised tour or transfer means you’re not really exploring. Obviously, to be a real traveller you need to figure out all things local, exclusively use public transport and be always striving to get independently off the beaten track. I call bullshit on that theory. If its going to make life a little easier, go for the prepacked option. Use the HoHo tour. Pre book the personal transfers . Take an organised day trip , picked up from the hotel lobby. Particularly on a shorter trip it gives you less to consider and so less to potentially worry about. Also, you can print off a hard copy and pop it in your aforementioned document wallet.
So the point of travelling is to seek out the unfamiliar. But there is something lovely about creating a thread of familiarity between home and the road. Take your own pillow or pillow spray. A travel candle in a favoured scent. Unpack properly and store your things as close as you can to the order you’d keep them in at home. Try and keep to some of the routines you have at home. I always read for ten minutes before bed at home, and take vitamins first thing when I wake up. I stick to that, where ever I am. It’s the little things.
Look Back on Successful Trips.
If your feeling a little anxious about an upcoming trip, look back on your past ones. Chances are, most of them went without a hitch. And if you took a trip that went off plan, you adapted the course and figured it out, right? Be inspired and reassured by past success…its likely the trip about to happen is going to be just a successful, if not more so.
Do you have any experience of travel anxiety? Any tips for dealing with it? I’d love to hear from you, chat to me in the comments.
Note- I had idea what travel related anxiety looks like, so all the images in this post are from my travels rather than related to the post content. As well as breaking up the text its a gentle reminder to myself … travel is worth the trouble and I’d be missing so much if I didn’t do it.