Travelling can really push you outside of your comfort zone, and when you have anxiety this can become a tsunami of stress.
But your anxiety should never stop you from exploring all this wonderful world has to offer. Instead, you just need to do a little extra prep so you can manage it while you’re away.
Anxiety can come in all shapes and sizes, big or small. Whatever form yours comes in, we hope our guide to travelling with anxiety helps you get out there to see the world, because the world needs you...
Reduce the fear of the unknown by knowing what exactly what you’re going to be facing. Research, research and research again everything about your destinations, from the weather to the best place for cake. It’s also worth figuring out exactly how you’re getting to the airport and back on both ends so you know exactly what to do when you land.
Remember not to stress yourself out by committing to every experience and museum under the sun though. Make a list of your number one thing in each destination, and then limit yourself to only worrying about seeing that. Seriously, you can go back and see the second and third things on your list! Don’t try to tackle too much and get overwhelmed.
Pro tip: If crowds make you feel anxious, try travelling during shoulder season rather than the peak of summer.
Show your suitcase who's boss
Getting everything you need to fit into your bag is a challenge, but it doesn’t have to be an addition to your anxiety. Create extensive packing lists for each bag (you day bag and main suitcase) and then do a trial pack before you go so you know everything fits and has its place. Also check what airlines allow you to take on board and make sure your carry on has all the essentials, is well marked and sticks to their liquid or item restrictions.
Bring something that comforts you
This is different for everyone but if you have blanket, a comfy jumper or maybe even just a song that makes you feel safe and secure, bring it along. Having something familiar from home will help ground you in an unfamiliar place.
Have an ‘important pocket’
Losing things is stressful for anyone, but if you suffer from anxiety it can be especially challenging. One way around this is to have a pocket in your bag (or a pouch or zip case) where all your important things go and stay unless they’re being used. Keep your passport, cash, cards, headphones, medication or whatever you can’t live without in that one place and feel safer knowing where it is at all times.
ALSO HELPFUL: 6 WAYS TO GROW SELF-CONFIDENCE THROUGH TRAVEL
Have copies of everything
Truthfully, everyone should be doing this before they travel, but making copies of your itinerary with as much detail as possible and taking screenshots of hotel addresses etc. and then keeping a copy on your phone, emails and with your emergency contact is super helpful. That way at anytime, anywhere, you can pull up information about what’s happening next.
Tell your Trip Manager
Don’t be embarrassed about giving your Trip Manager a heads up on your anxiety. Just have a quiet word with them about what it looks like when you’re stressed or about to have a panic attack. Talk to them about what may bring your anxiety on and what they can do to help you in that situation. Knowing someone has your back will take some of the ‘what if XYZ happens’ brain panic off.
Schedule in some chill time
Taking time out to relax, regenerate and reflect will go a long way to keeping you grounded while on the move. Self care while travelling can be achieved by skipping the fear of missing out and getting an early night, going out for a solo coffee or just chilling in your pyjamas during free time.
Be gentle with yourself
The most important tip of all – be kind, gentle and patient with yourself while travelling. Don’t assume that your anxiety will ruin your trip, it won’t. You’re just there to be you and see a slice of the world and have a good time. Don’t worry about how the journey happens!