Author – Molly Thompson
Having anxiety or any form of anxiety disorder is debilitating; it impacts every aspect of a person’s life. Some situations can be more triggering than others. For me, travel is a big one. Travel opens up so many worries in my mind; the unfamiliar surroundings, different languages and a change from routine are the main triggers for me.
The world is so wide, and my desire to travel and see it all has only grown with age, but the anxiety remains. Travel at a young age is especially crucial for growth and development. In a post-COVID world, it’s even scarier. With so much to be concerned about, how can we remain calm on our travels and actually enjoy our time?
Here’s a list of tips and advice to help you travel and ease any concerns or worries you might have.
Google is your best friend
This one seems so obvious. Like I’m the last person in the world to discover Google. However, travelling and Google are a perfect mix.
Language is a big anxiety trigger while travelling, not knowing how to communicate with locals, order certain foods or find directions. Google Translate is amazing for that, especially because having the app on your phone is so easy.
For me, I have a dairy allergy and so ordering foods that are ok to eat is a big worry but being able to translate exactly what I want to say, having the translation on my phone to show people and even pressing the audio option to pronounce it out loud is a huge help.
Google Maps as well, is an obvious but worthwhile mention. It helps so much when you’re overwhelmed in a new place to be able to navigate a visual map with street view and even the Google feature Google Lens which scans buildings/landmarks to tell you where you are and more info on them.
Planning your trip beforehand
Of course, life never goes strictly according to plan but preparing as much as you can is the classic antidote to anxiety. Aside from the obvious plans you’ll be making, being clever with your plans is the key, over preparing and planning as much as possible.
Some people find it really helpful to make an excel spreadsheet of their itinerary. This can include dates, times, details, links to websites, and you can attach tickets or receipts as well.
Whether it’s a calendar app or the old-fashioned way in a notepad, it helps my anxiety so much to have a plan to refer back to. Your surroundings will be new, and your normal routine is out of the window, but if you can refer back to a plan, it’ll calm your anxiety and reassure you that you’re on the right path (literally!)
I wouldn’t always suggest distraction as an anxiety technique; sometimes, it can feel like putting a plaster on a broken leg. But distractions can be really helpful short-term solutions. For example, if it’s anxiety about flying, bring things to keep you occupied.
If your brain is busy focusing on other things that make you happy, like movies, colouring, games or reading, then you can escape the worry and focus on something else for a while. If you sit and only allow yourself to think about the thing that’s making you anxious, you’ll spiral and make yourself worse.
Travel with people that make you feel calm
It’s so important when you suffer from mental health issues to surround yourself with kind, supportive people. This is the same when travelling. Whether it’s a partner, friend or family member, make sure you travel with people that will lift you up, not put you down. If you feel anxious, or need some help and support, then make sure the people you’re travelling with are ready to help you and know what makes you feel better. A good support system is worth its weight in gold!
It’s not for some people, but herbal remedies for anxiety can be extremely helpful. I’ve found rescue remedy to be really helpful in the past, but some people take CBD tablets, anxiety patches and even health shots for anxiety. Look up what’s on offer and see what works for you but don’t be afraid to use these resources to help. Holland and Barrett have a great variety of products.
Bring home comforts
As a proper homebody, small home comforts make such a difference when travelling. It could be a childhood teddy, a favourite jumper or even a perfume, but if an item brings you comfort you should seriously consider bringing it with you on your travels.
Having a comforting item to use, squeeze, or smell can change your travel experience; you’ll feel safer and more prepared to take on your travel adventures!
Getting out of your comfort zone
Although travelling with anxiety can be tough, sometimes it can be beneficial to push yourself outside of your comfort zone. This doesn’t mean doing crazy stuff or doing things that will really set you off. Simply trying one new thing that you might not otherwise have done can be a stepping stone. By doing little things that you wouldn’t normally do, you can gradually build up your confidence and resilience. Have someone there who can reassure you and try some calming techniques before you take the plunge. You might feel that usual pang of worry in your chest beforehand, but afterwards, you will be proud of yourself and grateful for experiencing something new.
Travel doesn’t have to be scary. With technology and the right resources to hand, you can travel with ease. With your anxiety soothed, you can make more time to enjoy these adventures and make life-changing memories that’ll last forever.
Article by Molly Thompson