(Photo by stannate)
Caption: Who says your favorite stuffed animal can’t travel with you to comfort you?
How to Ease Travel Anxiety and Take the Vacation You Want
My readers know that I am passionate about travel. I love it! I am the happiest when I’m in another land absorbing another culture… but that’s me. Many people dream of traveling to a distant land and exploring all it has to offer just as much as I do, but they don’t fulfill that dream because they are afraid to. Travel anxiety affects millions of people each year, and it’s more than just a fear of flying. Many fears make up travel anxiety, and the reasons why a person refuses to travel vary. I don’t want you to miss out on your dream of seeing the Giza pyramids, the Cliffs of Dover, the Amazon rainforests, or anywhere else because you’re consumed by travel anxiety, so I’m going to tell you how to ease your travel anxiety and take the vacation you want!
Why You Experience Travel Anxiety
Traveling is unsettling, even if you’re looking forward to your trip. Time zone and environmental changes, unfamiliar territory, a different cuisine, and adjusting your daily routine can send shock waves through your system. The shock is real. Your body actually reacts to the changes you experience during travel, so it is no wonder why anxiety can easily take hold of any person; they are already compromised by the shocks to their system.
Pile on top of the shock to your system:
- Fear of flying
- Fear of sea travel
- Fear of train travel
- Fear of leaving your home
- Fear of leaving your family (including your pets)
- Fear of new places
- Fear of different languages
- Fear of becoming ill
- Fear that you will die on your trip
- Fear that someone will die at home while you’re away…
… and you have one serious case of travel anxiety.
In reality, however, there’s probably nothing to fear but fear itself. You’ll have a safe and wonderful trip, and everything at home will be just fine while you’re away – that includes your house, for those of you who fear it might burn down while you’re on vacation. So how can you ease your travel anxiety so you can book your dream trip? Try these steps.
Understand what anxiety is so you’ll accept that anxiety cannot hurt you. Anxiety is a feeling that you create; for example, you may have associated travel with harm. Anxiety is your worst enemy because it causes you to question what you know not to be true. People who are afraid of flying know that it is the safest form of travel, yet they’ll get into their cars daily, the least safe form of travel, and refuse to board an airplane. Understand that you control your perception of anxiety; it does not control you.
Identify Your Anxiety
Determine the exact association you are placing on your travel anxiety. Don’t generalize; peel the onion layers and get to the heart of your fear. If you’re afraid of flying, why are you afraid to fly? Is it the takeoff and landing? Are you afraid of wind turbulence? Do you think the plane is infested with germs? Determine down to the minutest of details exactly what fear you are attaching to your travel anxiety so you can begin your work on conquering it.
Address Your Anxiety
Once you’ve isolated your fear, address it. If you’re afraid of flying because you just know the plane is going to crash, choose an alternate form of transportation when possible. If you’re concerned that your house is going to burn down while you’re away, hire a house sitter or call in a trusted family member or friend to stay at your home while you’re away. Hire a trusted pet sitter as well, to take care of your beloved pets. Address the cause of your anxiety to alleviate it.
Make Contingency Plans
Ease your anxiety further by making contingency plans prior to your trip. Write out any scenarios that concern you, and then make a plan to address each one of them. Your contingency plans should include plans for your home and those who are staying behind and plans for you and those traveling. Go over your contingency plans will all parties involved so everyone knows what to do in case of an emergency. You handle problems daily without a hitch; traveling doesn’t alter that ability!
Remember your security blanket when you were a kid? Who says you can’t have one now! While keeping in mind that packing light will reduce your travel anxiety exponentially – trust me, hauling too much luggage causes all kinds of pain! – it’s okay to take a few things from home that comfort you. Pack your favorite pair of jammies, or bring along your favorite picture to set on your hotel’s bedside table. Bring something that makes you smile to decrease your anxiety and make you feel more at home.
Care for Yourself
Your anxiety may be self-induced, but the shock to your system is not. Whenever you are traveling, anxious or not, it is important to take care of yourself. Drink extra water to avoid dehydration, and don’t use drugs or alcohol to calm your nerves. Enjoy your host country’s cuisine, but try to eat as healthy as possible. Exercise and get plenty of rest. Keep yourself warm when it’s cold and cool when it’s warm. Get outdoors and in the sunshine. Enjoy your surroundings – which brings me to my last cure-all…
Yes, I’m yelling, but come on! Have fun! Lose yourself in your new surroundings. Learn about the place you are visiting, and enjoy its culture and people Sometimes the best cure for anxiety is distracting yourself, and after all, isn’t a vacation’s purpose to distract you from your daily life so you can rest and rejuvenate?
You’ve taken the time to understand anxiety. You’ve identified exactly what makes you anxious. You’ve addressed your anxiety. You’ve come up with backup plans. You’ve brought a little bit of home with you. You’re taking care of YOU. So now, have the tons of fun you’ve always imagined your dream trip would be and enjoy yourself! You deserve it!