tips for the anxious traveller – what to take, what to do and how to deal.
Hello friends! I’m excited to share this post with you all today for two main reasons – 1) because to me it signifies how far I’ve come with separation anxiety and 2) I hope that these tips can help you be a less anxious or stressed traveller. Having an arsenal of anxious traveller tips and tricks is essential!
If someone had said to me a few years ago that one day you will be able to travel AND NOT BE ANXIOUS I would have laughed nervously as a loud chorus of ‘nope’ sounded in my head. You see, anxiety essentially robbed me of the enjoyment to experience new places, go out with friends, sleepovers, camps and holidays for so long that I could not see that ever changing.
Until it did. For which I shall be forever amazed and grateful and thankful to God. Because it was only through Him that I was able to draw courage enough to take the first steps in overcoming the anxiety. And thus ‘relearn’ (slowly) how to cope being away from home, from the comfort zone and enjoy awesome new opportunities. Like travel! I have been so blessed to continually have had opportunities to practice my ‘going away’ skills. Weekend trips with friends, family holidays, overseas travel and the essential girly ritual the sleepover! Which technically isn’t travel but still very important.
With all this travel I’ve picked up lots of tips and tricks for making any journey easier and less stressful. I try to employ these tips each time I travel. Because even though the separation anxiety has been overcome there are still times where a relapse can happen. Which is fine! I’ve come to the conclusion that separation anxiety will be something that is forever in my life but as has already been proven, it will not control my life.
Let’s get on to these tips now! I’ve broken them down into two parts – ‘the journey’ and ‘once there’. That last one is a lame title but I couldn’t think of anything better!
Anxious Traveller Tips
The hardest part of doing anything is starting but I believe with these tips in mind you’ll have a much better chance of making that initial decision to go and that it won’t be as stressful. These tips can be adapted for any form of travel whether that’s plane, train, bus, car, boat, whatever it may be.
- First and foremost pray and gather some verses, quotes and inspiration to take with you. This will help you remember that you are not alone and can do this!
- Employ the ‘pre-visualisation‘ technique – imagine yourself on your trip/holiday having a good time and enjoying yourself. Visualise yourself overcoming any potential anxiety triggers.
- Take some form of entertainment to occupy your mind or use as distraction. Also to enjoy of course! I normally take my iPad with some light-hearted books, movies or tv series downloaded.
- I’m a big ‘scents’ person so certain smells can affect my mood. I like to take a little travel spray bottle with a relaxing scent. I’ll get it out and smell it when needed. Favourite scents of mine are lavender, pine (what my Dad smells like), chai (what my Mum smells like) or other scent that reminds me of home.
- Seat placement – sitting in an aisle may be better if you tend to get claustrophobic or maybe you prefer the window seat so you can feel more private. Sitting in the back of a plane is my favourite spot as I feel more secluded and safe back there. Arranging for a certain seat can be setup with the airline or ticket booth/carpool friends/etc prior to leaving. They should be happy to oblige and take your needs seriously.
- Remember to drink water! Keeping hydrated is good for your physical and mental health! Especially if you’re already nervous, travel can make one extra thirsty.
- If possible, take your own pillow. This is good because you’re used to using that pillow and it is a connection to home.
- If your journey is a long one (e.g overnight flight) take a change of clothes and refresher spray. Even if it’s just a different shirt or new pair of underwear, making a small change can lift your mindset, feeling fresher can really help!
- Take a travel partner if possible. Someone you trust and who knows you will make the trip easier. If you must travel alone have someone who you can be in contact with to offer support.
- Don’t forget to look at your verses and inspiration!
- Depending on your travel arrangements you may have to share sleeping quarters with others. In the beginning this was very uncomfortable for me as I was worried that everyone else might see me lose it or I’d keep them up all night because I couldn’t sleep. So if possible see if finding your own private room or at least semi-private area is an option.
- At night listen to music or have a tv on low to fall asleep to. Background noise helps in distracting racing anxious thoughts and can be quite calming. I listen to audio books as well.
- If you can, take a bath with lots of bubbles before bed. I do this all the time when I travel and it really helps. The bubble bath scent and warm water combo is a great relaxer.
- I fully understand that when you travel you want to see everything possible so days are non-stop go go go! This is great but setting aside a full morning, afternoon or full day to relax and take things a bit slower can be helpful. A tired mind and body is more susceptible to anxiety. Taking the day off will benefit your mental health!
- In some cases and with permission from your Doctor or GP, taking a relaxant or mild sedative (like Valium or Temazepam) can help to take the edge off your body’s physical reaction to stress and anxiety. This is a last resort method and I do not recommend using them as you please however. Obviously if you have been prescribed medication please take it as instructed. Always speak to your Doctor first! There has only been a handful of times when I have needed to take medication for anxiety. Sometimes I wouldn’t even take it, just knowing that I did have it as an option was enough.
- In the early days (and even now sometimes) I would devise an ‘escape plan’ for myself if the anxiety got to be too much. If I was going out with friends I would take my own car instead of carpooling. This way if I had to leave suddenly I could. Same for sleepovers – I slept in my car on my best friends night-before-the wedding sleepover because there was no way I was going to miss that but I found I couldn’t sleep well in the house. An escape plan is just a quick way out to use as a last resort when you just need your own space or to get away from a situation.
Sometimes the anxiety is going to be too much to handle at that time so an escape plan is needed. It doesn’t mean you’ve failed at all. You’ll learn from the experience and you can always try again another time!
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Thank you for reading and I hope that at least you’ll take some tips away from this that will be useful to you! These have all helped me in some way make overcoming separation anxiety easier and of course become less of an anxious traveller. I hope in some way they can help you too.
Until next time lovelies!