Yay! You have planned a trip! Maybe you travel often, or maybe this is your first big trip in a while. I know that right now I am looking forward to some 2021 travel after a year of going nowhere! In any case, pre-travel anxiety is something that effects many people. Learn how to cope with the anxiety that happens before you even leave your house.
There are many reasons people feel anxious before they embark on a trip. It could be anything from fear of the unknown to a lack of control over the situation. Whatever your reason for feeling anxious, there is hope! There are plenty of ways you can reduce pre-travel anxiety and make your vacation more enjoyable.
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Here are 12 ways to cope with pre-travel anxiety:
Plan Ahead to Reduce Pre-Travel Anxiety
Plan everything in advance so you have no surprises when it comes time to leave. I find that doing this planning can sometimes be anxiety provoking, but once the planning is complete I can relax again, knowing that I have a clear plan for what to expect while I’m out of town.
I like to plan an itinerary, my wardrobe, and my travel arrangements. Having those three things in place helps so much.
Do Some Research
People with anxiety are often afraid of the unknown. Use the internet to your advantage! Research your destination. Check out restaurants, hotels, things to do. I love using the website, TripAdvisor for this. Once you’ve made reservations and bookings, review the photos of the places. You’ll have an easier time making pictures in your mind of what’s to come, rather than getting anxious because you don’t know. If you’re cruising, the forums at CruiseCritic will give you reviews specific to the exact ship and stateroom that you’ll be staying at!
Making an Itinerary Helps with Travel Anxiety
Create an itinerary that includes activities both at home before departure and after arrival at your destination . This travel journal makes it fun and easy, or use an excel sheet if you’d rather not be analog. The more you can do while still at home, the less items to worry about when it’s time to leave.
Planning for Your Return Home is a Great Way to Deal with Pre-Travel Anxiety
Anticipate how your day will be different on returning home and plan accordingly. If you have appointments or obligations that might not be flexible, then adjust them. Visualizing how you will feel once you return home and outlining any responsibilities that you’ll have can be soothing for someone experiencing pre-travel anxiety.
Make Time for Yourself
There are a couple things I do when it’s close to time for me to leave on vacation: I get a haircut, and I get a pedicure. Sometimes it’s just small things like that that can make me feel good about myself and help with my anxiety.
Other times I’ll take time to do some self-care activities like reading or meditation before leaving on vacation. I almost always make sure that I get in a trip to my local library so that I have vacation reading material too. Knowing that I’ll have a small escape like sitting and reading a book while I’m away helps me to cope with pre-travel anxiety in a different way.
Get Some Exercise
Exercise is always a good thing for me, and it can be an excellent way for you to cope with pre-travel anxiety. I love to take a long walk or go for a run before I leave on vacation. This is because exercise releases endorphins which make you feel happier and calmer, so it’s an excellent way to help with pre-travel anxiety! Also, plan to do some exercising while you’re away. Use the hotel gym, or take a long walk and enjoy the sights.
Stay Current With Your Responsibilities
This is a big one! It can be hard sometimes not to worry about things while we are on vacation. Prior to traveling, keeping up with work emails or making sure you’ve paid your monthly bills can help a lot in this situation because it gives us a sense that we are in control. Taking some time to try to get ahead with work or personal responsibilities can also be helpful in relieving the anxiety about getting behind on work.
Since I’m self employed, I always make sure that I notify my clients that I’ll be away for a period of time. I also work to get at least 1/2 week ahead on tasks if I’ll be gone for a week. That way I’m not completely slammed when I get back. Sometimes, I even request less work from my clients when I know that I’m traveling.
If you are prescribed medication to deal with your anxiety, then take them! It’s important to follow any instructions given by your doctor. If you’re not prescribed meds, you may benefit from speaking to your doctor about your travel anxiety and trying a medication to help. Medication isn’t for everyone, but for many people it is a lifesaver. It could be part of the key to overcoming travel anxiety for you.
Learn About Your Fear of Traveling
Sometimes people get anxious before they travel because they are afraid. Pre-travel anxiety can have many causes, but fear is often a big part. Educate yourself on what the anxiety is about and how you’ll be safe while traveling. Understanding why you’re anxious is often enough to make it go away. If you’re an anxious flyer, you may have aerophobia, or the fear of flying. I was terrified before my first Cruise vacation, but now that I understand it, Cruising is my favorite! You can use your resources (i.e., the internet) to learn more about this fear, what causes it, and tips to overcome it.
Start Packing Early To Cope With Pre Travel Anxiety
My personal brand of anxiety causes me to procrastinate packing for trips. If I can force myself to start packing early, I find that my anxiety is reduced. Try leaving your suitcase out near your closet. Add things in as you put away laundry. I also LOVE grabbing already put together travel toiletry kits. It saves me a lot of worrying about if I have everything I need. Just this kit, my makeup bag, and my medications and I know I have what I need to get by.
Spend Time With Friends and Family
Particularly if you’re leaving on a long trip, it’s important to spend time with anyone you’ll be missing while you’re gone. Check in with your mom and dad, your friends that you spend a lot of time with, and anyone else who you’d like to see. Talk with these people about your upcoming travels, I know they’ll be excited for you!
Talk to a Therapist, if Needed
If your pre-travel anxiety is severe, maybe spiraling into depression or panic attacks, it would be a good idea to check in with a therapist for some guidance. A good therapist should be able to work through your anxiety with you and offer tools to help you cope with pre-travel anxiety.
The online therapy program I recommend is Talkspace. You’ll have the ability to talk to your Talkspace therapist during your vacation too, which is a huge benefit over traditional in office therapy.
Over 1 million people use Talkspace for easy to access and flexible online therapy and psychiatry. You’ll be assessed and expertly matched with someone who can help you work through your travel anxiety concerns.
If you’re struggling with pre-travel anxiety, we hope these 12 tips can help. Some of them might not work for everyone and it’s important to remember that if your travel anxiety is severe, seeing a therapist or medical provider may be necessary.
I wish you safe and enjoyable travels! Remember that the world is large, and it’s ready for you! Travel Anxiety doesn’t need to stop you from experiencing it.
If any of the above strategies sound helpful or useful, please share this blog post with someone who could benefit from reading it.