10 Tips for travelling with anxiety.
For people travelling with anxiety, any journey can cause stress and frustration. If you may be one of these people, we’ve put together our ten tips for travelling with anxiety.
Anxiety disorders are one of the most common conditions that Australians experience. While the most common condition is generalised anxiety disorder, others include social anxiety, phobias and panic disorder. BeyondBlue reports that 1 in 4 Australians will experience Anxiety in their lifetime and up to 2 million Australians will experience an anxiety disorder in a 12 month period. Regardless of the disorder anxiety can have an unpleasant impact on any trip.
Everyone will manage anxiety differently when travelling. Some have rituals, some worry and can get nervous; others might turn to a drink to help them feel relaxed while seated for taking off. However, despite the challenges, anxiety doesn’t need to control the way you explore the world. Here are ten tips to help you overcome the challenges and enjoy your travel.
It’s not possible to plan for everything. However, you can be organised and prepare for the things that can cause you a great deal of inconvenience. Ensure that you purchase travel insurance and review the policy so that there are no surprises if you ever need to use it, I personally use Southern Cross Travel and I have also had to make a claim after a bout of food poisoning in Indonesia, the process was simple, fast and they have earned a customer for life. Make copies of your critical documents and cards and store them in a secure place that you can access online. Copies of your passport, credit cards, license, travel plans, insurance are essential, and straight away you may feel a sigh of relief once you have these copies available to you.
Plan Your Itinerary
While some travellers might show up in a new place and wing it, those with anxiety may opt for a well-documented itinerary. I do my fair share of travel each year, and I’ve come to love a handful of apps. Google Trips is the perfect itinerary scheduler, it keeps track of your flights, reservations, provides a list of must-see places and you can even download maps of the cities that you visit. For those travelling with anxiety and to a destination where language may be an issue make sure you download a translator, Google Translate is my go to, but it’s important to find something that works for you.
Create a List, Pack and Check
Relieve some of the anxiety by preparing a list of the items that you need for your trip, after packing it may help to unpack and repack to be sure that you have everything. It’s important to remember that you can buy just about anything when you reach your destination, so the essential items are your passport and credit cards.
Focus on the Positive Parts
Whether it be for work or leisure If you start feeling anxious remember to remind yourself of the reasons you’re taking the trip. There may be family or friends waiting for you or maybe an opportunity for a business, as you shift focus and may find that start to feel better.
For those with severe anxiety remember that you don’t have to struggle on your own. A counsellor can work with you to identify the most significant sources of anxiety and develop effective coping strategies with you.
For people afraid of flying, Michele Feder, a licensed clinical social worker, recommends the SOAR program. The program developed by a former airline pilot, and while it does focus on Americans it does include educational courses, and forums for fearful flyers to share their experiences.
Visualisation exercises are proven to be a useful tool for overcoming anxiety. Practice visualisation by imagining yourself in a relaxing place and connect with the sight, taste, sound, touch, and smell.
Meditation can help reduce stress and dissociate you from your experience when travelling. Headspace is a tool that I have used in the past, and the best part is that they offer guided meditation which you can access at your fingertips.
Include Friends and Family
Letting those close to you know that you can be affected by anxiety when you travel can help you feel like you have a circle of trust and help. You may also be surprised at how many people may check in on you to make sure you’re ok during your travels.
Make Time for Self-Care
If crowds or culture shock can make you feel uncomfortable, make sure you include some time for “time out” on your trip. I like to order room service and have watch movies. However, a trip to the spa or just giving yourself enough time between travel or activities can make a world of difference.
Plan Your Next Trip
It may sound counter-intuitive though planning your next trip keeps you in on the move while working through whatever issues you have when travelling with anxiety.
Many people will find that travelling with anxiety will get easier each time they do it so keep at it. You have resources around you that you can leverage to help make those travel experiences ones to remember. If anxiety has been getting the best of you maybe it’s time to take the first step at getting better. Supportive offers a range of tools and services that include an anxiety test, a free wellness tracker and the option to speak with a counsellor online from the comfort of your own home.