Top 10 Tips For The Anxiety-Prone Traveller

by Emma Michelle Williams
travel anxiety

I’m not afraid to tell you that I’m well travelled. The world, in fact, has very much been my oyster. Not one to brag or anything but there literally isn’t one country left for me to visit – incredible right? From the Mayan temples to swimming amongst the Hammerhead sharks in Ecuador. I’ve been there and I’ve done it – all via YouTube.

OK so I haven’t physically visited every place on earth but I make a damn good try of it via YouTube.

I’m honestly such an anxious person that the mere thought of airport control, flying and the unknown cranks my anxiety levels up at least 100 notches. So, it’s super important I prepare myself in every way possible to give myself the best chance of enjoying my trip.

Here is my Top 10 ways to lesson any travel related anxiety. 

Research The Shit Out Of Everything

Do not take this part lightly. Prepare for the mammoth task that it is. I’m talking print-offs, maps, books, google-search galore, lists, you name it – take some serious notes. Slowly make a plan of action, create a ‘I’d like to-do this but it’s cool if I don’t’ list or top ten WANT-to-see’s. Top 10 MUST-see lists stress me out and subconsciously give me huge goals I may not be able to take on. By allowing room for error and change, I’m less likely to feel a failure if I don’t get to go somewhere or see something.

Pay A Little Extra, Or Book In Advance For A Better Airline

If you are anything like me, the process of checking in a bag is an absolute point of potentially melting-down. I dread it. I can’t sleep. I weigh my bags 100 times and I’m still not satisfied. I’m plagued with thoughts of the airline taking all of my clothes out and saying “Sorry love, you can’t take these with you – they are too heavy” or panic about being charged loads of money for being a few points over on the scale. I absolutely hate it. I hate to say it but flying with a decent airline makes a HUGE difference. I actually would rather stay at home if I have to travel with an airline that has really strict baggage allowances and policies where you literally have to RUN to the plane for a seat. No thank you. My heart and anxiety cannot cope with those levels of stress. The last time I travelled, we actually booked so far in advance our flight with BA was cheaper than these so called ‘cheap’ airlines. It was a stress free check-in, the most incredible, friendly and upbeat staff and the entire experience changed my outlook on flying. I can’t stress how important this is if you are as bad as I am, it’s worth searching in advance for good deals or saving a little bit extra. It makes the world of difference.

Pack A Sweater, Hoodie or Onesie

This is not to be overlooked. Even if you are travelling to a REALLY hot country, if there’s air conditioning – there’s room for cosy time. If I’m feeling like crap, sometimes a nice cosy sweater/hoodie is all I need to cosy up with. There’s nothing like feeling snug and secure when your anxiety is draining your life.

Talk To Your Doctor About Your Meds

For me this is hard, I usually have to send an email explaining my life story for my Doctor to prescribe me with extra doses but it’s worth it because there is nothing worse than being stuck in another country and you lose a pack of meds or run out etc. Don’t let this nightmare become a reality. Ask for extra and pack them in two different bags, just in case your case decides to disappear for whatever reason. Be double prepared for most scenarios.

Do Not Indulge In Tsunami, Plane Crash or Terrorism Films Before Travelling

This is a note to myself. I really need to stop doing this. But because I am SO interested in everything thats wrong with me and the world, I just can’t help myself. However, it pays to be mindful of how such films and documentaries can affect us subconsciously and trigger unnecessary panic. I can’t tell you how many times we’ve stayed by the ocean and packed our bags for “incoming” Tsunami’s *eye roll*. Paranoid or prepared? These are the questions we constantly ask ourselves but lay off the extreme weather docs for a hot minute and you’ll be cool.

Apply The ‘Fuck It’ Theory

Apologies for the profanity but, this is an absolute must! If you tell yourself shit happens, change happens, plans alter – etc and know that there is a solution to everything – then you will be cool. Apply this mindset. Welcome the sudden change, don’t fear it. Things happen. Life happens. If you don’t apply the ‘fuck it’ theory then you’ll end up more stressed than when you left off. You can only control so much, so just take a breather and think – “you know what, fuck it, it’s fine. Let’s just …. or how about instead we …. it’s only a ….. its nothing major ….” etc. Ask yourself, is it ever really THAT bad? Could it be a LOT worse? Trust me, this is a powerful tool I use everyday and it works wonders for my anxiety.

Create A Playlist

Sign up for a 30 day free trial with Spotify and create the offline playlist of your dreams. To help me in stressful situations, I create playlists for moments I struggle to cope with and cannot change. For example, for a heavily populated airport or train station with what feels like MILLIONS of people rushing around everywhere – I like to play ‘The Lion King – The Stampede Score’ Dramatic? Yes. Helpful? Absolutely. By embracing my social situations with the perfect soundtrack I like to select tracks accordingly to embrace my moments of pure stress. I’m a HUGE Hans Zimmer fan too so, Baby Boss is another new soundtrack I enjoy whilst venturing out and about in a more upbeat and animatic fashion – it’s a great way to lesson your anxieties and zone out for a bit if you are finding it hard to relax. For those of you into ASMR, why not download some podcasts? Relax and listen to someone talking about whats in their travel make up bag or find a 10 hour hair dryer sound video and convert the file into an MP3. These are all amazing, albeit slightly stranger alternatives to just listening to your favourite jams.

Don’t Overwhelm Yourself

I know there’s probably a lot you want to pack in and see but the last thing you want to do is burn yourself out. Make sure you allow yourself some days to just relax and do nothing. Doing nothing can actually be just heading down to the pool to listen to music, read a book or people watch. Don’t feel guilty about doing nothing even if you are in the most amazing country and you have limited time. You are more important and you can never experience and see EVERYTHING anyway – so don’t try to cram it all in. You don’t need that kinda stress in your life.

Don’t Do It For The Social 

Travel for yourself, not your social media. I can’t stand that people spend their time away stressing over selfies, ‘photo opportunities’ and ways to make themselves appear more together and successful than the rest of us. Just stop. Attempt to have at least one day where there is no wifi for you to tap into (if you lack self control). The ONE day I spent in a village far away in the mountains was by far one of the most liberating, relaxing and incredible experiences for my soul. I did not refresh my emails every 5 minutes to see a flood more that I couldn’t sit down and answer because there was no wifi to facilitate my behaviour. Simply because my mind knew I couldn’t tap into anything else other than the now, I focused on the real world, not my virtual one. It’s hugely powerful to not log into wifi points. Stop living for other people and start living for yourself. By all means, snap away for memories sake, but don’t get sucked into your social.

Anxiety Can Cause Accidents, Be Prepared

Pack a good first aid kit. I can’t tell you the amount of times I’ve fallen over whilst away from the dizziness caused by my anxiety. You name it, I’ve done it. I am always falling over and hurting myself, yet, I never pack plasters. If you are prone to headaches or illness when you are away, make sure you are well prepared with your insurance, vitamins, recipes for natural immune boosting recipes and any standard pain killers/insect repellants. I’m sure I don’t need to remind you to make sure you get all necessary inoculations but just incase, do not forget those!

With all of that said, let me just remind you that you are incredible. It’s not easy to book time away, love yourself enough to make that first step into the unknown or challenge yourself in new ways but don’t ever forget that you are capable, powerful and worth it!

Take on your anxieties as annoying accessories you have to cart around and find ways to protect yourself against potential triggers. Remember, you can only be prepared to a certain extent but like everything else, you got this! Feed your soul with uplifting and positive affirmations everyday leading up to travelling and the real world is yours for the taking!

So what are you waiting for?

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