Top Travel Tips for Anxious Travelers from an Anxious Traveler

Your friends will thank you!

Hello first time traveler! How are you feeling? Anxious? Concerned? Frustrated? Overwhelmed? I have got some travel tips for anxious travelers.

I can relate.

You’ve heard the quote, “It’s about the journey, not the destination”? Today, we’re going over 10 tips for first time travelers.

I have a bittersweet relationship with traveling. I do want to experience new cultures and meet new people, but planes are unrealistically scary, boats are unbelievably dangerous, and trains are strangely unpredictable. Just tell me. How are planes – excuse me, flying steel coffins – able to stay in the air hours at a time? How do boats stay afloat when there are hundreds of people on them? And ice bergs. (Thanks for that fear, Titanic) I don’t understand how trains can stay on tiny tracks and still be rolling so fast… These are the things that keep me up late at night…anxious yet? I am!

EXTRA! EXTRA! Did you hear about the plane that crashed and has gone missing? Did you read the news article about the boat that crashed into the harbor and numerous people were injured? Did you see the train that was going too fast and rolled off the track?

Okay, so some of these are just a part of my anxious traveler themed nightmares and not events that I actually read or heard about. That doesn’t mean they didn’t happen, though!

So, again, as much as I enjoy the destination, if I’m being honest, sometimes the journey doesn’t seem worth it for anxious travelers. But because neither you nor I can stay cooped up in our homes for forever, here are 10 tips that I use when my anxious self is consuming my life.

Journal or Talk to Someone

It’s important to know who you are. Are you an internal or external processor? Do you prefer to process daily occurrences with a trusted companion or mentally process everything silently in a journal? Personally, I need to vent and discuss- that’s where Josh comes in. He knows to just listen and advise when prompted. He’s so great. Think of someone you could trust and talk to about what you are experiencing. Sometimes we overplay things in our head, and when we share our thoughts, we realize it’s not such a big deal. Maybe you could talk to other anxious travelers about what you are feeling – UHM – Hello, I am ready to be your listening ear, as long as you can be that for me. We can be anxious travelers together!

Anxious travelers

Travel with someone

If you do experience intense travel anxiety, I wouldn’t think traveling alone is a good idea. Whether you travel with anxious travelers or thrill seekers, try not to do it alone as a first time anxious traveler.

If you have no other option, I highly recommend swallowing your pride and letting a flight attendant know. They are so knowledgable and compassionate toward our kind! And you might get extra snacks. Winner-Winner-Chicken-Dinner!

Anxious travelers

It’s Okay to React

The truth is that every travel experience is different for me. Sometimes I feel so overwhelmed that I just cry uncontrollably at the airport – DON’T JUDGE, YOU DON’T KNOW MY LIFE. Other times, I crawl into myself and don’t want to talk to anyone; I’m silent.

Yet even other times, I feel so nervous that I won’t stop talking – but this one is super rare. I have tried to bargain with Josh at the airport, “If we don’t get on this plane, I’ll promise to (insert anything that I’ll later forget to do)“. Bottom line. It’s okay to react and react differently each time. I think of it as my mind trying to cope and that is something to prepare for, anxious travelers. You don’t know what you might do, think or say!

Prescription Medication

Here’s the truth. I did visit my doctor for medication. She told me she would prescribe medication to help me relax but that eventually I would need to learn to travel without it. It’s a great goal but not one that I am ready to reach. I do take medicine to help during travel, but I’d be lying if I said I don’t feel any kind of anxiety. That’s just not the case. Anxious travelers, read my words carefully. It just takes away some of the anxiety, but not all of it.

Anxious travelers

Changing Diet

One thing that has really affected my flight is the way I eat. After some research, I found some great tips for what to eat to help eliminate travel anxiety. Again, it isn’t a “100% no anxiety” type of deal, but I do believe it makes a difference. For more, read Hungry & Anxious.

Anxious travelers

Changing Fitness Routine

I’m no doctor, but when I feel anxious, my body uses up a lot of energy and releases adrenaline as a “fight or flight” reaction. To tire myself out before traveling, I do a high intensity work out. This not only causes my body to release endorphins but I use up some of my anticipated energy. Then, once on my flight, boat, or train, I am able to relax a bit more and I look forward to resting there. Take my advice, anxious travelers, get and stay active!

Anxious travelers

Bring Entertainment

Don’t rely on the plane’s entertainment. Yes, there will be movies to watch, but I want something to watch during take off. For safety measures, the plane screens won’t play whenever the Pilot or Staff is speaking or when the plane is taking off or landing. As anxious travelers, we can’t be bothered with it, so I suggest charging your iPad, Laptop, and phone with a variety of films, music, and wifi-free games.  TIP: Download the Netflix app and some movies to avoid relying on the plane’s wifi. Also, bring different kinds of headphones (over the ear and inner ear) to give your ears a break from each. You can also check out our Conquering New Heights post for more entertainment options. 

Anxious travelers

Bring/Buy snacks & Gingerale

Whether you want to bring your own snacks and Ginger-ale or buy them before your traveling begins is up to you! I suggest crispy snacks and a caffeine free beverage (Anxious travelers should avoid caffeine), especially during take-off. It keeps my mind busy and distracted.

Anxious travelers

Make an Itinerary

Make an itinerary for where you’re going and research the destination using a GPS, Google images, and Yelp. I have learned that anxious travelers need structure. So, I research the crap out of wherever we are going- mainly because I don’t want any surprises. When we were planning our Costa Rica trip, I looked up videos on YouTube, searched through Google Images, figured out how long it would take from the airport to the hotel with Google Maps/GPS, and even researched reviews through Yelp for places we were thinking to visit. You may feel like a psycho but who cares! You do you, boo. 

Watch in Person

Watch planes take off, boats sail off, and trains track off in person – not in video. The first time I watched planes take off via YouTube, I cried. I couldn’t believe I’d be getting into one of those monsters. Anxious travelers, I saw a YouTube thumbnail of a plane crashing into another plane midair or a boat on fire… and I still clicked play. Why do we torture ourselves?!

The internet is full of liars and click bait. So, I decided to go watch in person. We got a pretty good parking spot to watch the planes take off, and this somehow made me feel better. This one sounds like it could be detrimental, but it was one of the things that really helped prepare me for my departure date. 

Anxious travelers

Have other tips for first time anxious travelers? Drop us a comment!

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