12 Lessons to Teach You How to Travel When You Have Anxiety

You must read this before you travel if you have anxiety. Don’t let your anxiety ruin your exciting travel plans.

Even the most confident of us can experience anxiety when considering new adventures; however for some people anxiety is an everyday part of life, often preventing them living the life they wish they could.

I am not a mental health professional, but I have had episodes of serious anxiety including at one stage not being able to go into a shopping mall for more than a year. I also experienced severe anxiety during my university studies that caused me to fail a couple of subjects.

I know I’m not the only one.

Through a lot of work I have reduced my episodes significantly, sometimes though I can feel an acute episode coming on. I wanted to travel and explore the world, but didn’t want my anxiety to stop me. Everyone experiences anxiety in different ways, about different things. I have no issues flying but start to get nervous if I don’t have a plan, think I’ll miss the plane or don’t know where the closest toilet is located. Others are fine when they arrive but the journey causes endless anxiety.

Here’s what worked for me, I hope it can help you get out and have your own adventures.

1. Have a plan!

Research before you leave so you know where the attractions you want to visit are and how you can get there from your accommodation. Remember though that when you arrive things may change due to weather considerations or other events out of your control. Planning doesn’t necessarily mean having an itinerary that can’t be modified, it just means knowing how you can get to and from the activity, how much it costs, what you want to see and so forth, no matter which day or order you do it.

2. Be prepared!

Reduce Anxiety - Make a List

Okay so you have everything prepared itinerary wise but what about the rest? Make sure you pack early and write a list of everything you need and want to take and then tick it off as it goes in the suitcase. There is nothing worse than hurriedly packing as the uber is arriving to take you to the airport. Make sure you have your tickets and passport in an easy to access place so you don’t walk out without them. And definitely know what traffic conditions are usually like around the time you are going to the airport. Better to arrive two hours earlier than needed and have to spend $10 on coffee and a snack, than $1000 on new tickets because you got stuck in traffic.

3. Know the laws and culture!

I am always worried I will offend someone and end up in jail for some slight that I didn’t even know was offensive. So I try and research the most common issues in the countries I’m visiting. Once I’m there I also be sure to watch what the locals do.

4. Record it!

If your anxiety is linked to wondering if you left the oven on or if you locked the door, record yourself doing it so you have evidence you did it.

5. Take a comfort item!

Reduce Anxiety - Take a comfort item

Whether it’s a favourite hoodie or a teddy bear, taking something from home that provides comfort can only help you out when you feel that old anxiety trying to take a grip.

6. Talk to your doctor!

If you take medication, make sure you have enough for your trip and that you have a prescription for it so you have no issues travelling through customs. Ask him if he has any tips and tricks for travellers with anxiety, because remember lots of people suffer from anxiety so you won’t be the only one asking.

7. Tell your companion!

If you are travelling with others, you should tell someone that you sometimes suffer from anxiety. They can help identify scenarios that may cause you distress, but they can also be a soft place to land when you are having an episode.

8. Screenshot it!

I take screenshots of everything. The address, the Google map locations and directions, and prices. The list goes on. Even if I don’t have internet access I should be fine.

9. Stuff your day pack!

Well maybe not stuff it full… but make sure you take everything you may need during a day out. I always pack toilet paper, hand sanitiser and a bottle of water at a minimum.

10. Tell someone!

If one of your anxiety inducing events is going missing with no one knowing, leave a note in your room or tell reception where you are going and when you expect to return.

11. Don’t Worry!

Okay easier said than done, but what I mean is, if you do have an anxiety attack or feel it creeping in, stop what you are doing and figure out why. Even if you have to abandon your plans for the day and hang out at the hotel, don’t let it ruin the rest of your trip. It’s just one moment in time of your adventure, it doesn’t have to define the whole experience.

12. Enjoy

Reduce Anxiety - Enjoy the Adventure!

There is a reason you decided to travel and have new experiences, so make sure you take time out to enjoy your surroundings and remember why you are doing what you are doing.

Further reading:

Don’t Let Culture Shock Ruin Your Adventure

Funny Phrases from Around the World!

Taking the Leap! How to Plan for your Extended Adventure

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