Travel anxiety is not uncommon. In fact, ever since COVID-19, more people have expressed feelings of anxiety around travel than ever before.
Any time we step out of our comfort zone, there's an opportunity to acknowledge, address, and face our fears. When we do so we grow, evolve, and expand. When we refuse to face those fears we contract, constrict, and start living smaller and narrower lives.
Chances are any anxiety you may feel around an upcoming trip is a reflection of anxiety you feel elsewhere in your life, too. With an upcoming trip, you’ve just created a situation that has shined a light on it. The good news is that this is a great opportunity to not only overcome anxiety but to learn and grow from it.
With regard to any travel anxiety you may be experiencing, here are a few things you can do to help remove the charge on that emotional energy:
1. Be prepared.
Don’t wait until the last minute to start planning and preparing for your trip. Knowing you have everything under control will go a long way toward helping you stay excited about your trip. To help you with this, I've created a comprehensive Pre-Travel Checklist.
I’ve also created a Travel Packing List to help ensure you pack everything you need for the trip, including comfortable clothes, any medications you need, and anything else that will make you feel more comfortable.
2. Stay organized.
Keeping all your travel documents (such as your passport, boarding pass, travel insurance, and more) in one place allows you to feel more in control and prepared. I love this handy passport holder, which keeps me organized with everything I need at my fingertips.
Feeling prepared and organized will go a long way towards helping you stay in the excited zone regarding your upcoming trip rather than sliding into stress or anxiety.
3. Remember why you booked the trip to begin with.
What motivated you to book the trip to begin with? Were you seeking adventure, new experiences, or eager to finally make it to one of your bucket list destinations?
Staying focused on your WHY helps keep things in perspective. Perhaps consider putting a picture of your destination on the screensaver on your computer or the wallpaper on your phone. Give yourself regular reminders of the exciting trip you are embarking upon.
Keep in mind that when it comes to our emotions, the strongest one always wins. If you feed the excitement and enthusiasm more than the fear, you’ll start looking forward to your trip again. What you focus on expands.
4. Remember to breathe.
Whenever you’re feeling anxious (whether it's surrounding an upcoming trip or at any other time in life), the quickest way to relax your nervous system is through long, deep breathing. Most adults have developed a habit of breathing very shallowly into their chests. This shallow breathing stimulates a bundle of nerves in the solar plexus, which activates the sympathetic nervous system (or the fight or flight response). So, just by breathing shallowly, we are actually creating stress and anxiety.
However, when we breathe long, full breaths deep into our bellies (the way we did, naturally, as children), we stimulate a bundle of nerves at the base of the spine that activates the parasympathetic nervous system (or the relaxation response). While it can take up to five minutes for that relaxation response to fully kick in, we can feel the effects of long, deep breathing almost immediately.
The good news is we have everything we need, built into our physiology, to flip the switch from stress, anxiety, and even panic to relaxation, calm, and inner peace.
Then, again, recall why it is you booked this trip to begin with. Call forth that imagery in your mind while engaging in your long, deep, belly breathing. Long, deep breathing, combined with that beautiful imagery that inspired you to book the trip to begin with, is bound to get you over the hump of any nagging fears you may have been having.
5. Visualize yourself having a great time.
Whatever imagery you are holding in your mind is influencing how you feel. If the imagery isn’t serving you, change the picture. Like switching the channel on a television screen, replace that disempowering imagery with imagery that serves you better.
What would it look like if you walked through the airport feeling confident and excited, knowing you were about to have a trip of a lifetime? What would it look like if you were relaxed and at ease every step of the way, knowing deep in your bones that everything would work out just fine and that, whatever happened, it's all part of the adventure?
You likely booked your trip because you wanted to live. To LIVE.
So what would it look like if you were living an inspired life, embracing the adventure, knowing that no matter what happened, it was all just part of the adventure?
In fact, let that be your mantra. That’s what I did the first time I traveled overseas with friends. I was on the plane headed to London and realized that, somewhere along the way, things might not go as smoothly as I expected. We could miss our train. Or our flight could be delayed. Or we could end up not getting along. But, instead of focusing on what could go wrong, I visualized myself being relaxed and at ease. In my mind, I kept repeating the phrase, “No matter what happens, it's all part of the adventure.”
I did that with such intention and repetition that imagery became part of the wallpaper of my mind, and that mantra eventually stuck, playing itself in the background of my mind like a song I couldn’t get out of my head (and didn’t want to!).
The visualizations and repetitive mantra worked because, no matter what happened, I stayed relaxed and at ease, knowing that whatever happened was part of the adventure I came there to have. In fact, even my traveling companions commented on how well I traveled. Remember, that was my first trip overseas. I credit my attitude to the visualizations and mantra I kept repeating. It was like I programmed my mind and had the experience I envisioned. That’s when my love of travel began.
6. Move your body.
As it is often said, our issues are in our tissues. So if you’re feeling fear or anxiety around anything, that’s an excellent time to breathe and move your body. We tend to constrict and contract when we’re under stress. Moving and breathing (especially yoga) helps us open our bodies and relax. But if yoga’s not calling you, go for a walk, swim, or dance to your favorite dance tunes. The worst thing we can do when we’re anxious is sit and dwell there. We have to move our bodies if we want to feel relaxed and at ease in them.
7. Trust yourself.
Once you’ve gotten prepared and organized, and have remembered why you were excited to book this trip to begin with, then it’s time to relax, trust the process, and trust yourself. Everything will fall into place. Could things go wrong? Sure. But, usually, it’s more inconvenient than it is earth-shattering. Everything always works out in the end.
Do you remember a time in your life when you were nervous or afraid of doing something, and then you did it and overcame that fear? Or, perhaps you can recall a time when you accomplished a goal and felt strong, capable, and powerful because you did it. Tap into those feelings whenever self-doubt rears its head. Everyone experiences self-doubt and fear sometimes. The trick is to recognize it, breathe into the center of it, and feel it loosen its grip on you.
The more you feel the fear and do it anyway, the more you trust in yourself.
8. Trust your travel advisor.
It certainly helps to have a travel agent/advisor you know and trust. If you’re starting to feel anxiety around an upcoming trip, reach out and discuss it. Sometimes feelings of unease bring to your awareness some detail (or details) you haven’t addressed yet. The worst thing you can do is keep it all inside. Sometimes acknowledging our emotions is enough for those feeling to loosen their grip on us.
9. Have something to look forward to when you get back.
Travel enhances and expands our lives. It’s certainly changed mine.
But, what’s even better is creating a life we look forward to returning to. Travel not to escape, but to expand. Consider making a list of all the things for which you are truly grateful. While nobody’s life is perfect, sometimes we need a reminder of how blessed we are. Have you ever kept a gratitude journal? Now’s as good a time as any to start one!
These tips should help you start feeling excited about your upcoming travels again.
I’ve often found that when I’m on the precipice of something new and outside of my comfort zone, I inevitably bump up against my own self-doubt and fear. I also recognize that every time I’ve grown and expanded my life in some new way, it happened after I faced that fear.
Life is art. And your life is your masterpiece. Why not explore what’s possible? You just might surprise yourself.
Life is a gift. And nothing is guaranteed.
Don't wait to live the life you could be living today.
Join us on an upcoming trip of a lifetime!