2023 will be the busiest travel year of my life — I’m going to D.C., Missouri, and California in the next two months. So I wanted to share updated thoughts on travel anxiety tips and how to prepare for trips even though it can be difficult. Since I last wrote about this, I’ve taken multiple trips with my 2-year-old — some road trips and some flights. It’s added an interesting element to my thoughts because it’s much more complicated than traveling alone. That being said, I still think it’s worth it.
I don’t love surprises (I’m the friend who looks up the menu before getting to the restaurant) and thrive in routine, so travel can be tricky. I passed up on a study abroad opportunity in college because I thought I’d be miserable in an unfamiliar place. I’ve grown to believe that life is too short to stay in your comfort zone the entire time, but that doesn’t mean it’s always easy.
Travel Anxiety Tips That Help Me Stay Chill
Get Professional Help
Over the last year, my anxiety has become more intense for reasons I can’t pinpoint. When I’m on a childless trip, I miss Nora. On a family trip, I’m stressed about everything that can go wrong! I’ve spent a lot of my therapy sessions talking about my nervousness and how to handle it. But the most effective tool I have? Medication. I have an anti-anxiety drug that I take before a flight, even if I’m not feeling super stressed. It helps take the edge off, and I recommend it to anyone who struggles.
Analyze Your Anxiety
You know how you feel a pit in your stomach when you sense something terrible is about to happen? People with anxiety conditions always think like that, even with no actual danger. I often have a vague sense of impending doom before I get to the airport. It’s not that I worry that the plane will crash or I will experience catastrophe. It’s more so my body telling me that something could go wrong. I interrogate myself to figure out what I’m afraid of and then isolate those thoughts. I downloaded this CBT Thought Diary and have used it to challenge my distorted thinking.
Prepare For Everything
One of my biggest anxiety triggers is not feeling ready for an unexpected situation. I solve this by over-preparing. When traveling with Nora, I pack double the diapers and snacks I think I’ll need. If I’m traveling alone, I’ll allow time to get through security, get coffee, and find my gate without rushing. Flight delays and stressful travel days are sometimes unavoidable, but there are things you can do to reduce unknown variables. I will say that over-preparing doesn’t mean you have to overpack. Mindlessly throwing everything I own into a suitcase stresses me even more when I reach my destination. Planning outfits actually helps me stay chill.
As you probably gather, I’m not always down for an adventure. That means that I say no liberally and without guilt. Vagner and I went to Mexico last fall, and he went on an excursion without me because I had zero desire. I like having an itinerary, but I’m also not afraid to cancel plans and get room service if I feel overwhelmed. If I don’t think I’ll enjoy it, it’s not worth me stretching myself. I often return to the hotel room while everyone else is still partying when I’m with friends. A couple of times this year, I’ve said no to a trip outright. Vacation is supposed to serve you!