Before every trip, there are jitters in my stomach. Excitement, sure, but also fear: of missing my flight, of losing my luggage, of leaving behind my passport… this pre-trip nervousness doesn’t let me sleep easy the night before. For many, these feelings are much stronger. It is not uncommon to feel claustrophobic on a flight or panic at the prospect of being in a new country alone–travel anxiety isn’t just nervousness and it needs to be addressed just like any other mental health problem.
Travel Anxiety Is Real
Travel is stressful, I admit. I bite my nails while filling a visa form and the agitation increases as the days go by without a word from VFS. Even long queues at the airport, immigration checks, security screenings, and long layovers make travel tough. And then there are long cab rides, the unknowns of a destination and unpredictable situations. People who are socially anxious may also shy away from solo travel. In fact, travel anxiety also stops people from booking a holiday or causes them to cancel their planned trips. But you can’t always negotiate your trips, right? There are ways to deal with pre-trip anxiety and feel more at ease while you’re travelling. However, these are just suggestions and if you’ve ever had a panic attack while travelling, you should consult a professional for a long-term solution.
How To Deal With Travel Anxiety
One in four Indians suffers from anxiety disorder. We are talking about mental health more and more in this country, but the conversation needs to go from the internet to the living rooms. Talk about your experiences with fellow travellers, with friends and families and you’ll know that it is common to feel ill at ease before trips. The feeling is overwhelming, but you can fight travel anxiety if you recognise it.
Have you ever felt anxious before a trip? Do you feel nervous while flying? Do you fear missing your flight? It will help if you know what you’re dealing with, so you can prepare in advance. There are things you can do before your trip to keep yourself calm: Practise breathing techniques, download calming/meditation apps on your phone, think positive thoughts, keep a stack of books/shows ready to distract yourself on the plane, double-check all travel documents.
Remove as many uncertainties from your trip as you possibly can. Get to the airport in advance and you’ll make it on time for the flight. Book all transfers and hotels, make a list of places to see, and keep your currency in different locations. Identify one person at the destination who you can call in case of emergency if you’re travelling alone. If possible, travel with a companion and tell them about your nervousness before the trip.
Invest in front of the plane seats, especially those with extra legroom, so you’re more comfortable during the journey. Whenever you feel your mind wandering off in different directions, calm yourself by breathing deeply. Focus on something, remind yourself why you’re travelling, close your eyes and imagine yourself somewhere else, or listen to calming music. Controlled breathing will help when you’re getting stressed.
There may be times when situations are out of control, like flight delays or missing luggage, but you should know what to do when this happens. Give yourself a quick fact-check: it’s your airline’s responsibility to ferry you to a destination and they will pay you if they lose your luggage or cancel your flight. Fearing the flight? It is actually the safest mode of transportation! Once you have the information you need, keep reminding yourself that it’s not a big deal and you’ll find a way out. In addition, alcohol and junk food make anxiety work, so you should eat healthy before your flight and keep yourself hydrated. It also may be a good idea to exercise and think happy thoughts.
Ask For Help
Get professional help if you’re feeling overwhelmed by all of this. A counsellor or a psychologist can detect what’s causing this feeling and find solutions to cope with it; medication may be an option. There is medical help available in your place of travel, too. Check if your travel insurance covers mental health, or look for local support groups. People around you may also be able to help, so seek comfort from them, or call a friend back home to talk it out.
Travel anxiety can be overcome, but you have to find what works for you if you want to continue exploring the world. Take a breather and learn more about it from your doctor.
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