Around the holidays, many people make travel plans. You might be taking a trip to visit family, or perhaps you have an exciting trip planned for New Years’ Eve. Traveling and the holiday season go hand-in-hand but traveling can often cause extra stress and anxiety because it throws you out of your routine.
I’m here to tell you that travel anxiety is more common than you think! Travelers often feel anxious about their upcoming trip due to bad weather or even flying in general. If you are anxious about your holiday travel plans, I’m here to help with these seven tips to cope with travel anxiety.
1. Research your destination
Before you head out on your New Years’ Eve escapade, research the city or town you’re going to. Learn about the local customs and slang, read about the usual weather for that time of year, and just get comfortable with your destination! You can read travel blogs, look at pictures on social media, and learn about the culture of that area. The more you familiarize yourself with your destination, the less intimidating it will feel!
2. Mentally prepare for all scenarios
During the winter, it is not uncommon for storms to blow in and cause flights to be canceled or for traffic to be backed up for miles. Before these types of scenarios arise, think about it ahead of time. Make a mental note for yourself that if your flight does get canceled or delayed, you will be alright! Flights can be rescheduled and rebooked. Traffic eventually dissipates. Don’t panic or worry. It’s not worth the mental anguish. You will most likely safely get to your destination in time, but even if you don’t, you’ll still be okay.
3. Don’t wait to pack
For many people, packing can be a major stressor, especially if you wait until the last minute to pack! To avoid unnecessary stress, pack early. Don’t wait until the night before your flight when you’re tired and fumbling around looking for clothes! Set aside time a day or so before your flight to plan outfits and get your toiletries and beauty products together. And don’t forget about entertainment during the trip. Pack a good book, headphones, your necessary technologies (laptop, iPod, etc) and all your charging cords. You will feel so relieved to pick up your luggage and walk out the door the morning of your trip, rather than rushing around trying to pack! Make a packing list, and check it twice. 😉 You’ll be thankful you did.
4. Plan your itinerary ahead of time
If the unknown gives you stress or anxiety, take time to plan out activities and your vacation days before you travel. While doing research on your destination, look for activities and sites that you would like to visit. You can create a little schedule for yourself to follow (or not follow!) while you are on vacation. If you plan ahead of time, you don’t have to stress about finding fun activities once you reached your destination.
Also, plan more flex time than you think you’ll need. If your schedule is packed tight, it will cause more anxiety than its worth. You might need more time than you realize to either get to different destinations or simply to rest and recharge. Prioritize places you simply must go to and then any other events can be the cherries on top!
5. Don’t forget to think about food
When on vacation, it is often hard to stick to your diet, sleep schedule or workout plan. You may have anxiety about going out to eat and realizing that there are no foods that fit into your diet. To help with that, set your boundaries with food. Think about what you can cheat a little on and still feel ok, and what is a non-negotiable for you—what makes you feel too icky to even enjoy your holiday. To help you from panicking in a tight spot, pack extra healthy snacks. I always pack Epic bars, nuts and yummy dark chocolate in my bag when I travel. Look up restaurant menus ahead of time so you can decide what to order before you even get there. All that said, don’t let guilt or a diet get in the way of enjoying your travel plans! After all, you are on vacation and deserve to live a little!
6. Focus on the good
If you are feeling anxious on your trip, take a step back to remind yourself why you traveled to your destination in the first place. If you flew out to visit your family for the holidays, think about how lucky you are to be with your loved ones during this special time of year. Remind yourself about the good, love and fun you will experience during your travels! After all, several studies over the last decade have proven that people who consciously count their blessing tend to be happier. (Source)
Don’t let negative self-talk or thoughts spiral you into a batch of anxiety. Focus on the true reasons you went on your vacation and the positive aspects of your trip. If you’re feeling anxious, take a moment to name three things you’re grateful for on the spot to help you recenter your thoughts on the positive. You can make it fun by getting yourself a cute “gratitude” notebook to carry around with you! Then in a few months, you’ll have pages of things to look back on and remember the good in your life.
7. Have a coping mechanism ready
If your anxiety is hitting you hard or if you feel a panic attack coming on, make sure you prepare some coping mechanisms ahead of time. Think about a mantra to recite in times of anxiety or a meditation you can practice when you feel your triggers setting in.
It can be as simple as, “I am grateful,” “I am enough,” or “I am worthy.”
Remember to breathe through it and know that emotions will pass. You won’t feel this way forever! Prepare your coping mechanisms ahead of time so you can take control of your emotions and get back to enjoying your travel plans.
I also carry relaxing essential oils and Bach Flower Rescue Remedy in my bag just in case I start to become overwhelmed. Oils and flower essences are safe for both children and adults and can re-set your nervous system in a jiffy!
What is something you do in moments of stress that help you find peace?