Punching Holiday Anxiety in the Face

Thoughts from Alanna…

I love travelling. I love trying new things in foreign places.

I’m also anxious, like all the time.

How do you survive with both conflicting feelings? How do you travel without spurring on a panic attack, or should you just stay home and avoid the inner turmoil completely?

Obviously, it’s different for everyone. Everyone has a different level of anxiety with different triggers. This is what works for me:

Know Yourself

This sounds silly but it’s so important. I know myself. I know what will cause me extra stress and anxiety and work to avoid this. I need some sort of plan and organization to help me cope. So while I may not know exactly what we’ll be doing and which day of the holiday, I come prepared.

Before my trip, I’ll start a word document with attractions (what is it, location, admission price, etc). I’ll research transportation, maybe some local restaurants and include details about our flights and hotel. I’ll print this off and keep it with me.

It’s simple, but it’s a huge calming factor. I start my trip prepared and organized.

Solo or Travel Buddy

Some of us anxiety-filled beings can’t do solo travel, or can’t travel well with others. Pick the best option for you. I’m thankful that my boyfriend is the perfect travelling companion for me. He understands that being in a foreign city in itself will make me anxious and helps support me when I need it. If I’m feeling overwhelmed or need a breather, I’ll let him know and he’ll make sure we take time out of the crowds to regroup.

It can be really awkward explaining your anxiety to someone, especially if they’ve never felt it themselves. But making sure your travel buddy understands your struggles can really make a big difference on enjoying your trip.

Eat, Drink and Sleep

If I don’t look after myself, my stress and anxiety (especially while travelling) will get worse. I make sure I eat, stay hydrated and get a good night’s sleep. It’s simple and so important for my mental health. Splurging for lots of gelato helps, too.

Tea break! Also, how ironic to have the dodo bird on your tea cup at a Museum of Natural History?

Here are some quick tips from fellow travelers that they follow to help deal with holiday anxiety!

  • Don’t go for tight flight connections that an experienced traveller might feel comfortable with. Go for the next flight, even if means a couple of hours waiting at the airport.
  • Arrange transportation from/to and airport, either with your hotel or a shuttle company. It’ll cost more than public transportation but you’ll avoid the anxiety of trying to navigate a foreign country with all your luggage (especially if it’s in a different language)
  • Take shorter trips to places that have a similar standard of living first. As you become more experienced, then travel to more extreme or different type areas.
  •  Make a list of everything to pack so you don’t forget anything. Also try to pack couple of days ahead of time so there’s no last-minute-rush.
  • Staying in one hotel room where you can return to anytime your feeling overwhelmed, acting as your home-base abroad, can be really helpful.
  • Going to the same places to eat or for coffee can be good, something that creates a routine while your day constantly non-routine.
  • Check Google Maps where you are going and look for landmarks, that way you know where you are in relation to other places. But things can change from day and night. Take a picture of your hotel so if there is a language issue, just show a taxi driver the photo and you’ll be able to get home.
  • If you need to be extra organized, write a very detailed itinerary including every step of the journey (bus stops, street names, time to talks to walk from one place to another, etc)

No matter what, do what works best for you. Basically punch anxiety in the face and enjoy your holiday!