Travelling abroad can be stressful for anyone.
But when you have anxiety, travelling can seem almost impossible.
Large crowds and queues, time restrictions and possible delays, and fear of flying are just some of the things that can lead to anxiety and panic.
Here are some tips to reduce and cope with anxiety when travelling abroad.
Do your research about your flights and accommodation well in advance of your departure date. Find out where important things are – is there a pharmacy nearby or in the resort? Where are the nearest restaurants? Do you know the route to the nearest town? Is there any public transport? These are things that can cause anxiety to rear its ugly head, but having the information before you go can reduce this.
Make sure you get appropriate travel insurance that covers the costs of any medical needs you may have whilst abroad. It can be tricky to find coverage with a pre-existing condition, but it is possible – just make sure you do this in good time. Worrying about having to pay thousands of pounds in medical fees can add significantly to anxiety levels. Knowing that you’re covered can help to relieve this.
Make sure you have applied for and received any necessary visas before travelling – sometimes it is possible to get a visa on arrival, but this requires extra queuing (and stress) at the other end.
Make sure your companion is aware of your anxiety, and prep them on your needs prior to travelling. It may be useful to have a mutually-agreed code word that you can use if your anxiety levels are rising, so your companion can assist you or help to get you to a quieter area.
Keep lots of distractions and self-soothing items easily accessible in your hand-luggage, for example, a book, a small bottle of hand cream (sized in line with liquid restrictions), earphones to listen to music on your phone, a puzzle book, a photo of where you’re going to remind you what’s waiting for you at the other end, or a protective crystal such as obsidian or black tourmaline. These items can help either at the airport or during the flight.
Airports are renowned for queues, so make sure you arrive at least two hours before boarding. The worst that can happen is you get through security super quickly and then have to wait, but it’s much less stressful to sit in a cafe/restaurant and have a drink and/or something to eat, rather than panicking that you’re going to miss your flight.
It can be tempting to have a pre-holiday beverage at the airport, but dulling your senses can actually increase anxiety. Keep your head clear and drink plenty of water – being on a plane can be super dehydrating.
Make sure you are well-rested before travelling, as lack of sleep can lead to increased anxiety. Also, try to sleep on the plane – this will make the journey feel much shorter.
Remember to pack and take any anxiety medication that you have been prescribed (in the correct dosage at the appropriate times). If you are concerned about your anxiety affecting your ability to travel, this may be something you want to discuss with your doctor, as they might be able to prescribe you something short-term. HOWEVER, there are restrictions on what you can take with you on a plane, and you may require supporting documents from your GP. Make sure you check all requirements beforehand and do NOT attempt to travel with restricted medication (or illegal drugs, of course).
Do you have experience of travelling with anxiety? What helps you to cope? Maybe you’ve travelled with someone who has anxiety and you have some good ideas of how to support them? Let me know in the comments.