How you can overcome travel anxiety with a few easy tricks

Are you in need of some better anxiety management strategies?

Does anxiety get the best of you when you’re traveling?

If so, don’t feel embarrassed. It’s really really common. I’ve dealt with it for most of the past decade.

Not sure if what you’re feeling is anxiety? Ask yourself the following questions.

  • Have you ever had that nagging feeling in the pit of your stomach?
  • That feeling that makes your heart race?
  • That makes you short of breath?
  • A feeling of impending doom, that tells your brain that disaster is coming?

Anxiety is no fun, and something that many people struggle with. Anxiety disorders affect approximately 40 million people in the US every year, according to recent reports.

Generalized anxiety disorder affects 3.1% of the population. That means, if you have a work party with 100 people, 3 of them suffer from significant anxiety. That is actually a pretty big number! About 1 or 2 in 50 people, broken down.

Does this tell you anything? What it tells me is that when I feel anxious, there is help out there. It is so common that it is relatively easy to find resources and support. Keep reading to find out a little about my history with anxiety, and what you can do to manage your anxiety while traveling.

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Also, I am not a doctor or mental health professional. Just someone who has lived with anxiety for many years who is passionate about sharing her experiences and tips for success. If you are in crisis call your doctor, then click here for some good mental health resources.

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A little about me

I suffered from anxiety a little bit in junior high and in college, but it came back with a vengeance about 4 or 5 months ago. There are two things that set it off that I’ve noticed: my children’s bed time, and traveling.

Being anxious about traveling can be debilitating. It feels so unfair, doesn’t it? Looking forward to fun vacations becomes a time of dread instead of joyful anticipation. My specific travel anxiety is triggered by rides in the car that are more than 60 minutes long.

We’re going to Key West for a wedding on Saturday. We decided to fly into Fort Lauderdale to save money, and then drive to Key West. My husband said it was only a couple hours. I said, No worries. I can handle that.

Turns out the drive is close to 4 hours long.

Bojack horseman, anxiety, gif, mental health, how to overcome travel anxiety

The funny thing about anxiety is it’s like a super villain in the dark thriller of your mental illness journey. It is surprising. It lies constantly. And it’s completely beatable with the right tools.

What can you do to manage your travel anxiety?

Luckily there are a lot of things you can do to manage your nervousness. Here are 4 of my best tips!

Talk about your anxiety.

Tell the people you are traveling with about the things that trigger your anxiety. For me, it is long car rides (I have a fear of needing to go to the bathroom and not being able to find a place to stop.) Use the people around you as a support system. In my case, when I travel with my husband, he assures me we will stop somewhere after X amount of time. That really helps.

It really is nothing to be ashamed of. Anxiety is so common. If you bring it up before the trip, chances are, someone else you are traveling with will be able to relate to you. You are so rarely alone.

Be in charge of the planning.

The more you can control about the trip, the easier it will be to keep your anxiety at bay. Maybe it helps you to be the driver vs. being the passenger. Maybe you prefer to be the navigator. (The countdown clock on the GPS helps me!) Whatever the case, re-establishing some amount of control over the situation can help.

Make a list of all the things before you need to do before the trip to prepare. Sometimes the anticipation of the travel is worse than the actual travel itself. Arm yourself with a good check list, and cross things off as best you can.

travel anxiety, purple and white text that says How you can overcome travel anxiety and few easy tricks, black and white picture of airplane and camera and globe

Take your meds.

This seems like silly advice, but sometimes in the chaos of travel prep, it can be easy to forget to take your meds. Set an alarm on your phone so that you remember. Also, set a reminder to pack them in a part of your travel gear that will be easily accessible. Lots of times, we need to take it while you’re still en route. You don’t want to be forced to forget it because it’s stowed away somewhere you can’t reach it.

If you think you are going to forget to set a reminder for yourself, have a fellow traveler act as accountability partner. Ask them if they would be willing to remind you to take your medication at a certain time.

Bring something distracting.

Whether it’s a book, headphones, books or word puzzles, or whatever the case may be, you need something to distract your brain. Anxiety is, at the risk of oversimplifying, a state of obsession your brain enters. If you can redirect your thoughts to something else, you will find yourself forgetting whatever it was you were obsessing over.

I have been really into true crime podcasts lately. I love The Murder Squad and My Favorite Murder. Let yourself be immersed in an interesting investigation, and try to forget your worries.

purple and white text that says How you can overcome travel anxiety and few easy tricks, black and white picture of a map and a camera and a computer

Additional resources

The Anxiety and Worry Workbook: The Cognitive Behavioral Solution

Badass Ways to End Anxiety & Stop Panic Attacks!: A counterintuitive approach to recover and regain control of your life

Celokiy Adjustable Lava Bead Stone Anxiety Diffuser Oil diffuesr Bracelet Women with Turquoise – Meditation,Relax,Healing,Aromatherapy

Don’t feel ashamed

Traveling can be so much fun. It is a blast to explore new places, spend time with loved ones, and make lots of memories.

Yes, sometimes I feel anxious when I travel. But you know what? So do a lot of people. There is absolutely no reason I should be ashamed by that, and neither should you!

These tips are just a few ways I am able to travel even when it makes me incredibly anxious. I was able to take a 3 hour car ride alone with my kids this past weekend. That is a huge win for me.

Follow the tips above and travel with ease. Have any fun travel plans coming up? What are some of your strategies for traveling with anxiety? I would love to hear about them in the comments. Also, please share the post if you found it helpful.

Hopefully these anxiety tips get you traveling with ease!


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55 thoughts on “How you can overcome travel anxiety with a few easy tricks”

  1. These are great tips. I have found that I manage my travel anxiety by being extraordinarily neat (I am not neat in my “real” life). Somehow, keeping my suitcase perfectly folded and everything put away exactly so keeps my anxiety at bay. That, and of course, taking my meds!

  2. Travel does seem to add to my anxiety. Everything from making sure I have packed everything we need, to staying safe. It is very stressful!

  3. These are such great suggestions for managing traveling anxiety! My personal favorite is be in charge of planning and bringing a distraction. Thanks for the insight!

    1. I’m usually fine once I’m through security lol. Who knows the next time I’ll fly after all this? Crazy times. Thanks for reading!

  4. My biggest anxiety usually comes from worrying about missing our flight. I’m always so nervous when we leave our house. When we get to the airport I feel a little better. After we get through security, I feel my anxiety lighten up even more. When we get to the gate, I’m totally fine. I’ve tried leaving earlier and earlier, but it still hasn’t helped ease my anxiety. I’ve just learned to deal with it.

    1. Mine is being in the car and not having access to a bathroom 🙁 It’s so hard. Take care of yourself, and thanks for reading!

  5. I suffer from anxiety and traveling for me is probably the worse experience. You are completely right, getting in charge of organizing and taking something distracting like Nintendo is really helpful, for me at least. I really love all your advices. Thanks for sharing your story and these tips.

    1. No problem! I’m sorry you deal with travel anxiety too, but glad you found the advice helpful. Take care, and thanks for reading!

  6. I almost want to say that this was the first time that I did not have much anxiety, but yet I had to do the most work. I do like being in control and when I am not it is over.

    1. Well at least you’ve identified something you need to feel better. My husband knows on a road trip I’m gonna ask him our ETA about a billion times. LOL. Thanks for reading!

  7. I travelled abroad for the first time last year and was too excited to be anxious. Afterwards, I travelled alone to see my aunt and was worried that I could not do it, that I would get lost, so I can relate to anxiety about a trip!

    Bringing a book and flipping through magazines helped me in the airport and remembering to take it one step at a time was also a big help in catching all my connecting flights!
    Thanks so much for sharing this.

    1. No problem! I definitely have to break things down into steps. (Next we’re going to do this at this time… etc) Glad you liked the post. Thanks for reading!

  8. I hope these tools will help people enjoy traveling. I sometimes get anxious thinking about flying, so I’ll have to review these before my next big trip. (Not sure when that will be.)

  9. I can definitely relate! I have anxiety in cars whenever I’m not driving and always feel like I need to remain vigilant. When traveling, what really gets me is flying over the ocean. I’m perfectly fine over land and can even sleep during that time, but if I know we’re over water I’m in panic mode and can’t relax. Distractions are necessary to try to keep it at bay. I loveee traveling though but that dread of being over the ocean is always there. Thanks for sharing!

    1. Yeah I don’t like flying over water either. My husband and I are planning my dream trip to London in a couple years, and we live in Chicago so… yeah. I’m gonna need heavy drugs LOL. Thanks for reading!

    1. I am the same! It’s such a weird mental battlefield. I’m glad you could relate to it so much. Thanks for reading!

  10. Pingback: Managing Anxiety: A New Journey For Me - Diffusing the Tension

  11. I can can understand your anxiety because I suffer from anxiety/panic attack too. Mine don’t concern traveling but other things. These are incredible tips.

  12. Sometimes every step out the door can be a cause of anxiety. So I try to coach myself and to be prepared for those eventualities that can cause me problems by having a well-organized purse for “contingencies”. It”s an odd question (sorry), but was wondering, but for such car ride situations, would it help you to use one of these products used by people with problems of incontinence. Because then you tell yourself that even in a “worst case” scenario you’d be covered…?

  13. ashleydenise05

    When we take long car rides, I surprise my kids every hour with a new activity or toy. (Not necessarily new, but something unexpected from home) I put each activity in a brown paper bag so they can’t see them and keep them all in a box that I can reach regularly. It’s made car trips so much easier! Now flying will be a whole new world for me… I have plenty of anxiety about that. Thanks for the tips!

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