A major obstacle for people who want to travel is travel anxiety. This article will explain exactly what this looks like, and ways for you to overcome it.
Travel anxiety is the onset of anxiety, a feeling of intense and overwhelming worry, distress, or fear because of the stress of travel. According to the International Association for Medical Assistance to Travelers (IAMAT), even people without any history of anxiety can develop symptoms of anxiety during travel.
Scientists say that there is a “new wave” of travel anxiety all around the world in the wake of the pandemic. This means that even though in most places travel restrictions have been lifted, many people cannot travel — or can only do so under a lot of stress.
Not knowing where the anxiety comes from can intensify it. It is therefore important to know how to manage and understand your anxiety while traveling — whether you’ve only had it since Covid, or before. Read on to see how to recognize your travel anxiety and overcome it.
Causes of Travel Anxiety
Whether it is wayfinding, buying tickets, or security checks, there is no specific cause for travel anxiety. Those with anxiety are more prone to experience it, but people without anxiety are susceptible as well. According to research from the City University of Macau, the constant exposure to the COVID-19 outbreak increased travel anxiety. Some other causes include:
- Fear of flying
- Worry and stress about arrival
- Leaving a loved one
- Traveling alone
- General anxiety
Travel Anxiety Symptoms
The symptoms of travel anxiety can differ from person to person, but they look like the symptoms of other anxieties. According to the Mayo Clinic, some symptoms of travel anxiety are:
- Experiencing gastrointestinal problems
- Sweating or trembling
- Impending sense of danger, panic, or doom
- Difficulty controlling worry
- Nervousness and restless
- Increased heart rate
- Panic attack
For some, the symptoms include the ones above along with some tunnel vision and some disassociation. In one instance, people can miss flights because of anxiety; in order to avoid problems for your journey and health, here is how to overcome your travel anxiety.
How to Overcome Travel Anxiety
It is important to manage your anxiety about travel. The IAMAT recommends planning ahead: bring calming items like a book or journal, participate in activities like meditation, yoga, running, consider traveling with a close friend or relative, and recognize stress factors and avoid them. Planning ahead can help you reduce your anxiety.
Distraction tactics are most effective in travel anxiety. Here are some simple things you can try to relieve your anxiety:
- Breath in through the nose, and sigh out the mouth. Do this, focusing on your breathing, until your breathing finds its normal pace.
- Tap your thumb against every finger on its hand, and back. Do this slowly and until you feel more relaxed.
- Repeat a mantra to yourself: a good distraction is to affirm to yourself that you are experiencing anxiety and that everything will be ok.
- Tell someone: tell a steward or fellow traveler about your anxiety, and they will often be prepared to make sure you feel safe.
Foods That Relieve Travel Anxiety
According to Harvard Health, food naturally rich in magnesium may help a person feel calmer. Some magnesium-rich foods you should consider bringing to snack on are:
- Leafy greens: spinach or swiss chard
- Whole grains
- Calming Tea
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