This article was updated for accuracy and relevance on December 24th, 2021.
Traveling to a location where the sights, scents, and sounds are all completely new is an adventure. Preparing for your travels, however, feels more like a circus show especially when you’re getting your travel toiletry bag organized. Before you get to enjoy all the delights of travel, you first have to juggle the stressors of packing, planning, and pouring over all the details that can lead to pre trip anxiety.
In this guide, we’ll help you tame the lion of travel anxiety or fear of traveling. With a few relaxation tips and tricks, you can make it to your next destination with all the graceful ease of a trapeze artist, even if you are an anxious traveler.
First, What is Travel Anxiety?
If you feel excessive stress, fear or nervousness before embarking on any kind of travel, you might have travel anxiety.
Does this sound like you? Even after you’ve checked to make sure you’ve packed your passport (seven times), you still wake up in a cold sweat the night before your upcoming trip, certain you’ve forgotten it. Or, you might have trouble getting any sleep at all the week before a journey.
The thing is, difficulty sleeping isn’t the only sign of travel anxiety. Other common symptoms of pre travel anxiety may include:
- Shortness of breath
- Chest pain or rapid heart rate
- Decreased focus and concentration
It’s possible you’ve been plagued by travel anxiety for years without realizing it. Or maybe it’s only hitting you now as you embark on some new adventures and go out of your comfort zone.
The next step after recognizing your travel anxiety?
Pinpointing the source of your travel related anxiety and then using specific calming tricks to alleviate the symptoms.
Three Sources of Travel Anxiety
When it comes to traveling, there are three main areas of stress that are typical and widespread. Those include:
Pre-Departure Doom and Gloom – You leave in a week, and you’ve made lists upon lists upon lists. So, why are you still feeling like something is missing? Before you even head to the airport, this is where decision fatigue can settle in. Not only do you have to decide on which flight to take, which seat to grab, where you’re going to stay, and what you’re going to pack, but you have to balance all these responsibilities alongside daily life.
In-Transit Turbulence during Air Travel – Place your seat in the upright position and prepare for takeoff. For a lot of travelers, the idea of sitting in the plane is nerve-wracking. After all, for us non-aeronautical engineers, how the heck is this two-ton metal machine supposed to fly through the air? Take a deep breath; this in-transit turbulence can be a source of travel anxiety you can beat.
- Post-Touchdown Terror – Maybe you read the first two descriptions and couldn’t relate. So, where is your travel anxiety coming from? Remember those new sights, new sounds, and new smells? With this newness comes a sense of being lost and alone. If your stress stems from post-touchdown worst case scenarios, then there are some specific calming tricks for you.
If one of these categories matches your anxiety (or a combination of all three), then good—the first step is identifying where the source of stress is. Let’s talk about specific calming techniques for each situation.
Relaxation Tips For Pre-Departure Doom and Gloom
Taking a two-week vacation should be a breeze, right? Surprisingly, it’s never that simple. And the weeks leading up to your globetrotting adventure are often the most formidable. To that end, here are some relaxation and calming tips if you find yourself stressed before the airport.
Traveling abroad? Research the basics beforehand – If you’re planning on traveling to another country that speaks a different language or has unique cultural norms, then now is the time to prepare yourself emotionally. Learning even a few words of the language you’re about to immerse yourself in is a good start. Also, consider comparing culinary, communication, and clothing norms, too, so you’re not caught off guard by an unfamiliar gesture or embarrassed by any social faux pas.
- Pack like a pro with BÉIS – When the quality of your trip depends on your thoroughness of packing, packing itself can become a major source of stress. What can help with this? Having the right tools. Whether you need a compact bag for a weekend trip, a travel toiletry bag, a dopp kit, or a heavy duty travel luggage set or tote bag for work for a month-long work trip—BÉIS can help you travel in style. We have everything you need to keep your belongings safe, secure, and dry, no matter the destination. If you're wondering, “What is a dopp kit?”, we’ve got you covered. Check out our blog for more information.
- Cue the crew – Especially if you’re traveling alone, be sure to let at least a couple of friends or family members know where you’ll be. Knowing that someone is looking out for you while you travel can be a destressor in and of itself. Additionally, if you’re worried about forgetting an item, ask that friend or family member to come over for coffee and pack with you. You can share a laugh, while ensuring you didn’t miss a single detail
- Treat yourself – When you’re aware of what brings you stress or severe anxiety, you can actively take steps and develop coping skills to combat it. If you’re struggling to shake the nerves, remember that you can pause, step back, and treat yourself to a night of relaxation. Between booking hotels and packing the right amount of underwear, it can be incredibly helpful to treat you rself to a spa day. When at home, order in, turn the heat high on the bath, light a few candles—whatever you need to destress, do it. The to-do list will still be there after you’ve taken a few deep, refreshing breaths.
Relaxation Tips For In-Transit Turbulence
You made it. The packing, the planning, the pouring over details—that’s all in the past. Now it’s time to look ahead to the adventure and learn how to get over travel anxiety. But if the thought of flying over miles of the Atlantic has your nerves frayed, then it’s hard to enjoy the moment. Don't worry, you're not alone! Many people have a specific phobia of turbulence and have trouble staying calm.
When coping with in-transit stress, be sure to employ a few calming tricks and relaxation techniques:
- Books or audiobooks – As long as reading while in motion doesn’t make you queasy, consider bringing along a book for the flight or train. Whether it’s a Spanish phrasebook or the cheesy romance novel you can’t put down, reading is a great way to distract from the hours-long journey ahead. Plus, you’ll get to visit a world outside your own—one that doesn’t take place on a plane.
- Girl, put your records on – Close your eyes and pop on your easy-like-Sunday-morning playlist. Calming tunes or your favorite podcast might help you breathe a little easier en route to your destination. Maybe just skip the true crime shows, for now.
- Three words: The Seatback Organizer – Keep all your essential travel documents and travel necessities within reach with The BÉIS Seatback Organizer. You’ll enjoy the slip pockets on the inside, which keep all your chargers tangle-free and easy-to-locate. No more scrounging through bag after bag to locate your passport.
Relaxation Tips For Post-Touchdown Terror
You can almost taste the tapas now. But perhaps reality has also just set in: you have no clue where you are. Don’t fret just yet. The Mediterranean sunshine is nearly kissing your shoulders. Take these last few tips to the streets to ensure an easier transition post-travel:
- Cue the crew (...again) – You probably recognize this one from the pre-traveling tips. Family and friend support applies here as well! Having loved ones to call upon to help you navigate your new location through Google Maps, or having them to call upon when you’re missing home can make or break a trip. Sometimes, you just need a reminder of love to reorient you to the great adventure that awaits.
- Plan a refresh once you land – We realize this might sound obvious, but you’d be surprised how often this simple suggestion is overlooked. A shower, a nap, and a quick reset once you land at your destination can do wonders for your entire trip. There’s no need to rush into every exciting activity. Remember that traveling is an opportunity—one best enjoyed well-rested and fresh. Ensure you have all your necessities handy with a water-resistant Dopp kit.
- Have a few must-sees, but don’t overbook yourself – Touring a new place can quickly become overwhelming if you have a museum tour booked on one side of town and a dinner scheduled on the other. There will be some must-sees in every city, but don’t forget that flexibility in your schedule can spark spontaneity—who knows where the night will take you!
BÉIS: Turn the Traveling Circus into a Well-Orchestrated Symphony
We hope these travel anxiety tips help you feel a bit more prepared for your next getaway. There’s plenty of exploration left to be done, and vacation anxiety shouldn’t be what’s stopping you from doing it.
From Kyoto to The Bay, there’s no place BÉIS would rather be than by your side as your trusted traveling partner. Let us help you turn the traveling circus into a well-orchestrated symphony with a few traveling accessories.
With BÉIS, you’re always traveling in style.
“Travel and Anxiety.” IAMAT, 11 Dec. 2020, www.iamat.org/travel-and-anxiety.
- Lockett, Eleesha. “How to Overcome Your Travel Anxiety.” Healthline, 30 July 2019, www.healthline.com/health/anxiety/travel-anxiety.