I was initially going to write this post before I left on my vacation, but you probably guessed, I got anxious just thinking about this topic. I used to not be able to sleep for days before a trip due to anxiety. I do enjoy travelling, but I hated the anxiety that came with it. My sister and I were talking about how it would be great to just snap our fingers and end up somewhere else in the world. It would be great not to be anxious about forgetting to pack my passport or more important, my anxiety medication. Furthermore, I find sitting for hours on a plane with my own thoughts very anxiety-inducing. I try to distract myself with reading magazines and watching videos, but not being able to walk around freely and do whatever I want felt very restricting. So what has helped me battle travel anxiety?
Plan, But Don’t Over Plan
As someone with anxiety, I tend to over plan many things. For example, if I have an oral presentation, even if it is a few lines, I will practice it hundreds of times. Instead of writing notes, I will also write down every word I will say on an index card, so that I won’t make a mistake. Of course, I think if you are travelling to a new place, it is nice to have a general idea of places you want to go and learn how to roughly use their transportation systems. However, I find if I over plan, I get even more anxious. It makes me feel like I have this schedule that I have to follow and that there isn’t any wriggle room for maybe days I just feel a bit overwhelmed and want to take a break. I find that having a more flexible plan also allows me to condition myself and practice dealing with random and sudden situations during my vacation.
Go With Someone Who Understands Your Mental Illness
Hiding my mental illness is one of the most difficult, if not shameful things, I have had to do over the years. More often than not, there is no choice but to tell someone after a while. I think this will happen especially during a trip because going to a new place will inevitably elevate a person’s anxiety. It may seem like a crutch to depend on someone who knows how to deal with your anxiety on a trip. However, I just don’t find going on a trip to be the best place to test the limits of how you deal with your anxiety. I would like to think going on a vacation should be a fun experience. I went on this trip with my sister and I felt so much more relaxed because I knew I could tell her when I was having a bit of anxiety and what I needed.
Attempt to Go With the Flow
I know, I know. This is way easier said then done. However, going on a trip is the best time to practice this a little bit. Even if you booked everything and planned out all your travel routes, everyone gets lost on trips and things never quite completely turn out as you planned. I think it is better to go into a trip with the mentality that things will not always go according to plan. Of course, this will not always work. Yet, I find that if I go in expecting uncertainly then when it happens, I find I am more prepared to deal with it. Moreover, it is good to have game plan prepared for dealing with this uncertainty. That way, you can pull it out and run through it when you need to. For me, I usually tell myself to just stop and take a breath and then try to breakdown the options.
What are your tips for travelling with an anxiety disorder?