Summer is upon us and for many this means it is a time for travel. Whether its a trip with family, friends, a significant other, or a solo trip to overnight summer camp, going away can bring forth a variety of anxiety-laced thoughts and feelings. Often this anxiety stems from trying to accept the unknown and letting go of control. It can be as simple as being in a new setting, an unfamiliar climate, getting on a plane, or not having the comfort of your bed at home. For others it is about the possibility of something going wrong (like losing your luggage) getting lost, or feeling unsafe.
While some travel anxiety is unavoidable (and helpful), there are a few things you can do to retain some control and reduce travel anxiety.
Prepare. For many of us planning, organizing and seeking predictability can help ease tension. Whether this means generating a simple packing list, researching and booking everything in advance, or bringing your favorite comforts from home, preparation helps us to focus on what we can control instead of what we do not have power over.
Appraise Adaptively. Some of us only recognize anxiety at a physiological level. This might be that lump in your throat or the butterflies in your stomach. Sometimes we are actually misinterpreting our body signals. In fact, the physiological reactions we attribute to stress are not unlike those we experiencing during excitement. Interpreting our bodily sensations as a sign of positive anticipation can help us perceive things in a more optimistic manner. Try not to presume that a physiological feature is reflective of worry, instead ask yourself what you are excited about regarding the trip ahead.
Normalize. It is also reasonable to recognize and acknowledge that feeling a bit nervous is normal, no matter how many times we have gone away before. If travelling with someone else, it can help to let them know your worries. Often talking openly about your fears gives your travel buddy an opportunity to help you put things in perspective and put you more at ease.
Positive self talk. Don’t catastrophize, rather remind yourself of previous travel successes and use positive self talk to reassure yourself that the anxiety is just temporary is usually very comforting. When you find yourself going towards the negative, try to identify how you would resolve these situations, rather than locking your thoughts into the idea that failure is inevitable.
Finally, recognize that travel anxiety is usually short lived. How many times have you had these feelings before and things were fine once you got started. Travel is an opportunity to relax, but also evolve. Some of our best travel stories tend to reflect unexpected challenges that we overcame. Ask yourself how this trip may allow you to evolve and have a fantastic voyage.
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Jessica is a member of the clinical wellness and learning support team at FLEX Psychology. Jessica started Wellness Wednesday out of a desire to provide further opportunities for her clients to extend their wellness journey to all avenues of their life. You can learn more about Jessica by clicking here or by learning more about her and the clinical team at FLEX Psychology by clicking here.