Hacking Travel Anxiety in 6 Steps!

Let’s be honest – Getting from point A to B when traveling can be stressful.

Whether you’re traveling for the upcoming holidays, for business, or just for fun, many of us experience anxiety on planes, trains, and in automobiles!

So, what can you do to combat it?

1. Breathe!
Deep breathing exercises can be powerful, and they’re literally counterintuitive to our body’s physical reaction to anxiety.

When we’re anxious, we can experience things like increased heart rate, nausea, and shallow breathing. Focusing on deep breathing will counter our physical response to anxiety and help us reset. Breathe in slowly, hold it for 5 seconds, and then breathe out slowly. Repeat.

2. Find “Evidence”
If you have a fear of flying and you’re afraid that the plane will crash, remind yourself of how uncommon this is. The reason we hear about this in the media is because it’s exceptionally rare. The odds are that you’ll arrive at your destination safely every time you travel.

Practice countering any negative thoughts with contrary evidence.

3. Identify Triggers. 
What is it about traveling that is causing you grief?

Is it the turbulence on the plane? Remind yourself that it’s completely normal even though it’s a bit scary. Bring headphones to listen to music or watch a show on your phone.

If you’re like me and you’re anxious about being “stuck” for a long period of time on the plane, or in a car for that matter, remind yourself that it is temporary and focus on imagining yourself having arrived at your destination. Think about the things you’re looking forward to once you’ve arrived.

4. Acknowledge and Interrupt the Anxiety. 
Anxiety can be self-fulfilling.

Identify your feelings, acknowledge that you’re anxious, and remember that it’s normal. Then – Interrupt it. When we focus too much on the physical sensations we’re feeling, we can actually heighten those feelings because we’ve noticed them. Practice saying “I’m feeling anxious right now, and my body is simply responding to that.”

5. Find Support.
If you’re traveling with a partner, friend, or family member, tell them that you’re nervous and could use support. Ask them to do things that might help you (like hold your hand, talk to you, play a game with you, etc). Being open about our feelings helps us create an ally on our journey.

And if you’re alone? Tell your seat mate. You’d be surprised to hear how many times I’ve turned to a stranger and told them I’m an anxious traveler, only to hear “me, too.”

6. Plan Ahead.
Planning ahead can greatly help alleviate anxiety so that you know what to expect.

If you’re able to, pick the seat on the plane in advance that will make you feel best. Bring any medications that you might need, if you happen to take them for travel. Plan to bring anything that comforts you (i.e. Headphones, a blanket, snacks).