Some people live to fly the friendly skies. Others prefer their feet flat on the ground. If you fall into the latter camp but have an upcoming trip, you might have a bad case of nerves.
What can you do if the thought of climbing aboard leaves you shuddering? Here are five tips to ease travel anxiety and make your trip smooth sailing.
1. Recognize Your Triggers
Maybe it’s not a fear of flying that has you down but the people you’re going to see. For example, reuniting with toxic family members might not be your idea of a vacation, but it could represent a vital step in healing. It also calms the waters to appear at funerals and weddings, even if you don’t normally have a close relationship.
How can you keep from backsliding into old behavioral patterns when surrounded by the very people and places that actively encourage them? Plan to keep your wits about you. For example, alcohol can cause anxiety well into the next day, and even caffeine can trigger maladaptive thoughts — sometimes leading to actions.
Resolve to stay sober, or only take medications prescribed by your doctor. Having a clear head frees you to focus on the more pleasant parts of your journey and mindfully enjoy each moment of them instead of numbing yourself to shut out the pain of dealing with toxic loved ones.
2. Focus on the Fun
It’s always smart to focus on the bright side of life. However, evolution wired humans to pay more attention to the negative. Otherwise, ignoring that hungry tiger lurking in the bushes could prove fatal.
Here’s where your higher mind has to take your little primitive brain by the hand like a child and guide it to the bright spots along your journey. Even if you’re in London on business, why not take a few hours to play tourist, photographing Big Ben and observing the changing of the guard at Buckingham Palace? Plan some fun amid your to-do list and focus your mental energy on those experiences instead of bemoaning long airport security lines.
Travel always brings the opportunity for some adventure, regardless of your mission’s purpose. Find it.
3. Practice Mindfulness Exercises
Panic often strikes when fears of an uncertain future spiral out of control. It’s as if your neurons become psychotic squirrels, dashing about in a panic to store a full winter’s worth of nuts in one afternoon.
Bring yourself back to the present by practicing mindfulness exercises. For example, performing a body scan can help you tune into the physiological signs of panic like a racing heartbeat and work to control them by slowing your breathing. Even coloring a picture can take your mind out of the future and into the present moment.
4. Bring — or Phone — a Friend
Sometimes, you need moral support. If possible, bring a friend along when you travel. If your trip is for work, perhaps you and your office BFF can volunteer to share a room if the budget requires doubling up on lodging.
Likewise, it’s wise to have a check-in person when traveling overseas solo. If you don’t call at your appointed time, they know to contact the local authorities to get you any help you may need.
5. Talk to Your Doctor
There’s no shame in mentioning your travel anxiety to your doctor. Certain medications may help ease your fears.
For example, many physicians now refrain from prescribing benzodiazepines because of the addiction risk. However, a two-pill dose can help with your fear of flying as you get to and from your destination. A holistic practitioner can also recommend natural techniques for easing your panic on the road.
Travel Without Fear
Many people adore travel, but others have understandable anxiety. If you fall into the latter camp, you might feel dismayed if you have to take a trek for work or family purposes.
However, the right approach can help you avoid panic. Follow the five tips above to ease your travel anxiety.