With more than 650 million vacation days wasted by Americans every year, there are lots of excuses for why people never take vacations. One of the most common reasons is travel anxiety that makes going out of town a nightmare for people who have panic attacks or anxiety. If you’re at risk of having one during your next trip out of town, you need to follow a few simple tips to ensure you mitigate it.
Here are five tips to ensure you minimize the likelihood of an anxiety attack during your trip.
1. Pack Your Medication
If you have clinically diagnosed anxiety, you need to take the time to prepare yourself before you travel. No matter how old you are or how routine your anxiety is, it’s still possible to forget to pack your medication or to refill your prescription. Waiting until the last minute to do this is a great way to trigger anxiety, so take some time to prepare in advance.
If you think you might run out of meds soon, contact your doctor ASAP. Ensure you’ve got enough. See if your doctor can call to the place you’re arriving and have a pharmacy there give you what you’re looking for.
Pack far in advance of your trip so that you make sure you have everything you need. Waiting until the last minute starts your trip off in an anxious and unstable place, the last thing you need when you suffer anxiety. Packing early means that you can also put a little bit of medication aside in your baggage now, so you don’t have to think about it later.
2. Prepare For Triggers
While you might not have all of your triggers under control all of the time, you have a good sense of what they are. If you’re triggered when you see the security at TSA because a hassle will make you uncomfortable, come to terms with it now. If you’d be triggered over a gate change at the last minute because you might miss your flight, think it through now.
There are moments that have triggered your anxiety that stick in your mind for a long time. Pretty much any incident that you can recall off the top of your head is probably a trigger. The reason it sticks with you is that it was so uncomfortable and if someone like that happens again, you’ll snap right back to that place.
Instead of waiting for it to happen and snapping into your anxious place, try to imagine everything happening right now. Talk yourself through the experience and let yourself know you’ll survive. While someone else could tell you, sometimes you need to tell yourself.
If you’re traveling with kids, watch for signs of anxiety in teens while managing your own.
3. Bring Comfort Media
Everyone has media that makes them more comfortable. Whether it’s a familiar book, comic, music, or a movie, there’s something that really takes the pressure off when you’re stressed out. Make sure you have that on deck, ready to deploy in a moment’s notice.
While you might not be able to smoothly pop in your earphones when you’re arguing with a ticketing agent over something frustrating, you’ll know it’s there. As soon as the ordeal is over, you’ll be able to sit back down and fall into the comfort of something you know and love.
The right media makes the time pass by faster as well. Your trip will be a breeze when you’ve caught up on your favorite show or listened to your favorite old Motown album.
4. Dress Appropriately
One of the things about clothing is that it really dictates how you move through the world. You need to be dressed to prepare yourself for anxiety if it hits while traveling. Everyone has their own thing, but make sure you know your own thing well.
For some people, baggy sweatpants and a comfy sweatshirt make them feel safe when they’re traveling. For other people, anxiety makes them self-conscious about the way they’re dressed. Some people dress up so as to stave off anxiety a little bit. If a shirt and tie are what it takes to make you feel secure, go that route.
Whatever you’re wearing is going to provide the groundwork for your mood so make sure to choose wisely. On a long flight, the wrong outfit is going to cause you more stress than you’d imagine.
5. Plan Your Itinerary
One of the best ways to fight anxiety is to have a plan. When you know where you’re going, how you’re getting there, how long it’ll take, and what time you should be there, and where, you’ll feel safer. While showing up in a new place as a total stranger has it’s own appeal, it’s not for everyone.
People with anxiety like to have a little bit of structure to ensure that if an attack comes on, they know what to do and where to go. Researching your itinerary in advance ensures that you’ll be prepared in case of anxiety. Figure out which neighborhoods are best for getting lost in and which are a little more treacherous in advance.
Make a note of when the things you want to see are open. If you arrive too early and travel all the way there, you’ll be stranded and frustrated.
You also need to know how to get around the place where you’re visiting. If you don’t know the ticketing system or how to get a subway pass, see what you can find online in advance.
Travel Anxiety Can Be Managed
Travel anxiety is a special type of anxiety triggered by all of the potential mishaps that can go wrong when going on a trip. If you have this particular type of anxiety, you need to defeat it if you ever want to get out of town again.
If you’re traveling on a budget, check out our latest guide for some money saving tips.