Is it a first world problem or is it me? I love travelling – the whole experience, planning, packing, preparing etc. It’s a wonderful experience the whole lot. However I struggle with knots in my stomach and wild birds flapping in my chest (exaggeration… I think not!); just before heading off onto a trip/holiday/vacation overseas.
This year around the anxiety was much more intense than previous years. I believe it was due to me procrastinating, coupled with recent life changes and health concerns. Also wanting this trip to be ‘perfect’ also contributed to the anxiety. What is ‘perfect’ anyway?!
I tried to ignore the feelings and thoughts, which just prolonged the discomfort and misery. So, after stewing in my stew I had no choice but to do something. So first things first – I had to look at the anxiety and see what was actually underneath. Journaling has always been a helpful tool to see whats going on in my head – I didn’t want to but I did. Interesting how the thing I resist the most is what is best for me! What was contributing to the anxiety was worrying about the future – which I have zero control over. What I could do practically was take it a day at a time. Every-time I experienced anxiety about the trip, I acknowledge it and then I completed research (Google – lol) on how to best support myself – like a sane person.
Which brings me to acceptance – acceptance of the feelings and it’s totally okay. This was all fair and fine but I had to release the ‘feelings’ somehow cue mediation. I would meditate anytime I felt overwhelmed. I love the Insight timer app – its free and has many guided meditations, that are actually helpful. It’s all lovely to do these self care acts BUT I had to get my A into gear and just get to packing!
Being concerned about forgetting things I made lists on what I needed and lists on what not to forget plus several reminders on my phone!
What was also important was keeping my routine of exercise – I hate doing it but feel so much better afterwards. I still struggle with exercise but it has done wonders for my mental health. Plus I had no choice but to get out there and get moving.
The anxiety did decrease considerably eventually as I had to engage in self care several times throughout the following days before the big trip (I plan on doing the same things whilst on holiday as the feelings come and go). Also remembering that it’s totally normal and the anxiety is not going to kill me. I just need to acknowledge my feelings and take action by looking after myself – despite how I feel. At the end of the day feelings come and go I can’t let them dictate my actions or rob me of experiences!
Oh yes definitely I get travel anxiety, even after 30 years of trips.
I figure it’s my subconscious trying to protect me cause travel is a bit of a risky business. It has a range of ways it does this.
The first is a feeling a bit like an omen – I know that this time, something bad’s going to happen. Of course these things never happen – the only time anything did was when we were delayed because of the Iceland volcano. Yep, no dreams or omens of that!
It also tells me that no, really, I don’t want to go – going all the way to Italy to see the Colosseum is just such a hassle and a waste of money. I can stay home and think of how much more I’ll have to save!
It also gives me travel dreams, where I’ve forgotten my camera or money or have accidentally taken the cat with me.
It’s got to the stage now that I don’t pay much attention to all of that – I know that it’s not real and I expect it to happen and just manage to observe it rather than getting swept away with it.
I do my own coping things, like having a packing list I can just tick off, starting to pack a week before, making sure I’ve got the cleaning done well before the day we leave and having a comprehensive itinerary that I can just follow if my brain has switched off. I also try to reframe it as excitement which is much more fun!
It’s good that you can recognise and face your fear. Some people don’t and end up having a horrible holiday getting angry at everything and everyone – I saw one guy fighting with his new bride coming out of customs in Bali and I immediately thought ‘Travel anxiety!’ I don’t think he would have appreciated me pointing it out though.
So you are definitely not alone – and neither am I!
Thanks for that! Its good to be re-assured thats its a real. The feelings are real, but it is what I do about them that is important. If I know what I am feeling I am better able to find tools to help me through it.