Travelling with Anxiety

Travelling is one of my biggest passions, however anxiety has got in the way of this for so many years. Up until recently I was petrified of experiencing new things, a different country and new surroundings. Although I loved the idea of it, I couldn’t mentally come to terms with how I could go travelling with anxiety.
It took me a lot of courage, meditation and positive thinking, along with encouragement from those I travelled with to chip away at travel anxiety. After those life-changing experiences, I started to become more confident that I discussed with bloggers and friends about how I’d like to share my experience of travelling with anxiety.

For some, travelling by plane can be a breeze but if you’re anything like me you’ll have that gut feeling of sickness and anxiety.  It can start anything from a week before flying up to the moment I step foot on the plane.
Over the last year I’ve flown more than I have the rest of my life and so trying to perfect or even just improve my wellness slightly before travelling is oh-so-important. So how have I began to deal with travelling, particularly by plane?

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At Home

Get your bags together

Preparation is key. I like to have everything in order and give myself plenty of time to think about other things before I travel. Yes, this sounds boring but it takes a weight off my mind knowing I have everything ready. If you’re forgetful, there are plenty of apps out there that act as a checklist for packing and planning trips. If in doubt of anything such as baggage size or weight and restrictions on what you can take in your hand-luggage, always check the Airlines website!
More packing tips can be found on my Hand-luggage Tips and Packing Light post.

Passport and Documents

Nothing is worse than getting to the night before take-off and you can’t locate your passport. Find your passport and other travel documents needed and get yourself a bright, personal Travel Wallet. They are so handy for keeping important items together. It can be slipped into an inside pocket of your hand-luggage for safe-keeping and easy access.
It’s also a great idea to check-in online, this will save you plenty of time, avoiding queues at the airport too. If needed print your boarding pass, or take a screenshot of your Mobile Boarding Pass. I always print 2 copies of my boarding pass (because you never know when you may lose one). I then send the screenshots to myself via email and to my travel partner as back-ups.

Plan your journey

Find things that will distract or relax you during your flight. For me, I like to buy a new Sudoku book, download a couple of new apps that can be worked in Flight Mode and more importantly make sure I’ve got a good playlist sorted on Spotify that’s Offline also. Perhaps you like to read, why not download an audio-book if you don’t enjoy reading when you travel. Not forgetting headphones, of course.
Make a folder on your phone’s Homescreen containing all travel related apps and media you’ve just downloaded.

Get a Good Nights Sleep

Yes, the excitement may get to you the night before your flight, knowing you’ll soon be in another country and exploring. However, getting a full nights sleep is so important before a flight, especially if you’re travelling with anxiety. Take a day off before your flight to make sure your bags are ready, etc. Run yourself a bubblebath and have a mini pamper session, light some candles and read a book or pop on a movie! Makes the most of a quiet evening to relax!

At The Airport

Skip the Queues

To reduce stress and anxiousness even more, avoid the queues and book Priority Boarding or Express Security. It’s pretty self explanatory really, you can book online when booking flights or if you forget you can do it at the airport on the day, though this can often cost a bit more. Prices vary depending on who you fly with and which airport but it’s totally worth it to get on board the plane first and settle in before everyone else!

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Relax in a Lounge

In 2011, my boyfriend of the time took me to New York. Although this was before I had been diagnosed with anxiety, he knew I didn’t cope well with large crowds in indoor spaces. So he treated us to access to an exclusive lounge at the airport.  Since then, I’ve been hooked and believe me when I say this is the best way to start a holiday, especially if you’re travelling with anxiety.
If you feel uncomfortable, restless and in need of some quiet time when waiting for your flight, a lounge is perfect for you.

On my recent trip to Prague, I booked in to Executive Lounges AspirePlus Lounge at Bristol Airport. It was my first time in an AspirePlus Lounge and on arrival I felt like an A-lister being escorted to my preferred seat, handed a glass of bubbly and given a lunch menu.

Executive Lounges are accessible to anyone regardless of airline. However, AspirePlus lounges are only accessible for adults – this is a serious perk if you’re looking for some blissful waiting time! You also get access to the lounge three hours before your flight. So we made the most of this and arrived early!

From £18.99, enjoy unlimited drinks such as tea, coffee, soft drinks and selected alcoholic drinks. A wide range of foods and snacks from hot breakfast to fresh pastries and delicious bento boxes for lunch!
The perks don’t stop at the food, sit back and relax with comfortable sofas, magazines and newspapers and TV. You can also stay connected with Loungers-only secure WiFi connection (trust me, there was no lagging when connected) and there are even charging facilities for smartphones, laptops and more.

Whatsmore is the LoungeMiles with Executive Lounge loyalty scheme – Every time you visit an Aspire or Swissport lounge, earn a stamp. Collect 5 stamps and receive a free visit to your next lounge. I’ve already got checking-in to an Executive Lounge on my list for my next flight!

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On The Flight

Take Control and Get Comfortable

For me, it’s so important to get the right seat in a good location on the plane. I like to be either over the wing or towards the front and I prefer a window or isle seat. Strictly no central seats, I don’t like to be locked in by others’. On my last long-haul flight I discovered that the seats located behind upper class or toilets/staff caddy area to be amazing simply because there are no seats in front of you so you have a lovely bit of leg room!

Make travelling with anxiety easy

We touched earlier about planning your journey – so get those distractions out. Make travelling with anxiety easy to digest. Whether it’s a Sudoku book like myself or you put on your headphones and listen to your favourite playlist. Make the most of those in-flight movies or simply pop an eye-mask on and relax. Find the best way that’s going to keep you distracted and relaxed during your flight. If you’re still struggling to settle down, the next point will be for you…

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Linked to distraction, I found an incredible app – Headspace. A 10 minute-a-day 10 step meditating app to help clear the mind, focus on steady breathing and ensure mindfulness. Pop your headphones in and find your quiet place. There are even one-off meditation series’ (these can be 2 minutes to 60 minutes!) including Fear of Flying, I’ve not tried this yet but I’ll be sure to when I do a full review of the app!

Stay Healthy

There are various ways you can stay healthy during your flight, I often tend to forget how important it is.
It’s really important to stay hydrated when you’re on a flight. Pack an empty water bottle to fill once you’ve been through security or purchase a couple of bottles for a long-haul flight. Wash hands thoroughly and use hand sanitiser to reduce spreading bacteria.
It’s also really important to circulate blood flow to prevent blood clots, this isn’t just an ederley persons problem. Nope, women taking the pill can often suffer from blood clots. So do some regular laps of the plane aisles if you can, even just walking to the toilet and back is fine! And finally, make sure you’re eating something nourishing – buy some fruit before you board or various healthy snacks!

Let Someone Know

It’s always good to make others’ around you aware that you suffer from anxiety – Flight attendants can be so supportive as they assist in situations with passengers on a regular basis! Attendants will go out of their way to ensure you’re comfortable so asks for a blanket, an extra bottle of water or to change seats!

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On Holiday

Make a routine

I like to plan before I go abroad, however you never know when a bad moment may spring upon you. With that in mind I try not to book too much in advance unless it’s a must. Or an exclusive event that I know will sell out.
It can be difficult to have routine when travelling with anxiety. My main routine starts with my meals and the most important and positive influence on your day is breakfast! Waking at a reasonable hour and having a nourishing meal is just what your brain needs to start the day. Follow that with scheduling other meals throughout the day and that way you can have a little ease knowing you can plan your day around those meals. It really does take a weight off.

Step out of your comfort zone

Once you’ve got some sort of routine in tact, you can plan your excursions during your holiday. They can either be sticking to familiar situations such as visiting tourist sites and tours; Or you could go out of your comfort zone and try something new.
I recently tried canoeing. A completely new experience to me on a tour which offered either a boat ride the a guide or canoeing in pairs. It was then I realised, I’m in control of this experience. This possibly once-in-a-lifetime experience, so I did it. I was scared. I was shaking. But once I had the life-jacket on and sat in the canoe, I felt so confident. So in control of my life, I could have cried!

So remember it’s entirely up to you and you can say No at any point when travelling, be comfortable on holiday. The last thing you want is to cause a great deal of stress on your body. But don’t be afraid to try something new, because you never know you might just love it!

Avoid triggers

By all mean, step out your comfort zone but if you know something is going to be a trigger, then it’s fine to avoid it. On my first travels I avoided eating in especially busy establishments and chose to spend a bit more time scoping the area for quiet eateries. At the time I thought it was a waste and hassle for those around me, but looking back now, I knew it was best and if I’d gone out of my way to impress others’ then it may have ruined the entire holiday.

Go at your own pace

The most important thing to remember is to go at your own pace. Yes, you may be on holiday with others’ but your health is so important, don’t let anyone else control that.

Do you suffer with travel anxiety or travelling with anxiety? Let me know if you found this post helpful 🙂

Disclaimer: This post is as an entry for GoEuro’s #travellessons 

I was invited to review AspirePlus Lounge at Bristol Airport in exchange for this write-up. All words and overall opinions are my own.
  • Great post! I always get really anxious taking off or during turbulence.

  • Brilliant post, I love travelling but it does set of my anxiety. These are great tips! I’ll definitely be using them in the future.xfjx

  • Great post! I always get terribly nervous before I go go travelling, will definitely be taking these tips with me next time 🙂

    Sophie –

  • This is a brilliant post! I flew to prague last year and it was my first ever flight and I have awful anxiety and ocd so I was terrified! I did it and I’m so proud! I got everything ready three weeks before and had all my comforts around me!

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  • I get really awful flight anxiety, and I use a lot of these coping mechanisms myself. We recently came back from our honeymoon in Thailand (which was amazing) but I did weep in Heathrow on the way out to Thailand because I was so overwhelmed before boarding. x