The kids may be back in school but September still remains a very popular month to take a holiday abroad. After all, if the summer did not exactly deliver a good deal of sunshine, no one would blame you for wanting a last dose of vitamin D before the winter arrives. While the theory goes that travelling should be an enjoyable and exciting experience, it can also be a huge source of anxiety. Whether it is negotiating frustrating security lines at the airport, overcoming language barriers or worrying about keeping your kids entertained on a long flight, there is an almost endless list of things that can cause stress and anxiety both before and during your trip. If the mere thought of your next travel adventure is causing you panic, here are six handy tips that should help reduce your anxiety and ensure your holiday goes as smoothly as possible.
Identify the cause of your anxiety and take practical steps to overcome it
It is a good idea to think about the cause of your travel anxiety so that you can take some steps to overcome it or at least try to understand it. For example, you might have a medical condition or disability and are worried about getting ill when you are so far away from home. If so, taking out medical travel insurance as soon as you book your trip will help you relax safe in the knowledge that your condition is covered should you become ill whilst you are away. Also if you are an EU citizen and travelling to any of the EU states, don’t forget to bring your European Health Insurance Card (EHIC) with you. This card lets you get healthcare in another EU or European Economic Area (EEA) state for free, or at a reduced cost.
Research your destination before you go
Many people have a fear of the unknown, which is understandable, so it definitely helps to plan your trip beforehand and think about some practical travel logistics. Spend some time researching your destination online and note the best methods of transportation in the local area, the location of any attractions you plan to visit and read restaurant reviews to get a feel for where you would like to dine. You will also want to note down practical information such as the local emergency number, the location of the local consulate and some basic phrases in the local language. A travel planning app such as TripIt can really help plan out your whole itinerary whilst also being user friendly.
Take steps to reduce airport stress
Negotiating the airport is often one of the most stressful parts of any trip and can cause a huge amount of stress and anxiety. The airport can be vast, loud, packed full of people and quite disorientating. With this in mind, it is definitely worth planning in advance to help ensure a stress-free start to your holiday. For example, always book your airport parking well in advance of your trip and check-in online before leaving the house so that you have one less thing to do when you arrive. If you want to avoid the long queues for security, it is often well worth paying a little extra for the fast-track lane. Also if you do require assistance getting too and from the departure/arrival gate, most airports offer a special disability service that can bring you directly to and from the gate. Also contact your airline to arrange a wheelchair etc to and from the plane. I find arranging all of this well in advance helps the airport staff better assist you and it also takes one less worry off your mind.
Don’t leave the packing until the last minute
There are two types of holiday makers, the one who packs weeks in advance and the one who leaves everything to the last minute. So if the thought of packing for your trip is stressing you out, the best advice is to just get it done and out of the way. In addition, try not to worry too much about forgetting something important. Unless you are travelling to an extremely remote destination, the chances are you can simply buy anything you leave behind when you get there. Do not overpack as anything can more or less be washed by hand in the sink and be practical especially when it comes to packing footwear. Yes the strappy heels are very pretty but are not exactly practical for exploring a city or hiking up a mountain. Although if you can do these things in heels then major kudos to you! The most important items to carry on you are medication, money/credit cards, holiday insurance details, travel documentation, passport, an adapter, your phone and a charger. Also if you require immunizations prior to your trip abroad, organise this well in advance so your body has time to build up its immunity. Some vaccinations like Hepatitis B requires a course of three injections spread out over three months. For more information contact your local GP or tropical bureau.
Overcome your fear of flying
If like many people out there, you have a fear of flying, there are a few practical steps that can be undertaken to help reduce those anxiety’s. To begin with, spend a little time learning about how aeroplanes actually work and familiarise yourself with normal aeroplane noises such as the landing gear engaging/disengaging, the engines starting up, and the flaps on the wings moving etc. In addition, remember that flight attendants are used to dealing with nervous flyers, so it is worth letting them know about your anxiety when you board the plane. A lot of anxiety is caused by feeling like you have a lack of control whilst in the air but trust in your pilot and crew as they want you to have a safe and pleasant flight. They are fully competent in what they do and would not board the plane if they thought it was unsafe. Turbulence although unsettling at times, is a natural part of air travel and is nothing to fear. If you are really serious about conquering your fear of flying, airlines such as British Airways offer specialist courses for nervous flyers that are specifically focused on explaining all aspects of air travel, how the plane works whilst also calming fears and anxieties associated with flying. It is a form of exposure therapy to give you back some control whilst travelling by air.
Take time to look after yourself
The easiest and most important step is to look after yourself, both physically and mentally. Simple things like eating healthy, staying hydrated and getting enough sleep can help keep your anxiety levels in control. A lack of sleep can be a major trigger for people who already suffer from anxiety. Going on holidays is an exciting experience and you may want to pack as much as you can into each day but this can easily lead to burnout. After all you do want to return from your holiday feeling relaxed and refreshed. Plan your days accordingly and don’t forget to incorporate rest breaks. Most importantly don’t forget to eat often and drink plenty of water. Finally, learn to accept your anxiety and keep in mind that it is okay to feel anxious. If you find things a bit overwhelming practice your breathing and distraction techniques. Now go take in the sites and sounds and live in the moment. Enjoy your trip!