Travelling with Anxiety – Ultimate Guide 2023.

Travelling is an incredible experience. Not only seeing beautiful places, but experiencing new cultures, meeting interesting people and undergoing personal progression. Although the list of positives could continue extensively, my writing will always remain transparent, and it is important to note that travelling does not come without it’s challenges. It can be difficult, it can be uncomfortable and it can be loaded with obstacles to overcome.

If you suffer from anxiety, the idea of these challenges may be intimidating enough to prevent you from experiencing all the world has to offer. But does it have to be that way? Is travelling with anxiety possible?

Travelling with anxiety can look like many things. Just like mental health on the broader spectrum, there is no “normal”, and there is no right or wrong way to think. No matter what the triggers are for your anxiety, there are things that can be done to manage and minimise the response.

Whether you’re solo or a squad, travelling near or far, away for 3 days or 3 years, anxiety can have its limitations. Equipping yourself with the right management tools can help to create the safest and most enjoyable travel experience possible.

Here is some useful tips to manage anxiety, create peace of mind and overall improve your travel experience.

Tips for Travelling with Anxiety.

Don’t overplan

This may seem like a slightly conflicting piece of advice. But overplanning every part of your trip can be more detrimental than helpful when it comes to reducing stress. Having flexibility in your travels can take pressure off meeting expectations and reduce day to day anxiety.

If every day of a trip is planned down to the minute, you don’t allow any flexibility for unexpected circumstances. Which is a sure fire way to trigger anxiety!

Unfortunately, a part of travel is experiencing delays. Delayed flights, transfers, check ins and tours. As well as having run down days, activities you wish you spent more time on or receiving a recommendation from a local on an unmissable spot. All of these things can change travel plans.

If you don’t anticipate any of these things, the whole plan can get ruined with one late flight or one sick day! Leave a few days free, have some flexibility and allow yourself some relax time in the itinerary. Its not easy to have to miss out on an activity because you’re run down or something has run you late. But it is always easy to pick up an extra activity to fill that time in.

Anticipate and accept that it’s likely there will be some delays or issues. You’ll find yourself less anxious if and when they arise.

Avoid Peak Season

Every travel destination has a peak season, more often than not, it’s based around good weather and/or holiday periods. Although for travelling with anxiety it may best be avoided where possible.

Less accommodation options, inflated prices, overbooked tours, longer queues and just generally busier popular areas are all red flags as an anxious traveller.

Instead, travelling during shoulder seasons, just before or after peak season provides similar benefits but at better prices, less busyness and more flexibility in plans.I generally recommend travelling during shoulder season whenever possible anyway, so this advice is even stronger suited to those travelling with anxiety.

An additional note to this is being aware of any cultural or major events that may increase popularity. I recently travelled to Spain during Semana Santa/Holy Week and to Morocco during Ramadan. While both of these experiences were enjoyable and rewarding it can bring the same stress increases that come with peak season.

Read reviews

Reviews are a worried travellers best friend. For good peace of mind and to help choose what option is best suited when you’re uncertain, reviews are always helpful.

The best part, they should always be available for everything you’re planning. Every good platform for booking tours and accommodation is full of reviews and Google contains reviews from everything from restaurants through to bus companies.
It is a bonus of travelling during the online era and definitely advantageous to make the most of.

An extra tip here is to read through the worst reviews by selecting a “lowest first” filter. Not to encourage the negativity, but often the worst 10 reviews of a place say just as much about something as the best 10. For example, if you’re booking accommodation and the lowest reviews are all spoilt travellers complaining that the water pressure isn’t high enough in the shower or the TV doesn’t have enough channels, you know you’re pretty safe to book there. If the lowest reviews are complaining of rude staff and mould in the bathrooms, it raises a few more red flags!

Personally my biggest travel anxiety is based around food safety. So reading reviews was a huge help for me in my recent trips to Egypt and Morrocco where food poisoning can be a common issue for travellers. The peace of mind eating in restaurants with hundreds of Google reviews and no hygiene complaints helped ease my anxiety a lot.

Make use of reviews!!

Keep it slow

Having too much of a fast pace trip and trying to fit in too many locations and activities is a fast way to reach travel burnout. Don’t forget that often travelling takes up full days and is exhausting.

Ending up burnt out and fatigued from a fast paced itinerary will lead to heightened stress and can put a damper on your adventures.

Read here for a full guide : “Avoiding Travel Burnout – Mental Health on the Road”

Instead, be sure to allow travel days just for travelling, keep time for relax days amongst busy ones and don’t plan your trip too fast pace.

Slower travel is an increasing trend and I couldn’t recommend more highly. Utilise more of your time exploring places in depth rather than spending half of your trip curled up in a plane or train seat.

Research the basics

Having a general idea of how things work at your destination. Whether your trip is short or long term, national or international: things run differently across the world and knowing the basics will go a long way to reducing your worries.

A few main things to get yourself up to speed on before you travel:

Transport: Public transport runs differently in different states and countries. Look up on official websites and recent blog posts to find out prices, how to buy tickets, bus/train times etc to save yourself any stress upon arrival. Also familiarise yourself with the preferred Rideshare service at your destination, some countries operate with uber, bolt or other smaller rideshare apps and some still rely on old school taxis.

Currency: If heading to an international destination, be sure to have an idea of the currency conversion. Inform your bank of your travels and try to keep some local currency cash on you at all times.

Cultural norms: Different locations have different laws and social norms. Read up on some “common traveller mistakes” and familiarise yourself with norms around laws, expectations, tip culture, communication and behaviour.

Language: If travelling to a country with a different first language. Try to practice a few basics before you go. Most airports and tourist locations will speak some English anyway But learning yes, no and some basic words can help a lot. A greeting and a thankyou in local language is always appreciated and can go a long way.

Speak to the travel community.

While as a travel writer, this point may sound like its added in for my own best interest, I promise its a beneficial one. Reading other travellers recommendations and experiences helps to give a different perspective and can really put your mind at ease while planning a trip.

The online travel community is massive and there is a plethora of content available for every location and question you may have. If you’re preparing for your location and trip anxiety starts creeping in, make the most of free online resources and put your mind at ease. Blog posts and social media posts outlining best tips to know, unmissable locations, cost guides and any other information you seek are readily available and is another huge benefit of travelling during the online era.

If you’re reading this article, it’s a great start! But don’t just settle for reading content, reach out personally. The online travel community is not only informative, but super friendly. Any good blogger/content creator will be more than happy to answer any questions and help put your mind at ease. So contact directly and ask any questions you need to make your trip planning easier! You can also always reach out to any friends or family members with experience travelling to the locations you’re planning.

I am always available to contact via email and social media linked in my contact page, and absolutely always happy to help in any way I can!

Overbudget

When it comes to travel anxiety, money can be a huge factor! While often travel isn’t as expensive as it seems, having an overestimation of your spending can save you some stress.

Travel can often be met with unexpected circumstances, which can lead to additional expenses. Changed or delayed transport, luggage costs, booking fees, taxes, cancelled tours are all real possibilities to affect your trip. Pretending these potential issues don’t exist or wasting energy stressing about the things that could go wrong aren’t the best ways to manage this. Instead, having a backup fund to prepare for these common issues can go a long way to easing stress.

If you’re expecting the unexpected, and something arises, you will be in a position to deal with it and not as stressed. If you’re prepared and come across no financial obstacles, you’ll end up with a little extra money aside. Win win!

Interact with others 

Networking as much as possible during your travels can help in a variety of ways. Although interaction may sound a little intimidating for anxious travellers and introverts alike, it is definitely worthwhile.

If you’re travelling solo, this tip is especially useful. But can be almost as beneficial if travelling with a partner, friend, family or whoever your travel buddies may be.

Save as many contacts as you can: tour guides, reception workers, wait staff, people staying in your hostel/hotel, transfer drivers. If you run into any kind of issues or have any questions, the more contacts you have in the area the better.

This tip is super helpful if you get anxious about safety while travelling. Because you have someone to call if you get lost, locked out, lose something or any other mishap occurs. Peace of mind is always helpful for travelling with anxiety and having people to contact nearby goes a long way.

As well as being great for safety, these new contacts can also ease your mind on decision making for what you get up to in your time. If there’s an activity, tour, restaurant or anything at all that you are unsure on.. ask! The more opinions you get, the better, and who better than people that are there experiencing the same things at the same time or the people that are familiar with the area.

Join group tours

Group tours are a fantastic way to make your time easier while travelling. If you’re happy to sacrifice some flexibility with timing, committing to a group tour can save a lot of organisational stress.

Timing, transport and guides are all sorted with one simple payment and it saves the effort required of planning each aspect individually.

Online platforms such as getyourguide and TripAdvisor provide efficient search engines to find any kind of tours you’re looking for. Better yet, you can utilise the earlier tip of reading reviews. Read through reviews of other people that have joined the tours in the past to get an idea of if it is right for you.

I often book tours when there is lots of places within close proximity that I would like to visit, places that are difficult to reach via public transport or in countries I’m not quite as familiar or confident in. But they can be booked any time you’re just chasing a well organised day out! Group tours also serve as a great cost effective option and a fantastic way to meet other people.

Keep your loved ones updated

Don’t lose contact with your closer circle! Whether you’re on a local holiday for 6 days or abroad for 6 months, keeping in contact is super important. This is ideal for anyone while away from home, but is especially helpful for an anxious traveller for a few reasons.

Keeping your loved ones updated on your activities is a helpful safety tool to ease worries about anything going wrong. Day to day plans, address of your accommodation and people that you are with is all vital information in case of any emergency.

Additionally to that, regular catch ups with your loved ones is great for regulating mental health. Being away from home can be lonely, staying connected with your support network and having someone to chat to can relieve tension and help you stay less anxious for your travels.

Download relevant apps

There is a vast range of super useful apps that can improve your overall travel experience as well as make many things safer and easier. Having these downloaded on your phone before you hit your location is a great way to be prepared. There is plenty of apps that can make life easier while travelling, but here is a few of the best that are great to have downloaded and ready to go:

-Bolt/Uber/Rideshare app
Getting around somewhere new can be challenging. Uber, Bolt, Lyft and Taxify are a few popular rideshare apps. Research the preferred app for your destination and have it downloaded with your details entered.

-Google translate
If travelling internationally, Google translate can save a lot of anxiety. Translating between languages, it also has both speaking and camera scanning modes for additional convenience. Ordering food, finding directions and any general questions become much easier.

-maps.me
A maps app where you can save whole areas when online to use later. Great for offline navigation and finding places that are hard to locate on maps.

-life360
A location sharing app great for anyone anxious about safety, registering with a friend or family member allows you to see each others location and phone battery percentage.

-whatsapp
Perfect for international communication and group chat conversations. Register with your mobile phone number from home and call/text anyone internationally via the app. Also perfect for communicating with tour guides/accommodation and drivers abroad.

Keep a daybag

For any time you are out and about during your trips, take a day bag with a few essentials. Can help to save any unnecessary anxiety around things that could go wrong.

A few great things to keep in a daybag when out and about exploring:
-portable charger
-hand sanitiser
-sunscreen
-snacks/water
-small amount cash
-jacket/raincoat

It is also best to leave the important stuff behind and save the stress of carrying passports and valuables. Even if you don’t end up needing any extras from your daybag, the preparation can help an anxious mind.

Have/know a travel agent!

Travel agents are well educated in things to plan, have access to deals that are otherwise inaccessible and are great to contact in case of any emergencies.

Booking trips via a good travel agent can  save a lot of organisational anxiety. Travel agents have a solid understanding of popular tours, accommodation spots and transport and can plan your itinerary with great expertise. You won’t be boxed in or limited with your options either, present your ideas, preferred stays or must do spots to collaborate for a flexible itinerary suited to you.

If you prefer to plan your own trips and not utilise a travel agent, that’s fine too. But knowing one, or at least saving the contact of one is huge for peace of mind. I personally plan and book all my trips individually and enjoy the flexibility that comes with it. But having a few close friends in the industry is relieving to know that I can contact anytime for support, for advice or in case of emergency.

Travel insurance

This may seem like an obvious one, but if you find yourself worrying often, travel insurance is best not left out. Ideally you never need it, but it’s a great way to fight off a case of the “what if’s”. No matter what your worries, you can adjust a travel insurance policy to suit. If you’re concerned of losing luggage or personal items be sure to improve coverage in those areas.

Use a good comparison site such as comparethemarket or contact a travel agent to assist you in finding your best suited policy.

Save all booking confirmations

Flight details, accommodation addresses, transport timetables, contact numbers and tour confirmations. There is a long list of different things to organise and having them all across different apps and pages can get confusing. Instead, screenshot or type your booking information and save it to one folder for simplicity and convenience. This saves searching through apps or emails when you need details and saves the anxiety of wondering if something is booked properly.

This can be extended on to any saveable information or photos. Photos of the front of your airbnb or the name and profile picture of your tour guide prevents a lot of hassle.

Be sure that wherever you save this content it is available offline. If you’re extra cautious, printing off a copy is an additional step for those that prefer a non digital copy.

Trust your gut

The last, and certainly not the least helpful tip for travelling with anxiety, is to trust your gut.
You know better than anyone your own personal boundaries and mental health triggers, don’t forget that.

While it is important to encourage your way out of a comfort zone, if you find yourself in a position that is anxiety inducing, trust yourself. If you are uncomfortable with any person, any place or anything. Trust that feeling, and change it. Part of why the earlier tip of “overbudgetting” is so significant, is that it allows the flexibility to change tours, accommodation etc when needed.

Travelling with anxiety can be demanding enough. It doesn’t need to be more complicated by staying in situations that only enhance it. If you need to change something, do it. Stay flexible, set your boundaries and trust your gut always.

There is no perfect management.

Travelling with anxiety looks different for everyone and the factors that trigger it can vary greatly. Some of these points I rely on daily for my travels, and some don’t affect me. This list isn’t designed to strictly follow and live by, just some simple tips and ideas to try that can ease the stress of travelling with anxiety. I do not follow all of these myself, some are lifesavers and others aren’t relevant to my worries. Each tip will be hit and miss for each traveller as to their importance, but if you can read and take one beneficial thing on board I stay a happy writer.

What tips have worked for you in the past? Or what would you add?

Let me know below!

4 thoughts on “Travelling with Anxiety – Ultimate Guide 2023.”

  1. Could connect with much of this…having mild claustrophobia, anxiety starts when I get onto the plane – lol. But I’m also the opposite in many ways, as I manage my anxiety by overplanning & considering many options. Anxiety on planes was lessened with a doctors note stating I need an aisle seat, I get on the plane with parents & children so I can settle in quick.
    When I decided to work overseas, I got my will completed and had my parents sign as power of attorney over my health & finances incase anything happened. I also ensured I had enough money in my account if I had to leave a country quickly. Because I was heading to the Middle East, I registered with the DFAT I think via Smart Traveller. And I also make sure I’m familiar with the country I’m travelling to and list the top 5 things I most want to do, so I leave each country feeling I’ve achieved my goals. You should see my lists for Dubai in December 🙂

  2. Love this! Hugely agree with the peace of mind from having travel insurance! Also, 100% agree re trusting your gut!

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