Anxiety is a pain in the hole. Excuse the crudeness, but it’s true. So much so, that simple, everyday things can become really difficult. Thankfully, the blogging community is a great place to share tips with fellow anxiety sufferers and reach out to others who are struggling. So, with that in mind, I’ve decided to start a new series on my blog, which I’ve called The Anxious Person’s Guide. I have quite a few ideas lined up for future posts, and today, I’ll be sharing the first one with you. Enjoy, and if you have any ideas for a future post, please let me know in the comments!
Now that Covid restrictions have eased, many of us will be looking at booking a much-needed summer holiday. The perfect excuse to relax and enjoy yourself after a crappy 18+ months. Unless you have anxiety. I never used to enjoy holidays – or rather, I didn’t enjoy the idea of them – but over the years I’d gotten much better, even to the point where I got on a plane for the first time a few years ago.
2018 was the first time I’d ever looked forward to a holiday 100% – yes, I was a little bit anxious, but I think it was more from excitement than anything else. I think it’s partially because we left it so late we ended up going to the same place as the year before, familiarity and all that, but even so, it was an achievement. By the time we jetted off to Madeira in 2019, I was starting to become a “holiday person.” Then, 2020 happened.
While for the majority of 2020, the idea of a holiday was completely written off. After things started opening up again, many started booking UK breaks, while others were gagging to get on a plane and managed to get away for a brief period, just about dodging any new quarantine rules that came in. While 2021 got off to a shitty start, with restrictions now easing (at the time of writing), more people are determined to get that summer holiday they’ve been waiting almost 2 years for. At the moment, it’s still a minefield when it comes to where is safe and where isn’t, and that’s even before you get into any quarantine rules that are in place. Personally, for me, I think we’ll have moved into 2022 before I even consider getting on a plane again, and I think at the moment, it’ll be a miracle if I can travel somewhere in the UK without becoming an anxious mess.
But that’s just me. I know everyone’s at different stages when it comes to travelling post-covid, which is why I thought now would be a perfect time to re-share this post. You may be scared shitless about travelling, or perhaps you’ve gone as far as booking something but you’re now not sure if you want to travel – it’s fine. We’re all at different stages, and that’s okay. So, alongside the tips I shared previously in my Anxious Guide to Travelling, I’m also sharing a few tips that you might find helpful if you’re struggling with travelling in the post-covid era.
Read Through the Covid Policies!
Before you make any sort of booking, it’s worth reading the travel company/airline/accommodation’s Covid-19 policy. Yes, we’re all gagging to get away from Covid, but let’s be realistic. It’s still very much a thing. From my last job going through different holiday offers and packages for a deals website, I learned a fair bit about what different companies are offering. A lot of companies have ‘Covid Guarantees’ in place, but it’s worth reading them in full to make sure you know exactly what you’re covered for – the same goes for travel insurance too. How generous they are can vary – for example, some will allow you to change the date of your holiday if you or someone in your party tests positive, but some will even go as far as letting you change the date if it’s under the grounds that you simply don’t feel safe travelling. In a time with so much uncertainty, the knowledge that you won’t necessarily lose a load of money if you don’t end up going on your holiday can bring that extra peace of mind.
Don’t Be an Asshole
The pandemic has brought out some amazing kindness in people, but it’s also brought out the worst in others. That’s why it’s so important to NOT be a dick. From the basic common sense stuff like not travelling if you’re unwell or have symptoms to adhering the safety measures that are put in place wherever you go, they’re all little things you can do on your travels (and to be honest, everywhere else) to keep yourself and others safe. On the mask side of things, I can’t force you to wear one, and of course in the UK (at the time of writing), they’re not a legal requirement anymore, however, it’s common courtesy, so wear one if you’re able to. Oh, and one more thing – get your goddamn vaccine!
Know Your Triggers
Travelling with anxiety is never easy, but I’ve found that preparing for what triggers it most can be really helpful. Before you set off, think about the aspects of travelling that cause your anxiety to spike most, and that way you can plan around them. For me, I get most anxious about the flying element, so I do the following:
- Make a playlist of my favourite songs on Spotify – just be sure to download it so you can listen offline. I also have a really good anxiety playlist that I listen to when I’m feeling particularly on edge.
- Pack a book and a couple of magazines. I like to have options, so this means I can keep things varied and switch to something else if I need to.
- Take a packet of mints – anyone who’s a regular reader will know that nausea is my main symptom when I feel anxious. Mints help to ease this, and they’re also handy to suck on as you take off.
- Get to the airport in plenty of time – it’s a given, but I’ve found that having a mooch around the duty free and getting a cup of tea helps to take my mind off the nerves. By the time you’re finished, it’s usually time to head to your boarding gate!
- Don’t overdo the drinks! I have a real thing about using the toilet on a plane. While I’m now able to get on a plane I’ve yet to tackle going to the toilet on one. The idea of germs in that small a space just terrifies me. While I won’t go to the extreme of not drinking at all (and of course I don’t condone that!), I’ll take a bottle of water with me on the flight to sip, but I won’t gulp it down within the first hour and I’ll avoid getting any extra ones throughout. And in case you’re wondering, I’ve never done a long-haul flight. That’s a whole different kettle of fish.
One of the reasons I love to be organised is because it gives me a sense of control. Travelling is no exception. Little things like printing off your boarding passes and keeping all of your documents together can go a long way in easing the travel anxiety. There’s nothing worse than frantically clawing through your bag to find your passport when there’s a queue of fellow passengers behind you! Here’s a few things I like to do to feel prepared before my travels:
- Make lists! I’ll have a packing list and a to-do list. The to-do list helps me stay organised if I’ve got a load of stuff to do before I travel, and the packing list makes sure I don’t forget the important things.
- Pack all of the things I know I’ll need on the plane (or will just feel better for having close by) in my hand luggage.
- Don’t forget your drugs! In addition to my usual medication, I like to make sure I’ve got some painkillers and some Imodium to hand in my bag. Just in case!
Do Your Research
We all know that doing a little research beforehand can also make a big difference when you travel with anxiety. Obviously it’s a good idea to do your research in the form of reading a few travel reviews before you book your trip all together, but it can still be a good idea to do some research afterwards. I quite like to have a look at the website of the hotel I’m staying at so that I know what to expect in terms of what my room will look like and to learn a bit more about the facilities. It’s also a good idea to research a few restaurants too, as I found that loosely planning where we’re going to eat makes me feel a little more relaxed. We spent most of one holiday scrolling through TripAdvisor trying to find where to go for each meal, and it was more stressful than it should have been!
Think of the Positives!
While we all know it’s easier said than done, thinking positively about your trip and focusing on the things you’ve got to look forward to is one of the best ways you can stop travel anxiety getting the better of you. Think of the quality time you’ll be spending with your family/other half/friends. Have a few day trips planned, or even just plan a day chilling by the pool if that’s what you’d prefer. The best thing to think of? Think of how amazing you’ll feel when you come home knowing you’ve conquered those nerves! Despite the fact that I cried a lot and got myself into a state on my first ever plane journey, I felt amazing the second that plane touched the ground. I was immensely proud of myself and couldn’t believe I’d done it. To most people it’s a very basic achievement, but for me, it was something I never thought I’d do!
What are your top tips for dealing with travel anxiety?
Post originally published June 2019.
Updated August 2021.