Solo Travel Tips: How to Soothe Travel & Flight Anxiety
Less worrying, more travel! 6 ways to help you feel less anxious when traveling solo.
If you have any experience at all with anxiety, you already know how many forms it can take on. Traveling with anxiety of any kind is the same way- it can be a completely different experience from one person to the next. For some, it’s soothing to look out the window of a plane and see the pillowy clouds beneath them. For others, the idea of being trapped in a gigantic flying metal box thousands of feet in the air is, well, their worst nightmare.
Whether you suffer from a fear of heights, fear of flying, travel anxiety, social anxiety, or if just the thought of trying to navigate your way through an airport makes your hands clam up, here are six things I’ve personally done to help combat feeling anxious while on the road.
Focus On the Positives!
It’s really difficult in the moment, but try to redirect your mind to think about why you’re even taking a trip in the first place. Are you visiting family or friends? Traveling for work? Maybe you’re even just traveling for fun. Whatever your reason may be, remember that you wouldn’t have even booked the ticket if you didn’t want to be there, and as soon as you get through this uncomfortable portion of actually getting to your destination, you’ll be back to having fun.
When I was so anxious for my first solo flight (literally cried when my boyfriend dropped me off at the airport), I felt really defeated. I had built up this idea of solo travel to be so amazing, but how could I go abroad one day or even just take a trip longer than three days if I couldn’t fly from Buffalo, NY to Boston, MA without freaking out?
The truth is, it’s totally normal to feel this way. I ended up having a ton of fun on that trip, but I just needed to refocus myself and keep pushing through.
Pack Water & (Dry) Snacks
Did you know that you can bring food through airport security as long as it’s dry? Because I didn’t, but now, it’s my favorite travel secret to tell people. You can also bring an empty reusable water bottle through security, then just fill it up at a water fountain once you get to your gate. Genius.
Personally, I lose my appetite when I’m feeling anxious, but it does bring me peace of mind to know that if I do get hungry, I won’t have to spend $7 on a granola bar in a random airport cafe, or if I randomly get thirsty mid-flight, I’m good.
Bring Something to Distract Yourself
This goes along with the first one, but having something to distract yourself is key, especially if you’re going through turbulence on the plane, have a really long flight or train/bus ride to get through, or just need to get your mind off of things in general. I’m obsessed with podcasts, so the night before my trip, I’ll usually make sure I have a good amount of episodes downloaded onto my phone so I can listen to them without using data while I’m on the plane.
If podcasts aren’t your jam, I’d recommend trying an “adult” coloring book (they’re so fun!), reading a book (if it won’t make you sick), or even grabbing a fidget cube toy to keep your hands busy. I have this one on my desk at work I fiddle with during calls with clients, and it’s surprisingly satisfying, but Amazon also has ones that come in prettier colors.
If podcasts are your jam, though, these are a few of my favorites:
Make A Plan of Attack
It’s true, some travelers can just show up to a brand new city or country and just wing it- and sometimes, I’m really jealous of those people! But personally, it helps me so much to map out an itinerary for myself, or at least have an idea of what I want to do that day before I even get started so I don’t have to waste time worrying about it, and I can spend more time enjoying myself.
I like to keep a running note in my phone with addresses of both places I definitely want to hit and other places I would like to get to, but won’t be heartbroken if I don’t see. You can always change it up later if you don’t feel like doing something anymore or end up finding something else more fun to do in the moment!
Let Your Loved Ones Know Your Whereabouts
This seems like common sense, but if you’re traveling alone and feel a little nervous, don’t be afraid to share your location with a friend, family member, or significant other. Giving them the phone number of your hostel or hotel is a great idea, too, so they can make sure that if they haven’t heard from you in hours, they can contact the right people to track you down and make sure you’re safe.
If it’s your first time solo traveling, it can also help give them peace of mind, too! Everybody wins.
Don’t Feel Guilty for Taking a Break!
If you’re traveling for a vacation, it’s really easy to get caught up in travel guilt: feeling the need to do all the things because you obviously want to have as much fun as possible, and screw it, you can rest at home! I totally understand feeling that way, but just because you’re traveling doesn’t mean you shouldn’t still give yourself at least a little break when you feel like you need/want one.
When I went to Boston on my first solo trip, I was so exhausted from the combination of the 6am flight I had that morning, the emotional strain of worrying and stressing all day long (did I mention I was really anxious to take my first solo trip?), and all of the awesome exploring that I eventually got to do. I felt super guilty for heading back to my hostel early, jumping in bed and watching YouTube until I fell asleep, but honestly, that’s exactly what my body needed at the time. I woke up the next morning feeling super refreshed and ready to take on the city!
My point is, definitely soak up every moment of your travels, but listen to what your mind and body need to feel rested and energized, too.
Comment your tips to help with travel & flight anxiety & let’s get more ideas flowing!
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