Tuesday, February 14, 2017

Managing Anxiety when Traveling

I've struggled with anxiety my whole life. It's one of those things that waxes and wanes, but it's always there. When Jason first got the job at Southwest, all I could be was excited - where should we go first? The options seemed limitless!

Well, soon the anxiety set in - how do we book hotels if we don't know if we'll make it? How can we get around without Google directions internationally? What about the can't miss attraction - should I book tickets and risk not making it? My Type-A-obsessive part of my personality took over.

And for some things, it's definitely a positive, right? I always "over-plan" (which usually equates to "perfectly-plan") trips. I can't tell you how many times we've had to use this kind of stuff to help us. Last-minute Australian visas? Yep, I've got us covered. Where was the exact pickup spot for our bus in Teotihuacan? We're good! But my stress levels usually sky-rocket in the weeks leading up to a trip - and this isn't fun for anyone. Jason has helped me tremendously in this regard over the years, but somethings are just too ingrained to truly change. 

So how do I cope? I work on the things I can control:


What I've learned is that travel is stressful, and it's natural to get anxious. And what helps me manage that anxiety? That excessive planning. 

So yes, I really do love the trip-planning! But it's also a coping mechanism for me. Knowing the plan (even if it's hypothetical) is crucial to my ability to manage my anxiety levels. It absolutely isn't a perfect solution, but knowing in detail, how to purchase an Oyster card, how much to put on it, and how to easily navigate the London underground, help me to feel more calm before and when we arrive. 

Booking airport transfers is also wonderful! That way, we have someone waiting for us when we arrive and we can just relax after a long day of travel.


Planning some intentional downtime into our trips is always a must! We love to get cheap massages in Asia, grab a long and luxurious dinner, spend an entire day (or two) at the pool - whatever relaxes you. This is vacation after all.

We try to eat healthy/local food. After airline food, I usually need a few days to detox. Taking care of your body is key! We also love to go for a hike or take a yoga class.

Book a Tour

Jason and I aren't typically fans of big tour groups, but we do enjoy the smaller groups (Eating Europe Food Tours is one of our favorites) for a more personal experience. It is also nice to not have to think about logistics for a bit - they take care of everything for you! We also hire private guides when we can afford them and it just makes everything JUST a bit easier. 

At a minimum, we book tickets to the attractions that we just can't miss. For example, I made reservations for ice-skating at Somerset House a few months before we left. That way, I didn't have to worry if tickets would sell out or not. If I would waited even a few more days, we would have missed out on our favorite activity in London! 

The one thing I will say to those who deal with anxiety is to try and not let it be an excuse  to not travel. The memories we make FAR outweigh any negatives. 

And sometimes I can even convince Jason to book tickets when all the uncertainty becomes just a little too much. For example, our next trip to the San Juan Islands in a few months has been attempted a few times, but either flights were full or hotels on the islands were sold out. So we finally just booked everything and we couldn't be more excited!

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