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Managing Travel Anxiety In Midlife | CrunchyTales

From Worrier to Wanderlust: Managing Travel Anxiety in Midlife

4 min read

 There was a time when travelling was an easy option. Backpacking adventures, whirlwind city breaks, and exotic explorations filled our twenties and thirties with a sense of discovery and carefree adventure. But as we age, something shifts. For some midlife women, the once-thrilling prospect of a new adventure can morph into a web of anxieties. Why is this?

Disruptions to daily schedules, unfamiliar environments, fear of the unknown and potential language barriers can all become sources of stress for some women. On top of that, the physical demands of travel, from lugging suitcases to navigating unfamiliar terrain, can become daunting. Concerns about healthcare access in foreign countries and the potential for injuries can further dampen our enthusiasm. Enter travel anxiety.

According to the Anxiety & Depression Association of America, many people who fear flying or being on other forms of transport are living with claustrophobia. They may become extremely anxious if stuck in traffic or locked onto a plane or train. In people with a phobia of flying, more than 90% of the fear is that they will become overwhelmed with anxiety during the flight. Additionally, the physical symptoms of anxiety, such as a racing heartbeat and sweating, can cause someone to think they might lose control while driving or worry about what people surrounding them may think. This, in turn, can worsen anxiety and fear of travelling.

But that shouldn’t prevent you from exploring new areas. In the end, isn’t it travelling the best form of education? 

Coping with Travel Anxiety

The good news is that travel anxieties don’t have to spell the end of your globetrotting days. With a bit of plan, you can adjust your approach, and keep the wanderlust alive as you age while minimizing surprises. So, dust off your suitcase, embrace new strategies, and get ready to create new travel memories maybe swapping whirlwind tours for slower-paced trips that allow for deeper cultural immersion or wellness and relaxation. 

Travel should continue to be a source of joy and discovery throughout our lives. Here are seven healthy ways to overcome travel anxiety

1. Understand your anxiety 

To be able to best cope with your travel anxiety, you need to have a good understanding of the things that actually cause it. Pinpoint specifically what is making you feel anxious about your trip – is it that you’ll be on the road for hours, that there will be things out of your control, that you would have to be surrounded by a lot of people at an airport? Once you understand what triggers your anxiety, you can ensure to plan ahead for the best ways to handle those triggers.

2. Create a detailed plan for your trip

One of the reasons for experiencing anxiety when travelling is that you’re being taken out of your comfort zone and won’t have full control over everything. To help ease that anxious feeling, try to plan out your trip in as much detail as possible. Write down an itinerary, either on paper, or you can make use of a trip planner app like TripIt, Wanderlog, or Sygic Travel, for every day that you can follow, which will give you a sense of control, but it’s equally as important to think of alternative plans of action for anything that could potentially not go as planned so that you’re prepared.

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3. Learn to use relaxation techniques  

Taking long breaths through the nose and then exhaling slowly through the mouth is a technique proven to help reduce any feelings of stress. Another useful way to calm your mind is by meditating, which can take many different forms from listening to music to focusing on your breath. To make sure you find the mindfulness technique that works best for you, try out a few different ones before your trip, so when the time for travelling comes you can use the most efficient one to set your mind at ease.

4. Ensure you have things that bring you joy  

Having things with you that generally bring you joy can be extremely useful in distracting you from your negative feelings. These can include physical items like a journal in which to write your thoughts, a book to read, or a game to occupy your attention. Alternatively, you can create a playlist of songs you love or make sure you have your favourite TV show (or movie) with you, as these will keep your mind occupied, decreasing your feelings of anxiety.

5. Take care of your physical health  

Being physically active is a great way to reduce feelings of anxiety and stress. Even if it’s just a long walk, make sure to incorporate physical activity in your days, especially the days leading up to your trip and if possible, during the trip as well. Spending some time outside and connecting with nature, be it only by visiting a park, can have a positive effect on your physical and mental being, which in turn will help reduce your anxious thoughts. 

6 Find a supportive travel community

You don’t have to conquer travel anxiety alone. There’s a whole community of travel enthusiasts out there who understand the pre-trip nerves. Online forums, travel blogs with anxiety-related tips, and even social media groups dedicated to anxious travellers can offer invaluable support and encouragement. Remember, the world is waiting to be explored, and there’s a whole community cheering you on as you take that first step.

7 Focus on the transformation travel can bring

Finally, travel anxiety is a hurdle, not a roadblock. With a little preparation and self-compassion, you can navigate your pre-trip jitters and step onto that plane (or train, bus, etc.) with a sense of excitement. Travel has the incredible power to broaden our horizons, challenge our perspectives, and create memories that last a lifetime. So take a deep breath, embrace the adventure that awaits, and get ready to discover the world, one step (anxiously delightful step) at a time.

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