As technology improves, traveling has become easier, faster, more efficient, and less tiring. Some people take trips once in a while, several times a year, or every week, as I do. The reasons people travel vary from one person to the next. Some go for business, others go for pleasure, and for some it’s a mix.
During the holiday season, airports, bus stations, and train stations are crowded with people eager to get to their destination. Regardless of your reason for travel, I believe that your experience should be fun and relaxing.
Some people get excited as they anticipate an upcoming trip. I tend to do this when I imagine myself already on the plane, or even at my final destination. However, those pleasant feelings of joy and excitement often turn into anxiety. My anxiety manifests in restlessness, agitation, and stress.
I live with anxiety on a daily basis, and not only when I travel. When you add travel to the normal stress you already feel, life can turn into a nightmare. Instead of being able to relax and enjoy a trip, you’re instead stuck with an unpleasant experience.
Life is better when your stress level is minimal and your anxiety as kept at bay. Because travel is a part of life, here are some practical tips that have helped me enjoy each trip.
1. Create a travel checklist
Once anxiety has kicked in, thinking straight can be next to impossible. Anxiety makes us think more and act less. We tend to forget important things. I remember being airborne and then realizing that I forgot to pack the suit jacket I needed for an upcoming presentation. Having a travel checklist that you create in advance will reduce the probability that you will forget something. It’s important to pack only what you need and nothing more. Nowadays, I can’t pack without my checklist. And I must say, it has really paid off, because I hardly forget anything.
2. Research your destination
The thought of getting lost is one of my greatest fears. Whenever I book a trip to a place that is unfamiliar to me, I feel my stress level rise. If I don’t do anything about it, I’ll begin to dread arriving at my destination. To curb this problem, I make it a point to research the place where I’m going. Reading books and blog posts and watching videos help me familiarize myself with my new environment, including routes, buildings, and the culture. This has given me the confidence to get excited about traveling.
3. Exercising and eating healthy
Sometimes anxiety can be tough to control. You try to relax but you just can’t. In these moments, exercise is a great tool for coping. Both before and during your trip, it’s important to exercise each day. Exercising enhances blood circulation, which results in a relaxed mind and body. Also, sticking to a balanced diet before and during your trip will give you the energy you need to enjoy the experience.
4. Handle airport anxiety
To make your airport experience less stressful, arrive earlier than you need to. This way, you won’t feel anxious if you find yourself in traffic or in a long security line. In addition, drink as much water as you can to pre-hydrate yourself for your flight.
5. Charge your electronics
I remember several occasions when I had to meet someone at the airport or at my destination. By the time I arrived, my cell phone was dead. In addition, I had no portable charger (checklist item). My stress level went through the roof each time, as I desperately looked for a store to buy a charger and outlet to charge my phone. Charging your electronics before you leave will make you less stressed, especially if you have to meet with people. You’ll feel at ease knowing that you’ll be able to contact them.
6. Manage airplane anxiety
Whether it’s turbulence, uncomfortable seats, or hot or cold temperatures, flying comfortably on a plane is difficult. I tend to become fidgety and very restless on planes. In order to make my flight as comfortable as possible, I make sure to wear comfortable clothing, bring my travel pillow, and stay hydrated throughout the trip. Also, having noise-cancelling headphones is a great defense against crying babies and loud conversations.
7. Schedule relaxation time
To make your trip (and life) less stressful, it’s important to schedule time to relax your mind. This can be done by taking naps, spending time alone, eating meals with people you enjoy, or simply by doing nothing. One of the rituals that I’ve developed when I travel is to go for a walk each morning to enjoy my new environment. It’s a peaceful time for me, and it sets the tone for the rest of my day.
When you apply these tips consistently, traveling will be much more relaxing and fun. Delays, cancellations, and other challenges will still happen, but you’ll be better prepared to handle them.
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Mike Veny is one of America’s leading mental health speakers and a high energy corporate drumming event facilitator. He delivers educational, engaging, and entertaining presentations to meetings and conferences throughout the world. As a 2017 PM360 ELITE Award Winner, Mike was recognized as one of the 100 most influential people in the healthcare industry. He starred in several OC87 Recovery Diaries documentary films. Check out his compelling TEDx talk, Mental Illness is An Asset.