When booking our recent trip to Japan, travel anxiety was something that played on my mind up until we returned home after the trip. I didn’t want to let it stop me going or having a good time, but this was my first long haul trip and i had no idea what to expect from myself.
Having managed my travel anxiety fairly well (i think) whilst on the other side of the world, i feel better equipped to travel anywhere. I had only gone within Europe without the assistance of my parents, and adjusting to holidays without them was difficult.
They always planned everything, and if anything went wrong i knew i could rely on their help. Travelling without them was never something i worried about until i started doing it, and suddenly i was overcome with worry that i would somehow fuck everything up.
I panic when i don’t know what’s happening. I panic when i overheat, which is often when i’m travelling. I panic when i’m uncomfortable. There were so many situations i saw myself in prior to actually travelling to Japan, that i felt could potentially trigger my anxiety.
But i survived. And now, i want to hold all my tips somewhere useful for myself to look back on when we book our next long haul holiday, and for anybody else who is worried about their travel anxiety getting in the way.
Don’t freak yourself out at the thought of freaking out.
I am really bad for this. I panic at the thought of panicking – which is completely needless and not at all helpful in any situation. The anticipation of the thing is worse than the thing itself.
Thinking about the flight, in particular, really worried me. I was afraid i’d be uncomfortable, i felt like i was remembering the seats to be smaller than they actually are. It was all i thought about for the 5 months between booking the trip and actually going.
At the end of the day, getting on that flight was something i was absolutely going to do. There was no way in hell i wasn’t going to and (cheesy, gross) as long as i had Max, i felt i was going to be okay.
If you want to cry, cry.
Sometimes, the only thing that relieves travel anxiety (and any anxiety, really) is having that cry that you’re holding in. I’m not ashamed to say i gave in a few times and cried, then ended up feeling better for it afterwards.
I cried on the plane from Heathrow to Moscow, because the plane food made my bloating so uncomfortable and i didn’t want to do a shit in the plane toilet.
I cried on the airport bus from the plane into Moscow airport, because it was cramped, i was overheating, i felt sick and i was scared i was going to pass out.
I cried on the plane from Moscow to Tokyo, because i just wanted to be off the goddamn plane already.
I cried in the apartment on day 6, because i missed my home comforts and got annoyed at Max over something stupid.
I cried at Moscow airport security because it was cramped, had no organisation and i didn’t have the mental strength to stand in a crowd of people bumping into me for what would’ve been an hour.
And i felt that little bit better after all those times. Letting out my anxious emotions allows me to look at each situation more clearly and think about it realistically. Nothing bad was going to happen to me during any of these things. I just didn’t like it.
Get plenty of sleep.
I don’t know about anyone else but i feel significantly worse when i haven’t had enough sleep – it makes me overthink things a lot more and get upset a lot more easily.
Whilst in Japan, i tried to make sure i got a good amount of sleep every night. However, I’m a night owl and Max likes to pretend he isn’t but he absolutely is. So we ended up staying up until past midnight, sleeping in until around 10am and then heading out for the day.
This is my preferred way to do a holiday. When Sabrina and i went to Sweden, we didn’t go out for dinner at all. Whilst i may be a night owl, i definitely prefer nights in over nights out and holidays are no different.
Tokyo at nighttime is electric so we didn’t mind missing out on mornings. Everybody enjoys different aspects of holidays, and nobody should be shamed for what they decide to do and not do.
Plan your time.
A lot of my travel anxiety, and anxiety in general, stems from the unknown. Planning out each and every day is not everyone’s preferred way to travel, i know, but it’s what makes me most comfortable.
I would love to be the kind of person that strolls from country to country, taking each day as it comes and not worrying about what’s going on. Maybe the more i travel, the more my anxiety will ease and i’ll be more willing to be spontaneous.
I tried to have even just a rough plan of what we were doing each day and how we were going to get there, and it eased my anxiety a heck of a lot.
We still wandered, we still got lost, and i loved it. I still planned out transport, made sure i always knew how to get back to the neighbourhood we were staying in, just for that extra security.
Always carry water.
Not drinking enough water is your fast track pass to a stinking headache. Being unwell on holiday is my worst nightmare and i will do everything in my power to avoid it.
I avoided meat wherever i could, didn’t really try any food out of my comfort zone, and drank mostly water every single day. Meat and alcohol had the potential to send me into a vomit panic, which is the worst kind.
There’s just something about feeling iffy when you’re not in your safe space that really gets to me. I wanted to make sure i did everything i possibly could to make sure i felt okay.
Tap water in Japan is totally fine to drink – it wasn’t the coldest, but it was fine. There’s taps in public parks you can use to fill up as well. I took my Chillys bottle and a cross body bag that i could squeeze the bottle into, with just the top peeking out.
If i felt a bit yucky or at all panicked, i would just stop and drink some water. It helps more than you would think!
These are things that genuinely really help me when i’m travelling, and the things that prevented me from having any truly awful panic attacks whilst in Japan. I’m so thankful i can look back on that trip with nothing but fond memories.