July 12, 2022

Taking Care of Your Mental Health While Traveling

Travel can be good for you and your mental health. There are numerous reasons for this. Starting from the happiness you derive from the anticipation and continuing through remembering the great time you had afterward, you're likely to benefit mentally from traveling.

But for many, travel can be a trigger for anxiety and/or depressive episodes even in normal times. As we still deal with the lasting effects of the pandemic, travelers can have even more anxiety than before. Add to this the recent spate of canceled and delayed flights this summer, and you may end up feeling overwhelmed.

Today, it's ever-more important to be prepared to overcome your anxiety when traveling. Here are a few tips that can help.

Taking Care of Your Mental Health While Traveling

By Aleksandrs Buraks | Published July 12, 2022
Travel can be good for you and your mental health. There are numerous reasons for this. Starting from the happiness you derive from the anticipation and continuing through remembering the great time you had afterward, you're likely to benefit mentally from traveling.

But for many, travel can be a trigger for anxiety and/or depressive episodes even in normal times. As we still deal with the lasting effects of the pandemic, travelers can have even more anxiety than before. Add to this the recent spate of canceled and delayed flights this summer, and you may end up feeling overwhelmed.

Today, it's ever-more important to be prepared to overcome your anxiety when traveling. Here are a few tips that can help.

Be prepared

If you struggle with anxiety, you know that travel will trigger it. New places, things that seem out of your control like what you think you'll encounter at the airport, and meeting new people can all be scary. But the more you plan, the more you'll be able to cope with anything that comes your way.

There are two ways to plan, both the specific aspects of your trip and things that can help you on your way.

Planning the specifics of your trip, and being prepared for any changes that can arise, will help you feel more in control. Be sure to plan almost the entire first couple of days, and if you're only going away for the weekend, maybe plan most of the entire trip. Search for pictures and maps of the airport and places you will go. Look up the routes you'll drive ahead of time. All of this will leave you feeling more prepared and less anxious.

The other type of planning you should do is how to calm yourself. Make sure to have a book to read, music to listen to, or whatever way is the way you cope best with stress. Also prepare with exercises you can do, both mental and physical.

Talk to someone

Obviously, the best person to talk to is your therapist. They can best help you prepare for your upcoming travel.

It's also useful to talk to someone else, particularly the person you'll be traveling with. Tell them what you're worried or stressed about, and likely they'll be able to help talk you through it.

Maintain a routine

The most difficult thing to do when traveling is to maintain a normal routine. Early morning flights and late-night arrivals can throw off your schedule even if you aren't changing time zones. But it's important to try to maintain as much of a routine as possible.

Try to go to sleep and wake up around the same time every day. Of course, don't beat yourself up if you don't, as it's difficult to do when traveling.

Make sure you stay hydrated, particularly when flying, and eat regularly. When traveling, it's easy to skip meals or think you'll just get a snack on the way. Eating regularly will keep your mood and anxiety in check, though. Perhaps set a time for each meal and prepare what you're going to eat ahead of time, whether it be food from a grocery store or a restaurant.

Make sure to leave time in your schedule for self-care. It's easy to get caught up on a trip and think you have to see and do everything leaving no time for yourself. In reality, skipping one sight won't ruin your trip, and you can always go back to the place if you want.

So be sure to practice some meditation, exercise, read, or something else that helps you relax and clear your mind while you travel. This will drastically help you cope with the stress that comes with traveling.

Practice mindfulness

This one is not something you can just pick up for your trip but is useful both when traveling and in all other parts of your life. There's evidence that practicing mindfulness can help with anxiety and depression, even though it's often sold as a miracle cure for a myriad of other things.

Try some mindfulness exercises. You can find more in-depth information from many sources, for example, this book. There are also many apps available that walk you through mindfulness exercises.

Keep in mind that mindfulness is not something you will see immediate results from. It takes considerable time and practice for the effects to show, but there's no better time to start than now.

Conquer your fear of flying

Many are, quite understandably, scared of flying. This can be a problem not only if you're a first-time flyer, but even if you didn't fly for a long time (the pandemic caused many to go a while without flying.

Of course, if your phobia is intense, you may want to see a therapist who is specialized in helping people like you.

But if you're phobia isn't as bad, there are a few things you can do to conquer your fear. The first is, of course, to fly and realize it's not as bad as you think.

You can also talk to someone, hopefully, someone you are traveling with, that has more experience flying. They can help calm you down and explain that many of the things you fear just aren't true.

Finally, go through a course or program from one of the major airlines. British Airways has a great fear of flying course that you can go through online.
With that, we hope that you'll be prepared and ready to tackle the challenges of traveling so that you can reap all the rewards that come with it. If you manage to calm yourself and not get overwhelmed, we're sure you'll make memories that you'll cherish for a long time.

Aleksandrs Buraks

Head of Growth at DiscoverCars.com
Aleksandrs has over 10 years of experience in marketing with a focus on creating stellar content that provides topical insights using data. Having taken five road trips across Europe and one in the U.S., he is passionate about traveling by car. His favorite countries to visit are Denmark and Thailand. You can find him on Linkedin, Facebook, and Twitter.