Holdiday anxiety

What can I do about travel anxiety?

“What can I do about travel anxiety?” is a question that I am frequently asked at this time of year. For many people it is a very real concern; one in four people are likely to experience some level of travel anxiety, according to Anxiety UK. In this blog we will consider possible causes of the condition, the main symptoms that you may be experiencing, and what steps you can take to manage your travel anxiety more effectively.

What are the causes?

Whilst some people appear to have always had this condition, for others it may be linked to an unpleasant or traumatic travel experience in the past. Alternatively, it is also possible to become anxious about travelling as a result of growing up with a family member who experienced travel anxiety themselves.

The journey ahead can cause anxiety in relation to delayed travel, missed connections or lengthy check-in procedures. There may also be feelings associated with a lack of control due to the many factors influencing your journey that are managed by someone else.

Flight anxiety is common and may cause fear or unease both on the ground pre-flight and inflight. You may feel anxious about the possibility of encountering turbulence or a sudden drop in cabin pressure or be fearful about the possibility of a greater emergency mid-flight.

Whilst different cultures, customs, language and foods can be a source of delight and discovery they can also be a source of concern for anxious travellers e.g. “Will I be able to make myself understood? What if the food doesn’t agree with me?”

Anxiety surrounding potential holiday losses may be a further concern; loss of passport or other documents, missing luggage and the fear of being stranded as a result of losing your cash or credit cards.

What are the main symptoms?

A sense of unease when discussing or making travel arrangements may not always be recognised immediately. Equally, procrastination at this stage may also pass unnoticed and unrecognised as an attempt at avoiding committing to a specific travel plan.

At a more extreme level, you may experience an increased heart rate, or a shortness of breath or chest pain. These are all indications that your body is anticipating a stressful event and is priming itself for immediate responsive action.

You may experience a sudden loss of appetite which may be accompanied by nausea or an upset stomach.

The need for movement can be a further indicator e.g. nervous drumming of fingers, a general sense of agitation or restlessness.

Present anxiety diminishes your cognitive capacity which can cause difficulties in remembering (e.g. Where did I put my passport?) and concentration difficulties.

What steps can you take to manage your travel anxiety?

Plan ahead.

By planning the first few hours or days of your trip in detail you will reduce the number of unknown factors and in the process, your anxiety will reduce accordingly.

Plan for your wellbeing.

Take time to consider what your needs are before you begin your journey. This could be as simple as carrying some fresh fruit with you if you find that inflight food is difficult to digest. The day of travel is unlikely to begin in the same way as a regular day but nonetheless if you think ahead and plan you may be able to still maintain some of your early morning routines e.g. yoga, meditation or a brisk walk. By maintaining these routines, even if they are somewhat abbreviated, you will be more mentally prepared for the day ahead.

Do your research before you leave home.

If you are knowledgeable on arrival about your destination your levels of uncertainty and anxiety will be reduced. Additionally, you will find planning your activities will seem easier as you have already completed the initial groundwork.

Be mindful.

By maintaining a focus on the present moment you will reduce your anxiety levels. The majority of anxiety is either backward focused (e.g. What if I lose my luggage again?”) or forward looking (e.g. What if there is turbulence during our flight?”) By focusing on the present moment, through meditation or breathing exercises you can find a sense of calm.

Engage in relaxing activities.

Choosing to relax by reading, journalling or listening to music helps you to shift your focus away from whatever was causing you concern, enabling you to complete your journey more calmly and with a greater sense of ease.


If you would like to explore how hypnotherapy can help you to manage your travel anxiety please contact me to arrange a free initial consultation or discovery call.