People who suffer from travel anxiety often find it challenging to explain themselves to others. To many, the idea of feeling negative emotions regarding what is otherwise a wonderful experience is almost unthinkable, and the term “travel anxiety” sounds like the definition of first world problems. So much so, that sometimes even travelers who deal with this issue struggle with acknowledging it themselves.
Since the first step towards finding a solution is recognizing the problem, we’ve prepared a list of symptoms that might indicate the existence of travel anxiety. Here they are, along with a few easy suggestions to help travelers deal with and overcome this challenge.
Sign #1: Imagining the worst case scenario
Worrying about what might go wrong is something most travelers do, to a certain degree. We get insurance because we worry about losing our belongings, hide money to protect it from thieves, check the weather app to avoid getting caught in a storm, and buy an unlimited internet package so we don’t get lost in the city.
But travelers dealing with anxiety do far more than minimizing risk or trying new relaxation techniques. They often find themselves obsessing over the negative “what ifs.” They don’t allow the excitement and expectation balance the worries and always imagine the worst-case scenarios, as off-chance as they may be.
Sign #2: Experiencing physical difficulties
Travel anxiety is real and may include the physical symptoms to prove it. If planning a trip makes your heart beat faster, but not in a good way, it might be a sign. If you sweat, experience trouble breathing, struggle to fall asleep and get agitated when the time comes to go on vacation, it’s worth looking into the possibility of travel anxiety and the solutions that are available to you. There are smart travel planning tools out there that can help ease your anxiety in real-time and reassure you that someone will always have your back.
Sign #3: Over-planning your trip
Again, this is one of the symptoms that are harder to detect because they involve something most travelers do, only to a greater extent. Planning a trip is great, but over-planning can take away from the fun. It’s all about finding the right balance; plan to visit the local Christmas market, sure, but don’t memorize all the shops and treats in advance!
If you find yourself looking at a dozen websites and recommendation forums before booking a restaurant, or watching every street corner on Google Earth, chances are you’re an over-planner. The solution is not to stop planning ahead altogether, but instead to book a few things in advance, as well as find the tools and apps you trust, and rely on them during your trip whenever remote booking or instant recommendations are needed.
Sign #4: Not coping well with changes
This is an “added bonus” for anxious travelers who are over-planners. If sudden rain or a local strike really take you off balance, this may be another sign of travel anxiety. Worrying about what we cannot control and trying to force plans even when they don’t make sense anymore can ruin your trip, and so being able to go with the flow and understand that a trip plan is only a platform for changes is important.
After all, some of the most glorious experiences are the ones we had no way of preparing for. If any cancellation or shift makes you anxious and even angry, travel anxiety could very well be the reason why.
Sign #5: Mistaking travel anxiety with other phobias
Because travel anxiety may be hard to explain, we tend to replace it with other forms of anxiety or phobia that can be easier to comprehend and just happen to be related to travel. We tell ourselves that we’re afraid to fly or stay away from home, but what we’re really scared of is the unknown world that’s waiting for us out there.
One might ask why that even matters. After all, whether you’re afraid of flying or have travel anxiety, the result is the same. But once again, diagnosing the problem is necessary in order to solve it, and this is one issue you want to solve.
Sign #6: Avoiding travel
That is the most telling – and tragic – sign of all. Many living creatures have the instinct of avoiding what we fear, even if it is supposedly fun for everyone. The final step in this self-diagnosis article involves taking out your passport and browsing to see when the last stamp was added. If it’s been way too long and you have no real reason to justify your lack of travel, ask yourself if you find the idea of going on a trip scary.
Travel anxiety is probably not the most urgent problem in the world, but it does prevent you from living life to the fullest and since it’s solvable there’s really no reason to ignore it. If more than a few signs listed here seem familiar, focus on finding the help and solutions you need and turn travel from an intimidating experience to what it really is – the best thing in the world. Good luck!