Vacations offer the chance to relax and escape the normal pressures of work and responsibility. They can be opportunities to explore, try new things, or catch up with old friends. But for some people, travel can be a source of extreme anxiety that leads to shakiness, difficulty breathing, and heart palpitations.
What is Travel Anxiety?
Travel anxiety and the fear of traveling has been recognized as an official (simple) phobia by the American Psychiatric Association. There are lots of situations that can lead a person to experience travel-related anxiety. Some of these examples might include:
- Worry about being injured during travel
- The possibility of lost luggage
- The unfamiliarity of a strange destination
Ultimately what all these examples lead to is a fear of losing control. Travel presents unfamiliar situations, which is unnerving for many people.
How Can You Ease Travel Anxiety?
Successful travel is achieved by identifying what these anxiety-inducing triggers are for you. If you suffer from travel anxiety, take time before your trip to make a list of all the concerns you have. Then, go through the list one-by-one and create a solution for each trigger. Some examples, based on the earlier list, might include:
- Looking up hospitals and emergency information at your destination in case an injury occurs.
- Saving extra money in case your luggage is lost and new clothes need to be purchased. Consider sending important items through the mail instead of carrying them in your luggage.
- Researching your destination. Where are you going while you’re there? How will you get to each place? Where will you eat while you’re out? Planning ahead will make the destination easier to navigate.
Ongoing therapy sessions can also help change your response to an anxious situation. In some cases, depending on the severity of your anxiety, your doctor may suggest medication, sedatives, or antidepressants to use during travel.
Otherwise, give yourself permission to have an imperfect trip. For so many people the image of that perfect vacation is what fuels their anxiety. Recognizing that your vacation may not go perfectly sets you up for success.
For more information on travel anxiety or to get help with this and other phobias, contact Dr. Andrew Rosen and The Center for Treatment of Anxiety Disorders in Delray Beach, Florida at 561-496-1094 or email Dr. Rosen and The Center today.