“Travelling with an anxiety disorder is a challenging prospect for most sufferers. Not only are there new places, people and situations, there are large crowds, chances of panic attacks and claustrophobia.” – WikiHow
I have a phobia of flying. Yes you wouldn’t expect this from a travel blogger but I am seriously scared of flying! I have an anxiety disorder and because of it I’ll worry that if I have a panic attack at the beginning of my flight it will not stop until the plane touches the ground or my emergency tablets kick in! Hopefully I can suggest ways to make travelling easier for an anxiety sufferer like myself in this article.
Unfortunately a couple of years ago this wonderful fear prevented me from going to New York. About a week before the trip my body decided to start having regular panic attacks every time I thought about the holiday that was coming up, I had to cancel it last minute and didn’t get a penny back! That was the worst my anxiety has been before a trip, it has stopped me from enjoying many events and prevented me from going on a lot of trips like going to New York for a week with my Travel & Tourism class in 2011 and 2012, going on a skiing trip with my high school to Austria and even something simple like driving across a dam in Wales!
First of all, I will always try to wear my most comfortable clothing – A loose t-shirt, flat shoes and joggers? Perfect. I prefer to wear loose clothing because one of the symptoms of my anxiety is sweating, I feel like I can prevent that a lot easier if I wear loose or cool clothing in situations I know will get me nervous like catching a flight somewhere.
Next, I recommend that you carry something that brings you comfort. For me this is simply a bottle of water, it could be anything like a teddy bear, a diary… I also feel a lot more at ease carrying tablets like an Imodium, Diazapan, Paracetomol or Feminax to help make me feel more prepared for anything therefore keeping me calm.
It is also very important for me to be organised before any trip! You don’t want anything to bring you extra stress so it is important to be well prepared and organised. Make sure you know where everything is, have your passport, tickets and money all somewhere you will remember and be able to get to easily if needed. I always make list of things to pack and do before I go, for example: switching things off, remembering important things like phone chargers and also my travel documents. Having these things organised well in advance makes me feel more confident and under control – then I wont sit on the plane and think “did I switch my hair straighteners off?” – lists are my friends!
Listen to some music, read a book or watch a movie! I always make sure to fully charge my laptop, phone and iPod before I go travelling. Watching a film or listening to music can help make things go by quicker and take my mind off of everything. I usually grab a book from the airport before a long flight as well; unlike phones you don’t have to switch a book off during take-off. When the plane is landing or taking off is when I usually need distracting the most!
Before a long flight don’t forget to eat and go to the toilet or make sure not to eat or drink so you don’t need to get up to go to the toilet in the first place (whatever suits you best) – I like to stay in my seat and not get up unless I’m desperate so going to the toilet and getting something to eat before I go on the plane is something I always make sure to do!
Do some research before you go! Check out the journey times, check maps, sometimes I even Google street view where I am going so I don’t get lost and I feel more comfortable when I get there. I will also ask advice from people I know who have been there before so I know what to expect. I read blogs like Adventurous Kate or visit sites like Trip Advisor beforehand to get other views on places that I am visiting so I have a better idea on what to expect!
Make sure all transport is organised. Having everything booked beforehand can make everything run a lot smoother and make the journey far less stressful. The cost of a taxi from an airport last minute might be a bit of a shock too depending on where you are – at least if transport is booked beforehand you will have a clearer idea of the costs.
I am hoping to raise awareness of anxiety and some money for the charity Anxiety UK – if you would like to donate then please do so via my fundraising page: www.bmycharity.com/fenyastravels