Scared to travel? Tips for battling pre-trip anxiety (from the mom with anxiety)

I’m going to let you all in a little secret.  I struggle daily with anxiety, and traveling only makes it worse!  Funny, huh? The girl that is scared to travel is the one that BLOGS about travel!  I’ve been wanting to post about travel and anxiety for a long time, but it wasn’t till I received a direct message on Instagram that I realized that you, too, may struggle with nervousness.  Here are my thoughts on vacation anxiety and what I do to help with it.

What kind of pre-travel anxiety happens?

When we booked our family flights to Australia, I cried.  No, no, no. Not tears of joy and excitement! Tears of fear!  What were we thinking taking kids so far? What if they never slept and were complete crabs?  This was costing so much money! What if we needed that money for something else? So many what-ifs rolled out of my head!

travel anxiety, vacation anxiety, pre-trip nerves, worry

However, as we’ve traveled more with the kids, it has gotten easier.  While I still have my moments of stress, I’m better able to deal with them.  While many things are out of our control – weather, flight delays, traffic accidents, there are some things that can be controlled.

Here are my suggestions for combating vacation anxiety, based on the thing that brings you worry:

Sickness

I’m known to completely hunker down the week before a vacation.  The kids and I are kept safely in the house ingesting Vitamin C tablets and elderberry syrup.  I know this isn’t a possibility for many families, but I would up your health game the last two weeks before travel.  Emphasize healthy foods. Get plenty of rest. Take vitamins and practice hand washing. Kids are prone to constant illness, so while they are great things to practice all the time, I feel like paying special attention to them before a trip gives me peace of mind.

Beyond your own family, those of us with parents and grandparents may want to consider that they also could come down with an illness. (Not trying to add more anxiety to your anxiety)!  Buying travel insurance is one way that our family calms fears of having a cancel a trip. You can read more HERE about why I believe in travel insurance, especially if you’re planning to venture overseas.

Luggage

Luggage gets lost, it’s a fact of life.  You can help the airlines do a better job by making sure all luggage is clearly marked with a tag and not only your email address but a mobile phone number.  Remove any old airline tags with airport codes. Take photos of your luggage before departure. I also pack a change of clothes (and extra underwear) for everyone in our carry-on bags.  If the luggage is delayed (or someone has an accident on the flight), you know you can at least get one day of clean items!


Weather 

2017, for us, was full traveling during bad weather.  It was a frustrating experience, and another one that was/is completely out of our control.  One thing I learned from the experience was to give myself an extra day on each trip. We tend to do extended weekends or short getaways because my husband hates to miss work, but the reality is when we only have 3-4 days in a city, having 1-2 days of bad weather can ruin the entire trip!  

If bad weather gives you pre-travel anxiety, check out the local rain and temperature averages BEFORE booking your trip.  Research rainy seasons and hurricane seasons. Knowing what to expect before forking over your money or setting an itinerary can help quelch vacation nerves.  While rates in the Caribbean and Mexico are drastically lower during hurricane season, imagine how you’d feel if your plans were changed or your trip was interrupted.

Make alternative plans in case weather derails your trip.  Have a list of indoor attractions nearby that will work in case you have to cancel walking tours, hiking tours, or sightseeing.  Don’t be like me, sitting in a hotel under a tornado watch, looking for things to do away from rainy New Orleans. 😉

Loss of Money

Most people worry about money, to some degree or another.  So spending hundreds OR thousands of dollars on a trip. and then wondering if everything will go as planned, can bring on anxiety.

Before booking, make a budget breaking down every expense of the trip.  Travel requires planning and making a budget is just one of the steps. Sit down and consider how much cost you will have in food, lodging, tours, etc.  Probably the most important factor in pre-trip anxiety with money is “don’t spend more than you can afford.”  Never book a trip on credit card thinking you’ll just worry about it when you get home.  You will definitely need a vacation from your vacation if you bring debt home!

However, I’m all for using credit card points to your advantage.  I don’t stress (much) about the cost of travel since we began travel hacking (a.k.a. using credit card points and sign-up bonuses to pay for airline tickets and hotel stays).  You can find out more about that HERE and HERE.

travel anxiety, vacation anxiety, pre-trip nerves, worry

Planes, trains, and automobiles

Probably the #1 cause of travel stress is missed flight connections or cancellations and delays.  Many times in these instances travelers will begin queuing at customer service desk.  While you may want to hop in line, I’d also phone the airline’s customer service number while you wait.  If you have the app on your phone, you can easily search the next available flight so you’ll know what to press for.  You may also want to make a quick search of Kayak or another distributor to see if the airline can accommodate you on another airline’s flight (This won’t work for budget carriers like Southwest).

Try to remember that changes can happen and they are out of your control.  If you have clothes packed in your carry-on and have budgeted for extra meals, there really is nothing to worry about!  This is also an instance where travel insurance that covers trip delays can give you extra peace of mind.  Just remember to save all your receipts.

I don’t know about you, but I’m high strung on the highway when the traffic is bad or people are driving insanely!  Mr. YT’s favorite line is, “just look at your phone,” because if I’m engaged in something I don’t notice the traffic.  Ha!  I’ve found that audiobooks also help – or being the driver!

Personal experience- Faith helps

I’d be amiss to not share how my faith helps me through times of great anxiety.  I’ll often quote Scripture to myself when facing rapid thoughts of fear.

“There is no fear in love but perfect love casts out fear.” 1 John 4:18a

“Cast all your anxiety on Him because He cares for you.” 1 Peter 5:7

“Trust in the Lord with all your heart and lean not on your own understanding.”  Proverbs 3:5

These verses help me, whether it’s the middle of a restless night or the middle of a turbulent flight.  If you’re a Christian and you struggle with anxiety, it helps to pray God’s Word right back to Him.

Closing thoughts

In the conversations I’m having, some level of pre-travel anxiety is normal.  Like all anxiety, we can do our best to manage it!  Please, don’t let it keep you from seeing the world, or the next state over.  Remember that lots of people are dealing with the nerves of travel and be gracious to them, too.

Have you battled pre-trip worries or vacation anxiety?  What helps you alleviate your concerns?

**This post contains affiliate links.  This post is not meant to diagnose or treat any anxiety disorder, this is just my personal experience.**

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7 thoughts on “Scared to travel? Tips for battling pre-trip anxiety (from the mom with anxiety)

  1. Luggage is definitely my biggest anxiety trigger when traveling. I have had luggage not make it my destination before & had it show up hours later or the next day. I try to pack at least one outfit and some necessities in my carry-on just in case. It definitely helps ease my worries a little.

  2. Great suggestions and I love that the quotes of faith made the list. Definitely a firm believer in packing a change of clothes in a carryon. Lost luggage has happened to 2 of my friends in the past and it was not pleasant.

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