Since being diagnosed with anxiety and panic attacks a few years ago, I’ve gone from wanting to stay at home where I feel safe all the time to swearing that I’m not going let anxiety ruin my life. And in September 2016 I decided that meant travelling more, managing nine trips (Palma, Amsterdam, Dublin, London, Glasgow, Amsterdam, London, Winchester, Amsterdam) in the last year. I thought I’d share my coping mechanisms and so here’s my tips for travelling with anxiety.
I plan everything I want to see before I go on a trip, usually using my guidebook. I mark off landmarks on a map so I can see at a glance what’s near what, in order to maximise my time and do less walking, more seeing things. Planning also means I don’t have those panicky moments where I don’t know where I’m going and everything feels a bit overwhelming. But I make sure I’m relaxed about the fact plans can change, and so if I don’t end up following the schedule I’d written, that’s fine too.
I use apps to help me navigate new places-if the bus company has an app I use it, and I swear by Rome 2 Rio for telling you how to get from A to B anywhere you like. I’ve not found a place I couldn’t find my way to yet, so it’s very helpful when you worry about things.
I find the most important thing to do if I’m feeling a bit anxious is stop, look around and take everything in. I make a mental note of what I can see, what I can hear, what I can smell and just ground myself. It’s a well known technique to help with anxiety and it always works well for me.
As much as I try not to take them, my anxiety tablets are always in my purse, whether I’m popping to Tesco or travelling somewhere exotic. These days I try to remember that needing to take them isn’t a failure, and so if I need to, I do. Often just knowing I COULD is enough to ward off those anxious feelings. Actually, travelling with anxiety is a big achievement and if you need to take a couple of pills to manage that-then why not?
Solo travel can be hard, it can get very lonely, and so I’m so grateful that via Whatsapp I can stay in touch with friends and family, sending messages, photos, videos and even voicenotes back and forth. You’re never truly alone when you have Whatsapp!
Photography really relaxes me and there’s nothing more soothing than heading out with my camera. So I always take it with me, and end up with lots of photos from every trip-always handy for this blog and my Instagram.
I shouldn’t need it, and if I had a credit card I’d take that, but having some emergency money, or access to some, always stops me worrying about things. 99% of things that could go wrong on a trip can be solved by having enough cash.
Do you have anything else that could help people travelling with anxiety? Do you have anxiety yourself and still travel despite it?