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What to Know About Travel Anxiety

It must be tough to watch your friends and family get excited about travelling, while news like this only stresses you out and makes you anxious.

While travel anxiety may not be an officially diagnosed medical issue, it can still be severe enough to interfere with your life. For example, it may stop you from visiting friends and family or even make you lose an opportunity overseas.

In this article, we discuss everything you need to know about travel anxiety including what it is, what causes it, and how to overcome it.

Image: A photo of a young woman in her room, smiling brightly, packing for travel

What is Travel Anxiety

Travel anxiety is the feeling of worry or fear about travelling, and it can happen to anyone. Some people feel nervous about flying, while others worry about being in new places and meeting new people.

And it is not just about big trips. It can happen with any kind of travel, including short ones, such as a weekend getaway or a business trip.

This anxiety can make you feel stressed and overwhelmed, and you might find yourself dreading trips that others look forward to. Planning a trip might be even worse as it may feel more like a burden than an adventure.

However, note that it is okay to feel this way, and there are ways to help overcome it. The very first step is understanding that you have travel anxiety, recognising its symptoms, and finding a way that works for you to cope or overcome it.

What Causes Travel Anxiety

Understanding what causes your travel anxiety can help you manage it better. It is also important to know that you are not alone and that there are many different ways to help you cope with these fears.

Here are some of the reasons you may be too anxious to travel;

Negative past travel experiences - If you had a difficult trip before, you might worry it will happen again. This can make you anxious about travelling.

Anxiety disorder - People with anxiety disorders are more likely to feel anxious about travelling. It's part of their general anxiety. Travel can add extra stress and make their anxiety worse.

Specific activities - Certain activities such as driving or flying can trigger anxiety. These specific fears can make travel very stressful.

Fear of the unknown - Not knowing what to expect can cause travel anxiety. New places, new people, and new routines can be overwhelming and can make you anxious about your trip.

Loss of control - Travel often means giving up some control. You might worry about missing your flight or losing your luggage. This feeling of not being in control can cause anxiety.

Health concerns - If you are scared of getting sick while travelling, or you have health issues that make travel harder, it can make you anxious about your trip.

Safety concerns - Constantly worrying about safety, for example, if you are scared of accidents, crime, or natural disasters, can cause anxiety.

Social anxiety - If you have social anxiety, you might worry about interacting with strangers, which can make travel, especially to crowded places, very stressful.

Image: A photo of a young woman wearing white headphones, enjoying music while travelling by train.

Symptoms of Travel Anxiety

Travel anxiety can show up in many different ways, with everyone's experience being different. Here are some common symptoms;

Physical Symptoms

Travel anxiety often causes physical symptoms such as heart racing or trouble breathing. Some people feel dizzy or lightheaded. You might also feel sick to your stomach or get headaches. These physical signs are your body's way of responding to stress.

Emotional Symptoms

Feeling worried or fearful is a common emotional symptom. You might find yourself constantly thinking about what could go wrong.

Behavioural Symptoms

Travel anxiety can also change how you behave. You might start avoiding travel plans or making excuses not to go on trips. Some people spend a lot of time researching or over-planning every detail of their trip.

Cognitive Symptoms

Your thoughts can be affected by travel anxiety, too. You might have trouble concentrating or making decisions, experience racing thoughts or find it hard to focus on anything other than your anxiety. Negative thinking patterns, like expecting the worst, are also common.

Sleep Problems

You may find it hard to fall asleep or stay asleep. Some people experience restless nights filled with anxious thoughts about their upcoming trip. This lack of sleep can make your anxiety even worse.


Feeling anxious can make you more irritable. For example, you may get frustrated or annoyed easily, and small things that wouldn't normally bother you can become big problems.

Overcoming Travel Anxiety

Here are some tips that can help you manage and overcome travel anxiety;

Plan ahead - Research your destination, make a detailed itinerary, and book accommodations and transportation in advance. Knowing what to expect can ease your mind.

Stay organised - Keep important documents in one place, make a checklist of things to pack, and organise your travel essentials. This reduces last-minute stress.

Practice relaxation techniques - Try deep breathing exercises, mindfulness, or meditation. to help you stay calm.

Start small - Begin with short trips and gradually increase the length and complexity of your travels, to build your confidence over time.

Stay healthy - Eat well, stay hydrated, and get enough sleep before your trip. Regular exercise can help reduce stress and keep you feeling good too.

Stay connected - Keep in touch with family and friends while travelling, and share your travel plans with someone you trust. This provides reassurance.

Seek professional help - Consider talking to a therapist, exploring counselling options for anxiety, or using medication if necessary.

Stay positive - Focus on the positive aspects of travel, remind yourself of past travel successes and visualise a positive travel experience. A positive mindset can reduce anxiety.

Prepare for the worst - Have a backup plan for potential problems, know the emergency contacts at your destination, and keep copies of important documents. Being prepared can ease worries and anxiety.

Join a travel group - Consider travelling with a group, joining travel forums, or connecting with travel communities. Sharing experiences and tips with fellow travellers can make travel less stressful.

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