How to enjoy travelling post-pandemic, for anxious travellers

  • Issue no. 3

Is there anything more stressful than booking a journey that has more than one change in it? If you answer no, then we welcome you, fellow weary and worried traveller. Travel anxiety is exhausting. Whether you’re driving down a country road you’ve never ventured before or you’re in a city where you can get to anywhere in minutes, getting out there is already a challenge.

Then, the world shut down for a bit, and travelling became even more stressful than before. With everything opening up again, including travel, how are we meant to get ourselves back on the holiday horse with fresh, new fears?

Here are some insights and tips from one self proclaimed flight-fearing-full-timer, and a post-pandemic-panicker, to give you our travelling tips and get you back out there. 

Flight-Fearing-Full-Timer: Alice

As a legend in convincing myself I’ve left all the hobs on and the door wide open whenever I leave the house, I’ve exhausted myself trying to calm down whilst travelling plenty of times. I once took a megabus to Manchester for two nights, and had forgotten to take the (half-full of mainly plastic, stored in a cupboard) bin out. I was convinced I’d return to my flat being devoured by flies to the point I nearly jumped off the bus early to turn back. Of course, everything was fine.

Leaving my rather foolish cat home alone for even and evening makes me worry, and all she does is sit. I can’t fully explain why I worry about my home being empty for even half-an-hour, or why taking a standard mode of transport fills me with horrific ‘what-if’s’. But I know I can’t let them define my life.

Top three dream travel destinations?

Iceland; but would need at least a month to fully enjoy here – just writing that made me anxious! Black sand beaches, ice blue hot springs, it’s a volcanic grey wonderland.

Estonia; Hidden gem of northern europe. The architecture is gorgeous and it looks simply magical in winter.`

Poland; Gorgeous cities and rural countryside. Desperately want to check out the bone chapel – Kaplica Czaszek!

Anything upcoming? 

I’m heading to a wedding in Brighton soon. I’m nervous, of course, even though accommodation is organised and it’s a very relaxed event, I even got my outfit months in advance. I’m going to challenge myself to relax on the train and not think about anything going wrong for at least the journey there. Wish me luck!

Post-Pandemic-Panicker: Ross

As adventurous and fun travel can be, it also can induce anxiety for all ages. There is something about the unpredictable journey that can bring on anxious thoughts. These thoughts can be brought on when you are on a train, on a ferry, in a coach, or my personal favourite, flying. For some people these anxious thoughts can be overwhelming and isn’t something that can be turned off like a tap. Well, we are here to tell you, that you are not alone.  

Top three dream travel destinations:

Iceland; I am a sucker for anything nordic and cold, but Iceland is so beautiful and different from any other place on the planet. You will need plenty of time to explore and plenty of money. Expensive place to visit but a place that you will remember forever.

New Zealand; One of the most stunning countries in the world. They are very proud of their culture and their filming locations. Land of the hobbits and the All Blacks, it’s a place that needs to be explored.

Japan; The perfect combination of futuristic cityscapes, and traditional countryside. One of the most interesting places in the world.

Anything upcoming?

No real travelling experience planned yet, but sometime soon I’ll be modifying a van to go travelling in, that in itself is a nerve-racking thought, but taking each step at a time, and following my own advice will see me through the storm. Good luck everyone.

Tips and Tricks for your Travels

Document your last minute house sweep
A friend told me this gem. Record yourself doing a sweep before you leave, showing all your doors and windows are locked, bins have been taken out, lights are off and pets are safe.

Have an itinerary
One of the worst feelings with travel anxiety is abrupt change. Planning your trip and any backup routes in advance can really help give you control over your trip. Even if you’re only staying one night an hour from home, having links and numbers saved on your phone can really put your mind at ease. Local taxis, train and bus times, road closures etc. 

The perfect playlist
We’ve curated a selection of our personal travel tunes for all different types of journeys. From Lofi and Deep Electronic to Soundtracks and Rock’n’Roll. Check it out below!

Anxious Travellers by Wonderhatch – click to listen!

Podcasts and spoken storybooks have changed my travelling experience, such titles as the Harry Potter series narrated by Steven Fry is a sure winner. I also listen to podcasts such as ‘How to fail with Elizabeth Day’ and I am a fan of film, so ‘Kermode on film’ and ‘Kermode and Mayo’s film review’ are a great set of podcasts. A little more thought provoking and philosophical podcasts I listen to are ‘The Buddhism Guide’ and ‘Edge of Mind’. All of these are great distractions and has taught me a variety of perspectives and viewpoints…. Or have just entertained me with Wizards and Witches.

The right people
If you get anxious in large groups, keep the group small or travel with one other person, and vice versa. Make sure who you do travel with are the right people, someone who understands you and you feel comfortable around, if you can tell them anything and they will help you, someone who you can laugh with and they feel the same way, they are the ideal travel partner.

Invest in the best route
Torn between getting it over with and getting there in one piece? It’s a tricky one, especially overseas. But if you’re comfortable travelling for a little longer with minimal changes, we’d recommend the calmest, easiest journey, even if it takes a little longer.

‘A personal example is a trip recently taken to Dundee. It was a choice between an hour flight and a five hour train journey. I opted for the latter, with plenty of snacks and things to keep me busy. But there was no rushing for gates, security checks or shuttles for me to worry about.’

Give yourself a distraction, even if you don’t use it
From a book, notepad, a puzzle, Netflix, anything that will keep your mind off of stressing. Sometimes just having the distractions will help calm you down, even if you don’t use them.

One good distraction for those longer journeys, is writing a short story. It helps focus your mind elsewhere whilst also having something to look back on fondly from your successful travel. You can enjoy the process and the tale, and when it’s time to travel again, you can remind yourself with it. Maybe you write down the first two things you see, and two things about your trip, then form a story from there.

Logical thinking
Sometimes cold hard facts are the only thing that can calm you when travelling. It’s very easy to spiral when you think of what could happen to you or your home. But looking at the comparison of what won’t likely happen can bring comfort. How many of your train rides, bus trips, walks to the shops did anything serious happen in comparison? 

Plan things that give you time to rest, not time to worry. – Finding a balance on holiday is key. Making sure you have time to settle in, but not enough to fidget is very important when you’re anxious. Making yourself familiar with the local necessities can also help ground you and focus yourself on what you’re doing and where you’re headed next. Some people find comfort in an itinerary, and others just enjoy finding an adventure. Try to aim for both, leaving room to explore, but also keeping yourself organised. 

We hope these tips and tricks have been helpful, fellow weary worrier.

Keep it easy, and don’t get lost out there, unless you want to! 

If you’d like any further advice or information on anxiety and travelling, check out these links below: 

NHS – Tips to cope with anxiety after lockdown


Headspace article – How to Stop Worrying 

Alice Constance & Ross Pollard
Retoucher & Production Trainee

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