Traveling With Anxiety & Panic Attacks

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If you’re anything like me, or resonate with the subject of this blog post, then you’re probably an anxious traveler. I am 1000% an anxious traveler. I truly have NEVER traveled once in my entire life where I wasn’t anxious.

I didn’t know until I was older that those “travel jitters” was a long lasting panic attack. I just knew when it came time to pack and leave I wasn’t excited in the least.

Most of my other anxiety inducing situations have seemed to get better as I’ve worked on them in Therapy. Traveling, however, seems to be the one that has not gotten better, but substantially worse.

Normally I can face anxious situations head on because I have the tools and coping skills to overcome them. BUT, traveling is a whole other game to my anxiety. Not something that I want to chose to face in order to help overcome anxious emotions.

Since traveling is almost inevitable for my life (you know, military spouse who moves a lot and lives far away from family and friends) I have to do it from time to time. And although I truthfully don’t enjoy it I have found things that have helped get me through those long days of flying or driving.

Also, I did a poll on my Instagram stories last week asking if anyone had ever felt anxious while traveling. The results?

236 people voted and 95% said YES.

That’s 223 people if you’re wondering. So my question below is for you.

So next time you’re in the airport waiting for your flight to board just know that plenty of people around you probably feel some of those same anxious emotions too.

Alright, here are the things that have helped me and I hope help you too!

  1. Prepare your EAK!!

Not sure what this is? That’s ok! Click on the EAK word above. EAK stands for “Emergency Anxiety Kit” and essentially what this is are a few basic things that immediately help you with panic attacks or anxiety. I have five things in my list, some of them are listed below but your list may look different!

2. Stop avoiding or ignoring the fact that you will be anxious.

For a long time I kept thinking, “maybe this will be the trip where I don’t panic the entire time” and I have been wrong every single time. Sorry to say this but stop wishing for it to go away. Why? Because deep down you know that it will be there, so now is the time to accept it and prepare to feel uncomfortable while traveling.

3. Give yourself small things to look forward to the day of traveling.

For example, I flew to Austin, TX for the 4th of July, and knowing I am an anxious traveler I gave myself SPECIFIC things to look forward to to help focus on something other than the debilitating anxiety. I wrote a list and they included:

  • Giving my FIL socks with his face on them
  • Torchy’s Taco (restaurant in Austin)
  • Relaxing on the plane with my new neck pillow
  • Watching my two favorite movies I downloaded specifically for the flight
  • Eating delicious sushi
  • Relaxing by the pool with a book
  • Finish reading book series while waiting for the plane to board

4. Calming supplements

Things like CBD, lavender oil, peppermint oil (for nausea), magnesium, chamomile oil, or other scents or supplements that you find help you. I highly recommend trying some CBD while traveling if you haven’t yet!

5. Read a book that really grabs your attention.

I’m not talking a cute self help book, well unless its super attention grabbing for you, but a book that really focuses your energy on the story in the book. I did this and after about 5 to 10 minutes of reading my physical symptoms seemed to lessen.

6. Bring a journal to write out what you’re going through or feeling.

It doesn’t matter what you write, just take that pen out (or type in your phone) and start writing what comes to mind. Make a pro’s and con’s list, a to do list for when you get home.

7. Bring some crunchy snacks and water.

Obviously you can buy some at the airport, but they are stupid expensive. My go to’s are mini pretzels and goldfish.

8. Download meditation music, guided breathing audios, or calming music.

This was another huge one for me this time. I have the Fitbit premium app and they had some guided breathing sessions, meditations, and different audios that helped calm my racing mind.

You can download a meditation app, keep meditation podcasts handy, calming music, maybe some YouTube videos for a visual guided session, and more.

DISCLAIMER: Please note that I am not a medical professional, counselor, therapist, psychologist, or any of the like there of. I am not licensed to give professional advice in terms of mental health disorders & medical advice. All statements below are my own personal experiences and personal advice. I am not liable for any outcomes or decisions made based off of this writing or other articles written by myself on this website. Please see a licensed medical professional for mental health advice and/or counseling.

All of these tips listed above are to HELP alleviate some of the anxious feelings and panic attacks. They are NOT to get rid of it completely. As nice as that would be, that’s just not realistic. Find things that help take that anxious energy down so you can focus on something else that will keep you from panicking and turning around to go home.

I really truly hope I can fly somewhere one day and have minimal anxiety. That way I’m actually able to enjoy where I’m headed to! It just might take some time and lots of prayer, and that’s okay.

What are some things that help you when travel anxiety comes your way? Tell me in the comments below!

Thanks for reading,

~Erin, The Short Wife

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