Pre-Travel anxiety and how to deal with it

The long road to Death Valley. Nevada USA.
It can seem like a long road ahead.

What Pre-Travel Anxiety is

Pre-Travel anxiety is shit, and for those of us who suffer from it, it worms its way into our lives completely uninvited and refuses to fuck off. Now this post isn’t going to miraculously cure you of Pre-Travel anxiety. But what it will do is give you advice and help on how to combat it.

It can manifest in so many different ways, causing you to feel anxious, ‘on edge’ and unable to settle for weeks before your trip. A sudden bout of insomnia, upset stomachs, the feeling of dread, over thinking and analysing every single possible out come of the trip. None of them positive, telling you that you’re going to have an amazing time. Instead the shopping trips for sun tan lotion, sandals and cute outfits (because for some reason going on holiday requires an unspoken rule of buying brand news clothes for strangers to see you in, even though the don’t actually know your ‘old’ outfits.) gets taken over with that niggling voice in your ear saying:

This is a bad idea

Your going to die

This is too scary an unfamiliar

Something Bad is going to happen– Travel Insurance

This is a big contender for me, and is rooted into my main cause for my mental health. I’m terrified constantly that something bad is going to happen, to me, my family, friends my pets. It’s EXHAUSTING, and when this feeling is heightened by an upcoming trip, it sucks all of my energy and I just don’t want to do anything.

Something that helps releave this fear is Travel Insurance. Now I can feel you eye rolling me, being like ‘come on Char we all know we need travel insurance’. But do you really, so many people I meet on my travels are just like, ‘O yeah, I just forgot’ or ‘I don’t think its neccessary, if I’m ill then I’ll just wait until I get home’

*Insert Face Palm here*

You see when I went to Bali nothing physically happened to me, but it could’ve, as I arrived 48 hours after the Earthquakes that flattened Lombok, and one night had to sleep outside due to my ceiling starting to come in. I always get travel insurance, it takes less than 30 minutes to find, get the one that it applicable to you i.e. world wide, does it include certain acitivites such as skiing or surfing, what is the excess? etc. It’s quick easy and will help you know end with your pre-travel anxiety. Just don’t go without it yeah? And if you’re unsure of where to look here are some sites I would recommend, I could not be making this any easier, because I want you all to be safe!

Safety Wing Insurance

World Nomads Insurance

Documents

What documents do I need? What if I forget something? I would always print everything of as soon as you get it, and put it in a plastic wallet. Keep this plastic wallet on your bedside and once you have it filled put it straight in your hand luggage. In mine is insurance, flight info, coach bookings, hotel paper work. etc. If you don’t have a printer, I’d make a folder specifically for everything on your phone.

Destination unknown

Being unfamiliar with your travel destination can cause huge anxiety as I explain in my post https://burstingmybubbles.com/anxiety-first-holiday/. As the fear of the unknown is something we find unsettling and can hold us back. Not knowing the culture, what there is to do once you get there, places to eat, how to get around, not wanting to miss out on what everyone else is doing, what’s worth doing and what to avoid. The list is ENDLESS.

Guide Book Bali and Lombok, Lonely Planet
My annotated guidebook!

Get a guidebook, I never go away without a guidebook on the country I am visiting. When I went to Bali, I read the book cover to cover and made colour coordinated post it notes through out. (Now typing that has me giggling to myself as it sounds so over the top, and fucking ridiculous but during that time it is what I needed). It was my first solo trip and my first time visiting that side of the world. There are loads of guidebooks out there, but I personally would recommend Lonely Planet. They are easy to read, have top tips and reasonably priced.

Secondly PINTEREST. O My Fucking Gosh do I love me some Pinterest. It’s amazing. I will create a folder purely for the destination, and add articles to it. For instance when I went to Krakow I simply typed in 3 days in Krakow, and it came up with so many blogs and posts. From it found a speak easy bar, which you had to enter through a out of order toilet in a local pool hall. Therefore before I go I feel like I am already familiar with the destination, and it gets me more excited about what I can do whilst I’m there. Quietening that pre-travel anxiety.

Minor Injuries

I am incredibly clumsy. My mum says, I could fall over my own shadow. I blame it on being left handed and being dyspraxic. But regardless of the reasoning, my knees are covered in scars from falling over. Now usually this will just require a quick check to make sure nobody has seen me face plant, dust myself down and carry on.

Occasionally it requires a little more and I’ve got quite a nasty cut. Therefore I always carry a travel first aid kit with me. I bought it for a couple quid from Home Bargains and it has Plasters, Antiseptic wipes, bandages and tape, and over the counter painkillers (mainly for a hangover) in it. Nothing huge but enough to get me by, should I need it. It also saves me having to awkwardly hobble to the nearest pharmacy, and pretend I haven’t been crying (I’m such a whimp if I hurt myself haha). You can make one yourself or just get one from your local shop.

Forgetting everything or more likley nothing

Now if there was an Olympic sport for whittling I’d come first place every. damn. time. At home I can wear the same shoes for a month, but on holiday I’ll pack a pair of walking sandals, flip flops, sandals for nighttime and walking boots… Same with clothes and hair accessories. I NEVER really wear hair accessories but for a week in Portugal you’re damn straight I’m going to buy all the headbands …

It’s that fear of ‘what if ….’ that creeps in. What if it rains (in a country with 300+ days of sunshine a year), what if I don’t have enough sun tan lotion, so you pack enough for a family of 4 on a road expedition around Europe. Your anxiety can get the better of you and you end up buying more than is necessary ‘just in case’ feel massively prepared. Only to realise when you arrive, that your toothbrush is nice and secure in your home bathroom holder…..

My advice make a list. Now I love a list, and they help me in every day situations. And to make a list in itself can be quite daunting. Therefore I put my lists into categories ( I promise you I’m not this organised in all aspects of my life haha). Here are my categories

Toiletries: Sun tan lotion, tooth paste, moisturiser, hair oil( my hair and heat are not friends, think Monica in Barbados)

Clothes: Day time / night time, mix and match. If it’s for a long trip are they things that can dry easily. Underwear.

Shoes: Are those third spare of stilettos you’ve never worn, really neccessary?

Essentials: Passport, tickets, insurance documents, money, phone, medication

Now to be honest, and I struggle to follow this advice. But as long as you have the essentials. Everything else if needed can be bought. Example, I went to Barcelona on a solo trip. I’d checked the forecast, and it was going to be glorious sunshine. Mother nature however had other plans and it pissed it down for the first 2 days. Therefore I quickly had to buy some boots and a brolly. As I’d arrived in just a thin jacket and sandals and had a very soggy walk down Las Ramblas.

My to do lists before I travel
An example of my to do lists.

Looking like a tourist

In terms of pre-travel anxiety, this can come across in a few different ways. The most common being: ‘If I look like a tourist I’ll get mugged’. We start to feel unsafe and panic that ‘someting bad is going to happen’. Now I’ve mentioned in a previous post how I was robbed on holiday. And there was NOTHING I could’ve done differently to stop that situation. It was inevitable. What I can do is put things in place to stop be having a huge flashing arrow above my head saying I have no idea where I am.

Headphones: Before you leave your room, cafe, restuarant etc. Stick your head phones in to your phone and recieve directions that way. Instead of having googlemap announce to the world you are a tourist. Headphones can also help during an anxiety induced situation, as if you are feeling overwhelemd put them in, cancel out the surrounding noises, and listent o something that can help calm you.

Google Maps: They are a great resource when you are in an unknown place. They can give you train times, what buses to catch and the quickest route to your destination. Teamed with headphones its a done deal. Though be aware not all countires allow google maps. Therefore when researching your destination make sure you check this out. As when I went to Oman luckily we found this out in plenty of time, and was able to find an alternative, for when we were there.

Money, Money, Money

The dreaded ‘What if I run out of money’, anxiety attack. This one is a bugger. Because when going on trips you can’t guarantee having the exact amount of money needed. And there will always be that niggling doubt in the back of your mind. Before going away, I always look at the money value in comparison to the UK’s. For instance, things are a lot cheaper in Indonesia than they are in the UK. Therefore it will cost me less to live there for a month than the UK.

I will save all I can afford, check out the rough prices of everything I want to do whilst I’m away. Make sure I have enough for that and to live in general. I will then split my money into each day. So when I went to the Canary Islands I was on a tight budget and my and my partner had 93 euros a day to live off, for meals, drinks and excursions. Some days we’d only spend 40, as we’d cook in our apartment and have a day relaxing on the beach. Therefore the next day we would have 146 euros and we could do an trip we’ve been wanting too. is really helps me when travelling.

When budgeting it’s just like being at home, never take out more than you can spend, don’t be reckless and keep track of your spending.

language barriers

As far as my language skills go, my native language is English (or Yorkshire) and I have a GCSE in French. There is always a panic of being unable to communicate unless you want a beer, then everyone seems to be fluent . It can be realy fucking intimidating trying to ask for something when neither of you have a common language and you can get embarrassed, and feeling overwhelmed.

As I mentioned earlier in the post Lonley Planet guide books for me are great. They have a section with key phrases for your destination and their pheonetic spelling so you know how to say them. Therfore you will be able to get through your day with a little more ease. That and locals always appreciate it if you at least try. There is also so many language translator apps that you can have a whole new language ready on your phone.

Hygiene

Hygiene is different to everyone. The basics are usually the same but the depth of them can vary between each individual, and their personal experience. With regards to this I would recommend taking along a pack of stuff that is neccessary to you. For instance wipes, hand sanitizer, tissues and a water purifyer. If its going to help your anxiety and mental health then do what you gotta do.

Accidently packing illegal contraband

So we’ve put all the steps in place and are at the airport. We’ve checked our luggage in and are waiting to go through security, off come our shoes, belts and jackets. We get in a queue looking smug because we are all prepared ready to go through and let our trip properly begin at the airport bar. When it hits you. ‘What if I’ve accidently packed illegal substances (having never took them in my life) and the airport police and going to shout at me, pull all my belongings out of my hand luggage whilst simultaneously getting everyone else in the airport to chant ‘SHAME’ at me.’

The fear is SO real

Miniature Alcohol under 100ml

Solution: Make sure you have all you liquids are in a plastic bag, they are all under 100ml and you have less than 1000ml combined. Place them at the top of your hand luggage, or in an easy to get too side pocket, ready to place into a tray.

Electrical: Now some countries require electricals to be fully charged when they go through security. Make sure you check this when researching about your destination. And like the liquids, make sure they are in and easy to reach place in your hand luggage, to avoid any panic and feeling rushed when putting things into a tray. Check you have nothing in your pockets and walk on through.

Missing Luggage

Imagine arriving at your beautiful destination, excited, a lil tipsy from mimosas and ready to enjoy your new found place. Only to then be waiting an hour at the luggage carousel, and then discover someone from the airline has been half arsedly carrying around a piece of paper with your name on it. To let you know your luggage has been left in Dubai and won’t arrive for another 24 hours.

FUCK!!!!!!

Even worse, the clothes you’ve spent the past 30 hours travelling in, are now your besties for another 24 hours …. And you wonder why the fuck you didn’t pack any spares in your hand luggage and curse your past self for thinking ‘Emirates are a HUGE company they’d never loose my luggage’ Just pack spares, as you never know. Make sure you have all your medication and enough clothes to keep you going just incase. It may mean you need a slightly bigger hand luggage carry on. But will save you so much stress and anxiety in the long run.

Top tips

– You can take your own alcohol through in the mini bottles under 100ml – Pesto counts as a liquid – Some airlines do tickets in their apps – You can pre-arrange with your hotel to get picked up from the airport – If you’re taking sex toys in your hand luggage make sure you take the batteries out first

There is no better feeling, than once you’ve got through security, your sat bang opposite a flights detail board, obssesively checking it every 5 minutes to make sure you haven’t missed your flights gate announcement. With a glass of bubbles ready to finally let tell the Pre-Travel anxiety to ‘Go fuck yourself’ CHEERS!

Want a free anxiety guide for whilst your travelling?

IF like me you like to have everything to hand in one easy list here I have made 3 free guides to help with your anxiety when travelling! Just pop in your email address and I’ll get them sent over to you! These are SO helpful and completely FREE!

Prosecco at Doncaster Airport!
Prosecco at the Airport

4 Replies to “Pre-Travel anxiety and how to deal with it”

  1. Fantastic tips Charlotte! Especially when you’re feeling anxious and overwhelmed, reading this article will no doubt be putting many minds at ease. I love your determination to explore and fight those fears. Your writing is wonderfully witty 🙂 Keep up the awesome words and thoughts.

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