There’s so much to be excited about when planning a trip abroad. From experiencing new cultures and navigating unfamiliar streets, to spending your days combing through beautiful museums and other cultural sites—there’s much to look forward to. But many of the exciting aspects that come with traveling away from home can also push teens far outside of their comfort zone.
While this is just part of the adventure for some, others may have a fear of traveling that has prevented them from saying yes to trips in the past. Pre-travel anxiety is common for people of all ages, but if you are unable to get a hold of your feelings, your dream vacation can quickly begin to unravel. Luckily, with a bit of research and a few key preparation steps, you can learn how to overcome travel anxiety and focus on the many positive aspects of visiting new places. Here are six tips for overcoming teen travel anxiety.
1. Plan Ahead
If you know you have travel anxiety, don’t try to avoid it or pretend that everything is okay. Take some time to review your best coping techniques and pack items that you know will help to keep you calm. For example, you can create a playlist of your favorite relaxing music or bring your favorite travel pillow in your carry-on. Simple items like this can make it easier to relax while traveling and get some much-needed rest before you hit the ground running.
2. Set Your Mind at Ease
While it’s impossible to plan for every conceivable issue that may come up during your trip, you can be prepared for certain situations that you know set off your anxiety. Worried about getting sick? You can purchase travel insurance that will protect you if you become ill or injured during your vacation. Afraid you’ll misplace or lose your passport? Always prepare photo backups of your most important documents and store them in a secure place. You can also take time to learn about the rules and safety policies of your specific travel program.
3. Know Your Itinerary
The idea of traveling to a new place and just going with the flow is perfect for some people but if you experience anxiety before travel, it’s a good idea to work up a well-researched itinerary for your vacation. It can be extremely helpful to know which neighborhoods are safe to walk around during the evenings, which of the best must-see attractions are open during your visit, the ideal mode of transportation to help you get from point a to point b, and where you can find a good meal after a long day of exploring.
However, be sure to give yourself a bit of flexibility in your schedule, because there’s nothing worse for anxiety than the feeling of rushing around all day and night.
4. Pack the Essentials
You should never leave your packing until the last minute if you can help it. Trying to pack everything you need for a trip the night before you jump on a plane is enough to stress anyone out. So, try making a packing list a few days before you’re scheduled to leave town. This will give you plenty of time to go over which items are essential and which items can stay home. Just be sure to leave room for a few treasures that will help to provide a welcome distraction if you feel anxious while flying or on the road.
5. Remember to Breathe
When you start to feel anxious, your breathing can quickly go from deep and steady to short and rapid. Because your mind is busy focusing on other things, taking a few minutes to relax and breathe can help to slow your mind and feel more relaxed. Stop and sit down with your feet planted about shoulder-width apart. Then place your hands on your knees and breathe in for 5 seconds through your nose. Exhale with a strong breath for about 10 seconds, as if you’re blowing out a birthday candle.
6. Don’t Hesitate to Take a Break
If you’re traveling with others, you may feel pressure to keep going at the same pace. But there’s no reason why you can’t be vocal about the way that you’re feeling and take a break when you need one. If you begin to feel overwhelmed by crowds or the idea of eating another unfamiliar meal, you can excuse yourself from the schedule and take time out for self-care. Sometimes a break from the busy schedule and a chance to relax in your hotel can go a long way towards relieving your anxiety.
Learn More About How to Deal with Travel Anxiety
Are you ready to set out on your first great adventure but have a fear of traveling? Know that you are not alone. But luckily, there are a ton of great resources available today for teen travel anxiety.
At Travel for Teens, we are dedicated to helping young people create unique experiences as they become responsible travelers. Contact us today to learn more about our teen travel programs and how we help our travelers deal with pre-travel anxiety.