How to overcome travel anxiety, naturally

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Do you feel a panic attack coming over when you’re planning for a cruise vacation with your family or friends? 

Trust me when I say that I can totally relate. 

I suffered from an anxiety disorder that would kick in every time we thought of going somewhere as a family. 

At the very mention of an offshore vacation or even a flight to the neighboring state, i’d break into a cold sweat and look like I have seen a ghost! 

A bit of stress can be a good thing; it gets your heart pumping, prepares your body for the change in environment. That’s what we call excitement, anticipation even! 

But ill-managed stress can lead to anxiety and panic attacks. You’re left ill-prepared to take on what’s to come. 

What do you do if you suffer from such anxiety pangs at the mere utterance of travel, flight or cruise? 

Well, here are a few things that I did to overcome travel anxiety. 

I’m sure you’ll find some combination of these steps or tips helpful in your future voyages…

6-Step Tips To Make Your Trip A Trippin’ Success!

A bit of anxiety is natural before or during a trip, whether it is for business or pleasure, in anticipation of what may happen! But you need to prepare yourself to cope with such situations before they overwhelm you. 

Try these simple steps: 

1)Identify the REAL Cause for your Travel Anxiety: You need to find out what exactly makes you anxious on a trip. Do you usually forget your tickets, passport, or even your toothbrush? Plan your trip properly. Make a list of everything you’d need on your trip and keep it close by when you pack. Start planning your trip (if it’s a long one) a week in advance. This way, you can be sure you don’t forget to pack anything essential (that includes your phone charger. You never know where you get stuck!). 

Make sure to pack the things you’ll need to keep close to you in your

handbag or a handy sling bag that will be on you at all times. 

If you’re traveling to a new place, then read up everything you can on

that place, their culture, their language (download an app if need be!),

their approach towards tourists, places to stay, visa requirement,

update your passport if you need to, places to exchange your currency,

etc. Be ready! 

If you’re worried about missing your flight to the port or getting

delayed, make sure to set several reminders and alarms. So that you’re

reminded of the time and place two days in advance! 

2)Prepare Yourself: Apart from doing all the things mentioned above, there are ways you can prepare for your journey. Pack things you may need for contingencies, like a panic attack (like comfort food or drinks that can help you through an episode). 

Among other things, train your body to calm down on cue. For

instance, start meditation and deep breathing exercises days before the trip. 

3)Keep ready distractions: You may need to pack distractions along with your other belongings. For example, books, soothing music (that you enjoy, like romantic songs or trance music, whatever makes you calm). Bring some onboard activity props, like board games, that you can engage in with your co-passengers. 

4)Feeling overwhelmed? Don’t Fight Your Emotions: Give in to your symptoms, and keep telling yourself, “It will soon pass”. And, they most likely will! If you fight them, they may aggravate, increase your heart rate and may even make you collapse. 

5)Don’t Travel Alone: It’s always best to travel with someone else – even if you don’t suffer from a panic disorder, especially if you are traveling abroad.

6)If Nothing Else Works, Consult a Doc! If you think your problem is too much for you to handle on your own, consult a professional. He/she will be able to give you a little something to manage your symptoms a bit better. 

How to Curb Motion Sickness…if you have any

People who experience motion sickness often do so because they’re not in control of the motion. 

On a cruise or airplane, unless you’re piloting the ship or plane, you can’t be in control. Such situations create anxiety that soon gets escalates, with symptoms like:

  • Dizziness,
  • Headache,
  • Nausea,
  • Sweating,
  • Churning sensation in your stomach,
  • Vomiting, or even
  • Hyperventilation in some extreme cases.

Some even lose consciousness as a result of all these symptoms taking hold of their body. 

So here’s what you should do if you have ever experienced such issues: 

  1. Do you have the option of going by car? Then drive it yourself, instead of traveling on the passenger or back seat. 
  2. Don’t eat or drink too much: These cause vomiting tendencies even among first-time travelers and some children. Curbing your food or drink intake can help stabilize your bowels, and prevent your stomach from acting out at the slightest turbulence. 
  3. Position yourself better: If you’re traveling on a cruise ship, try to get a cabin on the lower levels towards the center of the ship. These cabins experience much less motion compared to those on the upper decks and towards the proximities. Avoid people who talk about motion sickness or are experiencing it. 
  4. If you’re already feeling the symptoms, try syncing your sensory cues. Sometimes, lying down and breathing deeply helps, but, if not, then place yourself on a front-facing seat. This way, your line of vision will be in tandem with the motion of the ship, i.e. you will be moving forward, instead of backward or sideways. The images will be relayed to your inner ear (responsible for balance during motion), thus stabilizing your sensory cues and your body will not fight the motion but will fall into the rhythm. 
  5. Talk your way out of it: Sometimes, a bit of self-encouragement helps. Tell yourself, aloud if need be, that you’ll not fall sick. Sing your favorite inspiring or enthusiastic song to pep yourself up. 
  6. Pressure points & Meditation: Remember, I mentioned about lying down and deep breathing. This is an extension of that. There are certain pressure points in our body that controls our feelings of nausea, anxiety, etc. Learn about them and activate them when you’re on a cruise vacay, clubbing that with short/long periods of meditations. Start these meditations before you leave on your vacation. Your body will learn to mimic the peaceful headspace you are in during such meditations even when you’re on your trip. 
  7. Herbal remedies: There are some natural remedies you can try too. These are essential for people who often experience panic attacks during travels. You can try out some Essential Oils or CBD oil to overcome your symptoms of anxiety and/or motion sickness. 
  8. Ride it out: With time, your body automatically adjusts to the change. If you’re on a long cruise, your body WILL adjust. At most, it takes about a day. 

So don’t worry, if you’ve felt panicky before. You will overcome it. My sister used to get extremely agitated and could be a handful when she gets travel anxiety pangs. But, these simple things helped her to a great extent. 

Essential oils to curb anxiety pangs & motion sickness

For some people, additional sensory cues may be necessary to soothe their nerves. While meditating and listening to music help, I often found aromatherapy could be quite effective. It can be accompanied by meditation and ambient music too! 

Some essential oils I found useful in fighting seasickness are:

  1. Lavender: Most popular and effective mood regulator, curbs nausea, relaxes the body, improves sleep. Inhale, add to your bathwater, rub on your temples (for a headache), mix with other essential oils and herbal extracts for a fine moisturizer or massage oil. 
  2. Chamomile: Famous for making a blend of tea, this essential oil can also be infused in your bathwater (warm), or massage oil. Its strong, intoxicating aroma has relaxing and mild sedative properties. Remember, it has to be used in a diluted form. 
  3. Patchouli: Its musky aroma can help a lot in curbing seasickness and anxiety. It can be used in any form – inhalation, infusing it in your bath water, or used in a room diffuser. 
  4. Ylang-ylang: Its floral aroma relaxes the body and eases the nerves. A blend of ylang-ylang, lavender, and bergamot lowers anxiety, blood pressure, heart rate, and even serum cortisol. You can apply ylang-ylang in diluted form on your skin, or infuse it in your bath water or massage oil, or inhale it directly. It’s good for your skin too!
  5. Frankincense: This essential oil is extracted from the resin of the Boswellia tree, which native to Somalia. Its sweet, musky smell soothes the nerves and alleviates anxiety. Use it in a diffuser, bathwater or massage oil. 
  6. Bergamot: The citrus aroma of bergamot oranges is good mood regulator and anxiety reliever, as it directly lowers stress hormones. Add a few drops to a cloth and inhale from time to time. It’s one of the best natural oils for managing travel anxiety. 
  7. Jasmine: Unlike most other essential oils, this floral extract calms the nerves without making you sleepy at all. Inhaling this oil promotes feelings of wellbeing and romance, and alleviates anxiety. You can rub a few drops of this oil on your wrists and ankles, drop a few drops in your kerchief and inhale it, or mix it into your massage oil, along with grapefruit and ylang-ylang essential oils.
  8. Clary Sage: Acts like jasmine, but with a stronger effect, especially for women. Its woody aroma eases tension and helps regulate cortisol (stress hormone) levels in women. It also increases dopamine levels in your brain, thus promoting activities and feelings of pleasure. You can inhale it directly or add to your massage oil. 

There are many more essential oils that you can try out, like those extracted from Sandalwood, Rose, Orange, Valerian, Jatamansi, Vetiver, Holy Basil, Sweet Basil, Geranium, Lemon balm, Marjoram, and even Fennel. 

So, carry a small bottle of your preferred essential oil on your next trip. 

CBD Oil – A Natural Option To Fight Anxiety & Nausea 

There is yet another oil-based herbal extract that can help you curb your travel anxiety; something that is just as easy to carry around like a bottle of essential oil. 

It is CBD oil. Several studies have shown how CBD, a non-intoxicating, non-hallucinogenic component of cannabis plants, can help curb alleviate anxiety and nausea, as well as promote a good night’s sleep and feelings of wellbeing. 

You can use a tincture sublingually, infuse it in your preferred cold drink, apply it on your neck to release tension, or inhale it with the help of a vape pen. You can also take a CBD soft gel capsule (if that is your preferred mode of administration). 

Parting Thoughts

Anxiety is often caused by the daily grind of our stressful life. But addictions make it worse. Our dependence on certain substances can snatch the control of our senses away from us. 

For instance, drinking a lot of coffee can cause severe damage to the nerves. Some of us feel that we can’t function without a cup of this brown liquid first thing in the morning. What we don’t realize is that our dependence on such strong nerve stimulants only makes it weaker as time goes on.

Another addictive substance – alcohol – which people often take when upset or stressed out. Enjoying a drink or two when you’re happy has a good effect on the body. However, depressed drinking only makes us addicted to it, and eventually makes us weak from within. Smoking has an even worse effect on our body. 

If you want to enjoy traveling, you must give up such habits, and start eating healthy. Add to that proper sleep and exercise, and focus more on our inner energy. 

These will not only help you live healthy lives but also ensure that you are in complete control of your nerves, your mood, and your wellbeing during your travels abroad! Additionally, don’t forget to keep a bottle of CBD oil, essential oils, or a blend of both, close by as a precaution. 

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