How I Manage Travel Anxiety
Writing a post about anxiety is always a tough-y. I don’t want to come across weird, and I do worry about what potential and current employers might think, as well as what my family and friends might think. However, I have learnt a lot about ways to combat anxiety through social media, blogging and YouTube. Knowing that someone else feels the same way that I do.
However, I have learnt a lot about ways to combat anxiety through social media, blogging and YouTube. Knowing that someone else feels the same way that I do really does help. So I think it’s about time I gave something back to the community, and possibly help out another at the same time.
Travel anxiety is a weird one. I knew I was anxious about travelling, but I didn’t realise it was a 'thing' and that others felt the same way I do. I watched Kiera Rose’s video on YouTube and it helped me come to terms with it a lot. And I realised that I too had come a long way in managing my anxiety when travelling.
Firstly, let me tell you a little bit about my experience with travel anxiety
When I look back on my life, I often recognise key points where I experienced anxiety, but because I was a child no one recognised it. Travelling seems to have been one of these things. Strangely enough, I used to love flying, and I rarely felt ‘anxious’ or scared whilst travelling. However, from a young age, I have gotten travel sick. Part of me thinks that that was anxiety all along, rather than just motion sickness.
Nowadays, I sometimes feel sick before I even get into the car, probably because I’m anxious about being sick in the car. It’s ridiculous I know.
Anyway, moving on to me as a young adult/teenager: the very thought of catching a train would terrify me.
Which platform do I have to be on? What if the train leaves without me? Which seat can I sit in? Will my bag be safe? Will I miss the train? What about my next train? Will I miss that? Where do I need to be at the next station? Do I have my purse safe? Did I forget my ticket?
All these questions, and probably 100 more, wiz round my head each and every time I get a train. Even today, as I'm sat on my train to Newark.
Embarrassingly, I’ve cried before on several journeys. Nothing too bad happened but a simple change of platform or me not being able to read which train I am getting could set me off!
And now for some tips...
So, without further ado, I’m going to share with you some of the tips and tricks I use when I'm out and about. Mainly on trains and buses, as they’re the two I catch the most.
I like to make some sort of note, physical or mental, of where I’m going to be, where I need to be and at what times. The first time I caught the train up to Hartlepool where Aaron lives, I had to go from Lincoln to Newark to Darlington to Thornaby and finally arrived in Hartlepool. It was so scary at first, but I wrote down everything.
Platform numbers are usually not available, but there are some apps now that allow you to check which platform you’ll be arriving at and which platform your train leaves from.
Make sure you check your transfer times, if there are any, and give yourself plenty of time to get off one train and board the next. Take into account that you might need to breathe for a few minutes before setting off. I try to make sure I have at least 15 minutes before my next train, that way even if my first train is delayed I know I’ll probably be able to board my next one.
I think one of my biggest fears is that I will be stranded at a station somewhere, with no way to get home. Or have to pay £70 to get home. And sometimes I don’t have £70.
Make it special
I always treat myself to a hot drink and maybe a snack when I’m at the train station. Money is something that does worry me, however, I pretty much let myself have free rein. I mean, I’m pretty pissed off that the cup of tea I’m currently nursing cost me £2.10, but oh well.
If you’re really organised you could take snacks or treat yourself to your favourite magazine. After all, travelling should be fun, especially if you’re going somewhere special. And I’m not going to let some chemicals in my brain take that away from me.
Have a routine
May sound crazy, but I always like to arrive at the station at least 45 minutes to an hour before my train is set to leave. I’d rather be bored and cold than hot, sweaty and running late.
As I just said, I like to get myself a cup of tea and get settled. I’m lucky that Hull is not a ‘throughway’ station, so all trains begin their journeys here. It means that I can board the train a little before its due to leave and get myself comfy.
I also like to put my coat on and gather up my belongings about 10-15 minutes before I’m due to arrive at my stop. Usually, the tannoy lady or man will call out at about this time, but sometimes they won’t, so I just keep an eye on the time.
Have a routine that suits you obviously, and make it
I’ve recently got a brand new phone, meaning that the battery will last quite a substantial amount of time. My old phone, however, was an absolute nightmare and would probably die, even if I didn’t touch it for the whole day.
Once, again I was travelling up to Hartlepool, and my first train was delayed, I was so scared that my battery would run out for me to ring my boyfriend and the thought of it just got me in a right tizz. But luckily I charged my phone when I boarded my next train; I still had to ring him though just to calm down.
It’s true that many train companies such as Grand Central, Virgin and East Midlands* now have plug sockets, so be sure to take a charger if you’re anxious about it.
*There are probably more but these are the only ones I’m 100% sure about.
Take a distraction
I love listening to music whilst travelling, it’s a welcome distraction from all the other noises you get on the train. There’s always one person who is talking loudly on their phone, and the train itself makes some pretty unsavoury noises!
You could also take a book, magazine, download some games onto your iPad or even take something crafty to do, such as a colouring book or scooby (do people still make these?). Basically, whatever will distract you.
Another thing that calms me down is making a list of the stops, either in my head or on my phone. I then know exactly where I am, how many stops there are and you get to learn the names of some cool places.
Google maps is your best friend
Whether you’re catching a bus or train, it's good to know where abouts you’re going to be when you alight. If I’m going somewhere completely new I like to have a quick look on Google maps to make sure I’m not going to go into a panic as soon as I arrive.
When I travelled to London Kings Cross on my own a few years back, I looked up the nearest café or restaurant for me to sit in. I didn’t need to be in London until the afternoon, but the only train from Lincoln arrived at 10am. Unashamedly I headed to the nearest McDonalds and sat in there for a few hours.
Nowadays, I’d probably feel quite happy to have a wonder around. But it was the first time I’d ever been to London, never mind on my own.
Remember that you’ve done it before
Now, I hate it when other people tell me ‘But you’ve done it before, why can’t you do it now.’ But I do like to silently reassure myself that I can handle it and I will arrive. You won’t be on the train or bus for long, you’ll soon be at your lovely destination!
I know I haven’t mentioned flights in this post. But in all honestly, I have only caught 1 flight in my adult life. Plus, I just don’t feel qualified at the moment to be preaching to you how to manage flight anxiety!