Thursday, 1 June 2017

Dealing with Travel Anxiety: My Tips

Hey Owlets,

Today I’m here with probably my most requested post EVER. I think I’ve been asked to write this by at least 3 people every week for the last 6 months. I think probably only long time readers know, but I used to suffer really badly with travel anxiety. I’m not talking actual anxiety attacks, but more the gut wrenching feeling of fear before a train journey, despite knowing exactly where I’m going, having been there many times before and knowing that there’s another 4 trains to catch if I miss my train home. Regardless of the logic, before a train journey I wouldn’t sleep, I would wake up feeling sick, and I usually ended up having to take something to settle my stomach before I would feel well enough to travel. These days, I usually don’t think about getting on a train. I actually choose to get the train into the city rather than the bus, and while I still get nervous before travelling large distances that’s more to do with being far from home than actually getting on the train and I’m a lot calmer than I used to be. So, my tips.

Plan Every Part of Your Trip

I cannot stress this enough. Adam would say I’m bordering on being obsessive, but planning everything gives me control and means I know what I’m doing. My preparations start the day before - I check the train I’m getting and the number of stops to my destination, as well as what time the return trains are. I screenshot these in case I lose signal. I’ll screenshot a map if I need to get to somewhere specific, again in case I have no signal and I’ll keep the address and phone number in my notes in case I get lost. I also keep a copy of the tube map on my phone, and have an entire folder of different apps that I use to get me around whatever city I’m in - if you’d like a list of my essential apps for travel then let me know!

If I’m going somewhere unfamiliar I will plan 2 hours to get ready so I don’t have to rush, get the bus before the one I actually need just in case it doesn’t turn up (trust me, that’s standard for Bristol busses). I get to the train station at least 20 minutes before my train and buy my ticket in the ticket office so I know I have the right one. I’ll then sit down on the platform with a bottle of water and put my earphones in until my train comes. 

 Research Your Destination

Travel anxiety usually stems from the fear of the unknown, and that’s simple to fix with a bit of smart Googling. I’m that kind of person who will search pictures of the train station I’ll be coming into the month before I actually intend to travel there, followed by “walking” the route from the train station to my destination on Google maps, multiple times. I’ll look to see how close I am to any shops or where I can eat lunch. I find that researching using more than one source helps because you see a few different perspectives, meaning that your information is more reliable. I also like to use Instagram for research. If I’m going to a new city I’ll search the city hashtag and find somewhere that I’m really excited to visit, then look on Google for reviews and maps for how close it is to where you’re going.

Find Something to be Excited about

This is where I come back to using Instagram for research - especially as a blogger. I like to find a place that’s really pretty like a nice park or find something unique like a cat cafe or Playground Coffee House in Bristol. Choose somewhere that you’re really excited to visit, because that gives you something to focus on and look forward to, and makes it worth the stress of travelling.

Prepare Distractions

Stress gets to us all, no matter how well organised we are, so I try to prepare as many distractions as I can. Wherever I go my laptop goes, meaning I can work on my blog and answer emails so I have something to focus on. If I’m not going far then I just take my phone and have a load of apps to distract me. 2048 is a lifesaver and if you don’t already have it on your phone I suggest you install it - you have to drag the numbers together to try and make 2048 (I haven’t yet, but it’s something great to focus on when you don’t have signal to scroll through Instagram). I also have playlists that I listen to specifically when I’m traveling - things that you can sing along to that are feel good, or something like tropical house that’s super chilled out to help you relax. 

Don’t Plan Too Much

I think time pressure can play a massive part in how stressed you feel on a trip. If you try to cram too much in a day then you’ll feel pressured to do everything with encourages stress. Try to plan one or two bigger things or three smaller things to do during your day trip, and if you have extra time then you can always think of something else to do, or it gives you time to relax, grab a coffee and have some downtime.

Always have a backup plan

This goes for everything, but having a back up plan is essential so that if something goes wrong, you know what to do next before the stress-mist descends. I never catch the last train - if something requires me to catch the last train I either won’t go or I’ll book a hotel because if you miss that then you have no way of getting home, and having the one extra train means that if anything happens, there’s an insurance policy. 

Managed to take this on self timer - go me!

Don’t Rely on your Bankcard to fix Things

This is something I have been guilty of before and I learnt the hard way that going out with a bit of shrapnel in your pocket and thinking “Oh well, I have my bank card” is a terrible idea. Last month I was coming back from London and didn’t realise but my card had stopped working. I was meant to be going back to Adam’s but there was a change of planning on the way home and I ended up staying on until Bristol. Neither of us had any cash, and when I got back to my home station I couldn’t get any money out the ATM for a bus or taxi and was stranded two miles from home with no money. In the end I rang my neighbour almost in tears and she came to rescue me, but if she hadn’t been around I would’ve been walking home at midnight with a giant suitcase trailing behind me.

Hopefully these tips will help you if you’re an anxious traveller - over the years they’re things that I’ve picked up from my own experience. If you have any more tips, leave them in the comments below and if you’d like me to do a list of the apps I don’t travel without then let me know.

Love and Feathers, 
 The Owlet 💜 

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