For some people, there’s no greater thrill than boarding an airplane to a deluge of thrills, new sights, and spontaneity.
For others, the very thought of doing so can induce anxiety like no other.
As much as it pains me to admit it, I most definitely fall into the second camp.
You see, I have a love/hate relationship with travel. That’s a pretty bold thing for a travel blogger to admit, huh? But let me explain a little more…
How I Look After My Mental Health While Travelling
I love travel. I love nothing more than booking flights to a country that I’ve never visited before. Except maybe that time you always spend researching a destination before you get there; those hours you spend booking up trips, printing off maps (is it just me who does that?), and writing up lists of everything you want to eat. I can’t get enough of it.
But on the flipside, I hate travel. As a naturally anxious person, I find the whole travel routine an incubator for my anxiety. Anything and everything I could possibly worry about is made 10x worse by the thought of things being entirely out of my control.
Will the cats be ok? What if our place gets broken into? What if our flight is delayed? What if I have a panic attack on the plane? What if, what if, what if?
It’s an exhausting process that gets me worn out before I’ve even arrived at the airport. But ironically, as soon as the plane leaves the ground I start to relax. Things are out of my control, and whatever will be will be. Things will work out. Things will always work out.
The thing is, I’m not always like this. My travel anxiety has its peaks and its troughs. It just seems that, since losing my mum, and since I’ve moved out and had approximately 4,816,472 adulty things to consider and take responsibility for, my anxiety has ratcheted up several notches.
But because of these peaks and troughs, I’ve developed a knack for knowing how to take care of my mental health while travelling. And this is how I do it:
1. Enforce the 5:2 life diet
Nah, I’m not talking about my eating. I’m just talking about life in general. While some people are happy to be constantly travelling, I prefer my trips to be a little bit spread out. So, say I go away once a week for 2 weeks, I like to give myself around 5 weeks to chill. 5 weeks to enjoy home life, catch up with friends, write up about my travels, recover… It’s what works for me, as I get the best of both worlds that way.
Side note: this is also the way I like to structure my weekdays. For every 2 evenings I’m doing something, I give myself 5 days to chill. So please don’t hate me if I ever say “no” to potential plans. You’ve just got to be a little quicker next time. 😂
2. Be kind to myself when booking
As much as I love getting the most out of a destination, I know that early flights make my anxiety even worse. It just gives me more things to worry about the night before: packing, getting up on time, the cab turning up, etc. So what do I do? I try to book early morning or afternoon flights. That way it gives me more time to pack, and a chance to resort to Plan B if something pops up.
3. Embrace the medication
Having medication – from Diazepam to Bach Rescue Remedy – to hand always helps me, just because I know that if I need it, it’s there. I try not to use it if I can, but it does wonders for my peace of mind.
4. Know when things are too much
Most days, weeks, months, things are fine. But I think it’s important to know just when you’re pushing yourself too much. Don’t ever feel bad about this: everyone has their own limitations, and it’s important for our well-being to stick to them.
Whenever I do feel like I have to calm things down a bit, I always feel a bit guilty and panicky. But I know that things will pass, and soon I’ll be feeling back to my usual travel-obsessed self.
5. See what’s on my doorstep
Sometimes, the thought of a long-haul destination freaks me out way too much, so I’ll just book something a little closer to home. Or if the idea of that is too much, then I’ll just stick to doing things nearby. There’s nothing in the Travel Blogging rule book that states you need to be constantly writing about far-flung destinations. Adventure can be had on your very doorstep, and I’m ridiculously lucky that London is on mine. There’s always plenty going on, and London life can be just as interesting to read about as a trip to a city half-way across the world.
6. Read articles by my favourite bloggers on how they’ve dealt with (and overcome!) their anxiety
Do you know what I find empowering more than anything? Reading up about kick-ass bloggers who face their fears every single day. There’s the incredible Sophie from Sophie’s Suitcase whose well-being posts are so soothing and comforting. And then there’s this piece on anxiety from the fab duo at Twins That Travel which I like to read before any flight. If they can all do this, so can I!
7. But recognise that all good things happen outside of your comfort zone
I like to remind myself of this on a daily basis. Because if I stuck to my comfort zone I definitely wouldn’t be where I am today. I’ve taken the plunge on so many occasions – moving in with my boyfriend, travelling abroad for work, signing up to do a 10k – that I have sure-fire evidence of my own that life is much better when your comfort boundaries are pushed. At least for a little bit. After all, my blanket collection and my 800-bag strong collection of Yorkshire Tea teabags will always be there waiting for me on the other side…
How do you take care of your mental well-being while you travel? Let me know your thoughts in the comments below. I always love reading what you guys have to say!