How to reduce stress while traveling: 17 Tips from an anxious traveler

by Beth Graham

Yeah, I travel a lot. A LOT! But what you don’t see in my cheeky posts is that I’m a very anxious traveler. I mean a full blown stress ball! I’m usually popping some anti-anxiety meds a few days before my trip because my stomach is literally in knots. And as an OCD trip planner, there are some things I do to try and eliminate any situations so I can enjoy stress-free travel, especially when I’m traveling alone with anxiety.

Planning tools for stress-free travel

  1. Use a travel planning app to keep track of all details and confirmation numbers. Personally, I like TripIt.  The app lays out your plans in great detail, with timestamps so you can see if you’re missing any planning details or have any dates crossed. I once booked a hotel but put in the wrong date; thankfully, I saw it in the app before I arrived!
  2. Print out all documents. I know, I know. We’re supposed to be reducing paper but I’m old school and I like having copies of my plans. There have been too many times when the wi-fi was poor so I could not pull up boarding passes or confirmation numbers.
  3. Buy travel insurance, especially if you’re one of those travelers who worry about everything! You can’t avoid flight cancellation and delays, or getting sick, but if you are backed by insurance, it will add to a stress-free vacation.

Flying with anxiety

  1. Where I sit on a plane is one of my biggest stressors. So I can’t hammer this tip home hard enough – choose your seat as soon as you book your ticket! If you’re an introvert, you might choose the window so you can lean against it. If you’re claustrophobic, choose an aisle seat. Avoid being stuck in a center seat at all costs! Some airlines charge for seat selection but IMHO, it’s worth it. Use an app like SeatGuru to help you select the best seat for stress-free travel.
  2. I prefer to sit in the front of plane, ideally on the bulkhead. I’m a bit claustrophobic and not having a seat in front of me seems to help with this. It’s important to know that on many planes, especially older ones, there is not underseat storage when you’re in the bulkhead so you’ll have to put your bags in overhead storage for take-off and landing.
  3. Have plenty of distractions to keep you occupied. I once had a full-blown panic attack on a plane and the only way I worked through it was by having a hard crossword puzzle book. Pack books, headphones, busy games to keep your mind occupied.
  4. Pack items in your carry-on that help alleviate anxiety. For me, that means chewing gum and mints, ginger candies to fend off any anxiety nausea, and a calming essential oil like lavender. I really like all of the Rescue Remedy products.
  5. Download a meditation app that can help soothe your nerves and distract you. Some of these apps now read you soothing stories which I love for take-off and landing.
  6. If you’re flying overnight, upgrade your seat to business class if possible. For me, arriving to a destination tired due to lack of sleep is definitely a stress trigger for me. If I can get a good night’s sleep on the flight over, I’m much less prone to anxiety.

Avoiding stress and anxiety at the airport

  1. Arrive early. I’m typically one of those “arrive last minute” people but with the state of flying today, I’ve started arriving early to limit my stress. Plus, that’s what Vino Volo is for!
  2. Figure out your transportation from the airport ahead of time. Don’t plan to arrive and figure out how to navigate the frenetic licensed taxi or ride share chaos. Do your research ahead of time and know the best mode of transport from the airport.
  3. Avoid public transportation if you’re uncomfortable. Again, I’m a bit claustrophobic so riding the subway after a long flight sends me into a panic!

Choosing a stress-free hotel

  1. Do your homework and choose a hotel that will be a calming retreat. I wrote this post on how to choose the best hotel and avoid making booking mistakes. Personally, I always look for hotels with restaurants so I don’t have the added stress of trying to venture out at night for dinner.
  2. Request early check-in, especially if you’ve had a long flight. This is not always available but it doesn’t hurt to ask!

Planning activities and tours

  1. Hire a tour guide and leave the planning and coordination up to them. I also advise against scheduling any early morning tours since a disrupted sleep schedule can add a layer of stress you don’t need. Here’s one of my favorite companies for booking tours:
  1. Consider renting a car so you have some flexibility on your trip. I like being able to run to a grocery store or pharmacy if necessary but there’s something about having a car at your disposal that makes my vacations more peaceful.
  2. Get some exercise. Whether it’s an early morning walk on the beach or an afternoon bike tour, staying active can help ward off anxiety and improve your sleep.

You may also like

Leave a Comment

This website uses cookies to improve your experience. We'll assume you're ok with this, but you can opt-out if you wish. Accept Read More