From depression and loneliness in quarantine, to anxiety around illness, and grief over the loss of loved ones, the COVID-19 pandemic has taken a huge toll on people’s mental health around the world. Although many parts of the globe are easing restrictions and opening up to travellers, many people are feeling understandably anxious about travelling again. While we’re all in great need of a trip to see loved ones or explore the world again, we’re also weighing up the risks of post-pandemic travel. From health risks to the stress of travelling through restrictions, it’s no wonder we’re struggling with post-pandemic travel anxiety.
If you’re feeling anxious about taking a trip but you’d really love to travel this year – you’re not alone. Many people are experiencing the same valid fears, so we’ve put together our top tips for managing travel anxiety in a post-pandemic world.
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Seek out reliable information
If you’ve got post-pandemic travel anxiety, one of the best things you can do is get informed. Managing anxiety is often about alleviating uncertainties. Ease your fears by seeking out reliable, accurate sources that can help you make decisions on whether you should travel and what precautions to take. You can find reliable, scientific information from sources like the World Health Organisation, the CDC, and your government health department.
Take the necessary precautions
Once you have the most current and accurate information, you can make an informed decision and start preparing. Some of the top precautions include getting vaccinated against COVID-19 and getting copies of your proof of vaccination card. You should also pack plenty of masks and sanitiser, get your travel documents ready, and check the local quarantine and mask mandates in your destination.
The important thing is here is to avoid going overboard and being excessive with your preparations, as this can negatively impact your feelings of anxiety.
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Avoid social media
It’s best to avoid fear-mongering and inaccurate information on social media as it’s known to fuel anxiety, including post-pandemic travel anxiety. Whatever you focus on, you make bigger. So don’t waste your time focusing on unvalidated horror stories and instead stick to the science-based facts.
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Ease back in to travel with a shorter trip closer to home
If you’re struggling with post-pandemic travel anxiety, it may be helpful to get back into travel slowly. You could start by taking a local bus or going out to eat in a restaurant in your hometown. If you’re ready to travel further afield, you could choose a familiar destination that you’ve been to before or that’s closer to home. You could also go for a weekend trip first, before committing to a longer trip.
Another great way to ease into travel is with a group tour with Trafalgar, as our amazing teams of Travel Directors and Wellbeing Directors are always by your side to assist with any concerns and maintain Trafalgar’s wellbeing protocols. Anxiety is often fueled by unfamiliarity, so easing into travel slowly will help to build up your confidence with travel.
Beat the anticipation
Just as unfamiliarity and uncertainty are major catalysts for anxiety, so too is anticipation. Many people increase their post-pandemic travel anxiety and stress by overthinking every tiny detail, overpreparing for their trip, and catastrophising with “what if” thoughts. You can help to mitigate anticipatory anxiety by continually refocusing your thoughts on the present rather than worst-case scenarios.
You can also choose to travel in ways that are most comfortable for you. For example, if you choose to stay in a small lodge in a quiet destination rather than a huge hotel with hundreds of rooms, you can more easily avoid your stressful worst-case scenarios such as being crowded by people in a busy lobby.
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Prepare your strategies for staying calm on the road
So you’ve made your decision to travel, you’ve adequately prepared for your trip, and now you’re on the road. But what do you do when post-pandemic travel anxiety overwhelms you mid-trip? As part of your travel preparations, you can make a list of strategies you’ll use to stay calm while travelling. You can also identify what parts of the journey you’re dreading most (like sitting on the plane) and what you’ll do to make these parts more comfortable.
Some great strategies include slow, deep breathing which is shown to alleviate anxiety. You can also use grounding techniques so you can soothe yourself and reconnect with your senses. Other great strategies include refocusing on something else like playing a game, reading a book, or listening to music. You can also try getting some mental and physical rest with meditation or sleep apps.
Trust your decision
It can be really difficult when making the decision to travel. But once you’ve gathered all the relevant information and made a decision, you should try to leave the agonising decision-making process behind and trust your choice. It also means you’ll need to accept what you can and can’t control and work to be okay with that.
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Be kind to yourself
The most important thing to remember when struggling with post-pandemic travel anxiety is to extend your love, kindness and compassion to yourself. So many people are struggling with the same issues and many people will feel anxious about travelling again. It can help to recognise that you’re not abnormal or over-sensitive for having these fears. Remember, it’s completely valid and understandable to be feeling anxious about travel after COVID-19. So be kind to yourself as you navigate this post-pandemic world.
Do you have any tips for managing post-pandemic travel anxiety? Let us know in the comments below…