Anxiety About Travel and Going on Holiday? Advice for a Calmer Trip

Anxiety about travel is so common and often we just accept it or don’t really think things could be any different. Imagine this – you’re about to embark on a well-deserved break, but instead of excitement, you’re overwhelmed with anxiety about travel and going on holiday. You’re not alone – holiday anxiety is a real struggle for many people. I, myself, have also experienced this. From crowded airports, rushing for trains or planes, worrying have a packed everything to losing passports, travel can be stressful! In this article, we’ll explore what holiday anxiety is. We’ll look at common symptoms and triggers. We will also talk about strategies for coping with it. Whether it’s anxiety about travel or panic attacks about being away from home, this is something I regularly help clients with. Hypnotherapy can help change how you feel about holidays and travel. If you do have anxiety about travel, get in touch to see how I can help.


Anxiety About Travel


Understanding anxiety about travel and holiday anxiety


Holiday anxiety is a type of stress or anxiety specifically related to holiday events or travel. This, unfortunately, can even sometimes lead to panic attacks or avoiding holidays all together. Holiday anxiety can affect anyone, including those who don’t typically struggle with anxiety or have specific triggers.


Travel anxiety and general anxiety


When a person has generalised anxiety disorder (GAD), this can exacerbate holiday anxiety, making it particularly challenging for those with anxiety disorders. Severe anxiety can impact one’s confidence. It can make you feel like you can’t cope with being in a new place and in new situations. Unrealistic expectations that everyone must have an amazing time away or that things should be perfect or easy can add to our holiday stress.

Today with more technology and choice, holidays are more likely to be ones you organise yourself, as opposed to a package trip. So may arrangements can cause feelings overwhelm and even perfectionism.


Identifying the symptoms of holiday anxiety


Holiday stress shows up in different ways. Perhaps it’s that creeping feeling of dread about an upcoming trip or maybe you’re avoiding booking a holiday at all. You’re worried about travelling to your destination, packing, getting on the flight on time or the food while you’re there. Or maybe it’s a feeling of anxiety and nervousness the night before, while you’re traveling to the airport, or once you arrive at your destination. I do find that hypnotherapy can really reduce these symptoms. Learning mediation and relaxation tools helps too. All these I do with clients. Common anxiety about travel and holiday anxiety symptoms may include:

  • Excessive worry
  • Feeling irritable
  • Fatigue
  • Difficulty sleeping
  • Changes in appetite
  • Sweating, shaking or dizziness


Common triggers for travel and holiday anxiety


Vacation anxiety, as those in America may call it, can have a number if triggers or root causes. Factors like negative past experiences, travel phobias, fear of flying, world events, and health concerns, can all trigger anxiety and leave many people feeling anxious during this time.


Let’s dig into a few common triggers of ‘vacation anxiety’


Past Experiences

Past negative experiences, such as a traumatic event while away or a stressful holiday trip, can contribute to anxiety about travel and holiday anxiety. This happens as you form negative connections related to travel or holiday activities. Maybe you got sick, the airline lost your bag or you had your luggage lost or stolen. Maybe there was a natural disaster or you booked a hotel near a night club and the noise kept you up at night (true story!)

These past experiences can evoke unpleasant emotions and physical symptoms, making it hard to enjoy and relax during holidays. It’s important to remember that even though there were challenges in the past, it doesn’t mean that it will happen again.

Studies show that 85% of the things we worry about never happen! Even when they do, we end up coping better than we expected most of the time. Remember that you survived – and maybe even coped well – whatever went wrong in the past.


Travel Phobias

Travel-related fears, such as fear of flying or spiders, can significantly impact holiday anxiety. Often when people want hypnotherapy for phobias, the phobia is stopping them booking a trip. Fears about flying, insects heights etc. So, fears like agoraphobia, a fear of situations that may cause feelings of no escape, can lead to travel anxiety in people who are in a different country away from home. The prevalence of travel-related phobias varies, with studies suggesting that females and non-travellers tend to experience more worry and anxiety related to travel. Although specific data on the overall prevalence is limited at the moment.


Identifying your travel-related fears and formulating coping strategies can alleviate holiday anxiety. Some strategies to consider include:

  • Seeking professional help (consider hypnotherapy!)
  • Practicing relaxation techniques
  • Gradually exposing yourself to the feared situation to build confidence and overcome the phobia


Fear of flying

Fear of flying, or aerophobia, is a common fear that can contribute to anxiety about travel and holiday anxiety. The prevalence of aerophobia is estimated to be between 2.5% and 6.5%, although some estimates suggest it could be as high as 40%. Symptoms of aerophobia can include:

  • Nervousness
  • Anxiety
  • Panic attacks
  • Physical symptoms such as hyperventilating, sweating, and dizziness

Developing coping strategies is crucial if you have a fear of flying that contributes to your holiday anxiety. This might involve practicing relaxation techniques, seeking professional help, or gradually exposing yourself to flying to build confidence and overcome the fear. With the right support and approach, you can reduce the impact of fear of flying on your holiday experience. Of course, you might consider hypnotherapy if you suffer with this phobia.


World Events

Global events, such as pandemics, natural disasters or political unrest, can potentially lead to an increase in holiday anxiety due to the uncertainty and fear that can arise when considering travel and the future. For example, the COVID-19 pandemic had a significant impact on travel plans. It increased anxiety levels for many people


Anxiety About Travel and Going on Holiday


Worrying about getting ill on holiday


Traveler’s diarrhoea

Those with pre-existing health conditions may have increased fear of experiencing health problems while away from their usual healthcare providers, exacerbating their existing health condition or experiencing a medical emergency. I help people with irritable bowl syndrome (IBS). If is very common for IBS sufferers to hesitant about travel. Fearful of a symptom flare-up.

Taking proactive measures is crucial to managing health concerns during your holiday. Here are some tips to help you stay healthy:

  • Research the local healthcare system
  • Get adequate rest
  • Practice good hygiene
  • Pack a first aid kit
  • Stay up to date on vaccinations
  • Stay hydrated
  • Check if the tap water is safe to drink, otherwise drink filtered or bottled water
  • Ensure you have travel insurance

By following these tips, you can minimise the risk of getting ill and help reduce holiday anxiety.



Strategies for coping with holiday anxiety


Having identified some triggers for anxiety about travel and holiday anxiety, we can now explore some practical coping strategies and how to overcome travel anxiety. We will explore pre-holiday preparation and mindfulness techniques. We will look at letting go of perfection so that you can have a more enjoyable and less anxious holiday experience.


Anxiety about travel pre-holiday preparation


Navigating anxiety about travel and holiday anxiety starts with planning and organising. To keep pre-travel anxiety at bay, focus on what you can control. Ensure you have tickets and passports ready, researching your destination, and creating a packing list. Planning your journey can also help you feel more relaxed. This provides a rough guide of when you need to be at the airport and coordinating airline connections, lifts, or taxis if your travel providers don’t already do so.


Delegating tasks to others can lighten the load and help you manage the stress of organising a trip.


Letting go of perfectionism

Not being a perfectionist about a holiday is crucial. Striving for a flawless experience can ironically diminish the joy and the relaxation holidays are meant to provide. Holidays are opportunities to break away from the rigours of daily life, explore new environments, and create memories. Perfectionism, with its high standards and fear of failure, can lead to unnecessary stress and disappointment. Remember it’s impossible to control every aspect of a trip, such as weather, travel delays, or unexpected closures. Set realistic expectations and remember that no holiday is perfect. Embracing a more flexible and accepting mindset allows for a more enjoyable and authentic experience. It encourages spontaneity, adaptability. You’ll have more appreciation for the unique and unplanned moments that often become the most cherished memories of a holiday. By letting go of the need for perfection, you open the door to a more relaxed, enriching, and fulfilling travel experience.


Anxiety about travel – Mindfulness tools


Mindfulness tools can be valuable in alleviating anxiety by fostering a sense of calm and presence. I will often teach mindfulness to hypnotherapy clients. Mindfulness encourages a present moment awareness. So, mindfulness helps shift focus away from future worries or past stresses associated with holidays, allowing for a more immersive and enjoyable experience.

So, for example, a simple yet effective mindfulness exercise is deep breathing. This involves focusing on slow, deep breaths can activate the body’s relaxation response. This can reduce immediate stress and anxiety. This is particularly helpful in moments of high stress, like dealing with travel delays or managing hectic holiday schedules.

Another beneficial mindfulness practice is a brief, daily meditation, focusing on gratitude. This can help shift the mindset from anxiety to appreciation. Let’s emphasis the joy and connection holidays can bring!

Mindfulness also enhances emotional regulation. Meaning it can make it easier to handle unforeseen changes or challenges with a balanced approach. By incorporating some mindfulness practices into your routine, you can navigate the holiday season with more ease.


Mentally rehearse how you’d like your holiday to go


Top athletes and public speakers use the power of their imaginations to visualise how they want their events to be. We can use this same technique to imagine ourselves feeling calm, relaxed and confident on holiday too.

To use this technique – sit comfortably or lay down and close your eyes. Take some deep breaths into your belly. Start to imagine yourself on holiday and it going exactly as you’d like it to go. See yourself looking relaxed and smiling, feel the sense of ease and calm in your body and notice what you see, hear, smell and taste as you enjoy your time away. This kind of ‘mental rehearsal’ is effective since your unconscious mind doesn’t know the difference between something that you vividly imagine and something that is happening for real. It creates a positive expectations of how things will go and helps you to feel more confident and relaxed.


Anxiety about travel fear setting exercise


The anxiety about travel “Fear-Setting” exercise was developed by Tim Ferriss. It is a powerful tool for managing anxieties and fears, particularly useful in the context of vacation anxiety. The essence of the exercise is to confront fears by breaking them down into manageable parts. It involves three steps: Define, Prevent, and Repair.

Firstly, in the ‘Define’ step, you list your fears associated with going on vacation. These might be a fear of travel mishaps, safety concerns, or the worry of things going wrong back home. By explicitly stating these fears, you bring clarity to what exactly is causing anxiety, making it less overwhelming.

Next, in the ‘Prevent’ step, you identify actions that could prevent or decrease the likelihood of these fears actually happening. For instance, if you’re worried about travel mishaps, you could plan your itinerary in detail, buy travel insurance, or research your destination thoroughly.

Finally, in the ‘Repair’ step, you consider ways to repair the situation if your fears do come true. This could involve having backup plans, knowing how to access medical or consular services while abroad, or arranging support networks to manage things at home.

This exercise helps with vacation anxiety by shifting focus from an undefined sense of dread to actionable strategies. It encourages proactive thinking and planning. This giving a sense of control over the situation. You more realistically assess the potential impact of your fears and recognise that you have the means to manage them. So, the fear-setting exercise can significantly reduce the anxiety associated with traveling, allowing for a more relaxed and enjoyable vacation experience.


Knowing the difference between a probability and a possibility


Understanding the difference between probability and possibility can significantly impact how we approach worries about things going wrong on a holiday. Probability refers to the likelihood or chance of an event occurring. This is often based on data or past experiences. For instance, the probability of a flight being delayed may be relatively low, depending on the airline’s track record and current weather conditions. In contrast, possibility refers to anything that can happen, regardless of how likely it is. Almost anything is possible! Losing your luggage or encountering a natural disaster while on holiday could in theory happen, but in reality many of these scenarios have a very low probability.

Anxiety about travel and worrying about potential holiday mishaps, it’s crucial to distinguish between what is merely possible and what is probably going to happen. Focusing on probabilities can help ground our concerns in reality. This then prevents us from becoming overly anxious about highly improbable events.

So, yes, while it’s possible that you might fall ill while on vacation. However, if you’re in good health and take appropriate precautions, the probability is in fact quite low. On the other hand, overemphasising remote possibilities can lead to excessive worry. It can even deter us from enjoying or embarking on our holiday at all. So, focus on probabilities! Prepare accordingly, by buying travel insurance or checking health advisories, or whatever is sensible to do. When you manage concerns more effectively, you can enjoy a more relaxed and fulfilling holiday experience.


Holiday anxiety


Seeking professional help for holiday anxiety


If anxiety about travel or holiday anxiety is significantly affecting your daily life, it may be time to consider seeking professional help. Mental health professionals can provide the support and guidance needed to manage holiday anxiety comfortably. I provide hypnotherapy for anxiety and I’m always happy to explain more. If you anxiety is extremely strong, you may wish to consult your GP also.

Remember, seeking professional help early can prevent anxiety from escalating. By working with a mental health professional or therapist, you can develop coping strategies tailored to your needs, ensuring a more enjoyable and anxiety-free holiday experience. Again hypnotherapy can really help with anxiety about travel.


Anxiety about travel FAQs


Let’s answer some common questions about holiday anxiety.


What do I do if I have anxiety on holiday and want to go home?

If anxiety about travel or holiday anxiety has you contemplating an early return home, consider the severity of your anxiety symptoms, safety concerns, support system, coping strategies, and the potential aid of professional help. Try to engage in stress-reducing activities such as deep breathing and meditation, preparing for potential anxious moments, practicing mindfulness, and seeking support from a therapist or considering medication if needed. I’ve had online sessions with people already on holiday. I’ve been contacted by people fearful of the flight home or feeling anxious about being away.


How to deal with anxiety about being away from home?

Coping with anxiety from being away from home can entail:

  • Creating a routine
  • Maintaining contact with loved ones
  • Use relaxation techniques
  • Doing grounding techniques

Incorporating a day to day routine can provide a sense of structure and familiarity, reducing fear of the unknown, while staying connected with loved ones can offer emotional reassurance and comfort.


Relaxation techniques such as deep breathing and meditation can help you manage anxiety when away from home. Grounding techniques like:

  • Stomping your feet on the ground
  • Practicing box breathing
  • Engaging your senses
  • Holding an object
  • Stretching or exercising

By incorporating these strategies, you can better manage homesickness and anxiety while on holiday.


Is it normal to be anxious about going on holiday?

Yes, it’s normal to experience anxiety about travel and holiday anxiety. Younger adults, particularly those in the 18 to 24-year-old range, are more likely to experience anxiety. People may feel anxious during vacation season for various reasons, such as financial worries, the pressure of arranging a holiday, or the fear of something going wrong.

Recognising the normalcy and commonality of holiday anxiety can alleviate feelings of isolation. By recognising and addressing your anxiety triggers and practicing self-care and coping strategies, you can manage your anxiety and enjoy a more fulfilling holiday experience.


Why do I have anxiety about going on holiday?

There are several potential contributing factors to holiday anxiety, such as financial worries, the pressure of organising a holiday, or the fear of something going wrong. Financial concerns can cause stress, anxiety, and even depression. Planning and organising a holiday can contribute to feelings of anxiety due to the pressure of meeting expectations and the fear of things going wrong.

Recognise these factors and practice proactive strategies to address them. You can then better manage your holiday anxiety and create a more enjoyable and worry-free travel experience.


Is it normal to be anxious about going on holiday?

It’s normal to feel anxious about going on holiday and many people struggle with travel anxiety. This is especially if they have a family history of anxiety or take certain medications. Coping strategies such as planning ahead, packing early and taking time for yourself can help manage your symptoms.


How do I overcome holiday anxiety?

Take the pressure off yourself! Remember that most people aren’t paying attention to you or noticing. Identify your specific concerns and don’t look for relief in alcohol or drugs. Try exercising, getting enough rest, talking to friends, and letting go of perfectionism.


Can medication be beneficial in managing anxiety about going on holiday?

Medication, for some, can be a helpful part of managing holiday anxiety. Talk to your GP to decide id this is a sensible route for you.


What is the relationship between holiday anxiety and general anxiety disorder?

People with general anxiety disorder may experience an increase in anxiety about travel and anxiety on holiday, so it is important to practice self-care and seek support to manage their symptoms.


Hypnotherapy for anxiety about travel


If you do experience anxiety about travel, hypnotherapy could help. I provide sessions in London and online. Find out more about London hypnotherapy sessions, by clicking here.



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Jason Demant Clinical Hypnotherapist
London hypnotherapist. Seeing Clients in King's Cross and online.