How To Conquer Travel Anxiety
Well, I recently took an unexpected break from blogging, but that’s only because I’ve been crazed with preparations for my next big adventure! I’m off to Spain and settling in there for about six months! Yippee! Follow along with me because I’ll be updating you on everything I’m up to and the cool places I find. After five long years away, it’s time for a travel-versary (that’s travel-anniversary) with my beloved España!
So what’ve I been up to this summer? In between working and trip-planning and self care and all that messy “life stuff” that occurs on a daily basis (I won’t bore you with that)…I’ve been trying to have more fun. I’ve focused on the relationships that are important to me, my family, my co-workers, my girlfriends, my church family, ahem myself too…and of course, Jesus. I’m headed into another season of change and going deeper with Christ by joining the G42 Leadership Academy so I figured it was about time to get ready.
All this prep and planning and striving can drive a person mad, and I must say, I’ve kind of been there too at times, but here I am, alive and thriving and excited. I’m looking forward to working on my writing, growing in myself and embodying that bravery and confidence I’m always preaching about but never living fully in. Moving to Spain is one step closer, I think.
How have I been handling myself? I’d like to say I’ve breezed by this summer with little to no effort or anxiety, but that is simply not me. I’m up and and I’m down and I’m not perfect, but I certainly am no longer trying to be. That’s exactly why I am writing this new blog post with very little editing, giving ya’ll a front row seat to how this little brain flows and works when I don’t try to fit into the “perfect blogger” box. You see, perfection is a ridiculous idea…but victory is not.
Living in victory is about living like we’ve already won the game…because we have. This is the kind of thinking that helps me when I am feeling anxious or depressed or even downright broken. I’ve already won. I repeat it to myself…I have already won. I have what I need to overcome my struggles, and in this season, I’m finding I already have what I need to conquer my anxiety. Yes, the little (huge) bugger I call anxiety will never stop trying to get to me, especially on the eve of a big trip…but I know how to fight it. God’s giving me tools. So I’m going to be a cool awkward person and share what I know with you, no matter how weird. This is exactly everything I have been doing to get my pre-travel anxiety to GTFO, so in case you’re coming up on your next big adventure (and it’s giving you the jimmies), here you go. My secrets await you…
First things first all you control freaks…(can I get a holla)
1. Make lists your best friend
I thrive on list-making. I find that if I can get all of that stuff jumbling around in my head written down, it takes the pressure off having to remember everything, and the worry out of the possibility of forgetting anything. Like that awful dream I had about forgotten hairspray. Yeah, seriously. For this upcoming trip, I kept an insane list, that I started months in advance, and wrote down anything I could think of that needed to get done. From the small tasks like remembering to buy my favorite mascara to the big stuff like securing good travel insurance, it was all on the list. You’ll thank me later.
2. Avoid procrastination like the plague
When trip planning, certain tasks need to get done well before others. My lists helped keep me organized in terms of prioritizing my tasks, so I knew what should be done in advance and what could be kept until the weeks prior to departure. For the most part, it kept me on point. Procrastination did manage to sneak up on me, but it could’ve been worse. I neglected shopping all summer long and ended up in a bit of a scramble, just last week, to find breezy blouses that weren’t easy to locate amongst all the fall sweaters. When will California learn summer never ends?!
3. Practice packing
Until I know what I’m taking…I’m anxious. I have virtually no concept of how much stuff I have (and how much it weighs) until I do a practice run. Once I get all of my stuff in a bag, the experience comes alive for me, and I’m able to let go of erroneous stuff much easier when I’m excited about my trip. I typically start by laying out everything I would want to take (if I had a luggage-carrying entourage), then refine my choices over a few days of once-overs and rational thought. If I feel like I’m hanging on too much, I’ll wear my packed bag around the house for a bit. Nothing will smack you awake more than carrying all of your crap on your back for a while.
4. Remind yourself to live in the now
Sometimes, the anxiety of an upcoming (long) trip and the stress of preparing for it got to me. Whenever I felt myself begin to get stuck in the to-do list bubble, I would give myself a day off, or two, to reconnect with friends, have fun and intentionally neglect all that preparation that was bogging down my spirit. It’s ok to put down what “needs” to get done for what you need sometimes. In the end, the important stuff will get accomplished and the rest will fall away. Sometimes, you need to be irresponsible on purpose to get your priorities straight.
5. Prioritize your health
I’m big on personal growth and setting goals. I believe it’s a good sign when we can reflect and be honest about our shortcomings, as well as celebrating our wins. It’s not about what I achieve but rather that I’m willing to do the work. Exercise, for me, is a big stress reliever. If i can work up a sweat a few times a week, I feel stronger, more capable of tackling challenges and more confident with myself. I’ve set a personal goal to stay healthy no matter how chaotic life gets, and that achievement means a lot to me. Getting my gym time and my yoga practice in during all this craziness was honestly helpful.
6. Focus on God
There was a period of time this summer where my schedule was so bogged down between work, my blog, trip-planning and maintaining a normal lifestyle that something had to go. I wasn’t willing to compromise my trip prep or my blog and I ended up dropping the ball on what really mattered – God. My daily relationship with Him faltered and I found my anxiety was always worse when I didn’t make time for prayer or study. Eventually, I got smart and traded what was stressing me out for what would take all of my burdens. Sorry not sorry, blog.
7. Plan your first hour
I have a generally terrible sense of direction and being lost makes me very uncomfortable. I’m working on that. I make it a habit to look at map of a new place before I get there so I have an idea of the city layout and where I’ll be staying in reference to where the main sights are. I have a knack for messing up directions, so I like to memorize my route from the airport to where I am staying. If I can sail smooth for the first hour, I feel confident in navigating the rest of my time. I always have important metro stops and addresses written down on paper (not just electronically), that way I can always ask a local when I need something, no matter the language barrier.
8. Trust your instincts
I’m not one for over-planning, meaning having a set itinerary, but I am all about research. Before going to a new place, I turn to the internet, or now, Pinterest. I know what I like to do and what I don’t, so I’ll look at what kind of sights and eats a destination has and make a list of the things that sound interesting. That way, when I get somewhere, I’m not flailing and I’m not subject to suggestion over some stupid attraction I would’ve ruled out otherwise. My research rule? When something out of the ordinary is boasted about by more than one (trusted) source, I’ll add it to the list.
…And just in case absolutely none of this was helpful for your current circumstance, I’ve included my favorite Bible verses on anxiety. No matter what the situation, you can always look to God for strength. I love that no problem is too big or too small to bring to Him. Worried about your flight? Scared you’ll be lonely on your trip? Everyone you love thinks you’re making a terrible decision? Pray. Bring it all to Him. Let Him smooth out the shudders in your breath and lift the anvil off your heart. And you can always, always, talk to me, too.
10 Bible Verses For Anxiety
- But the Lord is with me like a mighty warrior – Jeremiah 20:11
- Rejoice in hope, be patient in tribulation, be constant in prayer – Romans 12:12
- Seek His will in all you do and He will show you which path to take – Proverbs 3:6
- I will go before you and make the crooked places straight – Isaiah 45:2
- Trust the Lord with all your heart and lean not on your own understanding – Proverbs 3:5
- For I am the Lord your God who takes a hold of your right hand and says to you, do not fear I am with you – Isaiah 41:13
- God has not given us a spirit of fear but of power and of love and a sound mind – 2 Timothy 1:7
- Peace I leave with you; my peace I give to you. Not as the world gives do I give to you. Let not your hearts be troubled, neither let them be afraid. – John 14:27
- Humble yourselves, therefore, under the mighty hand of God so that at the proper time he may exalt you, casting all your anxieties on him, because he cares for you. – 1 Peter 5:6,7
- Perfect love casts out fear – 1 John 4:18