Everyone needs that one stress-busting trip where they can relax. But for some, travel can stir up stress almost like stage fright ahead of a performance. Travel stress can be best described as a situation or feeling when a person feels anxious, stressed, or pressured when it comes to travelling or even planning it.
Bengaluru-based counselling psychologist, Arouba Kabir says, “Our mind likes predictability and having things organised in a basic way helps us to stay calm. But when things do not go as planned, it can lead to stress”.
Handling the situations efficiently can help in tackling travel stress. And Happiest Health tells you how.
Before we dive into different types of travel stress and ways to tackle them, Delhi-based travel and lifestyle content creator, Surbhi Chanana tells us how to tackle travel stress in general:
- Make a checklist and do research on the destination. That keeps a person excited and busy, and they look forward to the activities
- Organise and plan things in advance. It helps a person to relax. For example, schedule the cab one day prior to going to the airport
- It is important to know who you are travelling with because a travel companion can either add to your experience or to your anxiety
Fear of missing out (FOMO)
Dubai-based, Alisha Joseph, 21, recalls how she did more research on Singapore after a holiday there. “I just grew more depressed and stressed out because I kept thinking that we went all the way there but could not visit most of the tourist spots which we saw online”
Fear of missing out or FOMO has become a thing in today’s social media-driven society. People tend to visit places that are popular on social media expecting the same aesthetic experience. A person might go through articles which list different places to visit. Not covering all those places can be upsetting for them.
Joseph confessed to being more anxious during her trip to Singapore because she felt she would miss out on something from her must-visit list. “Whenever I go somewhere new, it’s important that I don’t miss out on any of the things. Since that would be a one-time visit, I have to make the most out of it.” Even though her trip was planned by a travel company, her biggest fear was not being able to cover the things she had researched online.
Laughing about it in retrospect she feels that she could have just made memories with her family instead of dwelling on that feeling.
Chanana shares tips on how to reduce it:
- Instead of trying to cover all the popular places, cover one or two that are unique
- Everyone experiences places differently. By chasing what others are doing we tend to leave out things which we like
- Make a list of places that are unexplored or take the help of locals to go to places that are less visited
From scheduling a cab to checking in on time, air travel can be truly stressful. But it does not end there. The hours-long journey in the sky sometimes comes with turbulence, irritating co-passengers, food, and sanitation issues to name a few, not to speak of the long queue at baggage claim and the hassles of getting transportation to reach the destination.
The thought of lengthy check-ins, terminal security, long-drawn-out flights, customs, and currency exchange can make a person restless.
“I was travelling back to my hometown, Guwahati, last December during Christmas. I am generally not a person who panics at the airport. But this time, seeing the check-in line I panicked as I thought I would miss my flight,” says Upamanyu Hazarika, a 21-year-old student from IIM, Indore. He now tries to arrive early during the festival season as he does not want the journey to be stressful.
Kabir’s tips on stress-free air travel:
- Keeping an ID card, ticket, and important documents handy can help avoid stress during check-in
- Always check the baggage allowance of an airline before packing
- If you stress out on any particular aspect of air travel, try and find a workable solution around it. For example, if you stress over the long check-in lines, arrive early to avoid the rush
While planning trips might be a hidden talent for 42-years-old Assam-based Dr Jyoti Mala Barman, stress is an unwanted guest that comes along with it. “While I am generally regarded as someone who has most tense situations under control, planning a trip gives me a different kind of anxiety; it is that dreadful feeling that I might have left something or the other behind even though I know I couldn’t have been better prepared,” says Barman. “It can be the small things that stress me – having cash, essential toiletries packed much before the trip. Even my own checklist doesn’t suffice when I’m planning a trip.”
For a lot of people travel stress starts while planning for a trip Researching about the place, planning the itinerary and where to stay, packing, taking personal documents, and making travel arrangements can all be stressful. But it is always better to expect some change in events, plans and places during the visit.
The most straightforward method while planning a trip is to move towards it in parts and stages rather than doing everything at once.
Planning might not be for everyone, or they might not have the opportunity, information, or interest in arranging a trip. In situations like these, it is always better to consider paying an expert travel planner for assistance.
Kabir shares tips on how to reduce it:
- Make a checklist about all the necessities and keep everything handy. Take the help of an app that helps to organise things
- Pre-plan in order to relax. If planning is stressful, avoid last-minute planning
- Coordinate the trip with a travel companion to save time
- Pre-book a place to stay to avoid last-minute stress
- Plan the whole trip stepwise to save time
Navigating on unfamiliar routes
Navigation can be a nightmare especially when we are in a different place. A place that we are not familiar with has different laws and rules. Transportation modes and language can be the biggest barrier. Going from one place to another, figuring out how to commute and managing it within the financial budget can get tricky. With access to books, online resources, and different apps, we can learn about a place and its culture easily.
Chanana shares tips on how to reduce it:
- Having prior knowledge about the place to be visited and getting familiar with it including the type of food, its alternative and other essential services available there will help travellers to a great extent
- Prior research about the timings of the city will help one to manage the schedule
- Exploring the place with the help of locals is always helpful. They help a person understand the minutest details of the city