Are we there yet? Tap for an anxiety-free vacation | Travel


“Sit back, relax, and enjoy the flight!” — the phrase that greets us at the start of a trip might seem like a no-brainer assurance for most. But for some, it’s a call to step out of their comfort zone; a call to shut down the clamours of “What if my flight is delayed? Will the hotel be good enough? What if I misplace my documents or have my belongings stolen?” Welcome to the world of anxious travellers.

“Hodophobia is the clinical term used to describe anxiety associated with travelling. Travel anxiety can include fear around the act of travelling, unfamiliar location visit, uncertain situations, challenges associated with travelling, mode of travelling, etc.” explains psychotherapist Urvashi Bisht. The ebb and flow of Covid-19 cases in different parts of the world has only added to it.

“The uncertainty is definitely an added factor for someone like me, who faces travel anxiety. I had planned a solo trip to Ladakh as my first vacation since the pandemic. The trip was planned for April, but after my flight got rescheduled, I ended up putting the entire trip on hold. It was only in June that I mustered the courage to finally go for it,” says Karan Sharma, a 26-year-old IT professional from Delhi.

Some signs of travel anxiety may include heaviness in chest, headache, irritability, restlessness, constipation, sweating, sleep issues, racing heartbeat when thinking about travel.

While one can seek help from mental health professionals for long-term results, technology can also be your pal to overcome anxiety before and during your trip, ensuring you make memories only of the good kind.

Apps to the rescue

“It was on a solo trip to Nepal, a few years ago, when my bag got stolen, leaving me stressed out. This horrible experience added to my fear of travelling alone. I was wary of venturing out on longer trips for some time. And now travel planner apps and digital wallets are my best friends,” says Aarati S, a 24-year-old advertising professional from Kochi, Kerala. From tracking flight delays to organising all your travel documents in one place, these apps, which run on iOS and Android platforms, can offer a stress-free travel experience.

From tracking flight delays to organising vacay documents and customised packing lists, travel apps can help with a stress-free travel experience (Shutterstock)

TravelBuddy: Travel Buddy runs on intelligent algorithms to match potential travellers and travel providers based on their interest, location, behavioural and demographic data. The app helps you find a local and plan your trip. These personalised results are then shown on your Social Feed to enable you to make better travel decisions.

Soar: For those with a fear of flying, this app breaks down the travel process to soothe your anxiety, from airport to take off, turbulence, and landing. Created by an airline captain and licensed therapist, it has a G-Force meter which proves there is no threat to the plane in turbulence, a step-by-step guide through the flight, info about flight maintenance, etc.

TripIt: This organiser app is the perfect wallet for all your tickets and bookings, maps and real-time Covid-19 regulation updates. Simply forward your confirmation emails, like your hotel and flight reservations, or your rental car reservation, and TripIt will build a full itinerary to help you stay organised with all of your plans. With real-time alerts, you’ll know if your flight is delayed or cancelled, while the flight finder can help you book a new option should a cancellation occur.

PackPoint: PackPoint takes the hassle out of packing by creating a customised list of what you’ll need for your getaway. Enter your destination, travel dates, length of stay, and activities that might require special gear, like hiking or swimming, and the app will create a custom packing list you can save for future use. Besides checking weather conditions for you, the app also allows users to share their packing lists with fellow travellers.

Trail Wallet: Worried you might be exceeding your budget on your trip? This is an easy travel expense tracker where you can organise your expenses by trip or by month, set a daily budget, and easily add expenses. When you get a bill or receipt, pull out your phone, add the amount using the Quick Add screen and you’re done. The only drawback? It’s only available on iOS devices. An alternative is TrabeePocket, which has both iOS and Android versions.

Tips to deal with travel anxiety

Do your research: To ease your fear of the unknown, seek out reliable, scientific sources that can help you make decisions regarding travel, like the CDC, the World Health Organization, and your local health department.

Take deep breaths: Simply remember to take deep belly breaths whenever you feel overwhelmed by any situation. Deeply inhale through the nose and slowly exhale through the mouth.

Practise affirmations: Affirmations are three to seven word-long soothing statements to say to oneself in order to boost confidence. ‘Aal izz well’ is one cool statement that most people must have heard. Other than that, ‘I am safe’, ‘I can do this’, etc. can also be used.

Yoga on the go: Long flights and car/bus rides can cause stiffness and soreness. Stretches and poses for stress relief include neck rolls to the left and right, shoulder rotations, spinal stretches and seated marjariasana/cat pose.

Mindful mornings: Set aside at least ten minutes each morning to sit in silence. Simply close your eyes and bring your attention to the present moment. Beginning the day in this manner will assist you in calming your thoughts, and preparing you to go through the day in a balanced state of mind.

Keep emergency contacts handy: Your emergency contact could simply be a friend or a local you know. You can also keep contacts of local helplines saved in a small notebook, besides your gadgets, so that you don’t have to worry in case your phone or tablet runs out of battery. (Inputs by clinical psychologist Simran Luthra)

Author tweets at @later_gaytor

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