Do you want to travel, but worry about how you’ll manage your anxiety on the trip? Does your initial excitement quickly turn into stress as you start thinking about all of the what ifs and unknowns of leaving home?
As an anxious person who has traveled all over the world, I get it. When you’re far away from home and what feels familiar, it can feel quite scary.
I want you to know something important: Anxiety doesn’t have to stop you from living your life and pursuing what lights you up.
If you’ve always wanted to travel, you can make it work. The key is to empower yourself by planning ahead and making sure you have what you need to feel grounded no matter where or when anxiety strikes.
Over the last 4 years through some trial and error, I’ve created my own anxiety survival kit. Below I share my essential items and why I love them. The bonus is they all fit in a small carry-on bag!
I hope this post inspires you to create your own kit so you can stop worrying and start exploring the world!
10 essential items every anxious traveler should pack in their carry-on:
1. Notebook and pen
Sometimes the most valuable thing you can do is a good old fashioned brain dump of all of your stressful thoughts and worries. Getting it all out of your head and onto the paper is a simple but super effective way to get a new perspective and realize that the things you’re worried about aren’t such a big deal after all. I keep a pen and notebook with me at all times so I can journal anytime I need to de-stress.
2. Adult coloring book (or a kid one works too!)
Who says coloring is just for kids? Coloring is a very relaxing and meditative activity for your brain. When you color, you bring your attention to something other than your anxious thoughts and worries. Added bonus – it helps pass the time while you’re traveling to your destination.
3. Noise-cancelling headphones
When you feel anxious, your nervous system is on high alert and becomes super sensitive to sounds and other stimuli. That’s why I recommend carrying noise cancelling headphones with you while you travel. It helps mask the sounds of loud speaker announcements, crying babies, talking, snoring etc. The headphones I linked above are affordable and have a pleasant white noise that calms anxiety and gives you some personal space to breathe and relax the mind and body.
4. True Calm
True Calm is my literal “chill pill.” It contains GABA, glycine, and taurine – three amino acids that naturally promote a relaxed mood. I started taking it in the evenings about a year ago when I was struggling with insomnia and couldn’t relax to save my life. It’s now my go-to when I’m feeling anxious and stressed.
5. Hyland’s Nerve Tonic
I combine True Calm with Hyland’s Nerve Tonic, a homeopathic blend for anxiety, nervousness, and stress relief. I love that it’s natural and non-habit forming. It’s also great for those who hate swallowing pills (like moi!) since the tablets quickly dissolve under the tongue. Not to mention it’s super affordable.
6. Vitamin C
At the risk of sounding like a mom, one of the most important things you can do while traveling is to boost your immune system. Anxiety and stress put your body into a fight or flight state which means it’s a lot easier for you to get sick. When traveling, Emergen-C is my go to. I also sometimes wear a face mask if there are coughing and sick travelers around me.
7. Cozy neck pillow & blanket
Touching something soft and familiar like your own pillow is a great way to calm your nerves and anxiety. I always pack my neck pillow and if I’m going on a short trip where I’m not so worried about weight limits I’ll also bring along my favorite throw blanket. Creature comforts help ease the stress of being away from home.
8. Relaxing, high frequency music
When at home I often type “relaxing music for stress and anxiety” in the Youtube search bar and let the music play for hours while I go about my day. When traveling (especially abroad) you won’t always have internet access so you need to have some alternative ways to access your music.
If you invest in a premium Spotify account before your trip, you can make certain playlists available offline.
Here are some recommended Spotify playlists specifically for anxiety and stress relief:
Your Science-Approved Anti-Anxiety Playlist
9. Calm app
This app is my go-to for nature sounds and imagery, meditations, and even bedtime stories! There is a premium option, but there are a few free selections you can enjoy without the upgrade. In fact, I haven’t upgraded myself because I’ve gotten so much value from the free options.
10. Pinky balls
Ease muscle tension while traveling with this magical pink ball. You can use it a million ways – rolling it along the soles of your feet for a nice foot massage or in between your shoulder blades and neck against a wall or even the back of your seat. It takes up very little space and as an added bonus you can squeeze it like a stress ball.
As you can see, there are a ton of creative ways you can manage your anxiety while traveling. Being an anxious traveler doesn’t mean you have to give up your dreams of going abroad. It’s simply a matter of recognizing what you do have control over – your mindset, what you pack, where you’re going, and what you plan to do while there. Keep your anxiety in mind, but don’t let it hold you back!
I hope this helps! I’d also love to know what you’d add to this list. It just might help someone else reading this article.