You may or may not know this about me, but up until the end of last year, I used to have terrible travel anxiety. If I know an area, I'm fine, but travelling somewhere new used to fill me with dread. I'd rather spend £20 on a taxi than £3 on a bus, as the stress it used to fill me with honestly wasn't worth the saving. My old boss booked me some train tickets to London once and I had to stop myself from crying at work as the thought of getting on a train by myself was just too much to deal with.
As I started going to London more and more for work, I knew I had to overcome this. I couldn't do the job I wanted to do unless I sorted this out, so that's what I decided to do. I got the train a few times with other bloggers and friends, as some brands were very sympathetic and had extra budget so were happy to accommodate, so that helped me learn where I was going without the panic, as I could rely on someone else for the mental support. Once I'd done that a few times, I ventured there by myself which was a big thing to me. I planned tube routes on my phone and looked up everything in advance, then I pretended I was a super confident person *snaps* and somehow that worked. Now I travel there like it's my second home and I could probably go anywhere which makes me feel so good!
So, I wanted to share my tips with you on how I combated travel anxiety with the hopes that it may help one or two of you in the future.
Arrive Early (or extra late)
I think this was a really important factor for me as giving myself enough time to think about where I was going and how I was going to get there used to make me feel calmer. I also realised as time went on that being extra late also helped, because my brain simply didn't have time to process what was happening so I just had to deal with it there and then. So, it depends whether your head works better with checking and double checking or if a mild form of exposure therapy is more your bag, but finding what works for you is crucial.
Plan Your Route
If I know where I'm going and what I'm doing I feel so much better. Nothing stresses me out more than people who won't tell you dates and times, as 'Oh I'll see you on Wednesday' just isn't good enough to me. Try and ask people for as many details as you can so you can plan ahead. Work out where you're sitting on the train or where the bus goes ahead of time, figure out the tube stations (I always do this from my phone on the train on the way down!) so you know where you're going or be extra aware of any signs that may point you in the right direction. Take it slow.
I always feel more calm when I have my supplies with me. Whenever I travel down to London, I always visit M&S and pick up some pasta and a milkshake before I go. It's become a routine now, but it makes me feel so much better. I always have chewing gum, a phone charger (portable and a plug), my headphones and a book. Whatever makes you feel safe and confident - take it with you! Even if that thing is another person, it's ok to go with someone. Doing a practice run with another person can help too!
Convince Yourself You're Fine
Ultimately, as with all anxiety, it's up to you to tell your brain that this is ok and you can get through it. I know a lot of people don't understand the concept of not being able to get on a train, but ignore them and go at your own pace. You can do it, you can go anywhere you want and once you've been there, you'll feel so much more confident! I used to be almost in tears and now I could go pretty much anywhere as long as I have prepared.
So, they're my tips on how I have dealt with travel anxiety. Now, the next step would be travelling on a plane by myself but we'll see if I ever get the opportunity for that...