Anxious about travelling? Leave your baggage at home

If you’re feeling anxious about travelling this summer, then it’s time to give yourself a break and take a holiday reality check.

Anxiety or stress levels can rise in the lead up to long-awaited annual leave, so it is important to manage expectations of holidays and travel.

Hectic travel preparations, financial pressures, long drives, crowded airports, unfamiliar faces and places can trigger feelings of stress or worry, even in the most seasoned travellers.

Dr Stephen Carbone,  beyondblue’s Policy, Research and Evaluation Leader,  reminds travellers that holidays are rarely perfect from beginning to end.

“People can experience anxiety any time they step outside their comfort zone and travel is a good example,” Dr Carbone says. “When we feel anxious, we can overestimate risks and underestimate our ability to cope with a stressful situation.

“People might be tempted to avoid these situations, but it’s better to manage risk and do the thing you’re anxious about because otherwise, you’re just missing out.”

Dr Carbone recommends travellers plan ahead, write lists, research and read about their destination before they leave home; talk about any worries with a friend; practise relaxation techniques such as slow, deep breathing and taking quiet time out.

He also encourages travellers to be rational and focused, and to realise the low probability they will be involved in a violent robbery, plane crash or act of terrorism.

“Unfortunate events that could happen anywhere feel amplified when you’re travelling because there are already many unknowns,” Dr Carbone says. “People worry about being robbed on holiday, but you’re probably just as likely to have your house broken into.

“Keep things in perspective: bad, unlucky things happen, but they don’t happen every day or to everyone.”

Dr Carbone also warns that people can feel anxious when they expect to have ”˜the perfect holiday’.

“It’s not realistic to expect every day will be perfect and go smoothly,” he says. “It might rain. You might queue for two hours to see the Mona Lisa only to find yourself unimpressed. Some days aren’t going to be fantastic, but that’s okay. You’ve still had an experience.”

People travelling with family or romantic partners might have unrealistic expectations about how they will interact on holidays, which can also cause feelings of worry or stress.

“Regardless of how much we like, love and get along with our family, partners and friends, travelling with them can put pressure on us to be together and to be agreeable all the time,” Dr Carbone says.

“It’s normal for people to have differences of opinion or get on each other’s nerves, and at home, you would probably walk away and give yourself a break.

“You don’t have to do everything together just because you’re on holiday together. Consider spending some time alone or in smaller groups.”

Signs and symptoms of anxiety

  • feeling restless or tense, heart racing, panicking


  • excessive fear, worry, catastrophising, or obsessive thinking


  • avoiding situations that may cause anxious feelings or other symptoms.

Tips to manage travel anxiety
Learn about your destination

  • You’re less likely to stress if you feel informed.

Arrive in daylight

  • So you can familiarise yourself with the area.

Manage your expectations:

  • Not every day will live up to expectations, learn to accept it.

Try not to overthink

  • Many of the things we worry about probably will never happen.

Phobias: For example, if you have a fear of flying, talk to a psychologist/therapist about addressing your phobia as part of your travel preparations.

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