How to Deal with Travel Anxiety After COVID-19

Mariana Suchodolski

Published on
How to Deal with Travel Anxiety After COVID-19

If you’re feeling nervous about heading to the airport and sharing your personal space with literally hundreds of strangers from all over the world, then you’re not alone, my friend. I can feel the anxiety well up at the thought of it. Where has your aircraft neighbor been? Have you noticed that the lady sitting in 22A keeps coughing an awful lot? What if I’m the one that’s contagious? Will one deep exhale make the whole plane sick?! Woah. Take a breather. Yeah, there’s a lot of post-coronavirus travel anxiety going around. Let’s talk about how to deal with it.

Let’s start with the facts. A study from the New York Times shows, “74 percent reported feeling anxious about travel within the United States, up nearly 300 percent since the survey project began.” Additionally, older populations seem to have more travel anxiety than younger populations although, no matter the generation, we’re all on edge about it and rightly so. But we can’t spend the rest of our lives locked away in small rooms and shared homes. At some point, we’ll have to face our fears. And if you’re anything like me you’ve worn out all your self-improvement and home-improvement projects during those endless months of shelter-in-place.

Besides the warranted fears of contagion, maybe you’re also at a loss with all the new travel rules and regulations. Where can you go and how far away do you have to stand from people while you’re there? Don’t worry, we’re here to help. Use these resources to prepare and protect yourself and others. It’s normal to feel worried and scared, but if you pack right, follow guidelines, and do your homework, things will go much more smoothly.  

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Get informed

We’ve painstakingly compiled a list of measures according to each state’s coronavirus response. If you’re traveling domestically, get informed on what you should expect from each location. Note what’s open or closed and whether you need to be quarantined upon arrival. We’ve been updating our Domestic Travel Guide every few days, but keep in mind that these rules have been constantly changing so always double-check the official government website.

Pack prepared 

Packing has never been an easy feat, and it just got much harder. Now not only do you have to plan for the weather or what’ll look good in your travel pics, but you’ve got to pack your safety supplies. Masks and hand sanitizer are a must, but perhaps there are other items you should consider too. Check what other supplies you might want to bring with you and how to use them correctly here

Be a germaphobe

Sure, people who immediately started wiping down their seats after getting into a plane got a bad rap in the past. Not anymore. Even though airlines are taking extra precautions to keep aircrafts clean, that’s what you should be doing too. There are best practices for staying safe and keeping your things as protected as possible during and after a flight. Learn what they are and join the germaphobe bandwagon. 

Follow travel etiquette

Social norms are changing and that’ll be true for when you’re traveling. Maybe approaching a stranger to ask for directions won’t be as easy when you’re supposed to be 6 feet apart. Or going to a restaurant that’s working at half of its capacity won’t be possible without a reservation. We’re not sure what the future holds, but planning for it will help get your worries in check. Read more on travel etiquette post-coronavirus here.  

Keep your chill

Times aren’t easy, but thankfully there are plenty of resources to make sure you’re taking care of your mental health. Here are some apps that’ll help you foster your inner zen. Meditate with Insight TimerCalm, or Headspace. Do yoga with Down DogAsana Rebel, or Daily Yoga. You’ll also find thousands of free guided meditations, nature sounds, and talks about mental health on YouTube. So play around and see which one works for you. And if zen isn’t for you, go for a run, jump rope, or try some HIIT workouts at home. 

Talk it out

When we’re feeling negative emotions—be it anxiety, anger, or sadness—sometimes all we want to do is bury it deep within and pretend it’s not there. While that might occasionally work, chances are those feelings come back to haunt us a few hours later. You might be lucky enough to feel comfortable opening up with friends or family. If that’s not the case, try using services like Talkspace7 Cups, or Brightside.

Get disconnected

There’s a lot of COVID-19 news going around and it can get overwhelming. Learn to disconnect. You don’t need to know the exact numbers of contagion every hour, every day. And you don’t need to read about all the heartbreaking stories out there. Watch Some Good News with John Krasinski, listen to podcasts about history, read a book about art. Flex those thinking muscles by investing your time in something new and unrelated to current affairs. 

Mariana Suchodolski
Lisbon, Portugal
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