These days, it might have been some time since you or someone you know has traveled. With guidelines and policies changing often even experienced travelers may feel like newbies and have some travel jitters that could use a little settling.
A climate of generalized uncertainty certainly doesn’t help. The state of anxiety has been historically high during these stressful times in general, with a whopping 18.1% of the American population formally diagnosed with anxiety disorders in 2020.
However, one of the best things about the human mind and spirit is its resiliency and elasticity. There’s no cure-all for anxiety, no hard and fast fix … but there are coping mechanisms we can employ that may help to reduce its hold on us. This is especially true when it comes to refamiliarizing oneself with things that you used to be comfortable with, such as traveling. The classic “riding a bike” comparison works for anything at all you need to get back to getting used to, and traveling is no different.
Owner and Executive Director of Empower Your Mind Therapy, psychotherapist Alyssa Mairanz shared with us some evidence-based techniques for travelers to harness the power of travel for self-growth and recuperation—two things we can all agree everybody needs!
Part of the fun of traveling is the anticipation. For some, that can manifest as nervousness, but it’s very simple to turn that around with the many visual resources we now have at our disposal in this modern age. “Use Instagram and the hotel website to visualize having a safe and wonderful experience,” suggests Mairanz. ALG Vacations® travel advisors have even more immersive resources available to them, vis-à-vis Travelogue.
For anyone unfamiliar, Travelogue is a digital travel catalog/brochure series exclusive to ALGV brands, including Funjet Vacations, Apple Vacations, Travel Impressions, Southwest Vacations, Blue Sky Tours, and United Vacations. Travel advisors can customize the ones they send to their clients based on filters and search criteria, and provide in-depth brochures with videos, oversized images, hotel information, updates, and so much more—all the better to help you see yourself “there,” wherever that may be!
There’s a reason “Be Prepared” has been the motto of the Boy Scouts since 1907 and remains so to this day. It’s just good advice! And it can mean anything from doing research to packing correctly to thinking ahead to what gives you comfort.
Mairanz says, “Indulging in comfy travel clothes or special treats can take your mind off the moment.” This is great everyday advice, but for those whose concern is more about lack of familiarity with the guidelines and restrictions of the day, she notes that “Having the most up-to-date CDC information can help relieve anxiety.”
This is exactly why it’s absolutely, 100% necessary to book with a travel advisor! Particularly one that stays in the know with ALG Vacations’® frequently updated resources, which are all gathered on our online reference hub. It’s here that we house our FAQs, including “what to do if” scenarios; the latest policy updates for our brand and our supplier partners; a weekly updated hotel and destination status list; and quick links to tools on our booking engine that will allow your travel professional to take care of your changes, cancellations, modifications, and travel credit transfers efficiently and nearly instantaneously. All of these reference tools—and the security of knowing your advisor has access to these and immediate answers—can go a long way toward alleviating how much is unknown … and all the stress that comes along with that!
“Practice taking deep, slow breaths to calm your nerves and ground your senses,” Mairanz advises. “When the body tenses from stress, it constricts breathing, too,” which also leads to further panic from feeling like one is short of breath. This can be helpful any time anxiety sets in, whether it’s in the planning stage or the actual travel stage of the trip.
Apps like Calm and Headspace are free for the basic editions, and can guide you through several breathing and meditative exercises to help you find exactly what their names promise. For just simple led breathing, iBreathe is a good option, while MyLife’s Stop, Breathe & Think is so simple to use that even children as young as five years old can find centering. Liberate is another great app designed exclusively for the Black community, and comes with additional meditations and focuses about issues that center their experience. And if you want a dose of humor to go with it, cartoonist Nathan W. Pyle has some quite lovely animations for deep breathing that are hypnotic and soothing.
Enjoy the Great Outdoors
“Be mindful of all five senses upon arrival,” Mairanz says. “Focus on the pleasant view, smell the salty sea air, listen to the birds while feeling the warm sand between your toes.” All of this is perfectly doable in the destinations sold by ALG Vacations®, specialists in sun-and-sand getaways from the U.S. to the best beaches in Mexico, the Caribbean, Central America, and beyond.
Your decompression can’t start until you find yourself fully present in your new environment and allow your travel stress to melt away under the bright heat of the sun. There’s nothing like total enjoyment of your getaway moment to make you feel like the anxiety over your travel was not only worth it, but not even as warranted as you’d originally thought. Once you’re there, you’re there—the journey is over. And of course, there’s nothing like a last-minute immersion in your vacation spot, that final dousing of vitamin D as you sit alongside vitamin “sea” to calm down before your flight back home, knowing that hey! You could easily do this again, because the more things change, the more they actually stay the same, with less to worry about than you think when booking with a travel advisor.
Looking for more ways to get centered and center self-care? Find out How to Beat Seasonal Affective Disorder, or read Ways to Stress Less This Peak Booking Season. Or skip right ahead to the real cure: Stays That Put the “Ahh” in Spa.