Tips for anxious travelers

Travel anxiety either sneaks up on me or it hits me like a freight train – there is no in between. Sometimes I can see the signs, like I’ll start to check my watch every few minutes or I’ll start shifting my items to different pockets in my bags.

Arc de Triomphe, Paris | July 2022
We did make our Athens flight to Paris despite my anxiety trying to convince us both that we wouldn’t.

Sometimes, I don’t have any warning. And the next thing I know I am in line in the Athens airport security convincing my husband that we are going to miss a flight that doesn’t leave for another three hours.

And, sometimes when I am traveling, there is something that I can control that I know is going to cause me anxiety in the future, and I go along with it anyway despite my best judgment. This is the worst case scenario because past me could have done something to prevent the anxiety altogether, but it’s future me’s problem now. 🤷🏼‍♀️

Never fear though — in most instances, I have tricks to cope, and I am going to share them with you!

Flight timing

I typically fly into and out of Seattle-Tacoma International Airport. I live 50ish miles south, and traffic can be an absolute shitshow. On the worst day, it took me three hours to go that 50ish miles, and while three hours is not the norm, it is often at least 1.5 hours during peak times.

South Lake Tahoe, California | June 2019

So, to alleviate some of my anxiety in advance, I try to book flights around the rush hour times. If I am not able to do that, I pay the extra to stay at an airport hotel the night before. Not only do I sleep better knowing I am a seven minute shuttle ride from the airport, but my brain also knows that if all the roads close down, I can walk from that point.

Next week, I am flying to Reno, Nevada for work. I’ll be using the avoiding rush hour tip for that trip on the way there, and I am SOL on the way back. The traffic on the way back won’t cause me anxiety because there is no flight to miss on the way home, it will probably just be an annoyance. An annoyance, I can live with.

Plan less

Hubs with a beer on one of our many unplanned afternoons in Chania, Crete, 🇬🇷 | July 2022

Now you’re probably thinking to yourself – wait, didn’t she say to plan ahead on a previous blog about this topic. Yes, yes, I did. But sometimes, we need to plan ahead, and sometimes we need to plan less.

Here’s an example: I used to plan every single second of an international trip. We land at this time, shuttle at this time, activity at this time, bathroom break at this time, and so on and so forth until our trip was over. I learned that that type of planning causes me SO much anxiety, that I was not enjoying the activities we had planned. I was too worried about making it to the next activity on-time and within our schedule, that not only was I anxious, but I was also affecting everyone around me.

Now, when we go on a trip for ten days, we plan two activities that we have to book in advance. The rest, we play by ear. I have to tell you, it is one of the best things my husband and I have done for ourselves. Now, if we are enjoying Guinness in a pub in Killarney, we don’t have to rush off to another preplanned activity, and we can just live in the moment. 🤯 Revolutionary, right?!

Set boundaries and stick to them

This is the most difficult tip for me to follow. Since the COVID-19 pandemic, I have been continuously working on setting AND sticking to my boundaries, and it is fucking tough. And while sometimes setting boundaries adds to my anxiety, more often than not, it alleviates it in the end.

Sammy in Samaria Gorge, Crete, 🇬🇷 | July 2022

I like to think of myself as someone that pushes through fear and completes hard physical feats that many others couldn’t. I believe that statement is true. I also believe that there is a time to push through some fear because I am actually physically safe and a time when I should not push through fear because the risk is too great. Some examples of when not to push through could be, I am too tired to complete something safely so I should turn around or the weather conditions are too poor to carry on.

I find this in travel a lot, particularly when I am a new country and it is likely the only time I will be there. I like to push myself to see as much as I can in a short time, weather and safety be damned. Sometimes I want to do something so badly, and I am push myself to go no matter what. But, I am so concerned about going and making sure I don’t miss out on a once-in-a-lifetime opportunity, that I ignore risks and put myself and others in a tough safety situation unnecessarily. I think someone calls that, “not being able to see the forest for the trees.”

Now, I am pushing myself to power through hard things when it is safe for me to do so. And I don’t mean that the activities I am participating do not have risk. What I mean is, am I considering additional risks other than the inherent risks of an activity.

Some things aren’t worth doing no matter what. That is boundary I set for myself, and it is one I will stick to.


I am a work in progress, and I am learning to deal with not being in control of everything.

If you travel anxious, try one of these tips. Let me know how it works for you, and if you have any tips that might help me, please share! I am looking forward to sharing more with you as this blog progresses. Until next time!

Sammy ✌🏼

Meet Sammy

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Want more info or have a content idea? Email me at sammontgomery8@ gmail dot com. I can’t wait to hear from you!

One response to “Tips for anxious travelers”

  1. I love the idea of only scheduling 2 pre-planned activities for a 10ish day trip!! That’s brilliant. Thanks for sharing your experiences to normalize travel anxiety so we can all figure this out together 🥰

    Liked by 1 person

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