How to handle pre-travel anxiety

If you feel a little jittery in the moments before you leave for the airport, you might be suffering from pre-trip anxiety, an increasingly common condition in a world of uncertainty.

Symptoms may include a sleepless night before a trip, an upset stomach, or feelings of dread. To put it more bluntly, you’ll freak out a little before you fly. But don’t panic. Given the modern-day realities of travel, a little anxiety is inevitable and more common than ever.

Fortunately, it’s treatable, and perhaps even preventable.

Some people confuse excitement with anxiety because the symptoms of restlessness and increased adrenaline mimic each other.

So, what’s the difference? Fear, dread and worry set pre-trip anxiety apart from mere excitement, according to medical experts. If you’re so agitated that you’d rather call the whole thing off, it might be a severe case of pre-trip anxiety.

Under the best of circumstances, pre-trip jitters can make the journey uncomfortable for you. But under the worst of circumstances, they can affect you and everyone around you. Fortunately, there are treatments to address pre-trip anxiety:

Exposure therapy:

That’s where a therapist introduces you to the stimuli that are causing the anxiety. This allows you to work through this anxiety and fear with support.


This increases the production of serotonin and the “feel good” chemicals, in the brain. These can help improve your mood before a trip and relieve some of your anxiety.


When you feel anxiety coming on, pause to breathe. Focus on your inhalation and exhalation. Notice that you can calm your body just by breathing. Deep breaths can help quiet your symptoms at the moment. But perhaps the best remedy is experience.

Take enough trips, and you’ll soon realise that most of your worries are unfounded. If you miss a plane, you can always catch the next one. If you forget to pack something, you can buy a replacement when you arrive.