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Top Ways to Combat Travel Anxiety

The idea of cramming into a 500,000-pound plane with a hundred other people and flying across the country terrifies a significant percentage of people. Group travel leaders often encounter members who want to participate in the organization’s tours but feel real anxiety about flying or just travel in general.

To help these anxiety-ridden members who want to go but express fear, use these tips to encourage them to get outside their comfort zone so they don’t miss out on the joys of group travel. They’ll thank you when they return home with treasured memories of the group trip.

  1. Encourage specificity about what is causing the anxiety. Many people express general fear, but have your member reflect on what image or idea is behind the feelings. For example, if the image of leaving their house empty is plaguing them, suggest a house sitter. Or if they feel dread about something going wrong on the trip, you can always try to address their issues ahead of time to see if that helps alleviate any concerns.
  1. Tell them to avoid anticipation anxiety. If you member expresses a building fear in the days leading up to the trip, there are ways to make the process seem less stressful. Avoiding weather forecasts before a trip can help anxious-minded travelers who obsess over potential storms or changing weather predictions. Another way to keep their pre-trip stress at bay is to pack early. Packing late can set a very stressful tone for the trip, whereas an early packed bag brings more a sense of control.
  1. Remember that information is your friend. The fear of the unknown stops some people from signing up for a tour. If this seems to be the issue, the more you can let them know about the trip, the better. If they are new to airports, walk them through the TSA process so they feel prepared. Encourage them to ask questions about the itinerary and anything else that they find confusing.
  1. Relay information about relaxation techniques that work for many anxious travelers. Many people in similar situations use proven stress relievers before a trip, such as exercise and controlled breathing. On the other hand, caffeine can exacerbate stress, so your fearful members should avoid caffeinated drinks while on the road.
  1. Use distraction as a tool. This is especially beneficial for those with flying fears. Listing to calming music, reading a book or playing games on an electronic device work for many anxious fliers. For those members who don’t think that will be enough, encourage them to speak to their doctor about safe sleeping medications or anti-anxiety medications they could take.
  1. Remind them of one of the best benefits of group travel: they don’t have to worry when something goes wrong. Explain all the methods you have for dealing with common travel problems for the group. Once they realize that they have a team of people ready to fix anything that might go wrong during a trip, they are more likely to just sit back and enjoy the ride.

Eliza Myers

Eliza Myers has worked for The Group Travel Leader since 2007. She is the online editor and associate editor for Select Traveler.

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