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Do you ever feel anxious about travelling? Discover our expert advice on how to help ease or mitigate symptoms before, during, and after your next trip.

Anxious Man Travelling on Train

Source: Getty

Medically reviewed by Dr Neil Slabbert, Cover-More Regional Chief Medical Officer for APAC.

There’s a lot to love about travel: discovering foreign countries, experiencing different cultures, embarking on new adventures, taking a break from your everyday life, and stepping out of your comfort zone are all part of the thrill.

However, all these new experiences can sometimes leave you feeling overwhelmed about travelling, and you might find yourself worrying about scenarios both in and outside of your control before you’ve even left home.

“From navigating the barrage of security, customs, and passport control at the airport, to the stresses of a cramped plane and unfamiliar environments on landing, there are many stress points for travellers,” explained Emma-Louise Robertson, Cover-More's Medical Assistance Team Leader and Registered Nurse.

But don’t let the fear of travel put you off embarking on a wonderful adventure... Whether you’re a seasoned traveller or yet to get your first passport stamp, our helpful guide can help you understand why travel stress occurs and how to manage this yourself before your next trip.    

Skip ahead to learn:


What is anxiety?

Generalised anxiety is a common mental health condition that can affect the way you think, feel, and behave. “Often related to an event with an uncertain outcome, anxiety is a feeling of worry, nervousness, or apprehension, which is the body's physical response to a threat or perceived threat,” explained Robertson.


What is travel anxiety?

Travel anxiety is the feeling of fear or stress caused by travel. It may occur before travelling, during a trip, or after you’ve returned home. Even if you don’t have a history of anxiety or suffer from generalised anxiety, you may still find aspects of travel stressful and suffer from symptoms of travel anxiety. ​​


What causes travel anxiety?

There are a lot of unknown factors involved in travelling, which can lead to travel anxiety or people feeling stressed about going on holiday.

“Symptoms often worsen in uncertain situations – and travelling only exacerbates this,” noted Robertson. “But it’s not only generalised anxiety sufferers who will notice increased levels of uneasiness when travelling… general travellers may experience anxiety, too.”

Robertson said the causes of stress during travel can vary from person to person: “Being in a confined space on a plane, crowded airports, unfamiliar environments, or even travelling through non-English speaking countries where signage and communication may be difficult to understand are all potential stressors.”


6 common triggers of travel anxiety

Do you often feel overwhelmed before a holiday? Be mindful of these top six triggers when it comes to travelling.

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1. Holiday Planning

Give yourself enough time to plan the various elements of your trip so you’re less likely to feel overwhelmed or left panicking when it’s time for take-off.

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2. Medical Emergencies

Before you leave home, research the local emergency number at your destination and locate the nearest hospitals to your accommodation.

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3. Travel Incidents

Consider purchasing travel insurance at soon as you book any element of your holiday, as it can help ease financial stress should an unforeseen incident occur before or during your trip.

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4. Lost Passport

It’s important to act quickly if you lose your passport while travelling, so take note of the phone number for the nearest Australian embassy in your destination on Smartraveller before you leave home.

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5. Flight Cancellations

Transport disruptions may be out of your control but arriving at your departure airport at least three hours before take-off and allowing long connection times can help ease airport-related anxiety.

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6. Language Barriers

Taking the time to learn common phrases and words in the local language of your destination will not only help ease travel fears – it will impress the locals, too.



How to identify travel anxiety

Everyone experiences stress or anxiety differently. However, there are some common signs of this to be aware of.

“People suffering from anxiety may notice physical symptoms, like nervousness or restlessness, feelings of panic or ‘impending doom’, rapid breathing and pulse, difficulty focusing, and increased sweating,” said Robertson.

5 common symptoms of travel anxiety

  1. Feelings of uneasiness
  2. Panic attacks (the sudden onset of intense fear or anxiety)
  3. Rapid heart rate
  4. Decreased concentration
  5. Sweating

“If you experience any of these symptoms which you cannot manage before leaving home, speak to your doctor,” advised Robertson. “They will be able to provide expert medical advice and additional support if needed.”

One of our Australian travellers experienced travel anxiety for the first time, which resulted in them needing to cancel their entire trip.

The traveller had booked flights and accommodation for a family holiday to a popular international beach holiday location but as the trip grew closer, they began to experience travel anxiety symptoms (including a racing heart, racing mind, shakes, knots in the stomach, shallow breathing, and sweaty palms) whenever they would think about getting on the plane.

Their doctor diagnosed them with a flying phobia, and the traveller decided to forgo the holiday for the sake of their health.

If you’re already travelling and need medical assistance, contact your travel insurance provider’s emergency assistance number.    


3 stages when travel anxiety may occur

Travel anxiety can strike at any time during your trip — even in the early planning stage.

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1. Before You Go On Holiday

As you begin to research your intended destination, the sheer number of options, such as where to go, what to do, and the best places to stay – plus the logistics of getting from A to B – may be overwhelming and cause travel anxiety symptoms to arise.

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2. During Your Holiday

There are many moments during your trip where anxiety could set in. Regardless of how well you’ve prepared for your trip, things may not always go according to plan. Flights can get cancelled or rescheduled, you might miss your tour bus, or you may become unwell and unable to leave your hotel.

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3. After You Return Home

You may be home safe and sound but that doesn’t necessarily mean you’re immune from travel anxiety. Jet lag, returning to your regular routine, or dealing with the aftermath of things going wrong while travelling can all affect your mental health upon return from a holiday.


How to reduce travel anxiety

The good news is travel anxiety doesn’t have to get in the way of you enjoying your trip.

“The key to reducing anxiety while travelling is spending time preparing for all eventualities,” suggested Robertson. “Think of what could trigger your anxiety or cause nervousness about an upcoming journey and write down a plan before your departure to better manage any triggers.”

If you’re feeling anxious about travelling, try Emma-Louise Robertson’s expert tips:

Before you go:

  1. Speak to your GP or another suitable medical professional to discuss your symptoms and concerns.    
  2. Pack at least three days prior to your journey to reduce the dreaded rushed feeling or of having forgotten something once you’ve left home.    
  3. Check the weather at your destination and your planned activities and make sure you are organised and have packed accordingly.    
  4. Ensure you book travel plans you are comfortable with. For example, if you have a fear of flying, overland journeys or cruises may be a more enticing option for you and allow you to enjoy your holiday adventure.    
  5. If you are travelling away from loved ones, ensure they have a copy of your plans so they are aware of travel times and where you will be.    
  6. Use a pre-booked airport transfer service to reduce the stress of travelling to the airport.    
  7. Get familiar with your travel itinerary and know which airport terminal, and the check-in and boarding time, to make sure you can arrive at the gate in advance.    
  8. Have your full set of documents easily accessible, such as your passport, travel insurance policy details, travel assistance provider contact numbers, credit cards, and copies of your vaccination record if applicable.    
  9. Put any medication in your hand luggage with a doctor’s letter, and include written instructions, if necessary.    
  10. Pack activities to reduce stress (such as a puzzle book), and bring noise-reducing headphones to listen to podcasts, music etc.    
  11. Consider purchasing travel insurance that provides a medical assistance team for support and direction if you are unwell or experiencing anxiety while travelling.

During your trip:

  1. Keep hand sanitiser and/or bacterial wipes with you at all times, and a surgical mask if you wish.    
  2. Use a guided meditation app when feelings of anxiety start to arise.    
  3. Be mindful of your destination’s time zone and try to sleep at the appropriate times to prevent jet lag.    
  4. Make your hotel room feel safer or more comfortable by playing calming music.    
  5. Stay in touch with friends and family back home to avoid feeling alone and isolated.    
  6. Talk to your travel insurance provider’s medical assistance team if you are experiencing any travel anxiety symptoms or need support.

After you’ve returned:

  1. Regulate your sleep pattern to minimise jet lag and excessive fatigue.    
  2. Eat healthy to help ensure you stay well.    
  3. Try to return to your pre-travel activities within a realistic timeframe – there’s no need to push yourself.    

Anxious woman travelling on bus

Source: Getty    


Does travel insurance cover travel anxiety?

Not all travel insurance providers cover anxiety, so it’s important to check the Product Disclosure Statement (PDS) before purchasing a policy.

If you know you suffer from generalised anxiety or travel anxiety, it’s also important to consider choosing a travel insurance provider that provides you with access to medical and emergency assistance should any anxiety-related issues occur during your trip.

At Cover-More, all our travellers get access to our 24/7 emergency assistance team. Travel insurance cover for anxiety is also automatically included in all our plans if you meet the criteria for our existing medical conditions cover.

If you don’t meet the criteria for automatic cover, we may still be able to provide travel insurance cover for your anxiety as an existing medical condition.

To apply for cover, simply fill out the online medical assessment when prompted while getting a quote. If we accept your condition, please keep in mind you may need to pay an additional premium for cover to apply.

Before filling out our online medical assessment, we recommend you speak to your GP or preferred medical professional about your condition(s) so you can complete the assessment correctly and apply for appropriate cover.


How we can help travellers with travel anxiety

Like generalised anxiety, travel anxiety can affect people in many ways. At Cover-More, our 24/7 emergency assistance team is on hand to help our travellers if they experience any form of travel anxiety, such as panic attacks, extreme stress because of changes in travel plans, personal emergencies at home or abroad, or anything that severely impacts their ability to continue their trip.

“If you know travel can leave you feeling anxious – or if you suffer from generalised anxiety that can be exacerbated by travel – don’t forget to visit your GP or local medical professional before travelling to talk through your symptoms and any concerns,” suggested Robertson.

Want to know more about our travel insurance with anxiety cover or how we can help you if you suffer from travel anxiety on your trip? Call our friendly team on 1300 72 88 22.

Ease your travel anxiety with travel insurance

While you can’t control all the variables that come with travelling, protecting your trip with travel insurance can give you extra peace of mind.

Get a quote online now to discover if our cover can provide the best travel insurance for your trip.


Material on this webpage is provided for informational purposes only and is correct at the time of writing on 12 October 2022 but may change at any time or from time to time. It is general information only and any discussion about medicine, health and related subjects may not apply to you as an individual and is not a substitute for your own doctor’s medical care or advice. The words and other content provided on this website, and in any linked materials, are not intended and should not be construed as medical advice. If the reader or any other person has a medical concern, they should consult with an appropriately licensed physician or other health care worker. Nothing contained on the website is intended to establish a physician-patient relationship, to replace the services of a trained physician or health care professional, or otherwise to be a substitute for professional medical advice, diagnosis, or treatment. The views and opinions expressed on this website have no relation to those of any academic, hospital, practice, or other institution with which the authors are affiliated. Never disregard medical advice or delay seeking medical care because of something you have read on or accessed through this website. If you think you may have a medical emergency, call your doctor or emergency services immediately.