How to Get Rid of Travel Anxiety

You Can Start by Taking Care of Yourself

I know, I know. That tip isn’t especially creative or sexy, and it doesn’t offer instantaneous results. Just the same, prioritizing self-care is essential to life as a confident traveler, and it’s easy to see why. Bad diets and sleepless nights will stress you out. And if you’re stressed, you’re more likely to have headaches, heart attacks, and gastrointestinal problems, all very anxiety-provoking events. And (here’s the sad part) our self-care habits deteriorate on the road, just when we need them most. At least that’s the case for business travelers, according to a survey by On Call International.

Forty-four percent of the business travelers who responded to the survey said they didn’t eat right when they were on the road. More than half said they were less likely to exercise than they would be if they were at home. And more than a third said they had trouble sleeping when the bed they were in was not their own.

And my guess is, those figures don’t apply only to business travelers. They’re just as applicable to the rest of us.

I offer as evidence all the online travel journals I’ve been reading over the years. They’re filled with foodie porn. The dishes on display are lovingly prepared by skilled chefs maybe, prettily plated and supremely satisfying, but not exactly what you’d call healthy. If you don’t believe me, take a look.


And while the mostly-millennial crowd of blogging backpackers and nomads may be getting enough exercise, their overstuffed schedules suggest an “I’ll sleep when I’m dead” attitude that isn’t serving them very well. Why rush headlong toward your date with destiny, I’d like to know.

The folks at On Call International (OCI) are asking for a change in the way business travelers are treated (or treat themselves). As providers of risk management services, OCI’s job is to tell businesses how to manage risks. That’s kind of self-explanatory, right?

And when employees don’t take care of themselves, businesses pay the price. Sleepy, french-fried couch potatoes don’t make the best decisions. They’re not alert. They can’t concentrate. Is that the kind of person you want representing you abroad?

Case In Point

Jeff, the protagonist in Jeff in Venice; Death in Varanasi is a good example. If you’ve read it, you already know the first half of the book, when Jeff is in Venice, is all about living the “good life.” That is to say, it’s about living the kind of life a lot of people think would be good. It’s good in the way that pork rinds are good, satisfying in the short-term, over time, a heartbreak waiting to happen.

Jeff is a successful writer, and I guess that’s good, even though he hates his job. He’s gone to the Italian art exhibition known as the Biennale, and he’s been invited to all the best parties, thrown by all the best people. They’ve all come to Venice, as he has, to see and be seen, to belt back Bellinis, and sample a little art on the side.

He’s living on cocaine and alcohol because that’s what all the artists and writers and jet-setters he’s hanging out with are living on too. It’s the other Mediterranean diet.

And then, wouldn’t you know it? Jeff falls in love. So now, he’s up all night doing…well, you know what, if you’ve read the book. And even if you haven’t, you can probably guess. You’ve been in love before, right?

And he’s a mess. His publisher has sent him to the art festival to get one story, just one lousy story, and… Well, in case you haven’t read the book yet, I guess I shouldn’t say what happens next.

I will say this, though – all that stuff I was telling you before about the fallout of self-abuse? The poor decisions, the wandering mind, the dulled responses? In Jeff’s story, all that comes into play. Our habits catch up to us, no matter how far we travel.

You Already Know This Stuff, Right?

Food-exercise-sleep – that’s the three-legged stool that supports your healthy life, your less-stressed life, your life as a confident traveler. And OCI suggests that companies educate business travelers on how important self-care is. This will shield their clients, hopefully, from the fallout of employees making bad decisions, napping through meetings, or just mindlessly nodding, asleep on their feet, through every contract they’re trying to negotiate.

I’m not sure education is the answer though, because don’t you already know you need to eat right, exercise, and get 8 hours of sleep every night? You do, don’t you? Tell the truth. And I bet Jeff knew it too.

If you’re like me, if you’re like Jeff, you don’t need more information. We’ve already got plenty of that. What we need is motivation. We need inspiration. We need encouragement or a little push in the right direction.

What would inspire you to take this slow-but-sure route to your best life, your longest and fullest life, your most confident life?

Or are you there already? Can you put your body before the adventures you want to take it on? Can you put your well-being before your next sale? Can you slap that oxygen mask on yourself first, before you start rescuing everyone else?

If you can, leave a comment. Tell us how you do it.

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