Managing Anxiety While Traveling

By Jordan Wimby, BA 2015-19

As we all know by now, Europe has recently become a hotspot for terrorist threats and attacks. As a study abroad student, one of our main goals is to visit as many places as possible while they are so accessible and affordable. We want to experience as much as we can before our time runs out. The issue now becomes how can we, as students, continue traveling without constant anxiety. It is extremely hard, but I find that it is very possible.

Over spring break I traveled to Paris, France. Paris was a victim of a terrorist attacks in November and I have to admit, before going I was extremely nervous about what would or could happen, and what I would do in case of an emergency. Being so far away from home and the people that you love most doesn’t reduce the stress. In fact, this aspect of being an abroad student can be overwhelmingly thought-provoking. Especially when such recent terrible events have happened and continue to occur.

My overall trip was a success. However, there was an airport bomb scare coming home, but luckily it wasn’t anything serious. After my trip, I evaluated and analyzed how I managed to stay calm in a time of chaos and emergency while having the time of my life in Paris (all while being safe and constantly aware). Here are some tips to help you on your next journey so you can stay safe and decrease your anxiety while traveling!

1. Create a schedule. Plan what you want to see, what day you want to see it, and what time you will visit. This will help you think about what areas you will be in and gain a little more background knowledge. Sometimes it’s nice to roam around and explore, but planning in general is a great way to stay safe in a new environment!

2. Send all of your travel plans to your loved ones and your school. When I went to Paris, I send out an email to all of my family regarding my travel plans. This included my flight information, my Airbnb address, and the phone numbers of my friends that I was traveling with.

3. Stay vigilant!

4. Keep an open mind and remind yourself that violence happens all over the globe. Anything can happen to anyone at anytime. The key to life is to not live in fear. If you live your life in fear you are not living at all!

5. Don’t be scared of the military personnel or guards. Yes, big men with big guns can sometimes be scary, especially when they look worried all the time! Just remind yourself that they are doing their jobs and maintaining a safe environment.

6. Make sure your phone works! Do not depend on wi-fi!

7. In case of an emergency, do not panic. Increased levels of anxiety during a state of emergency are not beneficial. Make sure you breathe. Times can get rough and scary, so try your hardest to stay calm.

8. Be smart and follow your gut!

9. Travel with people who make you feel confident and safe. These are the people that you will feel most secure with if anything were to happen to you while traveling.

10. Lastly, have fun. Your experience as a study abroad student, is a once in a lifetime adventure. Try to make the most out of your time here.

The thought of a sudden attack or accident of any kind can be nerve racking and make you feel uneasy. Find comfort in knowing that you are not alone and others are feeling the same way too. Always to try to productively channel any and all negative energies and anxieties and create more positive vibes and good juju.

Happy travels,


Photo by Meredith Pollock

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