Travel anxiety: Causes, symptoms, and treatment

Some people may only have mild symptoms of travel anxiety that do not significantly impact their lives, or it may be a one-off experience. However, this kind of anxiety can be more severe and debilitating for others, making it hard to leave home or even make short journeys.

Various techniques can help manage and treat different levels of travel anxiety. These include therapy, lifestyle changes, planning, and medication.


Psychotherapy is also called talk therapy. Several types of psychotherapy can help people identify and change emotions, thoughts, and behaviors surrounding travel that trigger anxiety.

People can ask a doctor about cognitive behavioral therapy, counseling, or mindfulness techniques.

Additionally, research suggests that exposure therapy is the treatment of choice for specific phobias. Otherwise known as desensitization therapy, this involves exposing someone to their phobia in a safe and controlled environment to help them overcome fear and anxiety.

For example, a 2020 study used virtual reality exposure in 14 individuals with a fear of driving. Following the therapy, participants successfully mastered driving tasks they had previously avoided.

Lifestyle changes

People can also make lifestyle changes to help them cope with travel anxiety. The Anxiety Disorders Association of America suggests the following strategies to cope with generalized feelings of anxiety:

  • living a full, active life
  • eating a healthy, balanced diet
  • talking with a trusted person about anxious feelings
  • keeping a journal of anxiety triggers
  • avoiding caffeine or low blood sugar, which can trigger anxiety in some people


People may experience travel anxiety because of the unknown. For example, they may wonder what would happen if they ran out of money, got lost, or became ill. Having a plan in place for worst-case scenarios may help ease these fears.

Although it is impossible to plan for every eventuality, having a general plan can make people feel more in control and less anxious about traveling.

People may be able to ease their anxiety by:

  • making copies of important documents such as passports and driver’s licenses and keeping them in a separate place from the originals
  • taking a credit card for emergencies
  • researching the area and carrying a small paper map or guidebook
  • purchasing health insurance and knowing where to find local hospitals and doctors
  • telling friends and family about travel plans
  • packing snacks and water to avoid getting hungry or dehydrated
  • taking enough medication to last for the trip


If the above measures are not enough to ease travel anxiety, some medications can help. If an individual has long-term anxiety problems, their doctor may suggest a type of antidepressant called a selective serotonin reuptake inhibitor. A 2017 study found these medications are most effective for long-term anxiety treatment.

A doctor may also suggest a benzodiazepine such as lorazepam to provide short-term, immediate relief from panic attacks. People may find that they feel less anxious purely by carrying this medication with them.