Traveling can be an experience filled with joy and excitement and plenty of anxiety. Moving half way around the world, getting on a flight for the first time, immersing yourself in a new culture with a different language – leaving home can be stressful and bring out anyone’s anxieties. I’m sharing how I approach having anxiety-free (or at least as much as possible) trips.

Prepare What You Can

I’m sure plenty of people are okay with going somewhere for the first time with no plans. I, however, can’t do that without airport bathroom panic attacks. Some things can’t be avoided, but I would recommend that you prep what you can: Book somewhere to stay for at least the first night. Figure out how to get from the train station or airport to where you’re staying. Check the calendar for bank holidays or train strikes. Set a reminder on your phone to check in for your flight and to leave for your flight. Ask someone (in person or online) who’s been there before about the simple things: get cash before or just use a card? hiking shoes or comfy shoes? worth the visit to this museum or that museum?

Never Trust Technology

Despite best intentions, our phones are not always as useful as we expect. Even if it’s on your phone, you could arrive with no battery. Service may not be the greatest where you’re going and you’ll need to survive until you track down WiFi. Keep yourself from panic by expecting your phone to fail. Print out your boarding pass if you can and write down the name of your hotel. Bring not electronic entertainment. Maybe you’re saving your battery or the plane’s entertainment screen isn’t working out great – having a back up book or a journal to doodle games of hangman in or a pack of cards can’t hurt and they’re relatively small.

Focus on the Exciting

Make yourself a list of exciting things you want to do or see. You’re traveling for a reason. Hype yourself up (within reason). Are you really excited to feel sand between your toes? Or practice your Spanglish? Or wander an art museum in a new city? Focus on that. Take a peek at the weather and the museum times. Start plotting all your adventures/Instagrams/meals. It’s hard to be anxious when your mind is thinking about all the great things you’ll be doing.

Take a Deep Breath

Life can throw you a curve ball. It happens. Breathe through it. Trust yourself that you’ll work it all out should anything go wrong. Find the little moments of joy even when the world seems like it’s falling apart. Worst case scenario: it’s all gonna be a great story to tell everyone back home.