How to Travel When You Struggle with Mental Health – 12 Proven Strategies to Stay Calm and Happy

Traveling can be an exciting adventure, but for those of us who struggle with mental health issues, it can also be a source of anxiety and stress. It's crucial to address these challenges head-on to ensure that our travel experiences are as enjoyable and fulfilling as possible. In this blog post, I'll share my personal journey with mental health and offer practical tips, tricks, and truths about traveling when you struggle with conditions like depression and anxiety. Additionally, I will reference several articles that offer valuable insights and advice on this topic.

My Journey with Mental Health

I've had my battles with depression on and off over the years, and I continue to struggle with anxiety. These mental health challenges have significantly influenced how I approach travel. Through trial and error, I've discovered strategies that help me manage my mental health while exploring new places. I hope that by sharing my experiences, I can help others who face similar challenges.

Preparation Before Travel


Creating a List

One of the most effective strategies I've found is creating a detailed list before I travel. This list includes everything I need to pack, from clothing to medication. Checking off items as I pack not only ensures that I don't forget anything important, but it also gives me a sense of control and reduces pre-travel anxiety. Depending on how bad my anxiety is will depend how I do this list, if its really bad I have found simply a pen and paper works best!

Maintaining Routine

Sticking to my daily routines is another crucial aspect of managing my mental health while traveling. I make sure to take my medication at the same time every day, continue journaling, and maintain my diet as closely as possible to what I eat at home. These routines provide a sense of stability and help keep my mental health on an even keel. If you struggle to maintain a routine, I would highly recommend trying Me+ or something similar to begin your routine off.


Exploring and Being in Nature

Exploring new places and being in nature has always been therapeutic for me. Whether it's a walk through a park or a hike in the mountains, nature has a calming effect that helps alleviate my anxiety. I make it a point to spend time outdoors whenever I travel, as it significantly improves my mood and overall well-being even in the rain try to get out for at least half an hour a day.

Coping Mechanisms During Travel

Dealing with Overwhelm

Travel can be overwhelming, especially in noisy or crowded environments. To manage this, I always bring headphones to help block out overwhelming sounds. Mine are noise cancelling and are quite expensive but you can find them here however, I also have affordable recommendations too here. I had my affordable ones for about 3 years and got bought the ones I wear now. Whether I'm listening to music (normally some form of metal🤘), a podcast (I have so many recommendations for different genres), an audio book or simply using noise-canceling headphones, this tool is essential in keeping my anxiety at bay.

Disassociation Tools

Having a book with me at all times is another effective coping mechanism. Reading allows me to disassociate from stressful situations and immerse myself in a different world. This distraction can be incredibly helpful during long flights, train rides, or even just waiting at the airport. I typically when travelling always go for fiction to provide a slightly more tranquil and distracting read. Some of my favourites are fantasy books especially the TikTok icon Sarah J Mass - the ACOTR series I highly recommend!

Social Support and Communication


Seeing Family Before Travel

Before I embark on a trip, I make it a point to spend time with my family. Their support and encouragement provide a comforting foundation that helps me feel more confident and less anxious about the journey ahead.

Informing Others About Travel Plans

I always make sure to inform friends and family about my travel plans. Knowing that people are aware of my whereabouts provides an additional layer of security and support, which can be particularly reassuring when traveling alone.

Traveling with a Companion

Whenever possible, I travel with someone I trust. Having a companion helps ease my anxiety about being in unfamiliar places and provides immediate support if I encounter any difficulties. It's a comforting reminder that I'm not alone in my journey.

Benefits of Travel


When life and work start to feel repetitive, you might start thinking about traveling. Whether it's a yearly trip to a favorite destination or exploring new places, travel doesn't have to be a big trip or to someplace far away. Getting out and traveling can have many benefits for both your mental and your physical health. Exploring new places and immersing yourself in new cultures or environments is mentally stimulating. Doing this regularly can have great effects on your mental health.


Traveling to new places is good for everyone. If you’re feeling stressed at work, a vacation can be the best solution. Traveling can improve your mental health by:


  • Helping You Feel Calm: Taking time from work to see new places releases the stress you’ve been holding onto, letting your mind relax and heal.
  • Allowing for Regular Resets: Making time for regular travel can improve the benefits you get from vacations, with positive impacts lasting up to five weeks after returning.
  • Improving Your Mental Power: Chronic stress affects memory and goal-setting abilities. Traveling helps your brain rest, making you more productive and focused when you return.
  • Increasing Your Creativity: Exposure to new cultures and experiences boosts creativity and problem-solving skills.


Traveling with mental health challenges can be daunting, but with the right strategies and support, it's entirely possible to enjoy and benefit from the experience. By preparing adequately, maintaining routines, utilizing coping mechanisms, and leaning on social support, we can make our travel experiences more manageable and rewarding. Travel can be a powerful tool for enhancing mental health, providing new perspectives, and offering much-needed breaks from the daily grind. It's about finding the right balance and discovering what works best for you.


Remember, it's okay to take things slow, ask for help when needed, and prioritize your well-being above all else. I encourage you to share your own tips and experiences in the comments – let's support each other in our journeys toward better mental health and fulfilling adventures.


For additional tips and advice on traveling with mental health challenges, you may find these articles helpful:


How can I prepare for a trip if I have anxiety?

Preparation is key. Make detailed lists of what you need to pack, create a travel itinerary, and inform friends and family about your plans. Familiarize yourself with your destination and plan your activities ahead of time to reduce uncertainty.

What should I do if I feel overwhelmed during travel?

If you feel overwhelmed, find a quiet place to relax, use noise-canceling headphones, or read a book to distract yourself. Practicing deep breathing exercises and mindfulness can also help calm your mind.

Is it okay to travel alone if I struggle with mental health?

Yes, but make sure to take extra precautions. Inform someone about your itinerary, check in regularly, and have a support system in place. Consider starting with shorter trips to build your confidence.

How can traveling improve my mental health?

Traveling exposes you to new experiences, cultures, and environments, which can be mentally stimulating and help reduce stress. It allows for regular mental resets and can improve creativity, productivity, and overall well-being.

What are some tips for maintaining mental health routines while traveling?

Stick to your daily routines as closely as possible. Take your medication on time, continue any therapeutic practices like journaling, and maintain a balanced diet. Prioritize activities that help you relax and enjoy your trip.

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