Skip to main content

Mental health

Mental health
Click to enlarge

How to protect your mental wellbeing when travelling 

The stress of travel can have an adverse effect on your wellbeing, and you should be aware of a few factors that could have an impact on your mental health.

The care of mental health conditions varies widely around the world, and you should be aware that you may not be able to easily access help of a good standard on your travels.

If you think your mental health is deteriorating, get help early. Speak to your travelling companions, a healthcare professional, the local mental health service or the consulate.

Reduce anxiety about travel

Travel can be stressful. Delays and journeys that go wrong can put enormous pressure on you, particularly if you are concerned about missing an event at your destination. Plan journeys carefully, and build in lots of time for delays, particularly if you are travelling to a region with poor infrastructure.

If the thought of flying is makes you anxious, sign up for a fear of flying course, which are offered by many airlines.

Keep connected for mental wellbeing

Homesickness and isolation are a major source of stress, so keep in touch with your friends and family. Drop them an email, or make a phone call. Keeping a travel journal or notebook can also help you to process all the new experiences.

The language barrier can add to your isolation, so it is worth learning a few key phrases before you leave. You should also bear in mind that speaking and understanding a foreign language is exhausting so build in plenty of down time.

Reduce the impact of jet lag and sleep deprivation

Jet lag, a change of routine and sensory overload can result in sleep deprivation, which has an impact on your mental wellbeing. Try to get into a regular routine, this should make you feel a bit more in control of your surroundings. A routine will help ensure you eat regular meals, which, will support your wellbeing. You should also watch your hydration levels.

Look after your physical health

While travelling you will be exposed to unusual bugs and bacteria that can make you ill. It may surprise you to learn that ‘low mood’ is a recognised symptom of some physical illnesses. Pain and discomfort can also chip away at your mental wellbeing, particularly if you think you are missing out on exciting experiences. It can be tempting to battle on through an illness while travelling, but take the time to rest up and get well: you’ll find you get better much sooner if you do.

Recover from culture shock

Culture shock is a psychological problem that occurs when you are trying to adjust to a new culture or environment. You may feel anxiety and depression, or you may feel as if you hate the country you are visiting. Give yourself plenty of time to adapt, and accept that you may have some negative feelings about your adventure.

Take your meds

If you take medication for a long-term condition, you should continue to take it while you travel. Ensure you have a supply for your entire trip, including enough for travel delays, and do not stop taking it without medical advice, even if you feel better.

Still got questions about mental health while travelling?

The healthcare advisers at Global Travel Clinics can give you tips and advice about all aspects of travel, including mental health. Make an appointment today at one of our travel clinics to discuss your travel health requirements with an expert travel nurse in complete confidence.