The Pains of Travelling with Social Anxiety Disorder

Woman with Anxiety

If you regularly scroll through your Facebook or Instagram newsfeed, chances are you’ve seen at least one or two posts about travelling. It has become something of a trend, especially amongst Millennials in their twenties. In this age, it is easy to hop on a plane from Sydney to Bangkok. At least, that is what we would all like to believe.

Unfortunately, for some travellers, it’s not easy to show up at the airport with an eager and confident smile. As stated by, airports can be difficult for some due to all the trouble regarding paperwork and baggage. The sight of an immigration officer can paralyse some people. You might give the immigration officer the wrong answers, and there is the possibility of holding up the line and earning disapproving looks from other travellers. Fears like these can make travelling difficult for the socially anxious.

Flight Over Fight

Some people deal with such fears in their daily lives. Social anxiety disorder is a condition that makes interactions overwhelming. Those with the disorder anticipate the worst in social situations, constantly imagining scenarios in which they will feel humiliated or rejected. They second-guess themselves and sometimes even cancel their plans, which can lead to isolation from their friends. The disorder also has physical manifestations. Some of the symptoms include rapid heartbeat, muscle tension and dizziness.

For the socially anxious, travelling can feel like a huge risk. Travelling, after all, involves stepping out of your comfort zone, and some airports are not exactly built for comfort.

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A Whole New World

The struggle against social anxiety disorder does not stop at airports. It can also be stressful to communicate with people who speak a different language. Some socially anxious people are insecure about their foreign language skills, and some are afraid of unintentionally offending the locals. Since every place has its own culture and symbols, people with social anxiety would have to learn and adapt. Extroverted cultures are especially challenging, as the socially anxious may experience culture shock from the locals’ attention and open nature.

Company Against Misery

Travel is not a hopeless situation for those with social anxiety disorder. According to the Disability Discrimination Act, airports and airlines must provide assistance to those with disabilities. For their health and safety, people with disabilities and other medical conditions can have an air travel companion. This is helpful for socially anxious people, as the companion can help with the paperwork at airports. With the assistance of the companion, it will be easier to communicate with airport officials and attendants. The air travel companion can also administer medical needs during the flight, which is handy in case of an emergency.

It may not be easy to live out your adventurer dreams with a social anxiety disorder, but it is not impossible. With the Disability Discrimination Act and the availability of air travel companions, the socially anxious can travel more comfortably. And when there is comfort, it’s a lot easier to feel safe and confident.