Gap Medics’ top tips for nervous travelers

July 8, 2016

Article by Global Pre-Meds
Hospital doctor shadowing & global health experience programs.

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Coming on a Gap Medics placement with us is a brilliant experience, and one that you’ll probably have been preparing for for months! Many of our students have never done any medical shadowing before, while others are traveling halfway around the world. For these reasons it’s totally understandable to be nervous as well as excited.

Whether you’re a frequent flyer or you’re taking on your first ever solo trip, anxiety can get to us all – but there’s no reason to let it conquer you. Here are some of our top tips for nervous travelers.

Plan your journey

Fear typically comes from the unknown, so the less you actually know about your journey the more likely you are to worry about it. Thankfully this is easily remedied: your Gap Medics account will have loads of information on your journey and our pre-departures team will know exactly what you should expect, so get in touch with them if anything’s not covered.

Because you organise your own flights, you can take control by making sure you know your arrival and departure times, that you’re at the airport with plenty of time to spare (even if you get caught in traffic on the way) and that you check in as early as you can. Rushing around, getting lost, getting delayed and having to pay huge heavy luggage fines will undoubtedly make you stressed.

Speak to your GP if needed

Don’t rely on chance – if you know that traveling makes you extremely nervous, speak to your doctor before you go. They might be able to advise you on ways to feel better or prescribe you some medication. 

If flying in particular causes you stress, many people have found hypnotherapy CDs or books to be helpful in conquering their fears. Even small techniques such as deep breathing, listening to calming music or sucking on a boiled sweet can do the trick!

Take lots of distractions

This is a great idea for any traveller. If you don’t get nervous, you may well still get bored!

Books, podcasts, audio books, music playlists and even colouring books are a great way of taking advantage of all that time you’re going to spend in the air. You might also be offered films by your flight provider, which will help while away a few more hours.

Getting absorbed in something really interesting – be that a movie, a book or a game on your tablet – can take your mind off the journey completely. Throw in a nap and you’ll be amazed at how quickly the time goes!

Find some friends

It’s not unusual for Gap Medics students to travel on the same flights, because you’re all trying to arrive within the same time window. Before you leave, you can contact the pre-departures team to see if they know of anyone travelling with you, or alternatively wear your Gap Medics t-shirt in the airport and see if you can find anyone doing the same!

Great conversation is the perfect distraction from your pre-travel jitters and sharing the experience with another person can be really calming (even if they’re a bit nervous too).

Focus on your end goal

Some people love the process of travelling – the checking in, the waiting, and the anticipation of a new adventure. If you don’t, though, that’s totally fine.

Remember that your main aim is to arrive in your host country safe and well, and after a good rest you can get stuck into all of your shadowing activities. If you’re nervous on the way there, just think of all the incredible memories you’ll be thinking about on the way home.

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Gap Medics provides year-round hospital work experience for people aged 16 and over. Our shadowing placements offer a unique insight into the work of doctors, nurses, midwives, and dentists – helping students to focus their career aspirations before embarking upon medical training.