10 ways to take anxiety out of travel

If you’re anything like me (that is, you take anti-anxiety meds daily to maintain a healthy, low-ish level of constant stress), then travel can be a bit of a nightmare. Especially cross-country travel that requires an airplane.

Researchers have found that people tend to stress most about weather conditions, traffic jams/flight delays, and route finding when they’re traveling somewhere. I like to stress about the entire trip from beginning to end.

There’s just a lot to consider and not a lot of control. What if the train is late to the airport? What if the line at security is ridiculous? What if I forget my laptop charger?

What if what if what if

The average person won’t worry about these things too much. The average person has probably never had a meltdown in line at customs because she’d forgotten her anti-anxiety medication before a twO WEEK TRIP AARRRGH

It’s infuriating that, so often, I hear people going on holiday in order to lower their stress levels. And yet, here I am slowly descending into a panic spiral over the potential to forget my passport in a hotel room.

Now, I’ve traveled a lot. I think I’ve spent a good 30% of my life traveling. There are lots of travel stress reduction tips out there, but they were never as specific as I would have liked.

So here’s what I’ve done to mitigate the amount of stress I’m under before and during a trip.

  1. Have a packing checklist: I have a list of every non-clothing item that I need to make sure is in my bag before I leave the house. Here it is. As I’m packing, I tick things off of the list. When the list is complete, I close the bags safe in the knowledge that I have everything. My list includes a toiletries bag – which is a ziplock bag of travel toiletries that I have ready to go, bug-out-bag style. Everything I need, travel size, ready for the security line. This will come in handy later
  2. Don’t bother with public transport: There are certain cab companies that will give discounts to take people to the airport. Of course, it would be infinitely cheaper to go with public transport. But I live in an area where traffic is usually fine but public transport isn’t. I’m willing to pay a premium for the ease of mind.
  3. Check in online: If I have my boarding pass already, then I don’t have to worry about loitering around in line and checking my watch to make sure I’m going to make it through security on time. Plus, if I’m checked in online then I have the boarding pass electronically – which saves me keeping track of yet another document. I know what you’re thinking, though: what about checking in a bag? Well, that leads me to —
  4. Use a carry-on only: No checked in bags means no bags getting lost in transit. Potential problem solved.
  5. Empty water bottle and a protein bar: Because the water bottle can be filled up after security and I don’t want to pay sixteen euros for a sandwich.
  6. Don’t screw around with security: By that, I mean don’t give them a reason to pull you out of the line and dick you around. I have the toiletries bag and laptop in my hands the moment I step in front of the xray machine. Everything in my pockets or even vaguely metal is taken off in line so that it can be chucked at the box the minute I see it and I don’t have to worry about forgetting anything and getting thrown back through the metal detectors again.
  7. On the plane: I have an external phone battery that I keep in my purse. That stays with me. Everything else, excluding my kindle, my actual phone, and my chewing gum, goes in the overhead. That way I don’t need to shift things around when someone comes to take the seat next to me (and before you ask, I take the aisle. So I don’t force myself into a crisis trying to decide whether it’s ok to ask if I can go to the toilet)
  8. Cab to the hotel: Don’t care if it’s a million dollars – if I don’t know the area, then I can’t trust my own ability to navigate. Once, I took the wrong turn in Byron Bay and ended up in Tweed Heads, which is literally the opposite direction of where I’d meant to go. So yeah. Cabs everywhere I don’t know.
  9. When I get to the hotel, I empty my bags: Everything comes out and goes in one of the drawers, the cupboard etc. That way, when I leave, I have to repack the bag. It seems like a lot of extra effort, but it means that I can follow my packing checklist again and I won’t forget anything.
  10. When it’s time to go home, I follow the exact same rules in reverse.

It might not seem particularly relaxing. It might actually seem like I’m micro-managing. But it makes me feel safer, so I do it.

If anyone has any other tips, leave them in the comments!


PS – I love writing and I love eating! If you want to help with the latter (and ONLY if you want) you can maybe buy me a coffee? 🙂

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