Written by Katie
11 Jan 2018

Overcoming My Travel Anxiety

I know I’m supposed to be the girl that loves airports, but I’ve also been known to have my fair share of panic attacks while also at the airport. Traveling used to be a breeze, until… it wasn’t. Fall 2016 was the first time that I was traveling back and forth for three months pretty much non-stop. I’m not sure how people do it because though the idea of traveling seems easy, it can really wear you down. It’s also not the place you want to be when you don’t have your shit together.

The stage in the airport that stresses me out the most: going through security.

I know I look cool, calm, and collected, but in my head, I’m constantly questioning how many buckets I’m going to need for myself, how early I need to take off my shoes, wondering if my cardigan “actually” needs to be taken off, and if the person in front of me would stop putting their fingers in front of my buckets so that I don’t accidentally smash them. Because I’m going through security with all of these questions in my head, I often leave the area feeling more flustered than necessary. This has resulted in me leaving behind my actual luggage on the belt. Twice.

It has led me to frantically retrace all of my steps and one time I accidentally mistook another person’s luggage as my own while waiting at a restaurant before realizing it wasn’t mine and being “THAT” person. That was my breaking point and that was the moment I realized that something needed to change. Since I’m headed into a big traveling period for myself for the next three months, I thought it might be fitting to share that story and share my tips for those that might feel the same way as I do.

  1. List it Out – If you’re nervous that you forgot to pack something, write a list of everything you need and where you’re packing it. Will it be in your luggage? Your personal item? Or on you? I know this sounds a bit extreme, but for note takers, this can be really helpful. I am constantly writing notes in my phone so the night before, I write down what I’m likely to forget and haven’t packed already so that before I’m taking off I can double check / triple check that list before I leave.
  2. Stay hydrated – A lot of my friends like to have a water bottle along with them for the flight. Having water can calm your nerves and it’s also just good to have since flying can be quite draining. If you have a reusable water bottle, take it with you, but to avoid some anxiety, arrive to the airport with it empty. If you don’t have one that’s reusable, remind yourself to buy one right after you get out of security.
  3. Get pre-check – Worried about getting to the airport on time? Hate waiting in lines? Every friend that I have that has ever had pre-check has never had a bad thing to say about it. I don’t even have it, but know that this would probably ease a lot of my own anxieties if I had it! Getting pre-check costs $122. 25, but you’ll have a 5-year membership. There’s a whole process involved with it, but it’s honestly something that I’ve been considering for a couple of years now too.
  4. Take care of yourself – Give your body what it needs. If you’re worried about getting hungry on the plane or don’t want to purchase a snack or meal from the plane, get something in your stomach beforehand. Get to the airport a little bit early so that you can collect your thoughts and sit down at a restaurant if that’s what does it for you. Plenty of people also pick up items on the go. For myself, no matter what – without fail, I always need to grab a latte of some kind before I get on a flight. It doesn’t matter what time of the day it is, it’s the part of my routine that stays consistent and eases my nerves.
  5. Get your playlist ready – I must have close to 30 playlists on my Spotify, but only my favorites ones get downloaded on my phone – the one that has the most recent songs that I’m listening to and the three playlists that never let me down – “Best of 2017,” “90’s R&B Hip Hop,” and “Whole albums that I don’t hate.” I get stressed out when I’m listening to a playlist that I don’t love and have to constantly swipe away to get to a song that I actually do like. When you’ve found the playlist for your flight, download it onto your phone so that you don’t run into data issues and zone out.

Airport experiences can be a hit or miss. More often than not, you don’t want to end up with a bad experience if you can control it. Hopefully my tips are as helpful as they have been for me.

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