Saturday, July 30, 2016

How To: Deal With Travel Anxiety

While preparing for my study abroad, I didn't really give myself time to stop and think about the actual act of getting over here to Europe. I busied myself with packing lists, Pinteresting things to do, making bucket lists, and all other things pertaining to organization, so when it came to the night before I left, I started to freak out. Flying has never bothered me, and I actually really love it. The part before and after is what really makes me nervous: navigating the airport, and getting to where I am staying. Security is always so fast paced that I feel like I get whiplash and don't have any time to be organized, which is what I thrive on. I am also always nervous that I'll somehow end up missing my flight, even though I arrive at the airport at least three hours early. Through my travels, I've developed a couple of habits that make traveling a lot easier, so I thought I would share them with you, because I'm sure there are other anxious travelers out there!

1. Have a plan, and stick with it.
I am a planner. My actual, physical planner is my best friend for that reason, and I always feel ten times better when I have a solid strategy laid out for how I'm going to tackle the airport, and specifically getting through security and finding my gate. The night before I left for England, I made sure I knew where everything was located in my bags, I printed out all of the copies for my flight tickets, passport copies, study abroad info, homestay and dorm address, etc. This helped so much because I knew I would be able to quickly pull something out of my bags if need be, and I also knew where I was going to go in the airport and at what time. Basically as soon as I get out of security, I go to the T.V.'s to see if my flight info is up yet (sometimes the gate isn't shown until an hour before the flight leaves), grab some food or coffee if I want it, and head to my gate to sit and wait. Yes, it's annoying to just sit and wait for a long time, but if you end up getting hungry later, you know where to go back to when you're ready to leave.

2. As soon as you know your gate, go to a map and locate it.
Airports are huge and often very confusing, so it's a great idea to locate where you need to go on a map, maybe even take a picture of it on your phone, and head over there. This is especially helpful when you have a layover and are in an unfamiliar airport. I don't have the best sense of direction, so maps are always very helpful for me. I figure I'll take a wrong turn at least twice, so it's also really helpful taking a picture of the airport map to have on my phone. Once I actually find the gate, I set up camp with my snacks, coffee, and Kindle, and wait until my flight is boarding! This really helps with my anxiety because I know where I am supposed to be, and that I won't miss my flight.

3. Don't be afraid to ask for help.
This can be really scary especially if you are in a foreign country, but the people who work at the airport are there to help you, so more often than not they will happily give you advice. I could not, for the life of me, get the check-in machine to work at the Heathrow airport, but a nice lady helped me out and the crisis was avoided. When you're already in a high-stress situation, any little thing can set you off, so it's really important to just stay calm and ask people for help if you need it.

4. Give yourself a lot of extra time.
For international flights, I get to the airport at least three hours before my flight leaves to give myself plenty of time, and two hours for domestic flights. I hate being rushed, especially when I'm already stressed, so it really helps to have a nice time cushion. This also really helps mentally because I know it's totally fine if I do end up getting turned around, or if the security line ends up being really long. Security is always hit or miss; sometimes it breezes by, and other times it seems to never end. It honestly just depends on the time and day, which is extremely frustrating. Giving yourself lots of extra time always ensures you'll have plenty of time, though, and I would much rather have an extra hour of reading instead of running to my gate!

5. Make sure you put all of your liquids in a clear plastic bag, and know exactly where it is.
I flew for the first time in a while last year, and I completely forgot about putting my liquids in a place where I could quickly pull them out for security. I ended up having to completely open up my suitcase in order to get them out, and dig through all of my stuff. This was extremely stressful and embarrassing, and I haven't made that mistake since! Now I always make sure to put the clear bag (make sure you do this, too, otherwise they'll make you do it in line) inside of my makeup bag, on top of all of my stuff, and I pull it out a little bit before I get to the part where I put my stuff in the bins. This routine works really well for me, and makes sure I can get through security as quick as possible, which I'm sure everyone else appreciates as well!

6. If possible, check-in to your flight online, before you get to the airport.
I ended up being able to check-in to my flight for London 24 hours before I left, which was so nice because I didn't have to deal with the long check-in line at the airport. Checking in online also gives you the option to put the boarding pass into your Passbook if you have an iPhone, and a text message if you have an Android. I didn't end up doing this because I had to change some personal info, but one of my friends did this and he breezed in because he didn't have to fumble around for his boarding pass! I will definitely be doing that for now on when I'm able to check-in online.

7. Have a plan for how you're going to get to the place your staying after your flight lands.
You might be saying, "well, duh," but it can really help to not stress about something if you've already looked up taxi services, or checked bus/train times, and have them ready for once you've landed. I knew in London I could easily Uber to my homestay, but San Sebastián is a lot smaller, so I checked and made sure there were taxi's that I could take to my dorm. This helped out a lot because I wasn't constantly worried on my flight about how I would end up where I needed to be. Nine times out ten, airports always have taxi's waiting outside of arrivals, so you can always get to where you need to be, or at least a bus or train station that will take you there.

8. Try, as hard as you can, to stay calm.
Trust me, I completely understand how stressful airports can be. I love flying, but it can be so scary to try and navigate airports for the first time by yourself, or get through security without your mom helping you grab stuff really quickly. When in stressful situations, it only makes it worse when you start to freak out, and lose your level head. It helps to try and remain calm, think and breath through a situation, and just relax. In the long run, you'll end up a lot less stressed out if you remain calm through a hard situation. Just remember that you'll end up where you need to be, so don't worry too much!

Alright, well those are all of my trips on how to deal with travel anxiety! Just always keep in mind that all of the stress from the airport will be worth it once you get to your destination!

Are you traveling anywhere this summer?

Thank you so much for reading, and have a wonderful day! :)


  1. I've never taken an airplane anywhere but I'm quite sure I would be just as anxious! It made me anxious just reading this!! haha

    Renee | Life After Lux

    1. Yeah it's definitely so scary the first time!!