Travel Anxiety 🛫

Do I love travelling? Yes, I did. Emphasis on did.

I was always keen on travelling the world and seeing new places, colourful cultures and meet different people. What happened?

Well one fine Monday morning, my friend and I went to the airport only to learn that the gate was already closed and that we will not board the plane that day. My initial feeling was disbelief. How would five minutes set us off completely from our itinerary? Call after call and the plane started boarding… we still have our luggage.

Half an hour later, my friend and I are stranded in an airport with no idea what to do. I called home and told that I won’t be there when the plane lands. What happened they asked, multiple times. What are you going to do, they asked again.

I. don’t. know.

To make matters worse, during my stay, I had hurt my toe to a point where it started getting infected with fever and all. It was tiring and terrifying at the same time. We started looking for flights immediately, not really thinking about it long. Many options and hours later, my friend and I had decided. I was to take a flight directly to Malta the next day, and take my luggage with me, while she was to go to Greece, meet with my aunt and stay with her for a night. I admit I wasn’t the greatest friend as I technically “abandoned” her, at least that’s how I felt.

Overnight, still at the airport, we went to eat and slept on these uncomfortable chairs with a man heavily snoring in front of us. As much as it was annoying, this experience would leave me dealing with anxiety every time I fly.

The anxiety starts from a day before and gradually gets worse as the flight time approaches. This feeling of helplessness, the way I felt when we lost the flight, is constant. There are things that are way out of my control:

• What if something happens to my family when I leave?

• What happens if I miss a bus or train?

• What happens if my luggage doesn’t arrive?

and…

• What if I miss the flight?

It’s crazy to think that when I used to travel, these things didn’t cross my mind. Something like this had to happen to make me realize all these things that are ultimately out of my control. A psychologist helped come to these conclusions, but it took three flights to not fully control it. I know that some people might tell me, “This is nothing compared to what I go through…” and I do understand. Everyone is different.

With the help of a psychologist, I managed to pinpoint that initial feeling; that feeling of helplessness and panic that I once had when I missed my flight. What the psychologist helped me realize is that it’s okay to feel anxious, who doesn’t? But what can I do to minimize the anxiety?

These are some tips that make me feel a bit better. Now listen, I’m not a professional and these have helped me deal with my mild anxiety.

• Printing everything a few days before departure. I decide to print everything just in case my technology decided to just not work. It happens but that is something I won’t have to deal with.

• Create a packing list. I think that this de-clutters my brain and it is something that I can refer to every day up until I leave for my flight. It is fun to have everything organised and visualised. I tend to forget things easily and this helps me remember.

• I try and be fully packed the night before when catching flights. I leave only the last few essentials like technology, tissues and my trusty first aid kit.

• Be at the airport four hours before. Am I weird? After missing a flight, I won’t leave it until the last minute. I don’t know what can happen: rush hour traffic, a puncher, strikes (I have been to places were trains just stopped working due to strikes that were put in force) Like this, I can relax at the airport, work if I have any work and just relax. That’s the keyword.

• Keep myself occupied as much as possible. As I am writing this, I am on my way to Milan. Before the flight, I had work until 2pm and I had to leave for the airport at 3pm. I think this sort of mindset works for me as I felt quite relaxed and on top of things.

This post was quite long, I know but it’s good to share and learn from each other. Have you had similar experiences? How did you deal with the situation? Let me know in the comments below.

Stay happy, stay you.

Your virtual friend,

Audrey