Traveling is probably my favorite thing to do…of all time. I love seeing new places, trying new cuisines and embracing different cultures. But with all the great things that come with travel also comes some anxiety, especially at the airport.
I’ve experienced anxiety for years, probably since I graduated from high school and then it got exponentially worse after graduating from college. I have anxiety and worries over big and little things, like leaving Copley for a long time, money, the state of the world, seeing our apartment super dirty or falling into a rut of not eating healthy.
My anxiety is at an all-time high when I travel. My lungs get really tight the day before we leave because I’m worried that we will miss our flight. And then once we get to the airport, I can’t breathe at the check-in counter or in line for security for fear that we won’t have a document that we’re supposed to or we’ll be in the wrong terminal or something.
Once we make it through security, I’m a little better, but then it goes back up when the gate attendants announce that boarding will start soon and everyone starts standing in line. And not in an orderly line, in a somehow this is really three lines that has to convert into one kind of line. Aren’t we all going to get to the same place eventually? Why are you all so excited to go sit on an airplane for hours? You have an assigned seat, no one is going to take it from you. People give me anxiety.
Man, my hands are sweating just typing this. Now that we travel much more often, I’ve discovered a few techniques that help me battle my airport anxiety. If you have some other tips, I’d love to hear them!
Lay out all your documents the night before
Did I mention that I also have OCD and have to check a million and one times that I have my passport, ID and phone before leaving the house? Oh, no? Well, I do. I even ask Vinn no less than 25 times if he has his passport and wallet. It’s his favorite part about travel!
I have gotten better with this thanks to laying out all of my documents the night before. I usually put them in my purse and then leave my purse by the door so I can do one final check before we leave the house. I like doing this because it is the last thing I do so it’s at the top of my mind as we go to the airport.
As I mentioned before, my biggest anxiety happens because I’m nervous that I’m going to miss my flight. I arrive at the airport with plenty of time before departure, probably a little too early in fact. But, getting to the airport two hours early (especially for international travel) helps me realize that there’s no way I’m going to miss anything. And then I can relax after security knowing that we’re here and all is well.
Worry about only what you can control
This has been the biggest thing that has helped me at the airport and in life. I can’t control how fast the passport control line goes. I can’t control that the guy behind me is inching forward every time I make subtle movement. I can’t control that we need to go to a different line because we’re traveling with dog. I can only control my reaction to it. And that reaction shouldn’t be one with contempt or a big, deep sigh (guilty!), but with acceptance that I will make it to my destination as quickly as possible.
Take deep breaths
Taking deep breaths helps keep my blood pressure low and reminds me, again, to focus on what I can control, even if it’s as simple as breathing. If I take four deep breaths in, hold it for two seconds and then let it out for four, I feel so much better. It may seem simple and almost trivial, but it really does help. I can actually feel my shoulders leaving my ears and start to relax. It’s a wonderful feeling.
Have a plan
Planning where we are going to go once we get to the airport is a great idea. European airports are definitely different than American airports because there aren’t as many food options, especially in the smaller airports, but knowing that when we get to Frankfurt, we will visit the Starbucks first and then go in search of food provides a plan and takes the guess work out of what to do first. I know that just aimlessly walking around the airport is the worst and if I’m hungry, forget it. I’ve even started looking up the restaurant options on my phone ahead of time just so I have some semblance of an idea of where to get a coffee or snack.
Well, these are my 5 tips for battling airport anxiety. No one loves to go to an airport but the reason behind it is so worth it! I’ve used these tips for the past year and can honestly say that I am a much less anxious traveler now, even my husband would agree.
Do you get anxiety while traveling? What do you do to combat it?
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