This is a long post. It covers my experience, in detail, of travel anxiety. There are subheadings along the way breaking this post into chapters. Please feel free to skip through to the bottom end of this post to see how I overcome and deal with travel anxiety. Otherwise, grab a cuppa and a digestive and enjoy the post!
What is Travel Anxiety?
*Disclaimer - In no way am I medically qualified to diagnose or give expert advice on anxiety, this post is written from my own personal experience and all opinions are my own*
At the start of a new year, travel is on most of our minds. You may be looking to book your summer holiday, or you may have already booked your holiday and you can't wait to jet off into the sun. Undeniablly, travel anxiety can affect even the most chill of people, and it can affect us all in different ways. According to the Oxford Dictionary, anxiety is a feeling of worry, nervousness or unease about something with an uncertain outcome. I can totally relate to this feeling espeially when travelling, more specifically about the actual journey to my chosen destination.
In this post, I am going to share with you my experience of travel anxiety, how I deal with it, and how I've learnt to control it. I really hope this helps you too.
It all Starts A Few Days Before...
When I've booked my trip, I usually factor in the all important question 'How long is the flight?'. Up until 2017, this was the most important aspect of booking a trip away. The hotel, price, destination all came second. The quicker the flight, the better. Even better if I could get there by boat or driving.
A few days before my travel day begins, I start thinking about the worst likely outcome. Will I miss the flight? Will we make it to the right airport? Will the flight be safe? Have I said bye to everyone who matters? Some thoughts may seem totally irrational, and in reality they are - but I cannot help these thoughts that circulate in my head.
I speak to everyone I come into contact with about their travel experiences. I want to know how long their flight was to Spain. I want to know if they experienced turbulance. What airline did they fly with? What was the airport like? Did they collect their luggage OK on arrival? I come across as inquistive and interested, really I am making mental notes on what to expect. It is all for my own gain.
The chances of me having a dream about a airplane malfuction is high. I will dream that I never see my family again, and that this trip was the worst decision I've ever made. I will wake up upset and it puts me out of sync with the rest of the day.
The Day Before Travel
The day before is a nightmare day for me. Have I got everything packed correctly? Is my suitcase overweight? Just double check. Have I got everything frommy essentials list? Have I printed off a hard version of all the electronic confirmations? Do I have the correct currency? The list goes on. It doesn't help that naturally I am sooo last minute with all these things, which adds to the anxious feeling.
Usually we have to be up early ready to make our way to the airport. I'll never sleep. I'll toss and turn, try listening toaudiobooks and try meditating. Nothing works. I wake my husband up an hour before his alarm to help me double check that we have everything. Is his passport up to date? Bit late now if it's not. Of course it is, it was only renewed this last year. He trys to calm me down - I blame it on excitement.
We've parked the car OK. Phew. Meet and Greet is great. I hope the fella parks the car OK. Have I left the tickets in the car? Of course I haven't, they're in my hand where they've been for the last hour. OK - I'm good to go.
I walk through into the big bright airport departures area. Hundreds of check-in desks are infront of me. Ours isn't open yet, we are an hour too early. Apologies to the husband, he could have had another hour in bed. But it's OK - we would have hit traffic on the way if we had have left home earlier. Jusify everything.
We are first in the que at check-in. I run over to the scales for the fifth time, just to make sure our case isn't overweight. It's 15KG. Of course it is. I only have bikini's and light clothing. Maybe our airline only allows 15KG, or is it 20KG? I'm sure the check-in desk person will tell me. What if it's 15KG and the scales are wrong and my case is actually over? What will I take out of my case? We're good - our allowance is 23KG. Phew.
Where is the security? Let's go through now so we can get a good seat in a resturant for a few hours. There might be a long que. Have I left my deodrant in my hand luggage? Will it get taken off me? Of course I haven't - it's in the wash bag in the case that I've already gotten rid of.
The security que moves quickly, it is only 5am after all. Shoes off, bags in the tray. I get called through the scanner and moved on. They didn't want to search me? Why didn't they search me? Why aren't they searching everyone? Husband reassures me that the bags have been X-rayed and the scanner I walked through scans me. These are highly trained security people and if they had a cause for concern they would act. I hope so.
The airport is quiet. We take our seating in a resturant serving breakfast. Can I see the board from here? Nope, lets move to a seat where I can keep an eye on it. I eat my breakfast (overpriced to say the least) and start to relax. I am OK. This is OK. It has all been smooth so far. Husband suggests a nosey round the shops. Reluctantly I agree. After all we still have two hours to kill. Starting to regret getting here so early. Tiredness starting to set in. Maybe I will sleep on the flight?
The gate for our flight has just appeared on the board. Let's go now. The gate is open. The flight might leave early. How far is the gate away? It might take us a while to get there. Abandons shopping on a random shelf and speed walks to gate. I arrive sweaty and flustered even though its freezing in here. We take a seat with only one or two other early birds and wait for another 30 minutes... oops. At least it saved me spending £50 in Victoria Secret.
The tannoy booms our flight number and announces boarding. My tear ducts start to sting. The palms of my hands are clammy, to say the least. Everyone around me seems too relaxed. Is there something going on that I don't know about?
The attendant checks my passport and waves me through to make my way to the aircraft. My anxiety is through the roof. Tears wet my cheek, my knees start to knock. Why are people queing now? Is it too late to turn around? Can I cancel this trip now?
I find my seat and look around me. Everyone is still so chilled out. The flight attendants seem chilled. Is it only me that has red eyes and a dry mouth? Looks like it. My husband grabs my hand and reassures me that this is the safest way to travel. All the noises are completely normal. The Captain is experienced and highly trained. We are going to be OK.
The seatbelt sign is on, and boarding is complete, according to the Captain. The tears stream down my face but I remain silent. I don't want any unwanted attention or to cause a scene. Somewhere deep down inside of me I know my thoughts are irrational.
We.are.moving. Oh Sh*t. This is happening, there's no turning back now. I practise my deep breathing method that I learnt from the internet to try and relax. The flight attendants are conducting the safety briefing, where's my safety card? I read it through watery eyes. I am crapping myself to say the least.
It's time. The moment I have been dreading the most for the last few days. Take off. Children around me are buzzing with excitement. I feel like an idiot. Why can't I enjoy this like everyone else? I try to think rationally. I stay composed on the exterior. The tears are tripping me now, and my Husband's poor hand is blue where I'm gripping it so tightly. The engines roar and we race down the runway for take off. This seems to be a longer run than I expected. Are we going to make it? I am far from religious but I pray to God that we are safe.
We are off the ground. Thank God. We are climbing up and up. A little bumpy but nothing too worrying yet, although I haven't let go of my hubands hand and he is chatting away to me although I can hear him like he's a million miles away from me. My focus is now on the flight attendants. They know the deal. They would know if we were in any trouble. They are the ones who I will be keeping an eye on now.
Before I know it, my tears are dry, and there is a flight attendant at my side offering me some water and congratulating me for remaining calm and getting through take off. Now I do feel like a prize pr*ck. I apologise to her and cut the conversation short, I don't want strangers looking at me. My husband takes his hand back and relaxes into the flight. I am envious of him being so calm. The drinks cart finally comes and I order a coffee - a strong one at that. Seeing at it's only 7am I thought it was inappropriate to order a Baileys - plus I'd like to be sober incase anything happens that requires my full attention...
Once the seatbelt sign comes off, the flight is in into full swing. I do not remove my seatbelt under any circumstances. I am tightly strapped in and I intend on being this way until we are firmly back on solid ground. I try to distract myself from listening out for changes in the engine sounds by reading a book. Instead I find myself staring up and down the isle looking for any changes in behaviour. Nothing.
This is only a short flight. Why are minutes in the air so much longer than minutes on the floor? Forget my tired eyes, there is not a chance I can sleep on here, although my husband is now sound asleep. I would give anyting for a snooze, but my brain and body won't allow it. I'll read the inflight magazine again.
A bump in the otherwise smooth ride sends my anxiety levels through the roof again. God forbid the Captain putting the seatbelt sign back on. Thank god it was only on for 10 minutes. I don't know how my heart can cope with all this stress. The rational part of me thinks for a brief second how silly all this is.
The flight attendants announce that we are starting the descent into Palma de Mallorca Airport. It is a smooth decent and not much else happens. I peer out the window on the opposite side of the flight and see that we are now beneath the clouds, closer to the floor. Just ten more minutes and we will be down.
A smooth landing and I am the one who claps. I am clapping for myself, I have made it to another country despite the ordeal to get here. I am clapping for the Captain, nice one lad for doing your job and getting us here safe. I clap for my husband for putting up with me once again during my travel anxiety ways. I clap for all of us on board for being brave enough to travel.
How To Deal With Travel Anxiety
People deal with all types of anxiety in different ways. For me, somethings work and some dont. Here are my top 5 ways to deal with travel anxiety:
By following my guidelines above, I hope this helps you to overcome travel anxiety that you may experience.
I'd love to know if you have any other tips on overcoming travel anxiety, please share them with me in the comments below.
- Lea Bella x