A less vulgar version of this piece with a title I certainly didn’t choose was published on Elite Daily and can be read here.
I have previously written about my travel anxiety. This week, I would like to give some tips to anyone who is a nervous traveler, whatever the reason. These are things I do, and they help me a lot. If you have any other tips, please comment below!
If you’re one of those people who consumes a shit ton of water, go ahead and skip down to the next step. For the rest of you - drink water. Truth: most days I drink between 0 and 4 oz of water (why drink water when you could have a beer, I say!) But when I travel I drink a whopping 8-16 oz (don’t judge, it’s the best I can do) and keep my coffee intake to below 3 cups. I consciously down water the day of travel to protect my body. I want to prepare my body, get it as healthy, strong, and well-functioning as possible (on two cups of water lolz) because I know that it may experience stress when I get to the airport or onboard the plane, and I want to be able to handle that stress, acknowledge it and dance with it, and not shut the fuck down.
2. Get to the airport early
I know this seems counter-intuitive to a lot of people. Airports are stuffy, loud, hectic. Why the fuck would you spend more time there than absolutely necessary? Here’s why:
When you get to the airport early, you have ample time to go through security. Security in the US is SUCH a wankoff, and many times you turn the corner and the line is a 30-60 minute long wait. When you give yourself plenty of time, you won’t have a conniption at seeing that monstrosity. You won’t be concerned with missing your flight. You won’t have as much anxiety as the unprepared biddy behind you. You pull out your phone, take a selfie, call your mom. Look how fucking productive you are.
Once through security, you have time to go get a bottle of water (because see #1). People who get to the airport at the last minute and get held up in the security line have to sprint to their gate, barely making it before staff closes the door. And then those people have to wait an hour for beverage service. Sucks to be them.
When you get to the airport early, you also have time to find healthy-ish food and a quiet nook (yes, they exist!) close to an outlet. And then you have food, you have water, you have a tranquil space and you can work productively for an hour or two. And you were a goddamn cucumber the whole fucking time.
This one is a bonus. I have had a consistent meditation practice for a few years now, and I find that meditating grounds me, puts me at ease, and in general makes me feel good. If you too have already built a practice, I highly recommend meditating before boarding. If you don’t have a meditation practice yet, I don’t recommend your first go at it be at the airport. Some people find that meditation, especially at the beginning, makes them feel more anxious. So just be aware of that. Slow breathing is absolute bullshit to me and makes me a wreck. I prefer to do a little Kundalini breath, otherwise known as fire breathing. Do you look bat shit? Totally. But it’s the cheapest high in New York City, and a great option for the broke and anxious flyer. Here's a really mystical British woman giving a little tutorial:
3. Prepare entertainment
I don’t read on planes because I get motion sickness. And I don’t often fuck with in flight entertainment because I will never get those two hours I spent watching The Time Traveler’s Wife back. If I’m feeling pretty good, podcasts are my go-to. Some of my favorites are The Moth
This American Life, Savage Lovecast, 2 Dope Queens, The Champs, Criminal, and Strangers.
Sometimes I just close my eyes and listen to these podcasts, and sometimes I also work on an adult coloring book. I love coloring, and sometimes I find that I listen better when my hands are doing something.
If, however, I am not feeling great, whether it be anxiety or nausea or exhaustion, I listen to a playlist I put together to calm me. Most of the music is a combination of:
Olafur Arnolds, Nils Frahm, and A Winged Victory for the Sullen.
And sometimes I just put Ludovico Einaudi’s Berlin Song on repeat because it’s the most beautiful thing I have ever heard
4. Take doctor-prescribed meds
Anxiety is an overwhelming medical condition, and sometimes we need to seek out help from a medical professional. Is doctor-prescribed medication for everyone? Absolutely not. But it is an option that helps a lot of people.
For me, medication is used as a last resort. Even when I am hydrated and I have meditated and listened to my relaxing music, I need to take an anti-anxiety medicine that was prescribed to me by my doctor. When I have had anxiety attacks on flights, I landed in my destination with the mentality that I was a victim. I didn’t see all the beauty of the country, I didn’t engage my senses. I saw what could hurt me or make me uncomfortable. I was emotionally off-balance and it would take a day or two to recover back to my bubbly, optimistic self. I never want to be the victim, and so if my body needs it, I do what I need to do to allow myself a peaceful rest during my flight and to land in my destination with an open mind and full heart.
I understand how anxiety can prevent someone from traveling as much as they would like to, but I hope some of these tips can be utilized to make traveling a bit more bearable.