I am writing this blog post from sunny Kauai. It's dumping snow right now in Seattle so this couldn't have been a more well timed getaway. Lately these days, I've been spending most of my hard earned benjamins on travel and having the kind of travel that works best for me. If you are an anxious person, travel can be the worst type of anxiety trigger. That being said, having a plan in place around what you can do to lessen your travel anxiety is key.
For me, my travel anxiety is at its peak pre-flight. Once on the plane, for the most part I am fine, but it's all of the little steps in between that makes me extra stressed. Here are a few ways that I deal with travel anxiety:
1. Get TSA PreCheck. Seriously, this was the biggest game changer. For a one time payment of $85 for 5 years you can speed through security and you don't need to remove your shoes, laptops, jackets. I literally get through security in 10 minutes now. At the Seattle airport there is also a service called Clear that I am thinking about getting. The day we were taking off for Kauai, it had started snowing and the wait time was 1.5 hours to get through security. No wait times at all for Clear. It's a similar concept as TSA PreCheck, but just with a private company.
2. Buy Priority seating if it's affordable. I try to buy my plane tickets with my points I save up on my Chase Sapphire so spending $30-$100 for priority seating is a small price to pay for me. This is usually when my anxiety is at peak - getting on the plane. It really helps me to have time to settle into my seat and not be rushed. I realize this is a massive privilege, but booking with points offsets that cost.
3. Pick an aisle seat. I always worry that I'll bug people if I need to get out of my seat frequently, so I just sit in the aisle seat and am able to get out whenever I want to. Sitting in the aisle seat you are also able to hop out of the plane faster! The window seat is fun, but often times it gets cold sitting there with the air blowing in through the window.
4. Find an airline you like and stick with them. This tip isn't so much about the travel points which are also important, but little amenities and things you like more about one airline over another can make a big difference. I prefer to fly with Delta; they feed you on their flights, their in-air entertainment is free and in a monitor on the front seat (not hand held, or on their app to watch on your phone), and they are super organized when it comes to boarding. Those things make a difference for me.
5. Download the airline app and use it to check your flight status. If I am feeling pretty anxious before a flight I will usually print the paper flight check in and also check-in on the airline app. This was another game changer for me. Gate changes happen all of the time, and they update it the fastest on the airline app. Also, this is a big tip: on a lot of the airline apps, like Alaska Air for example, you can text them about issues with your flight or if you need a rebooking and it is SO much faster than calling them. I think it is an under used feature. I used them to rebook our first cancelled flight to Kauai to a direct flight that was even better in minutes!
6. When traveling internationally, pack toiletries in a separate clear bag. International airports are sticklers for having your toiletries in a quart sized bag and nothing larger. It's best to just put your toiletries in your checked baggage, but if you need your toiletries just remember you can't have more than one quart sized back, and they have to be under 3.4oz. I learned this the hard way once!
7. Instead of laying your clothes flat, roll your clothes. Put things you can wear on top in case you need to remove it if your bag is too bulky for the overhead bin. I still haven't mastered the perfect suitcase set up. I have a 3-day-travel suitcase, 5-day-travel suitcase and a two-week-travel suitcase. The 5-day-travel suitcase often times ends up getting packed to the brim and naturally I worry that they'll make me put it in checked baggage or it won't fit into the overhead compartment. Watch how Mari Kondo folds her clothes, and you'll be able to fit 10x more in your carry-on. I also have one packing cube for dirty clothes.
8. Use a collapsible bottle that won't take up extra space. I try not to buy plastic water bottles at the airport, but at the same time a huge water bottle takes up so much space dangling around in my purse. I bought this collapsible bottle which I LOVE! Not only does it roll up super small when you are going through security but it kind of has the feel of a hot water bottle to it which is super comforting on a plane. I've been taking it on a few hikes here in Kauai and rolling it up and not having to carry it down the hike has been awesome.
9. Bring a few snacks from home. On my flight to New York in January I brought some raspberries on the plane, and it felt so nice to snack on something healthy and that I would usually eat at home. Flights do a massive number on my ecosystem so eating as healthy as I can and drinking as much water helps me recover faster.
10. Book accommodations that suit your needs. I've learned that I like smaller, boutique hotels that give me a home-y feeling and have thoughtful amenities. Knowing that where you will be staying will fit your lifestyle will remove unnecessary friction during your travel.
Do you have any tips for travel anxiety? Share them below!
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