Travelling day for me is a mixed bag – I find the thought of it really exciting as you’re officially in holiday mode, you can kick back in the airport and have a pint with your breakie – but with every spark of excitement theres a horrific nervous panic attack brewing. So for the most part I dread the travel days.
In the last five months I have been lucky enough to travel long haul to Florida as well as a shorter but just as daunting flight to Dublin, Ireland. This got me thinking about how well I had handled both travel days given my anxiety and how worked up I had gotten in the lead up to both trips.
One thought I have become familiar with is that – the fear is way worse than the actual event.
Take it back to September, I had spent over a year planning for Florida & I knew the travelling was going to be exhausting, draining, overwhelming and a lot to handle. So I planned down to the last second. I wanted to share just some of the things that I did to prepare for my up and coming travel days and what I did to make them as calming and exciting as I could.
I decided that we (being myself and Rhys) would travel up to Gatwick the day before our flight, as before this was agreed I was worried we would break down on the way up, or get stuck in traffic and have to rush. We checked the car in for the duration of our holiday and went on ahead to check into the hotel – for anyone interested we stayed in BLOC Hotel – it had futuristic vibes and was in a super convenient location in the airport – near restaurants, and you could watch the planes taking off if you had a window in your room. So first tip – if the airport is a few hours away and you can afford it stay overnight at the airport. The other reason I justified staying over the night before was that with Virgin you can take advantage of the Twilight check in – tip two! Twilight check in meant we could get checked in the evening before our flight and hand our cases over there and then. This immediately put me into holiday mode – I knew my cases were safe, I knew they were within the weight allowance and I knew we were checked in and had our tickets with the gate number on ready for the next day. I couldn’t recommend this service enough!
Another tip – I made sure before leaving for my holiday I got a doctors appointment – reviewed my medication made sure I had enough for my trip and that I was happy it was supporting me the way I needed, I also expressed to the doctor how anxious I was about the travelling in particular and that although I had my propanolol I was really getting worked up and was worrying I would even be able to get on the plane. He was able to prescribe me a small dose of Diazepam that helped calm me down and take the edge off on the days I was flying. I don’t suggest this is the first option you should consider – I saw this as a desperate measure that stopped my anxiety from taking over and preventing me from doing things I want to do. That said its an option to discuss with your doctor if you feel this is something that could benefit you.
As you can imagine a Disney World holiday had lots of planning involved before even leaving for the airport – and the same with Dublin! So my next tip is to make yourself familiar with any plans you have, knowing my next move always calms me – I mentally go through what it will look like, how I’ll get there, what we will do – Its safe to say I’m not the most spontaneous of people these days. So knowing I had reservations etc meant I could google or trip advisor the shit out of everything! Honestly I was so anxious and worked up about Florida – I knew where the toilets were in each park/restaurant and how long it would take me to get there from my hotel before I had even left the country – this is extreme behaviour but its what worked for me and it meant I was much calmer and was able to really enjoy my holidays.
I’m very lucky to have incredibly understanding family and friends – I made sure I was vocal about my concerns so that I wasn’t pushed into situations I was uncomfortable with and when I did wobble I had people around me that knew how to handle the situation – I want to thank Rhys for being my hero every single day! In the lead up to Dublin in particular – as I was travelling without him so was extra anxious! But it was (with 2 exceptions) a breeze – mostly because I knew I had good girls around me that I knew I was safe with. So tip five would be to make sure you are comfortable with who you’re travelling with and make them aware of your situation.
When going anywhere – the basics to control your anxiety for me are; don’t leave everything to the last minute and end up rushing – this is the worst thing you could do – people that don’t suffer with anxiety would feel panicked if its all one mad rush! Be organised – have your bags packed, passport and currency sorted well in advance, print off any reservations, tickets, bookings – that way your not relying on having wifi to show an email confirmation! And lastly try and remember to think “whats the worst that will happen?!” and enjoy yourself!
Thank you for reading, I honestly feel so fricking proud of myself, these two trips – for different reasons have been my biggest accomplishments in years and I know to a person that doesn’t understand crippling anxiety it just seems like I’ve been on holiday. But boarding those planes – leaving the comfort of my home, being in public situations for long periods of time, in unfamiliar surroundings – it was all extremely challenging for me – and if I’m honest I feel like a boss ass bitch! My counsellor told me I should give myself credit when I’ve achieved something no matter how small or “normal” it would seem to anyone else. Please share any tips you have for seamless travel days – or have any of my tips helped you?