How I Handle Travel Anxiety

I am terrified of flying. In fact, typing those words just gave me butterflies because I am traveling interstate later today, and the pre-flight anxiety is already kicking in. This is something that has been an issue for me my whole life. The first time I ever went on a plane I was BY MYSELF, which as it turns out can be surprisingly less anxiety-ridden than flying with company. I think it’s because I can just escape into my own mind and not feel like I am burdening someone else with my anxiety. I also travelled from New York back to Perth flying solo, and I will always remember something very simple my dad said to me before that flight – ‘courage is being afraid to do something, and doing it anyway‘. I try to remember this every time I step onto a plane. I think a lot of people don’t understand travel anxiety, so they brush it off as being a trivial little quirk that people have, but if you have it you know that it is awful. You can be the most rational person on the planet and realise that flying is safer than driving, but still be crippled with fear and anxiety throughout the entirety of a flight. The only thing that gets me through it is knowing I either have a fun holiday on the other side of the flight, or I am heading home to my family and friends (and Pep). There are a few other things that have helped me with my anxiety throughout the years, and I thought I’d share them with you. If you also suffer from travel anxiety and have any tips or tricks of your own, please let me know!

1. Be organized. As the underlying travel anxiety is already there, making an effort to remove all other sources of anxiety (ie: disorganization and running late) helps keep all other stress to a minimum before the flight. I always write a packing list prior to loading up my suitcase, check into our flight ahead of time (making sure I have a window seat and that we are definitely sitting together – this reduces my anxiety a lot), and make sure we know exactly what time to leave the house to get to the airport with time to spare before the flight.

2. Establish routines. This goes hand in hand with the above point that reducing all other stress will help manage The Big One. We always get to the airport with time to spare prior to the flight, and that way we are able to sit down for 20 minutes or so before having to board. I take this opportunity to have a drink (I find champagne the most effective), go to the bathroom, and get everything in order before boarding. I am in the habit of either picking an album or making a playlist that is my travel anthem for that particular holiday. Something soothing is usually best. For my last trip it was Troye Sivan’s ‘Blue Neighbourhood‘ – now when I hear any of the songs from that album I am transported back to that holiday. I also like to have an in-flight routine, because there is nothing worse than (what feels like) an endless stretch of time sitting on a plane without any purpose and plenty of free mental space to stress out.

3. Treat yourself. It can be helpful to look at the time spent on the plane as “me time” (if you’re traveling with kids this is somewhat impossible). I have a few podcasts that I love, so I try to save up any new episodes that they release in the week before my flight so I have those to look forward to listening to on the plane. I do the same with television episodes, and any books that I am excited to read. For my flight this afternoon I have a new episode of Welcome To Deadcast to listen to, and a new episode of Hotel Hell to watch – I feel like having little things to look forward to on the flight can make it somewhat more bearable.

4. Meditate or medicate. Now that you’re allowed to use small technology during take off and landing, it’s possible to listen to something soothing during these stressful times during the flight. Unfortunately for me, taking off and landing aren’t my stress trigger points – it’s the time spent up in the air that gives me the most anxiety. However, I do like to listen to short mediations throughout the flight and highly recommend the ‘Meditation Oasis‘ podcast for this purpose. My flight anxiety is at the stage where I now also medicate during flights, so it’s worth speaking to your doctor if you find it’s becoming a bit too much for you to handle. They may have some options available.

5. Let go. This is the hardest one of all because it’s basically fighting all of your natural instincts and forcing yourself to live with the anxiety. It also relies on you having some sort of trust in a higher power or the universe in general. If my anxiety starts creeping back in mid-flight I try to tell myself to just ‘let go’, because at that point everything is completely out of my control. Perhaps that is where this anxiety stems from, as a self-confessed control freak? Who can say.

Planning An Overseas Holiday Pt 2.

I’ve been spending a little bit of time planning our US trip (for the end of the year) lately, and I thought I’d share with you what I’ve been up to. The first thing I did after my first ‘broad scale’ planning session, was to write a step by step to-do list of all of the things I would need to plan. And here it is –

Finalize Travel Dates
Research Flight Costs
Solidify Budget
Research Accommodation
Select exact dates per city and research travel between cities
Write to-do list per city
Research to-do list items (cost etc.)
Check Visa requirements etc.
Research weather during travel times
Write packing list (general)
Organise housesitter etc.

So our travel dates have been mapped out, and we have a rough idea of how much our flights are going to cost. At this stage we’re tossing up between two airlines (mostly because Sebastian didn’t have a great experience with one of our options on his recent trip overseas), and once that’s been decided we can start looking at booking things officially. I solidified my own budget, and have a savings plan in place. I’m now at the stage where I’m researching accommodation. Did you know accommodation in New York City is ridiculously expensive? Well it is. I haven’t started looking at Washington DC just yet, but I’ve been told that it will be on-par with New York as far as accommodation and food pricing goes. At this stage, it’s looking like Distrikt Hotel will be the go for us in New York. We can get a 20% discount if we book early, BUT it’s a non-refundable booking, which is a huge downfall. Decisions, decisions.

Planning An Overseas Holiday Pt 1.

I love to plan. I like small scale planning projects and big scale planning projects, and most of all, I like planning something that results in me enjoying a wonderful holiday. I’m due for long service leave next year, which means I’ll have three months off of work (with pay), and will have the time and opportunity to do a little bit of international travel. I thought it might be fun to include a little holiday-planning series of posts on The Belle Lumiere, and this will be the first in a short string of posts revolving around how I plan an international trip.

Step 1 – Choose Your Destination
Have you ever sat down and thought about where in the entire world you’d like to travel to? It’s a near impossible task, as there are SO many options available. I’d already started thinking about heading back to New York at some stage, and my partner was all over the idea so we decided that the US was the best fit for our 2015 trip. Once we’d decided on the country, we broke it down to where in particular we’d like to visit and came up with New York, Washington DC, and Phoenixville (to hopefully visit some of my family).

Step 2 – Plan Your Travel Time
For me it was pretty easy to pick when we’d be heading overseas, as I only have a three month window to choose from. Looking at the months available, I decided that November would be the best month for us to travel in, as we both want to celebrate Thanksgiving in the US (October was too soon and December would be too cold). We’re still not sure how long we’ll be away for, but at this stage we’re loosely planning around a two-three week trip.

Step 3 – Think About Your Options (accommodation/travel)
It’s a good idea to start thinking about what you’re planning to do when you get to wherever it is that you’re going. Are you going to stay in a hostel, a hotel, with friends? How do you think you’ll get there, is there any particular flight path you think you want to take? At this stage we’re planning on just visiting the east coast of the US, so flying through Hong Kong makes the most sense. As for accommodation, I’m looking into AirBnB options to see what is available. If that fails, we’ll be looking for some reasonably priced hotel options. Hostels are not for us. Deciding what you want early on also makes it easier to keep an eye out for any flight or accommodation sales that may pop up before your travel date.

Step 4 – Write Up A Budget
Figuring out your budget early is the best way to plan a holiday, in my experience. Once you know how much money you can comfortably save, you know the base line of what you have to work with for your trip. Anything you can add into the kitty on top of that can be bonus money, or you can re-assess your budget halfway through the planning process and see if there is anything you’d like to switch up and possibly pay more for.

Step 5 – A General Plan
I like to think about just what it is I want to do when traveling, quite far in advance. I find writing a general, broad plan quite far in advance makes it a lot easier to get to the nitty-gritty detail planning as it gets closer to the date of travel. I’ve written up a list of touristy things we want to see and do while in the US, and as if I think of anything else as time progresses I’ll add them to the list.

So those are the initial planning steps that I follow, I’d love to hear if anyone has a similar or different method to planning an overseas trip! be sure to leave any tips or tricks you can think of in the comments below.

What’s in my beauty bag? (weekend away edition)

One of my favourite things to do when planning any sort of holiday is to put together a packing list. Naturally, my favourite list to write contains the selection of beauty products I plan to take with me. The best beauty-packing trick I’ve learned over the years is to take as much travel-sized loot as you can. This saves so much space and is far more convenient when lugging things in and out of your suitcase. Also, if you manage to finish up the whole product while you’re away, you can just toss it out. Unless of course you’re a beauty blogger, and you have to pack your trash to bring home with you for a future empties post. Here is a selection of the products I took with me for a 4 day weekend away –

paula’s choice hydralight moisture-infusing lotion, jurlique chamomile soothing mist, nivea fragrance-free facial cleansing wipes, pure fiji hydrating body lotion (coconut infusion), and tresemme moisture rich shampoo & conditioner

If you’re heading away on a holiday anytime soon, or are like me and just love using travel sized beauty products, be sure to check out MiniBarCo – an online store that specializes in travel sized beauty products. While you’re there, be sure to check out the Herban Essentials towelettes, because anti-bacterial wipes seem to come in handy a LOT when traveling.