During the COVID-19 pandemic stay-at-home orders, I, like a lot of people, learned of a lot about myself. I am a type A, high functioning, anxious person. Meaning, I can normally get through my day with high energy and efficiency, and also, some tasks and situations give me anxiety.
One of those tasks is travel days – I travel anxious. If this oncoming narrative sounds like you, I may have some tips to help you cope.
When I am flying, no matter if it is a short jaunt to California from my home in Washington state or an international trip, the days leading up to a trip and the day-of go something like this:
- I check for my passport the morning, afternoon, evening, and sometimes in the middle of the night before the trip; on the morning of the trip (5-10 times); in the car on the way to the airport; and at the car drop off place before entering the airport.
- I usually wake up two to three times the night before a trip from a nightmare where I missed my flight because I slept through my alarm.
- I make anyone going to the airport with me get there three hours early, and I add an extra half hour for traffic (even at 4 a.m.) just in case.
- I am anxious if the airport shuttle doesn’t leave the parking lot right away.
- I am anxious if there is a long security line.
- Once I am through the security line, I immediately need to locate my gate, just so I know EXACTLY where it is.
- And then, I can relax and go to the lounge or restaurant or wherever because we have at least two hours to kill.
- But, I have to be back at the gate a few minutes before we board, just in case.
Does this sound familiar to anyone else? 🙋🏼♀️
I used to think that I am this way because of the number of airports and train stations I’ve sprinted through to make tight connections, but I now know that I travel anxious.
So, what do I do about it?
Ah, the glorious glorious TSA pre-check.
According to their website, in August 2022, 95% of travelers with TSA pre-check waited five minutes or less in the security line.
That figure lowers my anxiety levels substantially, and since I’ve had pre-check, I’ve even felt okay getting the the airport 1.5 hours in advance for a domestic flight. If you’re financially able, TSA pre-check is worth the money. There are other options at the airport like Clear that get you through even faster, so that may be another option for you.
It is important to me to be very real on this blog and recognize that my privilege allows me to afford and use this service. Not everyone has the ability to do so.
Predictable passport storage
This isn’t rocket science, it definitely is not. And, I know we all love to switch up our purses or backpacks or bags for fashion, but this tip helps my anxious brain in ways you wouldn’t believe.
I keep my passport in the same pocket in the same bag for every trip, and there is no question in my mind where it is.
Once I am through security, I take time to replace it in the same pocket, so I don’t panic about losing it. If I have to show my passport to get on a plane, I put it back in its passport pocket before I even move through the doors. This simple practice saves my anxious brain time and stress.
I love love love to have a drink and a meal in the airport. It gives me time to realize I am going on a trip and give my brain a break from worrying.
I’m usually able to find out which terminal I am flying out of a few days ahead of my trip. I often fly out of Seattle-Tacoma International Airport, and they have great resources online for food options in their various terminals. Then, I’m able to see what my options are beforehand and whether a restaurant or the Alaska Airlines lounge is a better option for my trip.
Easier said than done?
I 100% agree. Because sometimes none of these things help ease my travel anxiety. And, that is okay.
Sometimes, I am going to miss a flight or my flight will be delayed 10 hours or even worse, my flight will get canceled. In those times, I try to focus on what I can control, my reactions, and my next steps.
I am a work in progress, and I am learning to deal with not being in control of everything.
If you travel anxious, try one of these tips. Let me know how it works for you, and if you have any tips that might help me, please share! I am looking forward to sharing more with you as this blog progresses. Until next time!
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