Must-know flying tips: how to combat travel anxiety

Okay, truth time. For a traveller with big dreams to explore the world, I’m not good at flying. In fact, I sort of dread it. But it’s not the fact that you’re a thousand miles above the earth in a tin can box with wings, it’s everything else in between. It’s the stress as you weigh your luggage convinced that your home scales must be broken. Or the panicked decision to arrive at the airport five hours before your flight departs for fear of traffic on the way. Then, you have to figure out the directions through check-in to security.

Security, or TSA, is always a nerve-wracking experience for me. It’s that conviction that no matter how well you packed your hand luggage and how thoroughly you combed it for liquids there will always be a rogue sunscreen playing contraband deep in the recesses of the bag. Then there’s the matter of negotiating the metal detector, and I don’t know about you, but I have a slight phobia of those things. Not too long ago I was constantly setting off the alarm every time I walked through a shop entrance and I had no idea why (don’t worry I’m not some delusional shoplifter!). Each time was more embarrassing than the last. In fact, I would start avoiding shops just to spare myself the ordeal.

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Watch out for rogue liquids

It was only when I emptied my bag and scrutinised the contents that I found a sunscreen with a heavy-duty security label on it which the cashier had forgotten to remove when I purchased it (see? Watch out for those pesky sunscreens!). Ever since then, I hold my breath in anticipation of the alarm every time I pass through a shop entrance. Of course, TSA metal detectors are infinitely more intense. My advice is to check all your items before you pack them, even footwear and luggage because you never know you might just find a label nestling in the folds somewhere getting ready to cause havoc on your trip.

If you’re a beginner backpacker or new to long flights, taking in some advice from seasoned jet-setters is a good way to prepare. Being a first-time solo female traveller on my first long-haul flight to New Zealand, I’ve been eager to devour as much advice as possible because let’s face it, what on earth are you supposed to do on a plane for twelve hours?! However, the advice doesn’t come without its own danger: those unending lists of products they just “couldn’t fly without!” If you’re not careful you may just find yourself believing that yes you absolutely do need that moisturising mist spray or the bumpy massage ball.

That’s all fine if you really do see a purpose to them all but creating a whole new airplane packing list does have its cons when you have to lug it all around for the duration of your trip. It’s a lesson I’ve had to learn over time. Choosing the essentials instead of cramming your carry-on with needless items will be a benefit in the long-run, especially if you’re backpacking.

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Don’t let airports beat you!

In fact, if you’re daunted by airports then not overloading yourself is key. By this I mean avoid overthinking. It will only get you flustered. Instead, research anything that makes you nervous in advance to save yourself the surprise of it later on. You don’t want to start your holiday in a traumatised heap! Write a checklist of all the paperwork you will need and have them easily to hand so you can breeze through on the day. You might just find that some countries require you to have proof of a return flight or additional paperwork to reinforce your visa. After all, nothing ruins a holiday than not being allowed to have it.

Airports are far from relaxing. In fact, I would argue that they’re the most stressful part of the holiday. But, by familiarising yourself with anything that makes you nervous, and allowing yourself to go at your own pace, you’ll have the confidence to tackle any stress inducers you may encounter. Then, you’ll be living your best life travelling the world!

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Thanks for reading,

If you enjoyed this then you might like Packing? Hey, it’s okay! (Habits all travellers are guilty of).

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