Preparing to travel with anxiety

As I am writing this I am currently sitting waiting for my taxi to the airport. This is pretty common when I have to go somewhere by myself as I allow so much leeway time, that I usually end up sitting around.

I am about to fly back to the UK for the first time since moving to Vienna and then to Sweden for a week afterwards which I am so so excited about. It’s going to be a particularly special trip as we are revisiting the area in which my Nan lived when she was around sixteen years old. So, I thought since I was packing up the last few things that I would talk a little about how I prepare for going on a trip. I like to be super organised when it comes down to getting everything together and I start making lists (and often lists within those lists) about a week and a half before I go away, so I have time to add extra items or tasks to it. I used to be extremely detailed when it came to the packing list, but now I am much better. I don’t include every single clothes item any more and just have things such as the various chargers and adapters I will need, wash bag items and tickets (especially when I have more than one!) However, if you find yourself becoming anxious about forgetting things, then spend time making sure to write everything down that you might possibly need. Alternatively, just type in ‘packing list generator’ into your search engine and many sites will come up that allow you to enter your destination and length of stay etc. It will then write you up a packing list based on those details which may even highlight some of the items you did not even realise you should be taking.

When it comes to making list for me though the ‘to do’ list is the biggie! On my list for this trip some of the tasks include; clean bathroom, strip bed, empty all the bins, hoover ALL room. I realise this makes me sound like some sort of clean freak (or that I’ve left all the cleaning to the last minute!) but I like to make sure that everywhere else is sorted, cleaned and tidied before I start to pack. I can’t stand the idea of trying to organise what I am going to take if there is still stuff everywhere! Usually I will start about two days before the trip so that I have the whole day to spend solely on packing. Believe me, I need it!

Urgh! Packing. It is by far my most hated task when going travelling. There’s something about trying to organise what to take, taking into consideration the weather, whether I’ll need a coat, what and how many shoes I will need and then trying to fit it all into a suitcase that makes me want to cry. So to make it slightly easier on the soul I try to organise everything that will be going into the case before putting it in. For the whole day there will various piles of clothes placed on every surface in the room, which will be added to, contemplated and then reduced if need be.

Packing preparations have begun!

Taking into account that this trip is only for two weeks, you can imagine the state of the room when trying to pack to move abroad. This time around I managed to keep my ‘organised mess’ on the bed. When I moved to Vienna? There were piles of clothes, accessories, books and nic nacs on the bed, the desk, on the floor, on a chair, in the lounge and on the side in the bathroom. It was a nightmare that did not do wonders for my anxious mind.

“I think I have everything!?”

Now, even though I hate it with a passion, I happen to be a champion suitcase packer. Due to my organisation beforehand I rarely have to take items back out the case once it’s in it. This is also helped by knowing the tricks of the trade when it comes to getting it all in. Socks will go inside shoes, shirts get rolled, any gifts that might be breakable get wrapped in layers of clothing and then suitcase gets weighed numerous times just to make sure it’s within the limit. If there’s one thing I hate more than packing, it’s having to reorganise it at the airport.

When it comes to travelling to the airport itself, it helps to look at all the options and find the best and easiest way for you to get there in terms of cost and length of travel. Do some research into the cost of taxis versus the cost of public transport. For me, taking the tram and U-Bahn would have been much cheaper. Yet, paying for a car to take me directly to the correct terminal, without any changes or causing any stress, outweighed the alternative option of hauling a 20kg suitcase onto to multiple modes of transport to an airport I have never been to before. I know this may not be feasible for everyone though and so if you do have to take public transport, make sure you check the route a few days in advance and write it down/take a screen shot of it. Know which modes of transport you have to take and their exact numbers. On the day of travel, check there are no delays on route and even if there aren’t, it is good to still leave plenty of time to get there to avoid having to rush on arrival.

Finishing this blog post I am now sitting in an airport cafe, with my suitcase blocking access to various tables, because guess what? I came here too early to even drop my bag. Better to be safe than sorry though! Getting ready for a trip can be pretty stressful when considering everything that must be done before leaving (and then add on all the additional tasks that my anxious mind adds to the to do list!) Yet in these moments when I am just sitting calmly, knowing I have everything I need, I find I can’t get on that plane quick enough.

If there is one piece of advice to anyone who struggles with anxiety when travelling, I would say; take your time! Give yourself a few days to sort yourself out and pack up everything you need. If you find it causes you stress, leave it for a while and go do something different. When it comes to the day of travel, leave yourself loads of time to get to the airport and for dropping your bag/checking in, even if it means you have to cart your suitcase around the airport for a while before you can get rid of it. Sit somewhere, have a drink and something have something tasty, especially if you’re going on holiday (it’s your time off – the calories don’t count!!)

Lastly, just breathe. If you have traveled before, just know you did it then so you can do it now. If this is your first time, don’t be afraid of asking for help. Look for someone who looks like an airport or flight company employee and explain you’re not sure what you need to be doing or where you need to go. If there is a language barrier, see if you can spot the EasyJet desk for example and ask them. They will know the layout of the airport well enough to give you directions and are trained in attending to passengers on a daily basis.

It does get easier. I promise. I still get anxious, but have gone from having anxiety attacks before leaving for the airport to now having moved abroad.

If I can do it, so can you. Now get out there and see the world.

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