Confidence, Personal Growth
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How Travel Makes My Anxiety Go Bananas

If you're feeling nervous or anxious about flying in an airplane

A lot of us will be traveling this holiday season. Whether it’s in a car, a train, or an airplane, we move around this world towards people we love (or have conflicted relationships with) for the holidays.

And if you’re like me, your anxiety heightens while you travel. I’ve had almost-panic attacks while in airports, airplanes, and in traffic. And, who knows, maybe some of them were real attacks. I wouldn’t go so far to say I suffer from real claustrophobia, but the feeling of being trapped definitely exacerbates my anxiety.

Let’s have a little story time: I have a tiny bladder. And once, towards the end of a flight, I started feeling like I had to pee. The seatbelt sign was still on so I thought I could hold it until we landed. It got to the point where I couldn’t. Even though the plane was descending I unbuckled and started walking back in the aisle. A stewardess came towards me and told me to sit back down. After a few arguing moments she finally relented but told me I had to stay in the lavatory for the entire landing. So, there I sat. On the closed lid. Bouncing off the walls while the plane landed. I can only imagine what the people sitting outside the bathroom thought.

Ever since this incident I’ve developed major anxiety over desperately needing to pee on an airplane. I never want to feel that desperate again. So I visit the restroom way too many times before I board a plane. Then barely drink any liquids. Even though airplanes dehydrate you.

This is just a little window into my own personal travel-related-neurosis, but I’m sure a lot of people have their own versions. Mine just happens to be similar to a panic-disorder.

I recently traveled to the airport with my boyfriend. It was the first time we went to the airport together, both flying somewhere for the holidays. For some reason, I still can’t pinpoint why, my anxiety went into overdrive before we left. My stomach was killing me, I felt light-headed, panicky, twitchy, out of my body. I imagine it was made worse by the fact that I didn’t want my boyfriend to know I was going through it…I didn’t want him to worry, or feel bad, or feel irritated.

I finally told him — plus he could tell something was up — and he stayed by my side while I mildly freaked out. I’m sure he felt helpless and a little confused (probably a little annoyed) but in the end I’m sure it was only a positive thing for him to witness.
The anxiety eventually subsided by the time our taxi ride downtown ended and we had to board a little train to get to the airport, but I’ve felt a little drained ever since. A little sick. Oof.

If you suffer from travel-anxiety here’s what I can suggest: provide yourself with as many comforts as you can. Whether it’s a sweater, a pair of shoes, a blanket, a specific perfume that you associate with positive things (I legit sprayed myself with my boyfriend’s cologne since I associate it with being calm)…anything that you can hold onto for grace.

Then don’t be afraid to freak out a little, then slap yourself in the face.

I do this, too. Literally. I will smack my cheeks, tell myself to get my shit together, and I walk out the door even if I feel like I’m going to die.

Happy holidays, my dear readers, and I hope you have mentally-sound travels.


  1. seasiderosie says

    LOL! The last time I rode a plane was three years ago. (It was the first time since I was six, an experience I do not even remember, so really, this last time was more or less my first time.) I was HYSTERICAL when the plane took off. I was seated between my amused father, and a man who stared ahead in unblinking mortification. But after I survived the first flight, I actually enjoyed the others. But I’m fairly certain when/if I fly again, the terror will return in all of its original glory.

    • Haha I can only imagine their faces. My anxiety is hits at unexpected times when it can be the most inconvenient. Which is wildly frustrating but also makes me realize I just gota suck it up and keep going keep going keep going.

  2. Pingback: My apology to Scott Stossel, or, The Atlantic article about anxiety that hit too close to home | The Anxious Girl's Guide to Dating

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