Do you feel happy while in transit? Does movement energize you? Do you embrace change and adventure? If you’re saying to yourself, no, not really – that’s OK! Being in transit can be stressful, and transitions are naturally challenging.
I’ve noticed that simple creature comforts can help ease travel anxiety, whether physical or spiritual.
Let’s talk about literally being in transit – traveling from point A to B. We’ve all had that feeling while sitting on a plane wishing we had brought something we didn’t. I’ve coveted my neighbor’s hand cream, and wished I’d brought a scarf when the cold air is blasting and my neck and my shoulders are cold. Sometimes you’re wedged into the window seat and bothering your neighbors to get something from the overhead bin is too much trouble.
Thinking ahead about what makes you feel – not just good, but great – while traveling is so important. It’s trial and error, it’s a skill that is honed over time. Bringing too many “comforts” can be a real burden, and when your bag’s shoulder strap is digging into your shoulder as you run through the airport or train station, you’ll be cursing the extra weight!
Here are 8 tips for surrounding yourself with comforts to help enhance your transit experience and reduce your travel anxiety:
- Think ahead about the potential pain points when you’re in transit. Is it the subway noise? The airplane temperature? The lack of “real” food in the cafe car on a train? By thinking about what makes you uncomfortable, you can start to create a list of what to bring to help combat those friction points.
- Next time you take a trip, as soon as it’s over, make a list of things you wish you’d brought and things you wish you didn’t. Keep the list in your notes and when prepping for your next adventure, go back to it. I’m always amazed at the ideas I forget so easily the next time.
- Don’t worry about others’ judgements. I sometimes catch myself hesitating before I take out home made food when sitting with strangers. Is it too early in the flight? It’s so nerdy that I brought roasted sweet potato slices in a stasher bag! But who cares? I know that sweet potatoes are comfort food, fill me up and make me happy. Your neighbors are probably wishing they brought yummy snacks too!
- Identify an article of clothing that is a must have while traveling and always bring it with you. Kind of like that blankie we had as babies, there’s something nice about having a familiar, soft thing that’s always there. Being in transit can be anxiety provoking, but a particular scarf, pair of socks, mittens or coat can make you feel happy, comforted and safe. My go to thing is a super light cashmere/silk pale blue scarf. It takes up zero space in my bag, is so cozy, and a bit luxurious too. Here’s one like it – pricey but this has gone on every trip with me over the past 10 years so well worth it!
- Invest in sample sizes of products you love so you can bring them along – or stock up on miniature containers and fill them with product to use while in transit. I use tiny MUJI containers for my face products and feel great that I don’t tote around big bottles.
- Hydration is so important on long trips, especially flights. (Yes, I do wake people up if I’m in the window seat to use the bathroom.) It makes me so happy to fill up my nalgene water bottle at the filling station at the airport. First, it saves money on overpriced water! And second, it’s better for our environment. I use this water bottle from Amazon, I like the closure on it after experiencing spills in my bags.
- Creating your own space and listening to something enriching can make you happy while in transit. Bring a pair of Beats noise cancelling head phones, and prep for trips by downloading a range of media. Variety is the key because you won’t know what you’ll be in the mood for. Pick a podcast, create a spotify playlist, a kindle book and if it’s a longer trip – a Netflix series or movie. When I ride the subway in NYC, listening to music reduces my travel anxiety by making me feel either calm or motivated (depending on the playlist) and helps block external noise that can sometimes be grating and disruptive.
- For intercontinental trips I love to break the trip up and do something in between that makes me feel human. For example, when I traveled to Thailand, I stopped in Europe and found a shower facility. They provide towels and soap, and taking a hot shower, changing undergarments and putting on some moisturizer felt amazing. It’s not a spa like experience, but it’s well worth it. Many of the clubs and lounges at airports have showers. I bought a Priority Pass membership to access 1,000 lounges globally – so if you’re a world traveler, something to consider. Sitting in a lounge for long stopovers is game changing – there are nice snacks, coffees, wine – and you feel pampered!
There’s no reason why you can’t surround yourself with creature comforts that make you feel happy in transit. With awareness, note taking and planning you’ll find the friction points that may create discomfort or anxiety can be soothed. I’m confident you can find real happiness in your experience of being in transit!