Travel Stress: How to Enjoy the Journey

Travel Stress: All of us, to some extent, struggle with travel anxiety.  Melissa and I were returning recently from a cousin’s wedding in Toronto and had a beast of a time.

Travel Stress: How did I get here?

The day started at 3 a.m. to accommodate a two-hour drive to Toronto’s Pearson International Airport.  We gave ourselves a solid five hours for driving, dropping off the rental car, and facing the dreaded security and Customs checkpoints. 

All five hours were used and my head was ready to explode, “Scanners Style.”

In and of itself, travel can be fun.  Unfortunately, it’s people who ruin everything.  Melissa and I were cut in front of while standing in the security line by an uptight couple who were ushered by an airline employee.  We are very reasonable people, but what launched my blood to boiling level was zero acknowledgment by the employee or the couple who cut in front of us – not cool.  This only added to my stress level. 


The most intense travel anxiety came from my OCD.  I was basically “flooded” – 100% immersed in the very situation that I try to avoid (Tsk-Tsk, I’m not supposed to avoid such triggers).  I was surrounded by people (social anxiety), germs (remember the people cutting their finger nails and popping their zits while waiting for their flight?  Yes, I’ve witnessed this).  Let’s not forget those who leave public bathrooms without washing their hands.


Additional travel stress came from wondering if Melissa and I were actually going to catch our flight due to the minimal number of Customs agents.  It was like being at a supermarket with ten cash registers but only 2 were open – no stress whatsoever!

We finally got on board and it was an absolute zoo. Cell phone talkers, music players (no headphones), people bumping into you (no “excuse me”), your overhead bin occupied by another’s carry on because they couldn’t bring just one. 

I wouldn’t have been surprised if I saw chickens and other farm animals scrambling for their seats. 


The piece de resistance was the man seated across the aisle from me who insisted on standing up – his rear end was right by my face, soiled by a bathroom accident!!  I wanted to power wash myself and burn my clothes on the spot.  MMMMM ….. travel anxiety!


So, what does one do to curtail these uncomfortable feelings?  I know you will want to scream at me, but you must focus on breathing and redirecting your mind to more pleasant distractions.  Yes, these situations suck, but we are never powerless.  Other considerations:


  • I’m a huge fan of noise cancellation headphones. They’re expensive but they will preserve your sanity.
  • Bring a meditation and hypnotherapy recording (Melissa can help with that!)  Add a playlist of calming music. 
  • If you are more of a social butterfly, strike up a conversation with a fellow passenger (if they seem receptive). 
  • Do some seated leg stretches and focus on being mindful of the strain on your muscles (try not to dropkick annoying passengers).
  • Give yourself plenty of time to get to the airport so that you can actually make your flight. 
  • Reduce caffeine intake before traveling.  Stimulants will only exacerbate travel anxiety.
  • Last, it may sound counterintuitive, but release yourself by accepting the “crazy.”  There’s not a damn thing you can do to change the knuckleheads seated on your flight, but you can detach from the craziness.


On that note, I’m going to book my next travel destination – an appointment with my therapist …

Peace to you. ~Ted


Travel Stress and More Ways to Cope Over Here