How to Reduce the Stress of Traveling.

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Overheard at the terminal bar last week in the Kansas City airport– guy asks the bartender if he can have a “mock tail” (similar to a cocktail, but with less alcohol – and by “less”, I mean zero). The bartender says, “Sure. What would you like?” 

The guy doesn’t know. He just stands there for a minute, like he’s never been asked that question before. Finally he says, “Like, a wine?” 

First of all – the fact that he just called it “a wine” made my entire day.

Now the bartender looks confused. I don’t blame him. “Wine?” He asks. “So… juice.” 

The guy shrugs. “Well, I don’t know how you do it.” 

I should also point out that this guy is well into his twenties – more likely early thirties. He is old enough to know what “a wine” is.

My flight was boarding shortly after, so I don’t know what happened next. I’m assuming he got his juice, asked the bartender to pour it into a wine glass, and then sent a Snapchat to all of his friends with the caption “Thirsty Thursday”.

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(This is an old photo. There’s no snow in Chicago. YET!) 

I was hoping to use that story to segue into today’s topic – but there really isn’t a good segue into stress management from “a wine” (especially a non-alcoholic one). So please bear with me.

Recently I’ve been traveling a lot. Like, A LOT. Every week. Which I don’t want to “complain” about because I feel like it comes across as very “woe is meee…. my life is so hardddd… I have a job that requires me to travel sometimes and I know that sounds glamorous, but it’s not because I can’t always get a window seat and sometimes they run out of space in the overhead binssss.”

See what I mean? It comes across like that.

So I don’t like to do that. But traveling can offer its own unique share of stressors. To be fair, I don’t know why it’s stressful –  but it is.

“Ugh…. I’m going to be gone all week,” I think to myself  “so I’m going to miss yoga!”… “I hope all of my liquids are under 3 oz”…. “Ugh, I can’t believe I’m still taking my shoes off at airport security, I really need to sign up for TSA pre-check”…. “I hope they don’t run out of space in the overhead bins”…

Again. These things are really not that stressful. I shouldn’t be letting something like the state of my flight’s overhead bin space negatively affect my mood.

And yet, when I got home from Kansas City the other night, I was in a mood.

You know when you just feel “off? Like you don’t really feel like “you”? (Whatever that means. For the most part, you just feel like a weird ghost-version of yourself. No one ever says that because they are, instead, feeling like Batman or Wonder Woman.)

That’s what was happening to me the other night. (And not because I was feeling like Wonder Woman.)

“You’re quiet.” Kyle noticed. “Is everything okay?” 

Usually when he asks this, things are not okay. And usually for some stupid reason. Like – because my shirt fits “weird”, or my hair looks “gross”, or – in this case – I hadn’t slept much and all I’d been eating for the past three days was Chipotle.

So when Kyle asked, “Is everything okay?” – I let the first thing I could think of fly out of my mouth.

“You didn’t call me last night.” <— probably on the same level as “my shirt fits weird”, but whatever.

“What?” 

“You didn’t call me last night.” I said. “Why didn’t you call?” 

Let’s just add one piece of backstory here:  in his defense (because in hindsight, I realize how psycho-girlfriend I sound) – Kyle and I have never been one of these couples to talk on the phone every night. Even before we moved in together, we were not a “text goodnight” kind of couple. I’m not saying that means anything, but I’m saying – I didn’t get mad about it THEN, so why was I getting upset now?

“We live together.” I said (after he didn’t respond because he was so beyond confused. (Was he ‘supposed’ to call? Did he SAY that he was going to call and forget?) “I’m used to talking to you every night.” I told him. “Don’t you just want to call to say ‘goodnight’? Don’t you miss me when I’m not there?” 

He didn’t know what to say. Other than, “Yea….?” Because I was reacting as if I’d just come home from the war and not from a three-day business trip.

“So why didn’t you call?” I asked again.

“I don’t know.” He said. “Why didn’t you call me?” 

Not the point. (<—- Kind of is, but whatever.)

Even as I was saying it – this whole ‘why didn’t you call me?’ and ‘don’t you miss me?’ thing – I could hear how crazy it sounded. Did you really just ask him if he MISSED you when you were only gone for three days? Why are you picking a fight with him over not calling? Are you actually mad about this? Why didn’t you call him? You’re acting like a three year old. You’re twenty-nine years old and you’re getting upset because you’re boyfriend didn’t text you ‘goodnight’. Is this really the hill you want to die on? 

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We get upset over weird things when we’re stressed.

As humans, we are creatures of habit (it’s a science thing, probably) – and when we fall out of our routine for a few weeks (or two months), it can wear on us. And maybe that sounds silly, but there it is. When you miss your weekly Wednesday Yoga, and you’re not sleeping in the same city every night, and you’re not eating a healthy, home cooked meal, and you’re feeling those stupid travel-y feelings of being rushed and lonely and anxious and you’re living out of a suitcase —

It turns out, you might get a little cranky. And you might pick a fight with your boyfriend because he didn’t call you to say goodnight. And you might have to apologize for it the next day once you no longer feel like the weird ghost-version of yourself. And hopefully he understands and the two of you will laugh about it for awhile and live happily every after.

But how do you stop it from getting to that point? How do you NOT feel the anxious, travel-y, lonely feelings?

Clearly – I don’t know. But I have found a few techniques that have helped to ease some of the anxiety that comes with traveling – because, let’s face it – we all have it. Even those of us who love to travel!

  1. Working Out
    1. I try to do 30 minutes on the elliptical every day, whether I’m home or traveling. Many of the hotels that I stay in offer a gym which helps to maintain this consistency.  Cardio is a great way to rid anxiety (whether it be travel related or not). Others have signed up for gyms like Class Pass or Orange Theory so they can sign up for classes no matter which city they’re in. Maintaining a constant like this while traveling not only helps to keep anxiety at bay, but it also boost endorphins!
  2. Find a podcast
    1. I love listening to podcasts when I travel. Especially if I’m driving. It can make the time go faster, and I usually learn something too! Find an inspirational podcasts to boost your positive vibes, or find something entertaining that you just love to follow. Sometimes it’s comforting to be able to take that podcast with you and hear a familiar voice no matter where you are.
  3. Sleep
    1. It’s so hard for me to sleep in hotels. I can never get comfortable, the pillows are always too thin, and I always imagine how many people have slept there before me and then wonder how well the hotel has washed the sheets. It’s nearly impossible for me to get a good night’s rest. But sleep is so important when it comes to… well, functioning. As a human. Without turning into a cranky three year old. Try meditation before you’re about to fall asleep (I have, it doesn’t work for me – but others rave about it), or writing in a journal. If you’re able to, bring your own pillow. It can also help to bring earplugs and a sleep mask (on this last trip I could hear the person next door snoring through the wall. I wished I’d had earplugs.)
  4. Eat well.
    1. Eat a healthy meal before you get to the airport.Not only will you avoid buying expensive airport food, but you won’t have to worry as much about your blood sugar levels becoming imbalanced as you travel (which can also affect your mood). Try to make healthy choices once you reach your destination. While you may not get a home cooked meal every night, you don’t have to order a pizza either. Many restaurants do carry-out. Check out the menus of local restaurants in the area and find a healthy choice. Don’t fall in temptation with “comfort food” – remember that a healthier option will ultimately affect your mood later.
  5. Take care of your body
    1. Vitamins. Make sure that your body is well equipped with all of the nutrients it needs to handle the stress of traveling. I also like to travel with some Emergenc-E in my carry-on, just incase!
  6. Plan ahead.
    1. Lay out your schedule. This seems like common sense, but you’d be surprised how many people try to wing it (myself included) and then wind up even more stressed out because they aren’t prepared.
  7. Most importantly – have the right attitude.
    1. Whether it’s some place you’ve never been, or some place that you’ve been to a hundred times – take advantage of the fact that you are some place DIFFERENT! Try the local food. Check out the local ‘hot spots’. What is this city’s “claim to fame”? Have fun with it! How often are you here? Rather than thinking of everything as a stressful hassle, think of it as an adventure! You’d be surprised how much more enjoyable traveling can be with the right attitude.

What are some of YOUR tips when traveling? Does anyone else travel for work? Do you ever get stressed out? Let’s hear your stories in the comment section!

Jennifer1

 

 

2 thoughts on “How to Reduce the Stress of Traveling.

    1. I take a multi-vitamin to make sure that I’m getting all of my nutrients (sometimes that can be hard when you’re traveling and eating out so much!), and then I always pack some Emergen-C packets that can be mixed into a water bottle – just in case I start feeling a little icky during the trip! 🙂

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