Tips for Flying Alone (With Your Anxiety in Tow)

I traveled to Dallas alone last weekend for a girl’s trip. I had an absolute blast (blog coming soon!), but I’d be bluffing if I said I was cool as a cucumber while in the planning and traveling processes. I was kind of a wreck. Now, I’m definitely no traveling alone (or traveling at all) expert, but I am an expert at anxiety, and since my nerves are still fresh, I wanted to give you a rundown of my major stressors surrounding this trip and how I faced my fears head on to get there and back in one piece. And even enjoy myself?!

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First of all, packing. Hell hath no fury like a Leigh Ann when trying to pack. Packing weighs on me heavily and I think I’ve finally pinpointed the problem: I am equal parts fearful of under and over packing. Yeah, you read that right. Both scenarios fill me with anxiety and it’s a conundrum. The best way to handle this is to plan well in advance. If you know you’re going to need something you don’t have (hello, cowboy boots), buy or borrow it well in advance so you can stop worrying about it! Not-so-pro-tip: Try to choose all of your clothing in a color family so everything can be mixed and matched. And when it comes to options, the fewer, the better; you’ll thank me later!

Also, make sure you can lift your luggage to the extent that would be required to get it into the overhead compartment. Remember, you are alone and it’s best to assume chivalry is dead in this situation, haha.

Packing medications can also be a stressor for me. I’ve got prescriptions and OTC medicines that I definitely need and I have traveled enough to have a system for this.

Medication DOS and DON’TS

  • DON’T bring the entire bottle. Things can get lost and medicine is expensive.
  • DO bring a little more than exactly what you’ll need, in case you have travel changes or delays.
  • DON’T bring rarely used “what if” medications that you could easily purchase at your destination in the event that “what if” happens.
  • DO bring your daily supplement(s). No need to skimp on health just because you’re on vacation!
  • DON’T put your medicine in your checked luggage. You don’t want to risk not having something you need or worse, medication getting lost.
  • DO make sure medications are properly labeled and keep them close in your carry-on personal item, so they don’t get into the wrong hands.

I like to travel with my blister packaged medications (the tin sheets) in a Ziploc bag and my bottled medications in a travel pill case. My favorite is this one from Vera Bradley!

Finally, if backups settle your nerves, then pack backups. Print the extra boarding pass, bring another form of ID and the extra phone charger. You do you!

Next, getting through security is kind of my worst nightmare. If you’re like me and the thought of getting stopped at security makes you want to crawl out of your skin and let the ghost of yourself go back home and get into bed, then the best advice I can give you is to show up prepared. What do I mean?

If you’re not sure you’re allowed to pack it, do your research or don’t bother. You are allowed to have a quart sized bag of liquids (Ziploc is the easiest way, but you can get something reusable like this), and the products in it must be 3.4 fluid ounces or less. If you think it’s a liquid, cream, gel, or paste, throw it in the bag. If you can’t commit to travel size toiletries, check your bag and move on!

Wear shoes that are easy to take off and put back on, but NOT sandals. Why? So you can remove them easily when the time comes, and you can just as easily slip them back on when you rush out of the line. Why no sandals? Because thousands of feet touch that ground daily and you’d probably like a layer of sock between your feet and everyone else’s. Uh, P.S. wear socks too.

Don’t let the overall attitude at security damper your mood. It’s rare for me to have an overly positive security experience and I have to remind myself that it’s not personal and that the end result is to improve our safety in flying, so whatever.

So, you’re through security and can’t find your terminal/gate/baggage claim? Ask someone. Airports are a magical place where even the restaurant staff know exactly where you need to go. Don’t let pride get in the way if you’re lost!

Now it’s time to fly. Make friendly with your seat mate, but also read the room. I’ve got news for you, a lot of people are anxious when flying, and sometimes a conversation with the stranger beside you can make all the difference in the world for both of you. On the flip side, if you get the vibe that your neighbor isn’t into chatting, that’s their loss. Get out all your flight essentials before you have to buckle up, so you can settle in before takeoff. My essentials are: book, phone, headphones, gum, and Dramamine (the drowsy kind because naps).

Traveling in general is really dehydrating, even if you are drinking a ton of water (which I’m totally not because flying public restrooms and all public restrooms give me the heebie jeebies), so these pedialyte packets travel great and are awesome for anyone! One of my greatest learnings in adulthood is that pedialyte isn’t just for kids!

When you arrive, don’t let the impending flight back home ruin your time away. You’ve done this alone once and you can do it alone again! Let go and let loose!

Some miscellaneous, but easy to forget tips:

  1. Make sure your phone is charged.
  2. Keep a phone charger in your carry-on personal item.
  3. Make sure you arrive in plenty of time to get through security, so running late isn’t an additional stressor.
  4. Bring hand sanitizer! And prob throw it into your liquids bag until you get through security.
  5. Take a little bit of cash. You never know when you might need it!
  6. Keep a couple essentials in your personal item, in case of the worst case scenario. I’m talking underwear, toothbrush/paste, etc.

Traveling (successfully) alone this past weekend gave me a huge sense of independence, accomplishment, and victory over my anxiety. Don’t get me wrong, I’m not ready to jump on the next solo flight halfway across the country this weekend, but I do have renewed faith in my ability to navigate travel situations alone, and a weekend with my friends left my heart incredibly full.

What are some of your best travel tips? I’m headed to Florida in a few weeks and always looking for smoother travel!

xoxo flying with Leigh Ann

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Maker of artish things. TV junkie. Where's the pizza?

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