How to Handle Travel Anxiety.

Senzu on a plane.JPEG

Hakuna Matata!
What a wonderful phrase
Hakuna Matata!
Ain't no passing craze

It means no worries
For the rest of your days
It's our problem-free philosophy
Hakuna Matata!

I am sure most of you have heard those song lyrics before, but how many of you have actually thought about them? Have you ever been so anxious or scared that you have said that phrase to yourself? Funny enough, I have been doing that lately.

Hello, fellow Geeky Travelers! Today, I want to talk about the parts of travel that aren't so glamorous. The components of a journey that can be stressful or make you panic. Just over two weeks ago, I flew back to Miami to visit some family and friends for Deanna's birthday. It was a nice break from work for both of us. The break itself was well worth it, but there were moments of panic and anxiety when we took Senzu on his first flight.

All cards on the table, I am not the biggest fan of flying. Airports are big busy, and nobody seems to be very friendly, especially since they are rushing to get to where they are going. Airplanes and airports are a necessary evil because we can't drive everywhere. Even if we could drive by car, it would take us far longer to get to our destinations. I have driven cross country a few times, and it was great, but we only had a week of time off.

We booked our flight and read a few articles about flying with dogs. Dee and I figured it wouldn't be too bad because Senzu is a good dog. He has ridden on kayaks, he has gone bike riding, and he has even gone on a few road trips. Senzu has done all of this, and he is only 8 months old!

Airplanes are different. They are large airbuses. They are loud, crowded and there is almost always a crying baby. Well to my surprise, I was the guy with the crying baby. Senzu was not comfortable on his first flight. I had him under my seat in a new travel bag, and he started to cry.

I got anxious, and nervous because I didn't know how to handle it. I didn't want to take Senzu out of his bag. I wasn't even sure if he was allowed to be out of his travel bag. Most airline websites said that he had to stay in his carrier. So I did the only thing I knew I could do. I pet him. I reached my hand through the top zipper of his bag and pat his head for 5 and a half hours.

Senzu Plane Pet.JPG

Was I uncomfortable bending over or five hours? Yes. Was he happy? I'm not sure. Was he quiet? Kind of. I think he just wanted to look to me for guidance. I don't speak dog, but I looked at him and smiled. I knew that if I could be calm that he would follow suit.

Calming yourself down after having anxiety or fear is not easy, but there are several things that I like to do. First I breathe. I take a deep breath in my nose and exhale through my mouth. Deep breathing allows your body to release endorphins. Endorphins are a natural pain reliever and stress reducing hormone.

If I find it difficult to focus on my breathing, I like to count my breaths. Count “1,” on my inhale and “2” on my exhale. Then “3,” on my following inhale and “4,” on the following exhale. I continue breathing and counting until I get to "10," and then I start counting all over again. Counting my breaths keeps my mind focused on something, and helps my brain to change course a little.

Usually breathing helps me calm down, but sometimes it's not enough. Sometimes I need a little outside help. For me, a drink helps calm the nerves. An essential rum and coke can go a long way. I'm not telling you to get drunk for a flight, but it can help you feel loose. Pro tip: Buy 1oz nips of alcohol and put it in your carry on luggage. As long as the amount of fluid is acceptable by the TSA, you can get through security without any problems. Then grab a drink from a vending machine or use a complimentary soda on your flight to mix the liquor. You have just saved $7, and you can drink right in your seat. The only thing you have to worry about is walking to the bathroom.

Airplanes are statistically the safest way to travel, and that helps me feel a little better when flying. Senzu can't learn about this information. All he knows is that his ears hurt and there are some loud noises. That is not exactly comforting to a puppy, so it is up to me to help him understand that everything will be alright. So, next time you are traveling try some of my calming techniques. Let me know if any of them work or you and if you have any other ways of helping yourself to relax.