Guest Author - Christine Wilcox
When you are not used to traveling solo, the thought of getting on a plane, navigating through unknown airports, finding the rental car PLUS getting to your destination - well - it can make even the most confident person a little shaky in the knees. When you're embarking on a solo journey, there are some very simple things you can do to help keep your nerves calm and maintain a positive attitude.
First and foremost, take your sense of humor.
If you stress out while you are traveling, the only person you will hurt is you. If you have an iPod, load it with your favorite comedies. I've watched season one of "The Big Bang Theory" over and over. I love it so much, it never gets old, and it keeps me giggling.
I know that sounds trite, but I was reminded of this fact last week while traveling in Arizona as I watched a wife having a stage five meltdown because she and her husband misjudged their car rental return against the time that their plane was leaving. It was 45 minutes before their flight, we were still at the car rental terminal awaiting the bus, and the phrase "I don't even want to hear it from you right now" was wafting through the air every few minutes. The poor guy was desperate for a smile, so I shared mine with him, as well as some tips for navigating security. As much as his wife was boiling, I know he appreciated someone reaching out to offer the perspective he was looking for from her.
Secondly, the aromas around you can affect your mood. I take a small handkerchief (They still exist!) and put some essential oils on it or some dried lavender flowers. Lavender is my favorite calming scent. Vanilla will also work in a pinch. If I forget my aromatherapy, my next line is to get teas like chamomile, mint, or chai. I love the aromas of all three, and the calming effects are nearly immediate. Find scents that you love and keep them with you.
Third, avoid caffeine, and increase your water intake. Traveling is dehydrating, and caffeinated drinks can be, too. When you combine the two, you can bring your energy levels to a grinding halt. When you're fighting to stay awake and keep your wits about you, you cannot have a peaceful travel experience. Drinking plenty of water will keep you hydrated and help you enjoy your trip more.
Lastly, breathe. We take our breathing for granted. In our day to day lives, our breathing grows shallow and we only use a small percentage of our lung capacity. Being fully oxygenated can bring you a sense of calm. At any moment when you feel that you are starting to flip, stop and take ten deep breaths. Put your hand on your stomach so you can feel it rising and falling with your own, life-giving breath.
Following simple stress-relief tips can make solo travel anxiety a thing of the past.