A pang settles into my stomach days before a flight. An all-over tenseness blankets my body. I pour over directions, timelines, and itineraries until they’re nearly committed to memory (and then once more for good measure!) And yet, the worry prevails.
Travel-induced stress and anxiety are all too real for many of us. Ironically though, traveling is precisely when I feel most alive.
So for this very reason, sacrificing seeing the world in the name of placating inner turmoil is not an option. Instead, I’ve found tools to take along when I’m traveling to maintain physical, mental, and emotional balance.
Here are a few things I consistently pack in my carry-on for stress-free travel:
Rhodiola Rosea Tonic
Stomaching the off-putting, organic taste of rhodiola rosea is well worth it. This natural tonic has been used for centuries in Eurasian traditional medicine for quickly soothing sparks of anxiety. As an “adaptogen”, it helps your body adapt to stress when consumed. It also packs a powerful punch in the fight against fatigue (you know the zombie-like state nearly inescapable after an overnight train) and tamps down symptoms of depression.
Travel Wallet & Passport Holder
Call me old school, but prior to embarking on a trip, I always print out my tickets or boarding passes. They go straight into my travel wallet with my passport and any other documentation I might need. When something comes out for use, it gets zipped right back in there ASAP. I also keep photos stored on my phone in case anything goes missing. Knowing everything is in one place offers peace of mind and added ease with tight connections.
Maybe it’s because it’s summer, but my current favorite travel combo is ylang-ylang and lemon balm. The uplifting tropical floral scent combined with the invigorating citrus smell instantly boosts my mood. Known to fight depression and anxiety, ylang-ylang washes away feelings of sadness and stress and replaces them with joyful hopefulness.
**Travel tip: I also use my aromatherapy roller as perfume. A quick swipe on my wrists and collarbone, and I’m good to go for a night out!
When traveling solo, I spill my thoughts and feelings over the pages of my journal. Writing for a few minutes each morning helps me process any nascent thoughts or feelings. Not only does my journal serve to preserve memories made on the road, but it’s also overflowing with mantras, mini-meditations, and mindset shifts that keep my anxiety in check. And for those ultra-lightweight journeys, I use the Notes app on my phone for journaling and also keep quotes and meditation screenshots for quick reference.
Vitamins & Supplements
On the road, meals made from fresh produce can be few and far between (and as utilitarian as granola bars can be, they only offer so much in terms of nutrients.) As a vegetarian, I find maintaining my normal vitamin and supplement routine on the road to be essential. Along with B-complex and iron, I’ve been using Joy-Filled Happy Healthy Hippie supplements. With ashwagandha, rhodiola rosea, St. John’s wort, lemon balm leaf, gingko biloba, gotu kola, and eleuthero, they’re the ideal blanket protection for soothing my nerves without much thought or added weight to my luggage.
Whether on a noisy flight or in an all too quiet cafe, I find noise-canceling headphones are a must for stress-free travel. Music has an inexplicable link to one’s mood. Bumping some favorite songs or a custom travel playlist can instantly offer a taste of home or further fuel wanderlust. Prior to a trip, I always download an audiobook about wherever I’m headed for some added context and comfort when I finally arrive.
Once a compulsive consumer of coffee, I’ve recently tried to cut back on caffeine for the role it plays in sparking anxiety. But quiet cafés or cold nights camping call for something warm, which is why I’ve now been getting my fix with chamomile tea. The flower induces a calming, soothing state (and improves my sleep!) making it the perfect thing to settle in after a busy day of sightseeing!
The roots of stress and anxiety are elusive. And equally as evasive is its relief.
Remedies for worry will be different for everyone. But for me, I’ve found that these solutions, along with regular exercise, a simple plant-based diet, and meditation reduce my travel-induced stress by tenfold. I’m able to feel more fully immersed in the experiences that life on the road present. And by packing these few things for every trip, I can leave my anxiety behind. The added load to my luggage is entirely worth it for me to feel weightlessly worry-free!