Tuesday, April 10, 2012

Taking on Travel Anxiety With Some Props

Let's see, got the toiletries, pants, shirts, trashy novel, the cat ... um, wait a minute.
Hello Friends:

I've just come out of a long spate of travel, and soon will be headed into another one.  Now, that's good.  I love being in new places, but I'm not terribly keen on getting to those places.  Back in September I blogged about using both Fun and Flexibility to ease travel anxiety, this time it's about props.

Props for me are any physical items one uses on a trip to make the experience less freaky.  I have a few key props that I never travel without.  Well, I *almost* never travel without.  I am absent minded by nature, and often suffer Celexa-head on top of that, so one never knows (note previous post on flexibility).

#1 Ativan.  Holy, holy cow.  This stuff has changed my life.  I am terrified to fly.  I used to drink alcohol to deal, which does not work well as a fear-remover, and then leaves you feeling absolutely wretched the day after.  Since I'm often traveling for work, the option of being hung over the day after a flight is not a good one.  Enter Ativan (Lorezepam).  I am very sensitive to the stuff, and so have some side effects where I get groggy and cranky the next day.  But that's usually how I am in the morning, anyway.  During the flights, if I get the dose right, I actually can SLEEP.  Sleep on a plane.  Wow.  Wow.   The best is when I am not so drowsy that I have to sleep, but instead can actually do some work or have some fun.  Fun.  On an airplane.  Mind blowing.

#2 Bose Noise Canceling Head Phones.  Absolutely critical.  If you are sensitive to noise, crowds, or just want to create some personal space in the middle of the airport terminal, these headphones are a must.

#3 Earplugs.  When head phones are too bulky or obvious, earplugs can be such a blessing.  I carry them now mostly so that I can still go into bars.  I enjoy getting a drink now and then and listening to whatever live music is going.  But the crowds and the chaos are hard for me to deal with.  Add the noise on top, and I can't do it.  With good earplugs, I can often handle the bar and not leave feeling like I've been beaten about the head and neck with a sack of limes.  I'll admit, sometimes when I'm really freaked out, like in a mobbed train station, I'll use both the earplugs and the headphones.  Yep.

#4 Eye Mask.  See a theme, here?  Yes, sensory overload is something I try to avoid when traveling.  I have enough to think about without worrying over each and every piece of sense data, and wondering if it carries some threat.  I find it a lot easier to fall asleep on planes with one, and even just to relax sitting on a bench in some terminal.  When life is just too much, cutting off half the sense information makes processing the rest a lot easier.

#5 Ichiro.  No, not the baseball player.  This is a small stuffed armadillo.  You may recall that I use a stuffed animal as a source of comfort when visiting the doctor.  Well now my spouse and I travel with an armadillo I found several years ago in the Dallas airport.  Ichiro is a travel freak.  He's already been to Italy, Spain, Japan, multiple cruises and a plethora of US states.

#6 Sun Props.  I am very fair and have had several suspicious moles removed.  I lived in the desert southwest for 14 years.  So I have some reasons to be concerned about sun exposure.  Well, my OCD's have made it more than a 'concern.'  So to feel comfortable, I have to be sun protected.  My favorite prop is a "Sunbrella" that is basically a high-tech parasol.  Then there is my one and only sunscreen that I can stand the feel of and does not make my eyes sting.  Throw in a hat, and I'm feeling a lot better about things.

#6 Gloves.  Even if it isn't cold, I usually have a pair of tight cotton stretchy gloves with me.  When the OCD's get tough, and that's often on public transportation, I have my gloves so I don't have to touch the papers left behind, the chrome bars, or ubiquitous elevator buttons.  I see this as a concession, since I'm trying to live life without needing gloves, but I keep them along since sometimes it makes the difference between being able to participate, or not.

#7 Handiwipes.  Gobs and gobs of handiwipes in single packages.  I have them everywhere.  This is definitely an OCD concession but I have never gotten a strange comment from someone when they watch me wipe down the armrests on the train, or the tray tables on an airplane.  If anyone says anything, they usually ask for one so they can do the same.  I try to use them sparingly, but again, when travel gets tough, these can really help me feel more secure.

So what are your favorite travel-happy props?  What gets you through the tough spots and on to the fun stuff?

Your Hostess With Neuroses

Image credit/info: Neta in suitcase by Shockingly Tasty, on Flikr, via Creative Commons CC 2.0


Karin said...

I don't see a problem if you pack gloves in case ocd gets overwhelming and you need them. I bet just knowing you have them and COULD use them keeps you from doing so at times.

I love to travel but don't get a chance to do it very often. I worked really hard to not get freaked out on public transportation like trains. Fortunately the years when i was too ocd and probably would have had a hard time travelling, i didn't have to do any, except by car and that was hard enuf.

Good for you that you've figured out what you need to travel and be comfortable instead of just staying home.

The Blue Morpho said...

Karin - Thanks for the comment! Yes, having the gloves along does help, and I certainly don't use them as much as I used to.

Tina Fariss Barbour said...

I don't see a problem with packing the gloves, either. It sounds like you are aware that it's not a good idea to always wear them, but sometimes we need something to help us through the worst.

I, too, am very sensitive to noise and anything that smacks of chaos. I like creating an oasis with my iPod plugs, even if I'm not listening to music.

I don't travel a lot anymore, but I like to take little personal things that remind me of home. I take a little travel clock that I've had for years, and use it as a back-up to the room alarm clock and the wake-up call. It helps me to avoid compulsively check the room clock to make sure it's set, or to question whether or not I gave the hotel clerk the right time to call me.

Now, if I could pack my kitties, too, I would be in heaven. But kittes don't travel well. They do, however, love to lie in suitcases, like your's is in the photo. Love it!

Thank you for your kind words on my blog and for becoming a follower. I appreciate it!

Andy said...

For me, it's come down to my smartphone. I travel a ton, and being able to have my music and a crossword app has let me tune out a whole lot.

It's wonderful that you've been able to tame some of your OCDs to the extent that you can experience travel. I know it's a constant struggle even without throwing in unfamiliar surroundings.

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