flight anxiety

5 Helpful Tips on Handling Flight Anxiety

You know the feeling: you sat in the window seat because it gives you a false sense of control. The pilot starts making announcements and the flight attendants review their usual instructions. For some, this is a mundane, no-big-deal thing. For others, like myself, we’re internally freaking out and hoping/praying we make it to our location safely. We’ve got flight anxiety.

It’s an irrational fear- one brought on my movies and tons of media blowing up our newsfeeds any time a plane crashes. But in reality, flying is the safest form of transportation. We understand this. It still doesn’t prevent us from slightly hyperventilating each time we hit turbulence.

I’ve flown thousands of miles across the country and world. I’m still scared sometimes getting on a flight. It’s been a fear of mine since I started flying. But I’ve learned some tips over the years that I hope can help you with your flight fears too.

flight anxiety

Conquer flight anxiety so you can have awesome adventures!

My Tips for Reducing Flight Anxiety

I. Create distractions. This seems simple enough, but challenging for those with flight anxiety. Most flights these days have in-flight wifi or movies in the headrest. Look up movie choices beforehand or purchase wifi and keep yourself distracted and entertained during the flight. I’ve noticed that when I have headphones in and get sucked into a good movie, the turbulence isn’t quite as terrifying when I can’t hear it.

II. Meditate. Take a long deep breath in through your nose and out through your mouth. It’s crazy how many benefits meditation has for your health overall, but it is a miracle worker in reducing stress and anxiety. Put on some zen music from youtube and focus on your breath. Feel your feet on the floor. Relax into your seat, and slowly calm yourself down. Seriously, this helps like you wouldn’t believe.

III. Skip caffeine. This is such a challenge because if you’re like me, you NEED coffee. It’s my morning ritual. But one time I had a chai latte with a double shot of espresso right before a flight and oh baby- it was terrible. My heart was racing, I felt dread and was basically having a mini panic attack. Skip the caffeine of any kind before flying because it will only make you more alert and jittery. That and anxiety do not help you whatsoever before flying. Grab a coffee when you get to your destination, but not before.

IV. Say no to liquor. So if you have a cross-country flight, none of us really want to fork up the $15 for a glass of cheap house wine anyway. But intercontinental flights sometimes have free beer and wine- don’t drink it. I know, you think it will calm your nerves, but it doesn’t. You will end up out of it and terrified at the same time. Again, not a good combo. Also, alcohol dehydrates you faster and just all around isn’t good for you when flying. Save the booze for the tropical drinks at your destination, not the plane.

V. Research what causes turbulence. One of my best friends has a dad and brother who are pilots. When they feel turbulence, they get excited. They talk about how interesting it is. They may be insane, but they also know that turbulence isn’t a big deal because they’re well educated with it. This article really helped me understand it and why it’s not a big deal. Also, sitting above the wing is the best spot if you want to feel the least amount of turbulence.  

I know, it’s still a terrifying experience at times, but with these tips, I hope you can overcome your flight anxiety and travel more! Please let me know about your flight anxieties in the comments! Be sure to share and subscribe.

flight anxiety

Just keep focusing on the destination and not the flight!

avocado toast

Have Your Avocado Toast and Eat it Too: Why Experiences Always Beat Material Belongings

I’m not sure how many of you are familiar with the latest viral article about how millennials can’t afford houses because we’re purchasing too much avocado toast, but the real question isn’t why we’re not buying houses, it’s why we’re choosing experiences over material belongings.

Blame the recession. Blame the Internet. Whatever you’re choosing to blame, the fact is that millennials have decided to stop pursuing material possessions in favor of experiences. It’s probably because with high student loans and the fact that we may never be able to retire, we may as well enjoy what free time we have via brunching and traveling as much as we can. And with the Internet and apps, we’ve made travel more accessible than ever.

avocado toast travel

Experiences > Belongings

We’re more focused on living a happy life. And with studies showing we’re happier with experiences rather than things, it’s no wonder that we’re trying to explore more now and buy the house later. Not to mention the fact that we’re only this age once. We’ll never be this young and able again. Sure, we’ll have all the time in the world once we retire, but will we have the same energy? Will we even be able? Life isn’t guaranteed. You may as well make the most of it while you can.

The best days for me weren’t when I was buying material possessions. They were brunching with friends, hanging out with my family, or traveling with my fiancé. They aren’t when I bought my car or work clothes. Sure, I was definitely excited for those things, but after a while the newness fades. Experiences will always be a wonderful memory.

avocado toast for run

Experiences like running the DC half marathon with my sister and fiancé are much better than buying things.

Have Your Avocado Toast and Eat it Too

So have that avocado toast and eat it too! Because us millennials hardly do anything without getting rewards these days. We are either getting cash back, double miles, or coupons to get a discount. So while some see $11 toast, I’m seeing 22 miles towards my next trip. The experience of eating delicious toast is now helping fund my free business class flight to Asia. I’ll take that over a house payment anytime. The memories of traveling to Southeast Asia with my fiancé on our honeymoon? That’ll last a lifetime.

Millennials have started becoming experts in travel and life hacking, and we’ve had to. With the recession and with our high student loans, keeping costs down is our main goal so that we can have more life experiences. So we’ve found ways to get free airline tickets, get money back on purchases, and even score free hotel nights out. Not too shabby right?

So thank goodness we have become experts because now we can not only have that delicious avocado toast to munch on during our 2 hour long boozy brunch, but we also can eat it too.

Where will your avocado toast miles get you? I’d love to hear your thoughts in the comments! Be sure to share and subscribe!

avocado toast wisconsin

Reward yourself after that avocado toast with a trip.

short-term travel on miles

Short-Term Travel on Miles: Why Non-Frequent Flyers Should Collect Too

I know, it sounds crazy. I used to hear about all these travelers going all over the world only on miles and thought to myself, “What about those of us who aren’t constantly traveling? Is it even worth it for us?” So I decided to start investigating and learning about frequent flyer programs. And, as some of you know, I started my miles collecting journey about 3 months ago. I’m currently at 126,276 miles. Just to put this in perspective, because number of miles collected does not equal number of miles you can fly, this is about the equivalent of two round trip flights to Europe OR a round trip flight to Asia (and then some) if flying from the U.S. Pretty awesome results for just two months right? Time to start that short-term travel on miles!

But the biggest excuse that I hear from people who aren’t constantly traveling is that collecting miles is for those who travel all the time… and to that I say that is absolute bull crap. If anything, we’ve got less pressure to collect as many miles as possible, because we don’t necessarily need a million miles in a year for travel. We probably only need about 200,000 if we’re really getting our traveler’s grove on after that 9 to 5.

So what does this mean? We don’t have to open 12 credit cards a year to achieve travel hacking like several who are constantly traveling. I mean if you’re pumped about the wizardry that is collecting miles then go for it! Because, why not? But I gained those miles above from 2 credit cards. One I now LOVE and use everyday and the other, I got my miles, paid off my card, and haven’t touched since. Either way, my credit is about the same as it was before I even opened my first travel card. Slow and steady miles collecting over here.

short-term travel on miles berlin

Discover quirky new places around the world with all your miles!

Short-Term Travel on Miles: Bonus in Business Class!

So why haven’t I started booking those trips and started using those miles? Because I’ve got a strategy I’m brewing. And basically, if you’re collecting miles, strategy is absolutely key. I’m collecting enough miles to send my boyfriend and myself to Thailand, Cambodia, and Vietnam next year in business class-using miles! Yup. Because I’m not always flying as a short-term traveler, I can collect enough miles within a year or so to fly myself somewhere and be fancy enough to fly business class. And so can YOU!

So forget about the thought that you have to be rich or famous to travel in business or first class. Forget that you can’t afford to travel. With a cool 120,000-160,000 miles, you can fly yourself business class to Asia. The cost out of pocket? $50 a person in taxes. Mind=blown. Luxury travel on a budget is too good of a deal to pass up.

short-term travel athens

You do not need to be a frequent flyer to enjoy the perks of frequent flyer miles.

Why You Should Start Collecting Even If You Aren’t Flying All the Time

Like I said above, you don’t have the pressure of needing to open 30 credit cards to collect miles! This allows you to build up your credit score and slowly open credit cards to collect those miles. You also get to save up miles for amazing, literally first class trips to exotic destinations you thought were too expensive to get to.

But another great aspect of short-term travel on miles? The knowledge that even if you only have the time off to take a two week trip to Asia or a one week trip to Italy, you can easily save up enough miles to go again later on. So you feel satisfied knowing you can get the most out of your trip while you’re there. And you won’t be wasting money on another plane ticket. Because who needs to pay thousands of dollars when you can earn thousands of miles just by opening credit cards and spending on everyday purchases? Or taking surveys online? Or online shopping? It’s really all too easy.

So stop listening and thinking that only frequent flyers should collect frequent flyer miles. Maybe it worked that way before travel credit cards became a thing, but today anyone can be a savvy traveler. You just need the right card. So start that short-term travel on miles today!

Where will you take your miles? Let me know in the comments! <3

short-term travel on miles italy

Stop wishing you had more money for traveling and start collecting miles now!

travel more malta

The Biggest Reason You Don’t Travel More: Why It Shouldn’t Hold You Back

Now I know there are a bajillion reasons we can all come up with not to travel more. There’s no time. There’s not enough money. You couldn’t find a friend to go with you, so you decided to stick to a staycation instead. But none of these are at the true reason you don’t travel more.

I know because it has blocked me for years from traveling. It’s even blocked me from chasing my dreams and goals in general until now.

The real reason you’re not traveling more is fear.

Trust me, it’s not everyone’s first excuse they throw out when deciding not to travel more. Nobody wants to admit they’re scared. I didn’t want to admit it to myself!

travel more london

Almost not viewing this because I was afraid to fly? I still can’t believe it.

I remember my youth group was going to Colorado to go white water rafting. The trip included a flight. I had never flown before in my life and wasn’t about to start then. So, at 15 years old, I let my fear of flying prevent me from taking the trip, and missed out on all the fun!

At 21, I almost didn’t study abroad. I had never left North America and the prospect of going to another country (let alone another continent!) with only one other person I knew was daunting. I didn’t know the language. Did I mention I was terrified of flying (maybe still am)?? What if I didn’t blend in with the French culture? What if I didn’t make any friends? Honestly, if it weren’t for already having my student visa, a non-refundable plane ticket, and literally everything set-up to study abroad, I’m not sure I could’ve pulled myself together enough to actually go!

But then, the plane took off. I made it safely to France, made amazing friends, took trips all over Europe, and even learned some French. It turned out to be one of the best experiences of my life. AND I ALMOST MISSED IT!

And while yes, I was tight on cash, time, etc., I’ve been short on those things before and still found time to go to concerts. I still had money to buy the newest Kate Spade purse. In other words, if you want something badly enough, you typically make it work. I can’t tell you how many strapped for cash college students (myself once included) who still make ends meet enough to go out Thursday-Saturday nights. Trust me, those aren’t the real excuses. Fear is the real excuse.

travel more chicago

Exploring the museums of Chicago by myself because 1) nobody could go with me, 2) I really wanted to go, and 3) because why not? Overcoming my fear to travel and explore alone makes me feel free.

Why should you stop letting it hold you back and start to travel more?

Because life is a journey. You don’t stop learning after college. It’s a continual process. Maybe you aren’t learning math or science anymore, but you’re learning about culture, about navigating the globe, and most importantly, about yourself. It’s the time to stop living in fear, because that isn’t living. Living is accepting the fear and your reasons for the fear and overcoming it.

Maybe you’re afraid to ask off for more than a week at a time to go on the vacation of your dreams. Maybe you’re afraid to travel solo. Either way, asking your boss (and even yourself) for what you want is a step in the right direction. What do you really want that you aren’t allowing yourself to have?

It’s all about stretching yourself beyond your comfort zone. Are you afraid to ask for more time off of work for that big trip? Start taking steps to build yourself up to ask for the time off. Terrified of traveling solo? Start taking yourself to the movies alone. Or even go to dinner alone. It’s all about baby steps. They seem small now, but once you do these, they are huge milestones that lead you to start feeling comfortable doing bigger things!

travel more prague

Stretching that comfort zone isn’t one big leap, but rather tiny baby steps.

So with that being said, I challenge you. To stop living in fear. No, don’t jump on a plane tomorrow and go to Thailand. But say hi to someone you’ve never met at a grocery store. High five some strangers. Go grab dinner by yourself and enjoy it! Take the steps today to overcome your fear of travel so tomorrow you’ll be taking those once in a lifetime trips! And who doesn’t love to travel more?

Let me know what you’re doing to push yourself outside of your comfort zone in the comments! I’d love to know! And if you need someone to be that accountability partner for you, please reach out! My email is kat@katandabackpack.com or Facebook message me!

Have a wanderful day!
Kat

ultimate travel tip list

The Ultimate Travel Tip List For Europe: From Planning, to Packing, and Even Arriving

So you’ve booked your ticket. Then you day dreamed about lying on the beach, soaking up the sun in Greece, or riding your first double decker bus in London, or even watching the lights on the Eiffel Tower in Paris. But before you even start packing, be sure to check out my ultimate travel tip list for Europe!

Before you leave: ultimate travel tip list for your pre-trip

  1. Consider travel insurance: I always weigh my options for this one. I’ve never purchased travel insurance for Europe, but if you’re planning on doing something more adventurous (i.e. skiing in the Alps for the first time, diving in the Mediterranean, bungee jumping off a bridge, etc.), I would consider purchasing it, as some insurance companies cover adventure travel. I purchased travel insurance for South Africa as we’ll be diving with sharks and going on safari. It’s relatively inexpensive, and covers other items such as if you get sick and have to cancel your plane ticket. World Nomads is the way to go. Fairly inexpensive, but full coverage.
  2. Also, this is a must: make sure to register yourself on the Smart Traveler Program through the US Embassy. It’s completely free and it lets the US Embassy know when you’re in the countries you’ll be in and your contact info. Therefore, if disaster strikes, they will contact you and tell you what to do to stay safe.
  3. Make sure your passport is up to date and will not expire for at least 6 months. Some countries will not let you enter if your passport will expire in less than 6 months. Also, obtain the proper visas if needed. Most countries in Europe typically do not need a visa to enter unless you’re staying for longer than 90 days. You can check online here.
  4. Create copies of your passport/visa. I would never recommend carrying your passport around with you, but rather keep it locked up in the safe in your hotel/airbnb/hostel. It is way less likely to get stolen there than get stolen via pickpocket.
  5. Call your credit card/debit card company and let them know which cities/countries you’re going to. You don’t want to be stranded in a foreign country with no money.
  6. Also, if you want to use your card, make sure it has the chip in it, as most places in Europe only have chip machines. I’ve seen a few with the swipe, but as most credit cards in the US use the chip anyway, you may as well use it. Maybe get a travel rewards card to use?
  7. Research places before you go! That’ll help a lot when deciding what to do when you get there. And it’s exciting to see what all you can do beforehand to get pumped for the trip! Also, learn some of the local language. Nothing too crazy, but at least know how to say “Hello,” “Goodbye,” “Thank you,” and maybe ask for directions, for beer, etc.
ultimate travel tip list

Sightsee, not worry about what you forgot to pack.

Time to pack!

  1. I always recommend a carry on no matter where you go. You save tons of money in baggage fees and never have to worry about lost luggage. Just make sure you pack the essentials, and all liquids have to be equal to or less than 3.4oz/100ml and fit into a one quart-sized bag. Also, having a backpack is easiest when traveling along the cobblestone streets of Europe. I ruined a carryon suitcase (got a hole and lost a wheel), dragging it through the streets of Europe, but my backpack has now gone with me everywhere.
  2. Pack an outlet adapter. Something that blew my mind when I first went abroad was the fact that not all plugs are the same. They differ from country to country sometimes. Your best bet is to buy an adaptor that can be used worldwide, especially if you plan to go from, for example London to Paris, as even those outlets are different.
  3. Do NOT use a US hair dryer/curling iron/straightener, unless it has a voltage converter built in or you have a separate voltage converter. This is not the same as plugging the US hair dryer in to the outlet adaptor. Europe has much higher voltage and will fry that stuff. Either purchase one that can change voltages, don’t use one, or buy one over there. Your electronics like IPhones and laptops will be fine though (as they do not require much wattage to charge).
ultimate travel tip list

Explore Europe knowing you’ve got this.

You’ve Arrived!

So you’ve just landed, made it through customs, and are at your first destination. You’re going to have so much fun! Be sure to continue to follow the ultimate travel tip list for arrival:

  1. Make sure your cell phone is on airplane mode while in Europe. Unless you have an international plan that doesn’t change crazy amounts for data roaming, I’d leave the data off my phone. Therefore, I just keep it on airplane mode and only use wifi when available. It also prevents you from checking snapchat every 5 seconds (or work email)- enjoy your vacation!
  2. Now time to get money. I don’t recommend bringing tons of cash over and exchanging at the airport, or even getting tons of euros before going. You’ll get a terrible exchange rate and lose money. Rather, just visit the most secure looking ATM (preferably attached to a wall and make sure nobody is watching you), and withdraw how much money you think you’ll need. The ATM fees are similar to the fees at home, so you will probably have to pay a fee of $3, but that’s way cheaper than losing money on the exchange rate at the kiosk.
  3. Getting to the hotel/airbnb/hostel: I always print off directions for where I’m staying before I leave and keep it in my carry-on. Therefore, I just read the directions and follow them to my destination (less conspicuous than a map).
  4. You’ve arrived at your hotel/airbnb/hostel. Now check in and put your luggage in the room. Leave most of your money, credit cards, and passport in your locker or safe to prevent it from being taken by a pick pocketer. Only carry copies of your passport on you and however much money you think you’ll use for the day. Also, carry an extra credit card just in case. That way, if it gets stolen, you’re only out about 50 euro and you can cancel your extra credit card.
ultimate travel tip list

Stay prepared, and with a full wallet, with these tips.

Bonus: tips to prevent pick pockets

I could go on about an ultimate travel tip list on preventing pick-pockets, but the truth is, they are typically better at it than you think. So the best thing to do is to be aware of your surroundings. Keep a cross body purse that can’t be easily snatched away. A lot of people do use money belts too, which can put your mind at ease more. I’ve found that with Europe though, it isn’t a necessity. Just watch your stuff and be wary of people bumping into you. Don’t leave your bag slung around your seat at a restaurant like you would back home. Always have it on you and within your sight. You’re far less likely to get pick pocketed than someone who isn’t paying attention and looks lost.

So there you have it. My ultimate travel tip list for Europe from planning, packing, to arriving so you’ll feel prepared and confident while enjoying your dream vacation!

ultimate travel tip list

With this ultimate travel tip list and some organization, you’re ready for Europe!