You guys. I’m leaving for PARIS. Yes. I said Paris. I’ve dreamt of traveling to Paris probably since I knew Paris existed. At least since I was 12 and started collecting all things Paris. (I may or may not be wearing my Eiffel Tower t-shirt as I write this — totally unplanned!) But slowly as this trip got closer and closer, anxiety started to get the best of me.
I keep having this dream where I get to the airport late, my plane is boarding and I still have to go through security when I realize I left my passport at home. I even had the same dream last night, except this time in the dream, I said to myself “I can’t believe I left my passport at home after having all of those dreams about forgetting it!” Ya, my dreams can be pretty meta.
I guess you could say I’m an anxious person. Especially when things aren’t familiar or aren’t in line with my daily routine. Here are some ways that I’ve found to reduce my packing anxiety:
Plan in Advance
I think this one helped me out a lot. By planning way in advance, I was able to spread out the anxiety rather than losing my mind the day before we left. I started planning for this trip back in December when we first booked our plane tickets. I made a Pinterest board with places we want to visit. Then around May, I started seriously researching some activities for us. While I don’t like vacationing with a detailed, hour-by-hour itinerary, it helps to have a list of activities planned ahead of time so you don’t waste your vacation by Googling “Things to do in Paris.”
Bonus tip: if you’re going on a trip with others, make a shared Pinterest board. That way everyone can add ideas.
Make a list & check it twice. Or three times.
Seriously, don’t skip this. Especially if you’re traveling abroad. While you’re at it consider things like carry-ons vs. checked baggage and what kinds of liquids can go where. I like to split my list into three lists: checked bag, carry on bag, and the clothes I’ll be wearing. That may seem odd, but you can easily save some much-needed luggage space by planning ahead to re-utilize the sweater you wear on the plane. Once your list is finalized, you can use it to check things off as you’re packing the day or so before your trip. Note: No packing on the day of, that’s too much anxiety for me! What if you remember you forgot something that you have to run to the store to get??
Last week, after I made my packing lists I saw how long my carry-on list was. Then I got anxious that my stuff wouldn’t fit in the fancy new carry-on bag I bought especially for this trip! So immediately I ran around the house collecting everything from my list and started cramming it into the bag. It took a bit of re-organizing, but in the end it all fit. I also realized this is a great way to see if you missed anything on your list. As you’re stuffing things into bags you may have an epiphany about the forgotten hairbrush.
Print Outs/Hard Copies
Print out your plane tickets, and any other pre-booked things that you have planned. As I write this, I’ve already printed out two copies of our plane tickets as well as some transportation we have planned out. You can’t always rely on the internet. Especially if you’re traveling to a place where you don’t speak their language. It’s easier to hand them a copy of what you want rather than trying to play charades.
I also have a notebook filled up of places we want to visit while in Paris. We’re planning on getting French pre-paid SIM cards when we arrive but we don’t know how well they’ll work. Plus, I don’t really like the idea of constantly looking up directions on my phone (nothing says tourist alert quite like checking your phone for directions!) So I wrote down the names of places with some details to help me remember why I want to go there as well as the address and hours.
One final thought on all of this is that it’s not all or nothing. You don’t have to start planning your vacation a year in advance. You’ll have to try out these tips and adjust for what works for you. Hopefully this list will help you overcome your pre-travel anxiety. Thanks for reading, next time you hear from me I’ll officially be a world-traveler!