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Travel Stresses and Overcoming the Packing Worries

Traveling. Yes something we all experience in our lives. As we approach springtime here in the US, summer plans and agendas start to accumulate our schedules. We begin to plan in travel whether its work, sport, school, or vacation.Traveling to new or frequent places can be exciting as its a change that takes us away from our current day to day outings we get use to. It can also be a bit stressful. The hassle of packing, planning, driving, flying, navigating can all leave us with a bit of a worry sweat before we even hit the road and begin our trip.

Over the years, I have traveled for many events including bike racing, vacation, school events, and training camps. As an elite racer traveling become a usual during the season. I have flown to many different stated for races as well as driven alone across country as a young college student to go from race to race with my life in a car for the next month. In and out of airports and figuring out ways to navigate with all my bikes (Yes bikes!) and gear. I had to make sure I had everything that I needed to make the race as easy for when race day came. That was always a big checklist. Each category had certain things that would help me perform. Bike equipment and tools, bikes, extra wheels, extra parts, nutrition, cycling clothing, helmets, shoes, regular clothing, regular nutrition… and the list goes on. Its not just traveling for sport that you have to think strategically on what you need to take to feel comfortable to step out of the daily routine of having what you are acclimated to into something different where you are not sure what will be there.

Over the years of traveling and growing up, I found myself stressing more the week of the travel date. I believe as a kid I was optimistic and newer to traveling and learning what worked for me if it was for sport, family, school or vacation. As I got older I became to even stress dream about upcoming trips and I would not feel relieved and ready to travel unless I was all packed. I would find myself having to pack EXTRA early.. I mean like a week, to ease the stress of the upcoming trip. Dont get me wrong, I was excited and love traveling for anything, it perplexed me why I would have sleepless nights before and constantly think about what to pack and what was going to happen during the trip. I wondered if I was the only one, but as I reached out to our fellow friends, I found that its common to be uneasy about the packing situation. Many said that stress was increased during times prior to travel.

One day as I was a week out from a wonderful trip to visit my father it dawned on me. I noticed the stress. So I stepped back and look inward. I analyzed all the other trips Driving or flying where I was not stressed about packing… well I couldn’t remember. As a coach, I preach to hack the mind and overcome moments of difficulty during tough interval sessions and I urge us to find tools to help us overcome challenges. I began to think, well Here is a real life challenge I now realize. I wanted to find out what I could do to look forward to the travel and make the week leading up to travel day one of less stress and worry and more relaxation and peace with my mind. So began the journey of prestress travel hacks and tips.


1- Interactive list

When it comes to packing, we want to make sure that we have all we need and forgetting things and remembering what to take can bring lots of unwanted stress before we hit the road. Many ask to make a list, but I would ways finding myself forgetting a few essential items as it would dawn on me when I was already far away from home. A new trick I have adapted was to get your trusty pen and paper *pencil if you need to erase and I would walk around to each section of my house and categorize each section and look around and write what I need. This is very interactive and you are moving around rather than sitting making your brain thoughts flow a bit more. You are visually in each setting with all your home items in view so remembering each one will be much easier when you see it. Then you can jot it down to lock it secure on your list and not forget.


2- Step by step

One thing about packing that put me on high stress level was doing it all at once even if was a day before or even a week before, it just seemed like so much to pack and was just overwhelming. It would almost seem that there was too much and then I would find that I would forget some things in the flurry of packing. It is good to start a little early to where you are less stressed and have good time to pack. You can go each day leading up to the day before to have everything ready. Slotting each day for a specific category like bathroom toiletries, or just clothing. This would split it down into bite sized pieces to where it doesn’t seem s overwhelming. It seems more manageable. Something you can handle.


3- Sprawl out and categorize  

One technique that really helped me pack and be able to relieve lots of stress and remember everything was taking to my room and sprawling out all over. Place everything all out of the bags. You can even take everything and put them each in their own section. I would even have some separate bags for the items to go into before going into the bag or suitcase. That way you know where things are and you feel organized. Organizing your items within your bag is important as it allows you to know where things are and can help you feel a bit more relieved then in a flurry of where things are. Having those separate bags have really helped me know where my things are. You can even label them and keep them every time you travel so it becomes easy to pack, knowing what bag is for what. Then you are most likely to have a clear mind and also remember all the items you need for that trip.


4- Thoughts are thoughts

I would always find myself getting engulfed into the worry about packing, and the upcoming trip. It would always hit me at night when I was trying to rest. That would put a stop to it all and sleep became difficult as I would go over and over in my head on what I was going to pack and all the logistics. Does this happen to you? It is actually very common to have many running thoughts before you hit snooze. It can challenge your sleep and even wake you up earlier than you hope. One way to overcome these running thoughts is to look into the details of the thoughts. We have thousands of thoughts that travel our brain every day. Some we don’t even know are flooding in. I encourage you to stop and think about what you are thinking of right now. Sometimes we forget to think about what we are thinking so when we get a flood of thoughts, we are unsure how to handle it. The good thing is that we can change our thoughts. Yes! You have control! You can shift your thoughts and change them to relieve you and bring calmness and clarity to your mind. It will take practice, but thats why I encourage you to think about what you are thinking and see different ways you can rethink about situations.

For and example you could be irritated with the traffic ahead as you are on a time crunch to get home to dinner. Its infuriating. Thoughts that might be going through your head would be like,

I can't believe this! This is so annoying, I can’t handle this
Move on people! I need to get home!

Those can be annoying and consistent. Those thoughts can repeat and keep coming in. It might seem impossible to reroute them but let's see what we can do to reword them…

I can't believe this! This is so annoying, I can’t handle this to...

Wait, this is a great opportunity to sit and get in some good breaths here. I might be annoyed, but that's ok, what does it actually feel to be annoyed and how can I overcome it. What if I try to find calm. Let's look outside and look at the surrounding community. The grass, the buildings. Let’s think about how amazing it is that us humans navigate together to get home.

Move on people! I need to get home! To...

I bet everyone wants to get home just as much as me. How much extra energy am I spending just being mad. Is it helping? People around are all trying to get somewhere, wonder where they might be going. Some people might be heading home, or maybe the airport, or stressing also about their travel plans.

Step back and breathe.. Thoughts are thoughts. We have control over them and if they come knocking on your door at night about your travel plans, see how you can break them down and tell yourself, it OK. Lets asses this tomorrow and ‘I will have good time to think of it once I wake up and start the day fresh with good rest.’ Find a way to navigate to restful thoughts. Bring attention to your body and the sensations of sleep. How your eyes are resting, how your body sinks into the bed, find your breath. Let the thoughts be there, don't push them away and work to not bring all the attention to them. Tell yourself it will be OK.


5- objects are objects

We all have certain things we like to have with us and its good to have items that comfort you, but if you find yourself going on a trip and falling short of some of your important items and stressing over what to do without it, know that you will come back to it and as nice as it is to have this one thing, its an object. One of the most important things you do need for your trip is your human body. All the other items are objects we obtain over time and can be replaced or you might find something new that will be new and maybe even better. Open your mind to the possibilities of all this world has. Relieve yourself in the moment and think, ‘let's find something new to try, something interesting.’ Let’s adapt. Just like training, it’s about adaptation and the only way to adaptation is to invite new possibilities, invite change. Yes, scary at first, but watch how incredible your instincts are as a human to adapt. Think that you will come home back to your favorite object and be happy to have it, but you can also detach from it. This might even make that one thing even more special and personal to you when you get home. Its little things like this that can bring a lot of unwanted stress, but we can find ways to manage and learn to adapt.


6- Be kind

All this stress can add up and you might find yourself being hard on yourself. You can put yourself down and that can feel demoralizing. We sometimes don't even realize that we are taking to ourselves in a bad way.These thoughts can accumulate overtime and even the little bad thoughts here and there about yourself can have a huge impact on your well being and hinder your motivations equalling to greater stress. This is the time to be kind to yourself. Dont tell yourself its BAD that you are stressed. Tell yourself it is normal and OK. Allow yourself to feel those emotions and give your mind ease and clarity to what you are feeling. Pushing it away and telling yourself its bad will not only add to self doubt, but also hinder motivations and bring more stress causing more use in energy which can leave you feeling mentally exhausted. So the next time you are mad at yourself, catch yourself! Verify what you are feeling and look back at the recent thoughts you were telling yourself. If they were unkind, tell yourself to be kind and find two saying that you will tell yourself. Two saying that remain positive and good about you and how you are handling the situation… These little things add up and make the world of difference.



Last But not least, being aware of your emotions, actions, and thoughts when you are traveling and packing are important. Be aware if you are stressing before, or if you are relaxed. Practicing becoming aware of your emotions and verifying them will go farther than just travel, but in life. In stressful situations, we sometime just go right to that panic button and forget to feel our emotions and be aware of our present self.

‘How am I feeling in this moment?’

‘Is my body very tense? If so, in what areas is the tension?’

‘What certain emotion am I experiencing right now? Is it anger, resentment, fear, worry?’

These statements are true for any stressful situation that we endure. We all endure stress in different ways, but the feelings resulting from stress can be similar. Being able to be aware of those feelings and take a moment to ask yourself these questions will help guide you to the present state and help settle the mind to process how to go about that moment. It can seem like a challenge at first, but know with practice, you will become better at being aware of your emotions.

Tip: You don't even have to practice this awareness in only stressful situations. Take a moment right now and ask yourself these questions…

‘How am I feeling in this moment?’

‘Is my body very tense or relaxed? If so, in what areas is the tension and what areas are relaxed?’

‘What certain emotion am I experiencing right now? Is it enlightenment, courage, strength, willpower, drive?’

It can be in any good or bad moment. The more you are aware about yourself, the better you will become at managing those emotions. We must face our emotions and take them on, dont panic, be courageous, be aware.

To that here are some great quotes I want you to take away for this week or any time you are feeling stressed, whether its packing, a hard day at work, or even a day you have extra stress…

Develop success from failures. Discouragement and failure are two of the surest stepping stones to success. -Dale Carnegie

Do not be afraid to give up the good to go for the great. -John Rockefeller

Do one thing every day that scares you. -Eleanor Roosevelt

Each of us must confront our own fears, must come face to face with them. How we handle our fears will determine where we go with the rest of our lives. To experience adventure or to be limited by the fear of it. -Judy Blume

Fears are nothing more than a state of mind. -Napoleon Hill

You gain strength, courage and confidence by every experience in which you really stop to look fear in the face. You are able to say to yourself, 'I have lived through this horror. I can take the next thing that comes along.' You must do the thing you think you cannot do. -Eleanor Roosevelt

You can conquer almost any fear if you will only make up your mind to do so. For remember, fear doesn’t exist anywhere except in the mind. -Dale Carnegie

With that, I hope you find moments in life to conquer fears and stop stress. We can stop stress from happening, but we can learn to adapt and handle along the way. Together we create unstoppable and can learn to become the best.

As Always,

Be Kind, Do Fearless

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