Keep calm and travel on
If you suffer from hodophobia – the fear of travel – anxiety can keep you on the couch instead of on the plane.
In a study by the Anxiety and Stress Research Centre at the U.K.’s University of Stirling, 40 percent of respondents had anxiety over airplane takeoffs and landings, while 50 percent were nervous about flight delays. Add to that worries over tropical diseases and – for parents – keeping the kids happy and healthy (and not covered in vomit or poop), and stress can quickly compound.
First, take a deep breath, then try these strategies from experts and expats to truly enjoy that “supposedly fun” trip.
1. Plan ahead
Way ahead! For dubious weather patterns, medical emergencies, you name it. Remember, knowledge is power!
Ease your mind by thoroughly researching location and transportation options and mapping out reasonable travel times.
Make appointments for recommended jabs, too. The International Medical Clinic at Camden Medical Center has a list of vaccines and boosters for each country and will provide an emergency travel kit that includes painkillers and probiotic meds. Also consider packing your own first-aid kit and taking out travel insurance for medical emergencies.
2. Pack smart
When flying with little ones, hope for the best but prepare for the worst – namely, diaper blowouts (plastic bags), puke accidents (a change of clothes for everyone) and extra wipes and food (think school-sized snack packs). Invest in a travel-friendly stroller combo that turns into an airline or car seat.
For Asia’s sunnier spots, don’t forget to bring an umbrella, sunblock and mosquito repellant.
Forget the “kids carry their own bags” notion, and take a larger piece of luggage for yourself and the kids instead. It’s much easier to carry one large bag than four smaller backpacks through the airports.
3. Devise distractions
To mitigate stress, let children pack their own travel kits, suggests BOTR Consultants’ early-years education expert Kalliope Coplin. “Ask them what they’d like to take on the plane,” she says. “Variety is the key here – paper and pencils, colouring books, favourite toys, sleep or comfort items.”
Tablets are particularly helpful distractions – download videos and games for your child on the iPad to keep them entertained during long flights and travel journeys.
4. Take a chill pill (literally)
If flying itself causes you fear or panic attacks, talk to your doctor about getting mild prescription sedatives, such as Xanax or Ativan, which can allow you to relax and maybe even sleep a bit on the journey. (To be safe, have a letter from your doctor, as Singapore has notoriously strict anti-drug laws.)
Also, bring your own creature comforts: Pack that carry-on with a good book, your favorite music and a cosy travel outfit (hello, yoga pants!).
Though it can be a challenge, it’s important to try to keep your cool for the kids – your anxiety can be felt and easily transferred to your kids.
By Andrea McKenna Brankin, The Finder, June 2016