Category: Travel

How to Manage Travel Anxiety

Most people in the world dream of travel, but travel anxiety is also very common. If you suffer from travel anxiety, I have a secret for you…I do too.

There are trips where I’ll be perfectly okay as I prepare and then other trips where I have a full-on panic attack as I pack my bags. However, it is something I acknowledge and work to combat every time I prepare to leave home for an extended period of time.

Since I know I’m not the only one who suffers from anxiety; I want to share some of my tips to help you overcome, so panic attacks and anxiety don’t put a damper on your travel plans.

Dealing with Travel Anxiety before You Leave

Remind Yourself WHY You Want to Travel
Whenever you start to feel the anxiety rise, stop and take a deep breath and picture yourself in your destination. Imagine yourself having the time of your life without any anxiety. Picture yourself dreaming the life you want to live. These positive affirmations will calm you down. Can’t do it yourself? Have a friend or family member talk these positive affirmations over with you.
Meticulously Plan
Anxiety often stems from feeling like you’re not in control, so try to stem it by taking your trip planning to the extreme. Anyone who has ever traveled with me knows I like to have everything planned to the hour. That can cause stress for some people, but for me, the focus provides that sense of control that often doesn’t accompany travel.
Find a Community
You need a support system to help you travel and to help you manage your anxiety. Find a group or two you like and connect well with the other members, and integrate yourself into the groups by lending advice as much as you ask for it. These groups will be there when you need them most.

Dealing with Travel Anxiety on Your Trip

Form a Routine
Travel can be stressful, and it’s often the lack of routine that increases the chance of anxiety. To create the sense of control, form a routine while you are away that is similar to your routine at home. Set your alarm every day or go to the same cafe for breakfast. Small things that you can control will help.
Leave Your Comfort Zone
Repeated exposure to your fears is better than avoidance. Don’t let your fears prevent you from living your life. I get that it’s scary, but once you step outside your comfort zone you’ll be so proud of yourself, and you’ll want to do it again because you know you can. Travel provides an excellent outlet for tackling several fears at once, and when it feels overwhelming just try some calming techniques and try again.
Avoid Your Triggers
We all have triggers that heighten our anxiety. Before you leave, make a list of those things and try to minimize your exposure to these while you are away.
Don't Compare Your Experiences
It’s super easy to get beat down when we look at our friends travel experiences. Social media gives everyone a sense of inadequacy, but don’t let those feelings lead to anxiety. Everyone is putting their best selves out there, including you. And also remember, as much as you desire someone else’s life and adventures, there is someone out there who desires to have your life and your adventures. Because you are awesome!

Related: 31 Incredibly Useful Tips Every Anxious Traveler Needs To Know

To be honest with you, travel has brought me a sense of freedom. Do I still suffer from anxiety? Absolutely. But, I think travel has been the one thing that helped me conquer my fears more than anything else. Travel is terrifying, but it also challenges you out of your comfort zone more than anything else and once outside your comfort zone you realize you can do whatever you want whenever you want.

 

Happy Travels! What’s something that has helped you manage your travel anxiety?

The Queen City of the Great Lakes {Buffalo, NY}

Buffalo, New York is generally not a popular travel destination, it definitely was not on my list, but bear with me as I try to convince you to add this up-state city to your list. My opinion changed after I spent seven days exploring this city and the surrounding areas.

Buffalo Park Systems

Frederick Law Olmstead designed and built the first park and parkway system in the U.S. in Buffalo, and some claim it was his best work. The Buffalo Olmsted Park System is comprised of six parks, seven parkways, eight landscaped circles and several smaller spaces. These parks also surround many of the city’s museums.

Architecture

Buffalo is home to rich architecture, and the residents are working hard to maintain this part of their history. You have the Ellicott Square Building, built in 1896, on Main Street was once the largest office complex in the world, and other interesting buildings located downtown.

Up next, Buffalo is home to seven different Frank Lloyd Wright constructions—Chicago is the only other place with more of Wright’s works. I had the chance to visit his Darwin Martin House, which was built between 1903 and 1905. This house has undergone incredible changes and is well on its way back to complete restoration.

Gardens Galore

Are you a fan of gardens? Then you need to head to Buffalo during the summer months to join Garden Walk Buffalo, the nation’s largest garden walk. This event is comprised of over 400 private gardens and they are something special!

My favorite part of exploring the many neighborhoods of Buffalo, though, was the brightly painted houses. Who doesn’t want a hot pink house?

Buffalo is also home to Buffalo & Erie County Botanical Garden.

Niagara Falls & Lake Erie

Niagara Falls is a true natural wonder that amazes millions of visitors each year. Take a gander at this natural wonder on the US side with Niagara Falls State Park or head over the border to Canada for another perspective. (Read about my visit to Canada’s Falls here.)

Don’t have time to visit Niagara Falls? Head to one of the parks along the Buffalo River for an evening stroll or dinner and catch a glimpse of Canada on the other side of the river or the Buffalo Main Light, which was established and lit in 1833 and deactivated in 1914.

So, have I convinced you? Is Buffalo now on your bucket list?

 

Niagara Never Stops

Niagra Falls. A destination on just about everyone’s bucket list and a natural wonder of the world. Niagra Falls is the collective name of the falls that lie on the border of the United States and Canada, but it actually consists of three different waterfalls. Horseshoe Falls, the American Falls and the Bridal Veil Falls. Almost 3,160 tons of water flows over Niagara Falls every second, which produces the highest flow rate of any waterfall on earth.

Journey Behind the Falls

There are multiple ways to see Niagara up close and personal; I opted for the Journey Behind the Falls, which is on the Canadian side of Horseshoe Falls. This tour takes you 150 feet down and provides you the opportunity to walk through a maze of passages behind the tour, with the pièce de résistance being the observation platform at the bottom of the 13-story falls.

My hood didn’t do me much good, but getting soaked was totally worth seeing this natural wonder.

Niagara Parks

Niagara Falls Canada is part of Niagara Parks, an almost 35-mile long park, bordering the Niagara River. This park is made up of a Botanical Gardens, Butterfly Conservatory, Niagra Glen and more. It is worth exploring this park as you spend your time in Ontario.

Night Life in Niagara

Conclude your time in Niagara with dinner on the veranda of Queen Victoria Place Restaurant for stunning views of the falls at sunset, and be sure you stay for the falls to turn on the lights.

Is Niagara Falls on your list of places to visit?

The Mile-High City { Denver, CO}

To celebrate my birthday this year, my mom and I took a trip with Pack Up + Go and crossed a new city and state off our bucket lists, Denver, Colorado. We had always heard good things about the city, and we were excited about exploring a new location.

Good Food

One of our clues from Pack Up + Go was to arrive with an empty stomach because there was a lot of good food, and they were not wrong. We felt like we ate the whole time we were there, which was totally okay by me.

Our first stop after checking into our hotel was the Appaloosa Grill, per the recommendation of our concierge, located only a few blocks from the hotel along the 16th Street Mall. The restaurant boasted an expansive drink menu and delicious food. We highly recommend the Bison Sirloin and Ravioli.

On Saturday, we felt we ate the whole day. We started off the day with breakfast at Snooze, an AM eatery, in Union Station. According to one of my coworkers and our Pack Up + Go itinerary, Snooze is one of the IT places to eat when you visit Denver. We were instructed to get there early, and thanks to the time zone change, getting there at 7:00 AM before the lines was easy to do. We were able to enjoy a relaxing breakfast on their patio and watch Denver wake up. Mom got the Breakfast Pot Pie and I tried the OMG! French Toast. We were not disappointed by the western breakfast chain.

For lunch, which ended up being brunch, we headed to Historians Ale House. This restaurant came as a recommendation of my coworker, and we seriously enjoyed their bottomless mimosas. They also served up one of the best burgers I have had in a while. We topped off the day with sunset views, apps and drinks at the Peaks Lounge.

On Sunday, we grabbed a quick bagel breakfast at Bruegger’s Bagels before we explored a little more. We grabbed a quick snack after our morning excursion at The Denver Central Market. We finished out our time in Denver with lunch at Ale House for views of the city and delicious cider.

Now, let’s talk about the desserts, and ice cream specifically. Several of our Uber drivers shared their favorite ice cream shops, so, of course, we had to try them out. We started off with Milkbox Ice Creamery located in Union Station, then tested out Little Man Ice Cream. Our personal favorite was Little Man, which is conveniently located to Ale House.

Good Views

With the backdrop of the Rockies, Denver offers some pretty spectacular views. To start off with, you have the capitol views over the city. Did you know if you stand on the 13th step on the west side of the building you are at exactly 5,280 feet above sea level? It’s pretty cool to stand at the exact mark that got this city its nickname. But note, you can’t go inside the capitol building on weekends.

The second set of spectacular views is the Denver Botanic Gardens. It’s a pretty escape from the hustle of the city that offers some unique landscapes from what we are used to in the southern United States.

As mentioned above, Peaks Lounge offers some pretty views of the Rockies at sunset. You definitely want to get there early to grab a seat by the windows because it does get crowded. It’s a popular location for visitors!

The last place to get some spectacular views is Red Rocks Park & Amphitheater. Our itinerary suggested coming here for sunrise, but we opted for later in the morning. It was still a spectacular view and totally worth the excursion outside of town.

 

This weekend would not have the same without getting to spend some quality time with my mom. Thank you, Pack Up + Go, for a fun weekend to celebrate my birthday.

What is your favorite thing to see or do in Denver?

Checking In: Kimpton Hotel Monaco Denver

Checking In is a series for reviewing properties, whether it is a hostel, hotel or other forms of accommodation. To suggest a property please send us an email.


Located in the heart of downtown Denver, Kimpton Hotel Monaco Denver is the ideal retreat during your time in the Mile High City.

Sleep in style in one of the 189 guest rooms. Rooms are designed with a playful feel of animal-print robes and turquoise boudoir pillows embroidered with images of bucking broncos. Or step your stay up a notch with one of the suites.

So make yourself comfortable, and let Hotel Monaco be your very own headquarters in downtown Denver.

Take a Surprise Vacation with Pack Up + Go

Would you go on a trip without knowing the destination? That’s exactly what my mom and I did this past weekend with the help of Pack Up + Go, a surprise travel agency that plans a 3-day weekend trip for you. This company is perfect for those of us who love to plan our travels but are desperately in need of a little spontaneity.

How does it work?

That is an excellent question! Pack Up + Go really makes the whole process quite simple.

Step 1: Set a Budget
Pack Up + Go offers four different categories for their trips. You can either do a road trip or travel by plane, bus or train, and you can either travel solo or with friends. Each category has different price levels, so there is something for everyone.
Step 2: Take a Survey
The survey allows you tell Pack Up + Go a little about where you’ve been, where you are going, and what you like to do. You also let them know the dates you want to travel and any travel limitations. Once you click submit, it’s all in their hands!
Step 3: The Clues
One week prior to departure you will receive an email with weather information, key items to pack, how to pack and when you need to be at your departure point. A few days before you leave you’ll receive an envelope in the mail with all your information, but DO NOT open it.
Step 4: Travel Day
A few hours before departure you will receive an email that lets you know it’s time to open your envelope! Be prepared to be surprised! This email will also contain all your travel information, and the envelope will contain key pieces of information to make the most of your trip.
Step 5: ENJOY!
You have made it to your surprise destination! I highly recommend studying your packet of information on your flight or drive. It contains tons of tidbits to make your trip as smooth as possible. I also recommend mapping out everything you want to do. Three days is not a lot of time, so to make the most of your vacation map everything out while you travel so you can hit the ground running!

What were our thoughts?

We absolutely LOVED this approach to a weekend vacation. I have always wanted to go to the airport and book the next flight out, but my Type A tendencies disliked not having a hotel upon landing thus preventing me from doing that. Pack Up + Go provided the sensation of spontaneous travel with the security of having the travel arrangements all in order.

Would we travel with them again? Absolutely! It was, hands down, one of the cooler ways I have traveled recently. We were pleased with the location and quality of our accommodations and the thoroughness of the information provided about our destination city.

If you are interested in trying it out, please use my name (Caitlin Norton) when they ask “How did you hear about Pack Up + Go?” on the survey.

Ready for an adventure?

Thar She Blows!

Climb aboard another era with the largest maritime museum in the country, Mystic Seaport. Located along the Mystic River, this museum boasts a recreated New England coastal village as well as America’s oldest commercial ship still in existence, the Charles W. Morgan.

One of the first things you’ll notice as you enter the gates is the 19th-century seaport village. Stroll the streets and learn about what life would have been like for those left at home during the age of sea. Learn about the maritime trades, eat lunch at the local pub, and discover how our maritime past shaped life today.

One of the largest exhibits on the property is the Charles W. Morgan, the last wooden whale ship in the world. Built and launched in 1841, the ship took its maiden voyage on July 21 from New Bedford, Massachusetts, and sailed on 37 voyages, with most lasting three years or more, over an 80-year career. Be sure to watch the clock for hands-on programs.

Also, don’t miss the other historic vessels on the property.

What is your favorite living museum?

This Old House {Connecticut Edition}

The next time you visit Connecticut swing through Guilford. This New Haven suburb, located along the Long Island Sound, boasts a rich history. Located just off the town’s Green sits Connecticut’s oldest house and New England’s oldest stone house, the Henry Whitfield State Museum.

Built by one of Guilford’s founding members, Reverend Henry Whitfield, in 1693 prior to the founding of the city. The building initially served as home to the Reverend and his family as well as a place of worship and a meeting hall. Later, the house served as a fort for the founding families to provide a place of safety and refuge from the local Native Americans.

The house was opened in 1899 as the first state museum in Connecticut. There is a self-guided tour of the house that takes you through three floors filled with 17th-19th-century furnishings and artifacts, and shares not only the history of the house and its inhabitants but also the history of Guilford. In addition, the house the museum includes a Visitor Center and Education building, as well as a canon from the War of 1812.

Be sure to visit the museum website before visiting to check on hours as they vary throughout the year.

What is your favorite National Historic Landmark?

Yates Cider Mill

If you ever find yourself in Rochester Hills, Michigan, then you need stop by Yates Cider Mill. As one of oldest, continually running businesses in the state of Michigan, the Mill provides an excellent pit stop to stock up on provisions and to enjoy some nature.

The Mill opened in 1863 as a grist mill, but by 1876 the Yates family had started using the water power from the Clinton River to produce a Michigan staple, cider. The double table press can produce up to 300 gallons of cider per hour! Tours are available on Tuesdays and Wednesdays during peak season (September and October), and they are about 30 minutes long.

The Mill is open year-round, but the best times to visit is during the summer and fall months when everything is open. My visit came a little early in the season, but I was able to taste some of their delicious cider and cinnamon donuts.

If your visit coincides with the proper seasons, Yates Cider Mill offers a Fudge Shop, Ice Cream Shop, Apple Tent, and more. The Mill also provides pony rides and a petting zoo during the summer months and a walking trail along the Clinton River. The trail is about 1/2 mile long, making it an easy way to escape into nature.

During your next visit to Michigan, be sure to add this landmark to your list of places to see.

What is your favorite cider mill?

Checking In: New York Marriott Downtown

Checking In is a series for reviewing properties, whether it is a hostel, hotel or other forms of accommodation. To suggest a property please send us an email.


I recently made a trip up to New York for another National Geographic workshop, and stayed at the beautiful New York Marriott Downtown. If you are looking for a hotel in Lower Manhattan, then look no further.

The New York Marriott Downtown is located within walking distance from Battery Park, Wall Street, 9/11 Memorial and Museum, and One World Observatory. The hotel is also situated near a few subway stations making it easy to get around the city and to your favorite sites.

My favorite part of this hotel is the view. Instead of getting views of a brick wall, the New York Marriott Downtown offers views of the Hudson River, New Jersey, the Statue of Liberty and Ellis Island. The hote also is home to Bill’s Bar & Burger, one of New York’s top burger joints, as well as Bill’s West Side Bar.

If you are looking for a comfortable hotel and affordable hotel in The Big Apple, then you need to book a stay at the New York Marriott Downtown.