Seeing the world is a beautiful experience and I vowed to myself, even when I suddenly became afraid of flying from my first panic attack years ago, that the fear and anxiety would never stop me from exploring this beautiful, blue planet of ours. With some self-work and self-education, I was able to overcome my fear of flying and started with small 2-hour flights and grew to our most recent (total) 24-hour flight to New Zealand! Yay!

The key is to try new things and feel yourself out, all while moving forward. Throughout the years, I’ve experimented with ways to help soothe my nerves while in the skies and have found my own recipe for the tried-and-true. Check out my must-list below and don’t forget to comment what you think/your own ways of coping in the skies!

1. Get Excited

I know, I know. You may be thinking “what the –, I’m more nervous than anything!” Yes. I know. But hear me out: by replacing the word “nervous” with “excited” whenever you think it, your brain will ease up on the anxiety and move into the ‘joyful anticipation’ bucket. Say it out loud: “I’m excited!” with a big smile on your face and notice the difference. Try it right now! Repeat after me with a big smile: “I’m SO excited!!”

Sure, there is always going to be a little nervousness in the background, but let’s be honest, you’re getting on a plane to a destination you don’t get to go to every day– that’s pretty exciting! Put some photos of the destination you’re headed to on your phone and flip through them, imagining yourself there and think about something you are most looking forward to. Always wanted to see the Eiffel Tower in Paris? Have a cool reservation at that “must” restaurant in Cabo? Getting a close look at the Niagra Falls in Canada? Think about that special, cool thing you’re going to do and let that propel you into excitement versus nervousness! Traveling is amazing and you’re doing it — woohoo!!

2. Carry Essential Oils

After my first panic attack, I went through a cleanse to rid my body of toxins and, with it, went any and all over-the-counter drugs that I have ever taken. Since then, I’ve turned to essential oils and I always make sure to take them with me as I swear by them. The two essential oils that I always carry with me are lavender and peppermint; they come in small bottles that are perfect to fit inside your clear plastic bag when going through TSA at the airport.

Lavender oil helps calm nerves with its soothing properties and can soothe you into a peaceful state of mind, maybe even helping you catch a few Z’s on the plane. Before takeoff, I like to apply one drop on the inside of each of my wrists, rub them together and then place my wrists up to my nose, inhaling for three, deep and relaxed breaths. Ahhh.

For headaches, I use peppermint oil, topically, one drop on each of my temples; it works so well that I haven’t popped a single Advil nor Tylenol in my mouth in years. Also, once you get to your destination, why try to deal with buying something for headaches in another country that could be in another language and may come with different pharmaceutical standards? Avoid the hassle and bring your own natural oils!

3. Browse the Airport Village

At least, that’s what I like to call that part of the airport after security where stores and restaurants await you. Go ham just bouncing in and out, checking out what the latest at the airport is. I find that the bookstores have some of the best selections, especially at international terminals. You can even sit down for a meal at a restaurant, just like you would any other day outside of the airport. I find that this helps me ease into the “traveling” way of life and helps me deem flying as just a normal part of the day; we may catch trains, busses or drive our own cars, and while a plane may be less frequent, it’s still a mode of trusted transport. You got this :).

4. Skip the Alcoholic Drinks

I know, it may seem better to numb the nerves, but I’ve personally found that alcohol up in the air can make me feel disoriented and dehydrating. It’s important, with anxiety, that you go through the waves of your feelings and meet them with acknowledgement, rather than suppressing them and making them worse later on. This leads me to what I do love to drink:

5. Drink Herbal Teas

Herbal teas contain no caffeine and do not give way to shaky hands and a faster heart rate. By removing caffeine, which is also dehydrating, you can rid yourself of ‘anxiety triggers’ and travel in more peace. I’ve eliminated coffee and caffeinated teas (like black, green and matcha) from my diet for years now and I’ve seen a huge difference. Next time you want a hot drink, ask for an herbal tea such as: peppermint, chamomile or lemon. The way I like to do it? Bringing my own tea bags and asking the attendant for a cup of hot water.

Ron Teeguarden’s Dragon Herbs are caffeine-free with a slightly sweet and super yummy taste; each teabag can yield two cups of tea and it works in a way that if you drink it in the morning, it gives you a revitalized boost of natural energy and, if drunk at night, can wind you down. I love my dragon herb teas and always travel with them! 

Another tea that I love is an oldie but a goodie: Celestial’s Sleepy Time Tea. I know some people may take sleeping pills for flights, but as I mentioned before, I avoid OTC drugs and try to do things the more natural way. I love drinking Sleepy Time Tea when I want to get some rest on a flight, though you will catch me drinking these when at home, too! It just makes your night’s rest that much more peaceful :).  As you’re winding down, make sure you are comfortable with my next tip:

6. Bring Comfort Up With You

Feeling comfortable is important, even 30k miles up on the air. I’ve been on a very uncomfortable 8-hour flight and a very comfortable 12-hour flight; the difference wasn’t the time, but how cozy I was during the flight.

If you have a favorite travel pillow, headphone set, warm socks, hat, whatever, bring it with you. As humans, we love the feeling of comfort, and it does make the difference. My favorite must-have on planes?

  1. My Cocoon CoolMax BlanketI LOVE this blanket. Not only does it keep you warm on the plane, you can use it for road trips, train rides or around a campfire on a cold night! It comes in a little black cloth carrying case and is super packable. I highly recommend it!
  2. My Slip Silk Eyemask. It’s so super soft and gentle for your eyes. I’ve tried a couple of different ones ranging in prices from low to high and honestly prefer this one the best. My husband actually loved it so much when he tried it on for kicks, that we ended up getting him one, too! When it’s time for a snooze, you go down feeling like a million bucks in the air.

7. Stay Hydrated

Water, water, water. So super important and can help keep some jet lag effects at bay. Not only will you be doing your body good by taking it in, but every time you need to relieve yourself at the loo, you’ll be adding in some steps, sneaking in that extra few minutes of stretching your legs to keep that blood flowing. For an extra boost in electrolytes, I always carry Recover Ors packets with me when traveling. I like to add in a packet every five hours of flying to some water and find that I don’t get any dehydration headaches when in air nor when I land!

8. Keep Snacks Handy

Especially if you have any dietary restrictions. Last thing you want to do is feel helpless and hungry so high up in the skies. I always make sure to grab some goodies for my flight after I pass security (as they won’t let you bring *outside food* inside). You can browse around the ‘airport village’ (you’ll be saying it, too, in no time- haha) or, if in a sincere pinch, head to Starbucks (almost every airport has them I feel!). Here is my list of goodies that I grab: bottle of water, banana, dark chocolate and a protein box (usually comes with apples, peanut butter, boiled egg, slice of cheese and a little piece of sweet bread). It’s my fave in-flight combo and I don’t feel anxious trying to get someone’s attention constantly for every little hankering :).

9. Journal Your Feelings

Notebook and pen: I owe my road to recovery with anxiety to journaling. There is something about getting your thoughts that keep running around in your head OUT and down on paper. Taking the time to form sentences means that you are putting your thoughts together, cohesively, and it helps you see things clearer in front of you. Not only that, but if I am flying above a beautiful mountain range of fluffy white clouds, I feel nothing short of grateful and take the time to write down those positive things. Plus, my notes will be memories for when I look back at it weeks/months from then! <3.

Let me know in the comments below if you found these helpful!
Happy Travels! xoxo

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Brooklyn native, Latina, and founder of Enlightened by Bravery, an adventure/travel and wellness blog that focuses on drawing inspiration from adventures around the world back into your life // iPhoneographer // Francophile

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5.

5 Best Places to Eat in Ubud

Let me tell you, there is no shortage of places to eat in Ubud; it is both absolutely fascinating and exciting!! With that said, whenever we go anywhere to eat, I always rank them and keep record of it so that I can (1) remember them for next time and (2) share them (because nothing makes me happier than being able to share some reccos with you!!). Below you will find 5 of the best places we ate at during our time in Ubud, so you can kickstart your yummy eating! And I’m sure you’ll find more as you explore around, so please comment below on any others you absolutely found to love!! Enjoy the recommendations!!!

The Clear Café

I love this place so much that I came here three times. Vegetarian, vegan, and raw-diet friendly, this place has all the healthy, delicious goodness and charm one could hope many restaurants everywhere could offer. For starters, you are welcomed by this beautiful hand-carved circular door where you “shoe check” your footwear, are given a number, and then are seated either on the first or second floor. As you descend up the stairs, where on each step lays fresh flowers at your feet, you come to a daily motivational quote sure to pick your day up even more (written entirely out of flowers, I should add). The food is absolutely healthy and delicious (did I say that already?!). It may be a little pricier than most regular joints in Ubud (meaning your meal may be $10 USD), but it is absolutely worth it. You will fall in love with the menu as there is a diverse offering in cuisine. I highly recommend the Bali Berry, Tropical Twister, Chai Iced Dream, Twilight Tonic, Fish Fillet, Dragon Bowl (my fave — I live for that mango chutney), and the Chocolate Platinum!


Warung Città Ovest Pizza & Pasta

This pizza and pasta joint is LEGIT. Not only is it crazy affordable, it is even crazier delicious. You don’t have to jetset to Italy for a pizza craving because this place ‘got you.’ The only caveat is that the seating is very limited, so get there before the lunch or dinner rush to score a seat — and a scooter parking spot right in front. For pizzas, the Basil Basil and Vegetariana were legit. Pastas? Can’t go wrong with Pomodoro and Pesto. ps: they also do take away, just keep your grip tight on your pizza box as you’re scooting on back to your place like we did :). pps: yes, they have WiFi!


Café Pomegranate

Located a little ways away from central Ubud, this place will require you to take your little scooter on up to narrow paths, but leave you highly rewarded with a feeling of freedom as you drive past the beautiful rice fields. Café Pomegranate itself is located in front of a rice field and boasts some wonderful al fresco dining. Park your scooter up front, remove your shoes at the entryway, be welcomed by your server (and probably one of the friendly cats just strolling around), and be seated to your place of preference. I highly recommend taking a seat at the perimeter of the restaurant where you’ll be seated on a cushioned chair on the floor, overlooking the beautiful green fields in front of you. The menu isn’t too extensive, but still boasts some very delicious foods. We highly recommend the curry and their fresh fruit juices. It is the perfect spot for anytime during the day, but I think going for sunset would be even lovelier, too.


Gaya Gelato

The heat is certainly going to be up while you’re in Bali, so why not cool off with some of the most delicious, artisanal gelato in the area?! With two locations to choose from in Ubud (or, why choose? go to both ;)), Gaya Gelato will certainly hit that sweet spot without feeling like you’re about to go on a sugar high– plus, they also serve sorbets for all of my dairy-sensitive friends out there :). They have classic flavors like vanilla, pistachio, hazelnut and chocolate, but also boast some local and artisanal flavors such as: durian, chocolate + orange, and mangosteen. Speaking of local, all of their ingredients are locally sourced and only the freshest of them all are used. So, how will you choose? Well, here’s a little hint: even if you get just one scoop, you can choose to do two flavors. Not too shabby, huh?


Toro Sushi

If you have a hankering for some sushi, Toro Sushi has you covered. We actually stumbled upon this place and were pleasantly surprised with the sushi as it was super tasty! It was also a nice break from trying all of the local Balinese food non-stop in the two towns we were at before hitting up Ubud: Uluwatu and Sanur. I will admit, the service could have been a little bit quicker, but maybe it was just the New Yorker in me, and maybe it’s just the Bali way ;). I’m more of a sweet potato, yellowtail and rainbow roll kind of girl, but can tell you that my rolls were all delicious and fresh. // bonus: if you’re feeling like a refreshing treat afterwards and don’t want to venture too far, right across the way from Toro Sushi is a place right across the way called “Açai Queen,” it’s great for a little something sweet (both for the palette and the eyes) if you’re craving a finishing touch to your meal ;).

xx,

D.

Dealing with Post-Travel Depression

travel, depression, mental health, blogger

Editor’s note: I always want my posts to come with a learning rather than be a vent session, so I laid low for a while to be a student to life, learn some of the lessons in private and come back with advice – I hope this helps anyone out there who may be dealing with the same.

After living abroad for a year where we: drove THOUSANDS of miles in our van, rental cars and busses, boarded 12 different flights and visited 6 insanely different (and beautiful) countries, I came back to New York a totally changed person. My mentality changed. My pace of life changed. But New York? It was the same. And that was the start of it.

To be honest, these have been some of the most confusing and difficult two months in quite a while for me. Coming from a state of mind of constantly being stimulated with “new” to having pretty much nothing stimulate me back home, well, I really didn’t have much motivation to do anything— truthfully.

I soon found that all of the things that used to bring me joy and happiness here (before I left) no longer did that for me. Instead, I felt stuck, lost and was going through the motions. I’ll be the first to tell you that I was lazily waking up at 10/11am every day and never really left the house. I wasn’t active on social media much, nor did I really want to be social– not online and not in person. If I wasn’t sitting on the bed playing Matchington (iPhone game similar to Candy Crush), I was in the kitchen just cooking all the time so I could release my frustrations in a more creative way.

There really wasn’t much will for anything, just enough to get through the day.

I wasn’t feeling like myself and it really made me frustrated. I LOVE being outdoors. I LOVE exploring. I LOVE being social and active. I LOVE seeking the new, the different — but none of that was jiving with me. It also didn’t help that it’s the dead of winter and if I wanted to go out NYC would give me the gift of hyperthermia. Thanks, but no thanks.

I started looking at my life and started questioning everything. Who am I? What’s my purpose? I felt absolutely useless and purposeless (and that’s such a sucky feeling to have). What did I want to do? I didn’t know. I didn’t want to know. I just wanted it to be night time so I can sleep and not have to think about anything.

travel, depression, mental health, blogger

I came across a handful of post-travel depression articles in my research BEFORE we left for life abroad, but I really didn’t pay much attention to them. “Nah, that won’t happen to me; I’ve traveled a lot before and never felt that way,” is what I’d always say.

The Aha Moment:

But you know what I learned? That you need to, 100%, admit it to yourself, in the mirror, that this is real, happening to you, 100% normal, and that you will get through it. And it was at that pivotal moment that I started to recover. You no longer are in denial. You accept. And as simple as it sounds, it was extremely hard to come to that conclusion and admit it to the one person who needs to hear it the most: you.

Forget the taboo. Years ago, seeing a therapist was seemed as if something was wrong with you. With the increase in mental health awareness, the fact that you get to see a therapist is amazing. It shows strength. Power. Will for a better tomorrow and thereafter. The same with admitting that you have depression. Admit it to yourself and keep moving forward for your better tomorrow and thereafter.

Proof is in the Pudding:

That kickass person that saved money, was finding the best deals on travel/experiences, went away, communicated (even if BARELY) with strangers in a foreign language in order to survive, adapted, took chances on the craziest ideas, was extraordinarily nimble, was curious about life and beyond — that kickass person is STILL in there!! The skills, perspectives and everything else you learned will forever be a part of you. Just because your environment changed doesn’t mean that you suddenly became (sorry for the harshness) stupid/worthless/less valuable than a piece of chopped liver. I once had a marketing executive give me an example at my previous job once where he woke up one day and his wife, all concerned, was like, “omg what if you lose your job today?” and his response was “so then I get another one? I move on and figure it out. Just because I lose my job doesn’t instantly make me stupid and forget all that I know and have learned.” And that’s a good mentality to have, because though your environment has changed, you are still A FREAKING BADASS AND FORCE TO BE RECKONED WITH!

You see, when you travel (and especially live) abroad, you notice different values, patterns, customs and people. The beautiful thing about traveling is that exposure to ‘different’ makes you think past the superficial and into the depths of your soul. And oftentimes, changes you — for the better. That’s why we bring back souvenirs and have a whole story to tell along with them; experiences from afar strung such a chord with us that we just needed to have a way to remember them back home. Even if it isn’t physical, the memories are just as sweet. It’s a beautiful moment in time, really.

Getting back to New York, I was picking apart all the things that I saw was ‘wrong’ with it. And by ‘wrong’ I meant ‘what was not normal to me anymore.” AND THAT’S OKAY. What else would you expect after you come home to the ‘ordinary’ after living the ‘extraordinary?’

MOVING FORWARD WITH LIFE:

Initially, when I searched the web frantically for some consolation to my woes, a lot of the advice I saw out there was “leave again ASAP” and, personally, that didn’t jive with me. To me, that was escaping. And I SO BAD wanted to do it. SO BAD. But, the average American gets two weeks of vacation a year; are you expected to burn through that in one fell swoop?

After admitting that I had post-travel depression, my mentality shifted to this:

if I was able to adjust in other parts of the world on a different mentality than those of the locals, then I am capable of getting stronger with my mentality here back home, getting my sh*t together, and putting myself on a more sensible track to doing what I love and getting to where I want to be.

I don’t think NYC will be our forever and ever home (or only home), but it is my home right now, and until I figure out the rest of my life’s plans, I’m going to make the best of it. Let all of the amazing experiences away catch up with you. You’ll soon start to see yourself getting creative again, motivated. And the universe will continue to guide you to where you’re meant to be. You ran a marathon. This is your recovery period. Recover, because the kicking of a** will continue!!!

Summary

  • When you get home and are back from your trip, chill. Take it easy on yourself. This is normal. This process takes time.
  • Stay afloat. Don’t spiral too downwards in your woes. I mean, hey, we all have our days, but know when to come back and just… float. Nothing more, nothing less.
  • Have honest conversations in the mirror about your frustrations, concerns, and be open about how sad you are. Consult a therapist or, as I did, a loved one. And journal. Journal as often as possible.
  • Start working out. I KNOW. You have no will or motivation. But after month one, start moving that body around. I promise, it will help. Even if just a bit. AND KEEP MOVING.
  • Find just one thing you find pleasure in doing and keep doing that one thing. For me it was cooking. What’s your one thing?
  • Admit you’re not only depressed but that you’re a freaking BADASS. Sign up for a class. Watch some GaryVee or Tony Robbins. Get pumped. These guys believe in you.
  • Create a mini plan for what you want for yourself in the near future and start planning for that. Small goals, moving to bigger ones down the line. I want to drink more water, start up French lessons again, and eventually go to South America to visit family at some point before the year’s end. Even if I get just one checked off, it’s one in the right direction.

It’s not such a fun story that I’m sharing, but it’s something super important, super real and is a mental state that definitely needs to have some more light shed on it. We all go through our own post-travel depression levels and it’s important to do what works best for you. But remain honest. Stay positive. And just know that, like all of your bad days that are now behind you, this, too, will be something you will overcome. It will be something we will overcome. And you know why? Because we’re beautiful, global citizens that need a little reset before we go back out there again, learning more, sharing more, and doing more life-changing things.

xx,