Is the airport a place of arrival, or a place of departure?
I’m sat here in a pub called ‘Down Under’ (original, eh?) in Auckland International Airport pondering this very question. I have come to the conclusion that an airport is only a place of arrival if you are arriving ‘home’ – wherever that may be. Otherwise, it’s a place of departure. Of course this is only my opinion, but I think you might agree.
The airport is a place where every other human that surrounds you possesses one thing in common. You are all here to leave. I have sat here for the past 30 minutes and watched strangers become friends, share stories of their time in New Zealand, and have a beer together – only to stand up, say ‘safe journey’ and likely never see each other ever again. I like airports, which I guess is strange for someone with anxiety. The thought of being around lots of people that I don’t know usually fills me with a little bit of dread, but for whatever reason, I find the buzz of an airport actually injects me with energy and doesn’t drain me like a lot of other people heavy places do.
There’s a little bit of excitement in the air as we all anticipate stepping down the gangway into our big metal cylinder with wings, to take us to our destination. The people on my left are flying to Germany – almost a two day journey. The people on my right are flying to Melbourne – just a little hop over the ocean. It really is quite fascinating to innocently eavesdrop sometimes.
So how does someone with IBS and/or anxiety navigate and stay calm in an airport? Here’s my tuppence on the subject…
- Arrive early. That way you can make sure you get an aisle seat when you check-in (if you haven’t already done so on your online check-in). Coz we all like aisle seats. Easy escape ‘n all that.
- Locate your nearest toilets, and make sure you stay within a 30-60 walk of them. You just never know.
- Don’t drink too much alcohol or coffee (or avoid it altogether), this is only going to make things worse for you in the long term, especially if you have a long haul flight to catch. It will only alleviate your nerves temporarily. Ain’t nobody got time for being hungover on the 2nd or 3rd leg of your trip. Nope.
- Eat little and often – there is nothing worse than getting on a plane with a full stomach, feeling nauseated and bloated. And trust me, having the shits in an airplane toilet is not fun at all. Consider bringing your own snacks in your hand luggage – that way, you’re in full control of what you’re eating.
- Stay well hydrated.
- Make sure you have downloaded an app called ‘Calm’ to your iPhone – it has a brilliant breathing exercise that you can stick on if you feel a bit nervy for any reason. I tend to use this at take off and landing.
- Do NOT be embarrassed or scared to approach somebody to ask for help if you feel unwell. Airport staff, cabin crew, the person next to you in the airport bar. I’ve had to do this a couple of times in the past. Sometimes it’s enough to calm you down just to let somebody else know that you’re not feeling 100%, especially if you’re traveling alone. You’ll be surprised how willing people are to help you. I can’t stress this enough.
I can’t believe I’m more than half way through my trip already… I’ve had a lovely time in Auckland, New Zealand, but I’m more than ready to head back to Australia now for the next two weeks. I had a lovely Uber driver today who took me from Auckland city to the airport – his name was Rick and he was actually Canadian! He arrived in Auckland 19 years ago with his Kiwi (now ex-)wife (whom he met in Vancouver, and when she got homesick, they returned to NZ together!). Despite separating from his wife after 4 years in NZ, he stayed here and has never been back to Canada! We had some great banter on the way to the airport. I was considering navigating the public buses to the airport, but it was filling me with dread because the public transport system in Auckland is probably the worst I have ever encountered in a big city! Glad I went for Uber instead, less stress and good fun along the way.
So, the rest of my schedule looks like this:
Today until Sunday I’ll be in Mooloolah Valley with my friends Carmen & Jeff Gadenne. They have their own travel blog actually, I’ll need to get the link to their blog and put it in here. They’ve recently completed a trip to Europe. Whilst in Mooloolah Valley, I’ll be meeting up with Kate from Pinkfitz LGBT Fitness (www.pinkfitz.com). We’ve been friends for many years, worked online together but have never met in person… so I’m fucking EXCITED about this! Apparently she has lesbian flu though, so if I catch it – I will cry. I’ll also be doing this week’s Crossfit Open workout 17.2 at Crossfit Mooloolaba on Saturday late afternoon. I’ll hopefully get a hike in there somewhere too.
Sunday through Wednesday I’ll be going to a lovely little town called Maleny, which is in the Blackall Range in the Sunshine Coast hinterland. I booked this place because it’s in the middle of nowhere, surrounded by mountains and countryside, cafes, galleries, wineries and food markets. Apparently there is a lovely hike across the mountains that you can do too….although I’m unsure about doing this alone. I’ll need to check it out first.
From Maleny I will be travelling south to another little town on the Gold Coast called Tugun. Again, I booked this because of it’s laid back, relaxed appeal. It’s getting to that point in my travels now where I really want to wind down, sit back and take some time to appreciate going ‘off the beaten track’ to places that aren’t really well worn by tourists. The airb&b that I booked seems lovely, and the host has asked if I’d like to go and watch a surf boat rowing race with them at the beach, so that sounds exciting! Again, the appeal of the bush walks in this area drew me in, and with it only being around 45 minutes from Byron Bay I’ll likely take a trip down there while I’m here. I also want to spend half a day checking out the hustle of Surfer’s Paradise as I’ve never been there.
The last two days before I head to Brisbane airport I will be spending in a suburb called Forest Lake with a Crossfit friend who has promised that we’ll do some training together and it’ll give me some time to get my head together for the journey back to Manchester.
I have a LOT to look forward to over the next few weeks… I am so grateful. So, so grateful. This really is turning into the trip of a lifetime.