Travel Anxiety

I don’t know about you, but there is something about a full flight that really stresses me out. The stress and anxiety are in full effect on flights where I have both a carry-on and a personal item. If you know me, that’s is all the time! I rarely check a bag, and if you listen to the advice of many travel experts, they’ll tell you to avoid doing so as well.

By only bringing a carry-on you’ll eliminate the chances of your luggage getting lost and can hit the ground running when you land. But nobody ever talks about the stress of bringing a carry-on onto a full flight.


It all starts at the beginning of the boarding process for me. As the gate attendants are getting their premier, skymile, platinum, gold, and whatever else they call their most valued customers through the boarding gate they make an announcement.

“Ladies and gentlemen, this will be a full flight. If you would like to check your roller bag to your final destination, please come to the gate desk.”

This statement usually makes me cringe because with my luck I’m in one of the last boarding groups. That means no overhead space for me. Also, full flight make me so uncomfortable. Maybe I’m claustrophobic, and I don’t know it, or maybe I simply don’t like the boarding process.

Does it ever feel like everyone who’s already seated is staring at you? It literally gives me anxiety just writing about it. Plus you have the pressure to move quickly because you don’t want to be the person holding up the whole boarding process.

This brings me to my main point. It’s so stressful to move quickly during the boarding process when there is no overhead space. You have to get creative, and hopefully, there is some space before you reach your seat. But if there isn’t, you have to walk toward the back to find some. Usually by then, flight attendants are telling you that the overhead bins in the back are full, and you should take whatever space you see available.

So you’re stuck with a rolling carry-on that’s kinda heavy, well mine always are, and you have to do that awkward “Excuse me. Pardon me,” song-and-dance back to the front until you can find space or can shuffle other people’s bags around to create space.

Let’s pause there. Some people are really protective of their bags. Once they put them in the bin they don’t want anyone else to touch them. For some people, this stands true even if they put their bag in the wrong way or could just shift it over a tad to create a little more space for someone else’s bag. This scenario has definitely happened to me, but most of the time people are pretty nice.

Now I know what you’re thinking. “You could have just checked the bag for free before boarding.” In some cases, if I know I’ll have time on my hands when arriving at my final destination, I will. But most of the time I don’t have time and checking a bag would defeat the purpose of me fitting my whole life into a carry-on in the first place.

So instead I uses these three trips to deal with my full flight and carry-on anxiety.

1. Talk to your gate agents about possible upgrades, or changing your group number.

Sometimes you just have to turn on the charm. A big smile and bright eyes never hurt anybody. The worst they can say is no, but usually, they’re pretty accommodating. By upgrading your seat or changing your group number, you most likely will be able to board earlier without all of the hassle, and most importantly,when there is more overhead space.

2. Ask about courtesy/valet bag checking?

This is where you get a tag and leave your bags at the end of the boarding tunnel right before you get on. Then at the end of that specific flight, you line up to retrieve your bag just outside of the plane doors. This is way more convenient than check a bag because it’s generally quicker, free and saves you the anxiety of pacing the plane aisle looking for an overhead spot.

3. Board early anyway.

Now, I’m not super proud of this tip, but it gets the job done. I only recommend this if you notice your gate agent isn’t really looking at the tickets as they allow people to board. If they just scan them and let people go, then feel free to jump in with one of the earlier regular boarding groups. Flashing a smile to keep them from looking too heavily at your ticket is a good idea too.


While I know many of you are unbothered with boarding a full flight with carry-on luggage, I hope those of you who share my same travel anxiety and discomfort got a few ideas on how to navigate the situation. Feel free to leave tips on how you combat travel anxiety in the comments down below.

Until next time, get up, get moving and live your best life!

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