Calling all nervous travelers

95

OK guys, so tonight I get on a plane and go to Portugal, and it’s my first real vacation—and also the first one in which I do not bring my laptop—in quite some time. This leaves me super-excited, but also super-anxious—the latter of which is my default setting in the days before I leave home for a trip. Does anyone else out there get mildly nuts in anticipation of leaving town? What do you do to calm the jitters? I really need to know. Also, please share any any last-minute Lisbon, Alentejo, and Porto recommendations, and expect me back here May 1.

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95 Thoughts on Calling all nervous travelers
    Tamara
    17 Apr 2019
    11:55am

    Enjoy every moment!!

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      susan
      17 Apr 2019
      3:12pm

      Porto: We stayed at Rosa et al Townhouse. Trendy, small.

      1. Picked us up in Porto for day trip to Douro Valley.
      If overnight: Stay at Six Senses

      Best guide ever ( abercrombie and kent) but we him used for the day
      * something like $250: comfy mercedes…
      Sergio Eusebio
      tel: 351 934890646
      351 96405649 4

      LUNCH at Restaurante DOC is a must- table by the River – one of best meals anywhere.

      We went to handpicked vineyards: Quinta da pacheca…Quinta de la Rosa…

      in DOURO take basic tasting Port TOUR at Grahams on Gaia. ( other side)
      BEAUTIFUL place….lunch on the terrace rivals most fab places anywhere.
      BOOK IN ADVANCE- on line ok.

      Dinner at Tapabento: UPSTAIRS…sounds funky (as next to train station)…but locals all
      know= awesome.
      Taxi ( 15 minutes) to old fishmarket area, named Matosinhos, bunches of places grill fresh catch on BBQ’s
      in front of resto- O valentim is great.

      Lisbon:
      Walking Tour of Alfama district ( sandeman’s tour is best)
      Lunch at Time Out: A market with the best food imaginable
      Dinner; MUST RESERVE IN ADVANCE( check when closed) at Ponto Final
      take ferry GO AT SUNSET: make sure in advance you know how to get there after
      debarking ferry….a 10 minute walk that looks like it is going nowhere but dead end-
      Truly fabulous.

      Romiro- very well known crab, shrimp…ok.
      Cafe Majestic- look at interior. food marginal
      short Tram ride to Belem to see cloisters ( unesco site) water front etc. very interesting

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        Monique
        17 Apr 2019
        6:44pm

        This is fantastic, Susan – thanks for the number for the guide as I really want to get to Douro and husband thinks the train, etc. will take waay too long for the time we have. Does one just call Sergio? I’m wondering how you found out about him. Thanks!

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    ANN S.
    17 Apr 2019
    11:56am

    Have an amazing trip, Kim! I’m leaving town for three weeks and am going through this same process, and I’m gifted at packing procrastination. I need to buy a suitcase to check, as I usually carry on. Any suitcases recommendations ladies? My suitcase handle is broken, and I need to buy a new one.

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      Ann S.
      17 Apr 2019
      11:57am

      *suitcase

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      Ann
      17 Apr 2019
      12:47pm

      I usually carry on a Genius Pack suitcase; it makes it easy to be very organized and it holds a ton of stuff. For checked bags, I have a Bric’s bag that weighs nothing and the wheels spin in all directions. Got that at TJ Maxx, which usually has an amazing selection of suitcases.

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      Kim France
      17 Apr 2019
      12:32pm

      I just bought my second suitcase from Away. I think they’re great, and well-priced.

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        therealblonde
        18 Apr 2019
        9:24am

        Away suitcases are THE BEST. I just got the medium size (which is huge) because I love the bigger carry-on so much.

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      Lori
      17 Apr 2019
      12:09pm

      Love my Away suitcase — they make several sizes. And packing cubes are extremely helpful!

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      Mimi
      18 Apr 2019
      11:37am

      Rimowa bags are light, indestructible and wonderful, but pricey. I typically check a 26 or 27″ Bric’s hard shell suitcase with 4 wheels. Easy to find on sale. Check Neiman Marcus, Saks or Saks Off 5th, Rue lala, Gilt, etc. The zipper broke after I’d seriously overstuffed the bag and they sent me a new one. My husband has one too and they come in nice, unusual colors so easy to spot on a baggage carousel.

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      Liz
      17 Apr 2019
      6:28pm

      Hi – I’ve bought several suitcases from Away for myself and my kids and I think they’re great. Well-priced and cute colors!

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      Nancy
      17 Apr 2019
      11:22pm

      Lojel cubo medium. It holds way more than it looks, it can unzip to expand, its light. We’ve been through a lot of suitcases and this one is value for money.

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    Cindy Kamm
    17 Apr 2019
    12:00pm

    I’m a big list maker. In fact for trips I use an Excel spreadsheet and list every single item I want to bring. It really helps me to not forget anything important, plus I like crossing off the completed items! Please share your tips and thoughts about Portugal upon your return. I am in the midst of researching a trip there in October. Have a blast!

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      Robyn
      18 Apr 2019
      9:48am

      Same! I just logged in to sing the praises of lists for packing, lists for repacking, and how they calm me as I cross things off as they get packed.

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    Claudia
    17 Apr 2019
    2:57pm

    Sapateria do Carmo in Lisbon. A gorgeous little shoe store in a gorgeous little sqaure that sells affordable hand finished shoes in classic styles.

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    Laurel
    17 Apr 2019
    3:02pm

    I get bad anxiety before trips. A few things that sort of help: repeating to myself that the flip side of anxiety is excitement and repeating to myself that if I forgot anything, I can buy it there. I’m also always okay once I have arrived at my destination, but the getting there part I really hate.

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    Elizabeth
    17 Apr 2019
    3:05pm

    Hi Kim,

    I love Portugal, one of my favorite countries to visit. Great food, great wine, and really nice people. I’m no doubt echoing some of the other recommendations but here goes.

    In Lisbon, climb the hill to the castle. Go to a really nice club to listen to fado. Just walk around.

    In Porto, go to the train station to view the tiles. Tour Taylor fladgate The city has a cool brew pub scene, if that’s your thing. If you have the time, take a half-day boat trip up the Douro River. Incredibly beautiful. The food tour is great, too. And when you’re at a restaurant, if you’re white wine drinker, order Vino Verde. If your preference is red, the Durao valley wines of course.

    As for the Alentejo, my favorite part of Portugal, Evora is a must-see. Much of it is a world heritage site and walking around is a pleasure. Food is also great. If your trip plans call for you to drive from the Alentejo to Lisbon, the cork trees along the way are fascinating.

    Best wishes for a lovely, stress-free trip.

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      Mabry
      18 Apr 2019
      2:03pm

      We stayed at the Convent do Espinheiro in Evora and were lucky to get a suite in the old building. It was one of the best travel experiences ever, from the fabulous breakfasts to the dinners in the restaurant Divinus, complete with guitarist. I hope to return next year. The Alentejo is gorgeous–full of history and easy to drive.

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    Mamavalveeta03
    17 Apr 2019
    3:10pm

    Jitters, my hubby & I argue over stupid stuff, I’m positive I forgot to pack something….you name it. The cure is getting outta’ town! Once we’re on the road, all is well. Enjoy your trip, Kim!

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    Serena
    17 Apr 2019
    2:40pm

    My husband has travel anxiety that sounds similar to what you’re experiencing. A couple days before a big trip, he starts acting nervous and isn’t himself at all. Through trial and error, he’s figured out that what works for him for a few days before the trip includes going to bed early and getting plenty of sleep, listening to his Calm meditation app while going to sleep, not drinking alcohol, and getting to the airport super early (which drives me nuts, but if it makes him feel better and be less anxious, completely worth it). I think his mind is racing with all of the things that could possibly go wrong leading up to leaving. Once we get through airport security, he can finally relax and then we go get a glass of wine. I hope you have a wonderful trip! Bon voyage!

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    Raegan
    17 Apr 2019
    1:40pm

    I was in Lisbon a couple years ago. One of the highlights was visiting Luvaria Ulisses. A must see if you appreciate beautiful handmade gloves. The shop is tiny but world renown. I only wish I had bought more than one pair.

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    MaryAlice
    17 Apr 2019
    1:06pm

    Somehow the booking of flights causes me great anxiety. Packing, the actual travel, arranging pet care well, ok , with 2 dogs and 3 cats it’s not a simple proposition – no problem. Once I get that flight booked it’s all good. My family relies on me to make travel arrangements and since I don’t trust any of them to do it right, I always fret and sweat while researching flights. Once that’s done, I feel a great sense of relief. Just finished booking round trip LA to Dublin for three of us, all of whom need to leave and return on different days!

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    Ann
    17 Apr 2019
    1:14pm

    I was two weeks late for my own birth, so I’m pretty much a PhD in travel anxiety. I hate being away from home. It doesn’t help that I have to fly through LAX, the 7th, 8th and 9th circles of hell. I manage with a stack of gossipy magazines, a giant bottle of water, a big-ass bag of M & M’s and a lot of denial. If it’s turbulent, I pretend that it isn’t. If the flight attendants are up, things are not so serious. I would also hit the CBD or half a Xanax to take the edge off. Because if something happens, I need to be able to climb over other people to get the hell off the plane.

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    Y.k.
    17 Apr 2019
    12:49pm

    Safe travels!

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    Lori
    17 Apr 2019
    12:46pm

    Haven’t been to Portugal myself, but my sister recommends indulging in as much local seafood as possible, and trying the banana pizza! … To assuage travel anxiety, I try to finish packing a day or two early (which gives the brain a chance to wardrobe-edit during sleep); and to make (or print) a packing list and a to-do list on actual paper — something about the checking-off motion is very soothing! Also, for general jitters and insomnia, I’ve found Jon Kabat-Zinn’s body-scan meditations to be really helpful — they’re all over the internet, YouTube, etc. Exercise helps, too! … Have a wonderful trip! (-:

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      Lori
      17 Apr 2019
      12:56pm

      P.S. Maybe over-obvious — but bring healthy snacks and water on the plane, and stretch thoroughly before boarding? (-:

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    Monique
    17 Apr 2019
    12:30pm

    This is so great! I am madly copying down all the suggestions as my husband and I are going to Porto and Lisbon in the end of May for our 20th anniversary. Travelled all over, but never Portugal and these are all wonderful suggestions from a group I trust!

    As far as travel anxiety, I have it starting about a week before going anywhere (including just down to LA from SF!) Mine takes the unpleasant form of catastrophic thinking – especially when traveling with my husband, I worry that the plane will go down etc. leaving my children orphans. It’s a smidge better now that they are 19 and 16, but still… My mantra is thinking about all of my many friends who travel endlessly for work and how sanguine they manage to be – I try and channel their inner wah. Once I get on the plane I try and let go because there’s no control that I have over anything at that point (even as I clutch the seat rest during turbulence). Lots of meditation/focused breathing on take-off (thank you Calm App). These suggestions are all good because this mindset tends to drastically interfere with the joy of anticipation. The other concrete thing I do is update my master “Here’s where everything is (addresses, acct ##s, etc. for finances, insurance, and anything house-, school- and kid- related, etc.)” list, which I give to my husband (if he’s not with me) and to my best friend. Helps satisfy the need for some measure of control.

    Have fun, and I look forward to your suggestions on your return!

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    Karen Spisak
    17 Apr 2019
    12:37pm

    While in Istanbul a couple of years ago, we took a walking food tour through Culinary Backsteets. It was wonderful, one of the highlights of our trip. They have tours in Lisbon too, and I’m sure it would be a great way to get to know the city.

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    Sala P.
    17 Apr 2019
    12:10pm

    Kim! In Lisbon, you should definitely have a drink and/or meal one evening at Casa da Praia (5, R. Dom Pedro V). They play the best music, have amazing wines, and it is tiny, cosy, the food honest and yummy, and the staff are wonderful. Book ahead if you go on a weekend. Love Lisbon. Enjoy!

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    marisa koten
    17 Apr 2019
    7:15am

    Drink port by the river in Porto!
    Eat the delicious Portugese bread.
    The hike up to the Castelo in Lisbon is worth it for the 360 degree views.
    Have fun!

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    Liz
    17 Apr 2019
    7:26am

    Whenever I leave town, even for a short trip, I have an overwhelming feeling to complete every task hanging over my head and tie every loose string. I want to finish every project, accomplish home repairs, pay all bills, and respond to every pending email. Of course I can’t complete everything and I still have to pour toiletries into small bottles! So that leads to anxiety. Eventually, I run out of time and need to leave to catch the plane. Once I’m on the plane, acceptance settles in and I’m okay.

    Enjoy the trip – I’ve heard Portugal is beautiful!

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      Kathi
      17 Apr 2019
      1:11pm

      I am the same way!! And once I am back home, I have to unpack right away, do laundry, get the mail, and big hug time for my cat who lets me know what a terrible human I have been for being away. Have a great & safe trip, Kim!!

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      Alexa
      17 Apr 2019
      10:10am

      Ha! I am living this out in real time! (Also leaving for a trip today). I start fretting about~ every ~unfinished project, travel- relevant or not.
      The mini toiletries are a real struggle too.
      Once I’m in transit, though, I can detach and begin to enjoy life again. The 24-hour run up, though-its rough!

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      Jenny
      17 Apr 2019
      9:34am

      Liz, you are my soul sister! I cope (barely) with lots of listmaking, coupled with blocking out time to complete the things on the list, e.g. pay the bills Tuesday, do the laundry Weds. Matching tasks to time helps enormously. I also make sure I have a book that I am extremely excited to read on the plane, so it feels like a reward and it completely occupies my mind in the air. And hooray Kim for taking a true vacation without the laptop. I hope to do the same… eventually.

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      Stephanie
      17 Apr 2019
      11:22am

      Oh, Liz, THIS IS ME, too: “Of course I can’t complete everything and I still have to pour toiletries into small bottles! So that leads to anxiety…”
      I wish I could be more relaxed about it. MY husband always says, You can usually buy what you need when you get there, if not it doesn’t matter, and most things at home can wait a week or two.
      Have a great vacation, Kim!

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    Deborah N Flanagan
    17 Apr 2019
    7:44am

    I LOVE Portugal. The people are so friendly, the food is delicious. In Lisbon, make sure to take the Tram 28 as soon as you can to get a sense of the city, or take a walking tour. I’m sure you’ve read all the guide books. Do all the tourist things. Don’t be afraid to take a bus and go outside of Lisbon to see the old summer palace in Sintra. Hubby and I always check to see we have passports, wallets, phones, (meds if you need them) and the rest you can buy or make due. Don’t be nervous, just be aware. Above all, have fun on your adventure.
    Our last adventure was Tasmania! Amazing place. Put it on your bucket list.

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    Natasha
    17 Apr 2019
    12:06pm

    LOVED Lisbon and Porto….Porto is fabulous…you can bike out to Foz or take the trolley…lovely beach town…Serralves Modern Museum is great…there is a museum right in town that was a Jail…now a photography museum … I took the boat trip to see all the bridges..which was actually a nice way to spend an hour… and you get to see Porto and Douro from the water…

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    Alysa
    17 Apr 2019
    12:06pm

    As an experienced traveler (25 countries and counting) I don’t really get nervous at all. But I can still remember my first big solo trip to Belgium. I was more excited though. Anything you forget you can buy so don’t sweat it. Your passport is the only real must have. Language is not a barrier as long as you are friendly and open. Just think of how cool everything is that you will experience and see, like you are staring in your own foreign film!!

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    Susan
    22 Apr 2019
    7:35am

    Portugal is wonderful. Lisbon was like a v-e-r-y old San Francisco but with Midwest prices. People are so kind – ease your mind, sister. Bon Voyage!

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    gt
    30 Apr 2019
    3:42pm

    Am I wrong for somebody to start “what would Kim pick?” sort of post while she is gone?

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    MJ
    18 Apr 2019
    5:10pm

    Great comments! I found that if I get my packing out of the way, I’m a lot more relaxed before a trip. I don’t always manage it, but it really helps me. When I have too many things to do I get anxious, so this is a nice big one to get out of the way.

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    joni maloney
    18 Apr 2019
    6:23pm

    Just breathe – as long as your dogs are well taken care of – all will good. Enjoy every second – well deserved.

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    TruInNYC
    18 Apr 2019
    8:39pm

    If you decide to visit Sintra / Cintra, hire a guide for the day for transport to/ from Lisbon. There is a small, serene and modest home overlooked, an antidote to the castle. Also, I recommend you enjoy a drink on the rooftop of Memmo Alfama. Generally don’t cry on vacation. First night in Lisbon on that rooftop bar…well, I made an exception.

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    Kirstjen
    18 Apr 2019
    11:14am

    I don’t get nervous. I don’t get excited, either, until about the day before I leave. I have a travel checklist that I’ve made over the years, and I have used it over & over again. It’s saved on my phone. Usually I forget something, but the world is a very connected place, and it’s hard to get so far away from civilization that you can’t get a charger or a bandage. Hell, when I went to Lisbon, I packed for the predicted weather and I was so hot that I had to buy new clothes. No problem. I just bought a bunch of super lightweight tee shirts and a pair of sandals. I don’t think I’ve ever worn any of them again, but they got me through the trip. Just chill & realize that you can survive forgetting just about anything…

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    liz
    18 Apr 2019
    9:32am

    Visited Lisbon in 2006. All food is good but especially pastries are wonderful.

    Mateus is nice and so is port.

    Not sure I could travel without my laptop though.

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    Robyn
    18 Apr 2019
    9:47am

    Overall travel tip that works best for my anxiety/OCD brain: lists. I travel for work a lot so I have a “Master Packing List” on my phone that lists everything I could possibly want to bring on a given trip (bathing suits, workout clothes, winter boots), and the various bags they will go into. I then copy and modify the list for each trip to make sure I don’t miss anything, and literally click it off the to-do list as it gets packed into its respective bag. This also helps when re-packing to go home so you don’t forget anything; hotel under-beds are sock-eating vortexes.

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    c.w.
    17 Apr 2019
    8:49am

    Have a fabulous trip! (list making is my anxiety reliever and a product called Deep Stress by Wish Gardens which is available at places like Whole Foods––and no doubt a billion others places in NYC also their product Sleepy Nights will help with any jet lag!)

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    Jamie Shaw
    17 Apr 2019
    8:54am

    I had the best time in Lisbon last year – the highlight for me was a workshop where I learned about Azulejos, the amazing painted tiles you see everywhere, and was able to paint a couple of tiles to bring home. Here’s a link to the class – so worth the time: https://www.facebook.com/ArtofAzulejos/

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      Sue
      17 Apr 2019
      9:07am

      That looks awesome! Similarly visit tile museum in Lisbon!

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    Caroline
    17 Apr 2019
    8:41am

    I always try and do way to much before I travel!
    Sounds stupid but make a checklist on phone of things you can’t forget.
    Not everything… just the essentials. Passport, money, toiletries and lipstick for plane in case luggage is lost. Oh, and one dress in your carry on that makes you feel pretty for day/night. Your going to Europe! Feel a little extra special even if luggage is late!!! Then kiss the dogs and let it go..
    Have a wonderful time Kim!

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    Shannon
    17 Apr 2019
    8:43am

    Lisbon is beautiful, colourful city and rich with unexpected treasures – my advice would be to dedicate at least a few half days to aimless wandering – ambling around old streets, smiling at locals, popping into shops that aren’t in the guide books, etc. As for travel anxiety, I know it well. What helps calm me is a very empty carry-on! Or as empty as possible! Check your luggage (and emotional baggage) and feel light and free at the airport and on the plane. Maybe a book, headphones, water and a light snack. You can buy treats or magazines at the airport and a new lipstick or whatever else you might be inclined to have… but it’s nice to be “light” for those first 10 hours of your holiday, and just sink into yourself… enjoy!

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      RebeccaToo
      17 Apr 2019
      12:32pm

      Ditto to being light on the plane. Airports are efficient these days. I’ve haven’t waited more than ten minutes for luggage in years. And I don’t want to be jostling for overhead space.

      My small contribution is a suggestion to board your puppers a day early and let them stay on vacation a day longer than yourself. One day in your home without their sweet distraction will give you time to focus solely on your trip. And the day on the end will give you time to sleep and decompress.

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      Kim France
      17 Apr 2019
      9:54am

      I am checking a suitcase for the first time in years, Shannon, and feel so liberated.

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        Natasha
        17 Apr 2019
        12:02pm

        noooo don’t….do carryon!!! So much easier…and lightens your life…you can do it! Trust me…I am a clothes horse and shoe hog….I went to Sicily for FOUR weeks with a carryon! Once you go CO…you don’t go back… just getting on and off trains…anywhere…

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      Stephanie
      17 Apr 2019
      11:24am

      these days I”m also happier with checked luggage. Less to lug around or worry about. Just roll up a little tshirt and pair of underwear, in a ziplock bag, and stash it in your carry on purse.

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        HickfromStyx
        20 Apr 2019
        1:00pm

        The allowable size of carry-on luggage has shrunken on some European flights to the point where checked baggage is the only way to go. There is a fee attached, of course. However, large suitcases are often subject to extra fees. Chose a four-wheeled suitcase that is a nice, just-right size and you’ll be fine. Wait a sec, I have that size of bag, and it’s the old carry-on size! New carry-on is like a briefcase, if that.

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    therealblonde
    17 Apr 2019
    8:08am

    I travel a lot, still get very anxious about flying. But I make a huge list of everything I need do or pack – so it’s not constantly buzzing around in my head, and crossing items off the list is very satisfying. For the rest I try not to worry too much – you can buy whatever you forgot and even when you’re on the other side of the Atlantic, you can still call or email people in case you couldn’t wrap up every little (work) detail before departure.

    Before I leave for the airport, I put some drops of lavender oil on a piece of cotton wool and put it in my bra. It keeps me calm (I think) and keeps my nose open while up in the air.

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    Jennifer Barger
    17 Apr 2019
    8:26am

    In Porto, we did this food tour, and it was great!

    https://www.tasteporto.com/

    Also, the tile museum in Lisbon tends to be low rated for some reason, but as a design person I loved it. HIghly recommend.

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      Kim France
      17 Apr 2019
      8:33am

      We are TOTALLY hitting the tile museum.

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    Ruth Marshall
    17 Apr 2019
    8:08am

    Portugal is our favourite country in the world. My husband and I stayed at the Hotel Continental in Porto which is gorgeous and right in the middle of things. After a couple of luxe, debauched days there, we literally walked out the door with our backpacks on (we left our luggage with nicer clothes at the hotel because we would be returning) and started our 5 day walk along the Camino de Santiago Compostela into Spain. There was not one single part of Portugal that did not thoroughly charm us. Food and wine are delicious everywhere. Don’t forget your glasses and contact lenses. Enjoy!

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      gbsands
      17 Apr 2019
      11:13am

      I’d love to hear more about the Camino – how you planned it, where you stayed. And do you think teenagers could (would?) do it?

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    TruInNYC
    18 Apr 2019
    8:49pm

    If you decide to visit Sintra / Cintra, hire a guide for the day for transport to/ from Lisbon. There is a small, serene and modest home overlooked, an antidote to the castle. Also, I recommend you enjoy a drink on the rooftop of Memmo Alfama. Generally, don’t cry on vacation. First night in Lisbon on that rooftop bar…well, I made an exception.

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    Karen
    17 Apr 2019
    10:53am

    I second the Timeout food market in Lisbon – so great! Also second a trip to Sintra/Monserrate Palace. Stunning palace and parks. Enjoy! Keys, passport, wallet, glasses, contacts, phone, check.

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      Natasha
      17 Apr 2019
      12:03pm

      Definitely Sintra…

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    Candy
    17 Apr 2019
    10:57am

    My husband suffers great travel anxiety up until the moment we step into the taxi/Uber to the airport. The biggest help has been lists: a packing list and a before-you-leave the house list to make sure stove is turned off, lights off, and other essentials. The most important thing I keep telling him is to make sure he has the things he can’t easily replace (eyeglasses, meds, copy of passport front page, etc.) Anything else…that’s why there are stores.

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      Anne
      17 Apr 2019
      12:00pm

      I make my husband take a picture with his phone of the stove, iron, garage door, etc. all in the off, locked, and closed positions as we are leaving since he is the one that will suddenly worry that he has left something on, open, or unlocked at the point of no return on a long (okay, any) trip. Fortunately, our neighbors have a key, so if there was really something that we couldn’t confirm with one of those pictures, we could ask them to confirm and turn off, close, or lock, and send a picture of course! Bon Voyage!

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    Viajera
    17 Apr 2019
    10:48am

    Have a lovely trip!!

    In the past I used to worry about either having to go through the “naked” machine, or having to get groped by some poor b*****d TSA person. Then they replaced the machines (or so I was told), so then I worried less. You could try focusing your attention on not liking it so much there that you want to stay, and never come back to us. Unless that does happen, in which case, you should do that. Or more practically, a travel candle to smell on the plane and deep breathing. You’ll do great! (btw is it the plane that makes you nervous, or the whole thing? not that it’s my biz – just nosy)

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    AK
    17 Apr 2019
    10:35am

    In Porto, check out Ecolã for excellent wool items and A Vida Portuguesa for other super finds. And get yourself out to Matosinhos for fresh fish grilled right outside the restaurant.
    https://www.ecolaportugal.com/en/home-en/
    https://www.avidaportuguesa.com/

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    Sarah
    17 Apr 2019
    10:45am

    My travel anxiety appears in the usual forms – suddenly clean my entire home, leave no small task undone, panic about what-ifs that could happen in my absence – but also manifests as a desire to be a different sort of person entirely. When packing I always start to berate myself for not being a better packer – why am I not a breezy woman who can get by with a caftan and one pair of shoes for the whole trip? Why am I so vain as to need to travel with a bucket of products? And I spend the days ahead trying to combat this with smarter shopping for the perfect multitasking items that will make me feel light and effortless and tomboyishly easy-going. But anxiety shopping doesn’t really work in the end. And no one becomes a different self when traveling, no matter how new the surroundings.

    So this is not a suggestion so much as an acknowledgment that sometimes the only thing that works to calm down is a reminder to practice self-acceptance of the kind of person you are at heart, and to love and forgive that person – for being uptight, for needing so much, for being a take-up-space kind of gal. Not that YOU are, but it’s my particular hell to be reminded of it each time I travel.

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    Cara
    17 Apr 2019
    10:01am

    I just discovered a new trick to calm pre-trip nerves—clean out one drawer. Or one small corner of the house that’s been bugging you. Last time I went away I cleaned out a pen cup (I have a lot of them). I tested every pen and threw away the ones that didn’t work (I have way too many pens). It was meditative, practical, grounding, and organized my internal state as well as the pens. The thought of that beautifully unstuffed pen cup got me through the flight. I’m going to do my sock drawer before I leave for California on Tuesday.

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      Jenny
      17 Apr 2019
      11:22am

      This is genius. I’m going to use it for every anxiety-inducing situation.

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    Sue
    17 Apr 2019
    9:12am

    Tapabento restaurant near the train station in Porto was totally the bomb! Also Timeout in Lisbon. Huge food emporium. Lisbon’s best chef with food stands. Great Inexpensive food! Also great atmosphere.

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    Joan Leonard
    17 Apr 2019
    8:59am

    I loved Lisbon and Porto. You will do all the tourist things so I won’t mention those! One of the best restaurants we ate in was Cafe de Journalistas! It was so good ,we went twice. Have a great trip

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    Patty Blaettler
    18 Apr 2019
    4:20am

    I’m currently in Italy for a month. For this trip I used (for the first time) plastic bags that zip closed for packing. It’s great because it helps everything fit in the suitcase and it keeps everything organized once you get there. Smaller zip-locks held undies, socks, and bras. First, though everything was Marie Kondo-folded and then rolled. I had one bag for bottoms, one for sweaters, and one for tees. I will do this forever more…

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    Sondra G.
    17 Apr 2019
    3:38pm

    Calming jitters: I read (fiction) books about the place I am going to.
    This gets me out of my own frazzled headspace & puts me into a calm narrative that offers small glimpses of where I am going.

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      Susan
      23 Apr 2019
      10:22am

      I do this as well. Great tip.

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    EmilyD
    17 Apr 2019
    5:29pm

    I love Lisbon so! This was my favorite fado place by far — it was the highlight of the trip: http://www.parreirinhadealfama.com/en/

    We also took the ferry across to Cacilhas and ate at this little restaurant on the pier, great views of Lisbon: https://www.thelisbonconnection.com/breathtaking-views-lisbon-restaurant-ponto-final-cacilhas-short-ferry-trip-great-portuguese-food/

    I am a HUGE proponent of the checked bag. It’s so liberating! Checking is the new carry-on!

    I try to deal with pre-travel anxiety by remembering that, as others have said, all the agita will fall away once I’m on the road. And it’s not the end of the world if I forget my shampoo–I can always buy some, it’s not like I’m bound for McMurdo.

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    Elisa
    17 Apr 2019
    6:04pm

    This comment is late and you might be in the air, but I did love the tile museum in Lisbon. It was a little out of the way, but worth the visit.

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    Laura
    17 Apr 2019
    7:17pm

    While in Lisbon, make sure to go for Pasteis de Belem (best custard pastry you will ever have) and go to the Alfama district to hear Fado. Eat a different kind of bacalhau (salted cod; they say that are 365 different ways to eat it) every day and don’t miss Serra de estrela cheese.

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    Gablesgirl
    17 Apr 2019
    7:59pm

    Love Portugal. Eat and drink everything. People are super friendly and such a walkable city. When you get back May 1 I’ll be in England!

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    Flora
    17 Apr 2019
    8:29pm

    I make packing lists and attempt to have a clean house to come home to. I acknowledge that I will definitely forget one thing I meant to pack and try to make it something small that’s no big deal. I go to the airport way too early and then buy a book I’ve been curious about but isn’t my usual read. By the time I get on the plane I’m so tired that I sleep through takeoff, and wake up for drinks/snacks. Portugal looks beautiful!

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    Carly
    17 Apr 2019
    10:51pm

    I loved Claras em Castelo (tiny restaurant near St George Castle) and the TimeOut market in Lisbon. If you go to Evora, there is an amazing megalithic site outside of town (kind of like Stonehenge, only you can walk right in among the stones), and a guy named Mario from Ebora Megalithica does a great tour.

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    Betsy
    18 Apr 2019
    7:44am

    Great suggestions so far for Lisbon and Porto (although in my quick skim I didn’t see recommendations for Landeau Chocolate’s cake — it’s amazing!!!!) I visit the Alentejo almost every year and have some suggestions. The town of Evora is a UNESCO world heritage site and very worth a visit for the Roman temple and the Bone Chapel. The town of Marvao near the Spanish border is incredibly beautiful — the old town in situated on top of the mountain and has amazing views. At the bottom of the mountain are the modern town (which has a great public swimming facility in a dammed up portion of the stream that comes down from the mountain — it is super cold! very refreshing in the middle of summer) and the Roman town of Ammaia. The town of Monsaraz is also worth going to. It is similar in the “hilltop with castle” setting but has a bit more in the way of restaurants, and some really great craft stores. Overall the wine is great, well-priced, and not yet really “discovered.” A bottle by the Vidiguiera winery is absolutely one of the best wines I have ever had. Finally, if you are looking for a great place to stay in the Alentejo, I recommend the Hotel Convento de Sao Paulo outside the town of Redondo. It’s a quirky but elegant renovated convent with one of the best painted tile collections outside of Lisbon. https://www.hotelconventosaopaulo.com/
    Have fun!!!

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    Hayley
    17 Apr 2019
    11:05am

    I’m leaving for Portugal as well on Sunday. We are going to Lisbon and the Algarve. Have you received any good shopping tips?

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      Kim France
      17 Apr 2019
      12:37pm

      Oh the Algavre is supposed to be gorgeous, Hayley! Have fun. Alas, no shopping tips so far.

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    Joannawnyc
    17 Apr 2019
    11:11am

    Ah, Portugal is so gorgeous! I recommend Cintra also, and there is a former royal residence in the suburbs of Lisbon called Palace of Ajuda that’s worth visiting if you have time. DItto for Queluz (though I was an architecture history major, so my appetite for viewing historic structures may be greater than average).

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    Emily Rubin
    17 Apr 2019
    11:12am

    For me it’s all about lists: one for what to pack (I keep one on my computer so I don’t forget the less-obvious things), one for things I need to do before I leave (cancel paper, order car for airport, send itinerary and flight info to family/friends, cancel appointments, etc.) and one for things to do when I return (reschedule appointments, remove hold from library books, etc.).

    One thing I’ve done before I go away is to check for any birthdays happening while I’ll be gone and wish the person a happy birthday in advance (I do this for friends whose birthdays aren’t top of mind). It gives me a sense of calm, and lets friends know I’m thinking of them.

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    Laura NH
    17 Apr 2019
    11:20am

    We were just in Lisbon last week. You’ll love it. Highly recommend Time Out Lisbon (of course) and also Os Gazeteiros for dinner. Pre fixe, but cheap 35 euros for six courses. Lovely and very veggie forward. For shopping we liked LX Factory and Embaixada. Enjoy!

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    Phyllis
    17 Apr 2019
    11:35am

    Haven’t read through all the other comments, but here goes:
    In Porto: climb the Clerigos Tower, take in the beautiful Porto train station, go to the bookstore made famous by Harry Potter. Se Cathedral, Church of the Franciscans, both amazing. Take a short cruise on the Douro to see the six bridges. If you have time check out the museum of contemporary art – when we were there there was an unmissable Miri exhibit. Stop by the tiny museum Misericordia do Porto and be alone with a wealth of beauty. In Lisbon, Museo Gubenkian is lovely. From Lisbon, take a day trip to Sintra and go to the Pena Palace and the wonderfully spooky Quinta da Regalia, an estate near the historic center.
    You’ll be fine once you’re in Porto. And the world as you know it will be waiting for you when you return.

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    KCHARITY
    17 Apr 2019
    11:50am

    Kim- Sounds crazy but I just let everything go; meaning all the “to do” lists, the things I THINK I need to do. I just don’t do them. Nothing is that important. THAT is liberating. Life goes on, things get done somehow. I have driven myself into deep anxiety by trying to do it all before trips, and once I arrive at my destination, relaxed, realize that I wasted my energy thinking those things HAD to get done. Enjoy your vacation!

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    Mimi
    17 Apr 2019
    11:43am

    Trip anxiety – it’s an epidemic! But isn’t it nice to know we all have it? Ergo, I’m not crazy. Yes, lists, of course. My cosmetics and drugs list, which lives in my computer, not only catalogs what I need to pack but what goes where, i.e. which pouches go in my carry on and which in my checked bag. I also feel I need to get through all the piles on my desk before I leave, knowing that a natural prioritization happens and I won’t do everything before I leave. Not being rushed helps me stay calm. I pre-pack my clothes three or four days in advance, laying everything out in the guest room. Then edit and finally fill the suitcase the day before. I leave for the airport earlier than necessary. There’s nothing worse than driving through traffic worrying about missing a plane. And I allow myself 1/2 a low dose of Xanax a night or two before departure, which ensures I’ll sleep like a baby. Have a wonderful trip, Kim.

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    ARay
    17 Apr 2019
    11:47am

    Wow, Portugal has never been on my radar but sounds really lovely. Happy trails Kim! If I might ask- how/ why did you choose Portugal for your vacation? Always interested in what moves people to roam this amazing planet.

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    Holly
    17 Apr 2019
    11:48am

    I am always anxious before I travel, even if it is just for overnight. My primary reason: leaving my three dogs. I have people I trust stay at my house with them so their being cared for is not an issue, but I really, really hate leaving them. Add in the fact that they also get anxious — my little alpha girl Celeste always insists on getting inside my suitcase. Well, I get a little bit crazy. And when I leave for longer trips, everything in the house must be in perfect shape before I go. But then once I am out the door and on my way, my anxiety seems to (mostly) dissipate. I am glad I am not alone!!!!

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      Kim France
      17 Apr 2019
      12:39pm

      I hear you, Holly. My two boys TOTALLY know something is up today, and they’re not pleased.

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      lizzie
      22 Apr 2019
      9:32pm

      this is me in a nutshell. I am much better after I get to the airport. I am a DL control freak in hiding…traveling makes it obvious. also I love my dogs.

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Kim France

I was born in Houston, Texas in 1964 and have lived in New York City since 1988. I had a long career in magazines, working at Sassy, Elle, New York, and Spin, and in 2000, I founded Lucky magazine, which I edited for ten years.

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