It may seem hard to imagine laying out in the sand on one of the most beautiful beaches in the world while still feeling a complete sense of dread and terror, as a panic attack begins to consume you. Unfortunately, for many travelers that live with PTSD, this is the case. I’ve been diagnosed with PTSD for a long time, and while traveling has helped me a lot in my recovery, there are definitely times where I’ve found myself in some of the greatest places in the world where many would die to be, and yet I feel I’m dying as I’m there.
Would you guess I’m on the verge of a panic attack in this shot?
When checking your bags at the airport, it’s easy for everyone to see the big bag you’re checking, your one carry-on, and personal item. No one sees, however, that sneaky suitcase which is PTSD. That suitcase has no weight, yet it’s the heaviest one I always take. I long to leave it behind, yet it tags alongside me wherever I go. It makes it past all security gates every time, yet it’s a highly powerful explosive.
PTSD, or Post Traumatic Stress Disorder, is a mental disorder that can envelope a persons life after they’re exposed to a traumatic life event, such as sexual assault, warfare, traffic collisions, or other threats to a person’s life. Symptoms may include disturbing thoughts, feelings, or dreams related to the events, mental or physical distress to trauma related cues, attempts to avoid trauma-related cues, alterations in how a person thinks and feels, and an increase in the fight or flight response (from Wikipedia).
Taken at East Day Spa in Auckland, NZ
Luckily, there are many tools I’ve developed to help myself and others during the more difficult times during travel. I’ve also been able to identify some of the rougher periods where things can get tough mentally on vacations so anyone can be prepared for the unexpected, (can anyone say STRESS while on a 16-hour flight over the ocean experiencing major turbulence while a plane full of coughing and sneezing people surround you while a child kicks your seat?!).
First of all, airports and airplanes. A lot of people, not just those who’ve experienced trauma, get a sense of dread when they hear those words. Horrible thoughts come to mind: security checks (unwanted touching can be an especially triggering experience for those who have experienced assault), hijackings, long waits, flight delays, inclement weather, bombs, engine trouble, getting bloodied up by airline staff, etc. It can be difficult to even think about! I’ve always loved airports personally and they calm me in a weird way. Maybe because my parents always took me traveling when I was young, I believe that child-like wanderlust stuck with me. I do tend to get quite anxious about missing my flight though, so it’s different for everyone!
Changi Airport has beautiful gardens. this photo showcases the Orchid Garden of Changi in Singapore International Airport (SIN). A perfect place to relax when feeling overwhelmed. I’ve never felt such a place of relaxation. America’s airports are put to shame compared to other airports around the world! Just in one garden alone, there are over 5000 flora and fauna! There are over 10,000+ in other gardens! Just imagine the city itself. It’s truly a world to explore!
Changi Airport is perfect for anyone with airport nervousness as there are so many beautiful gardens to relax in. I’ve found transit to be one of the most nerve wracking parts of travel, so I’ve decided to focus on this part of travel for PTSD sufferers.
Here are a few tips for airport and airline nervousness:
- This may seem like an obvious first tip, but always arrive extra early for your flight. If your flight is scheduled to leave at 10:00am, that means boarding will be at 9:15am and the plane is TAKING OFF at 10:00am. The general rule of thumb is to arrive two hours early for domestic flights, and 3 hours early for international flights. That can sometimes seem a bit early, but I’ve found it’s worth it. This is what I would recommend, especially to feel comfortable. Sometimes it can be fun to get there even earlier and explore the airport a bit if you enjoy airports as much as I do! Don’t forget there may be a long line at security as well! Also, arriving a little bit early can help you get acquainted to your surroundings, find your gate, and even grab a quick bite to eat (or at least a cup of coffee if you don’t want to spend $15.00 for a sandwich, airline food is as much as it is at Disney World!).
- Different seats on the plane may be better suited for different people, it all depends on YOU. For me, I strongly prefer a window seat. I need to be able to see out into the open space outside, and the beautiful clouds and scenery comfort me (bonus for great photos too!)
- The view from Tanjong Surat
- . I also like the fact that the airplane’s wall gives me a nice sturdy place to rest my head. For others, an aisle seat may be your best bet, since it will allow you to get up easily and you wont feel as trapped. In fact, most people prefer aisle seats.
- Being in an airplane with PTSD can really throw off one’s sense of being grounded. When you’re high up in the sky, it’s not easy to feel centered with the Earth. Remember grounding techniques, and also consider a comfort kit to help with the claustrophobia of being so close to others during transit.
This is the best comfort kit I’ve found online, but you can also create your own!
6.Try to avoid or limit alcoholic beverages on flights, especially if you take medication. While flying at a high altitude, alcohol will hit you much harder. While drinking may seem like a good idea to take the edge off, booze can actually cause you to get sick or have a bad reaction on a flight. Better to be safe than sorry. If you must imbibe, stick to something light in sugar or something you know you can handle well, and limit to one. An airplane is not the time to try out that new exotic drink!
Being in an airport you don’t recognize can be fun but also very disorienting and scary if you’re a traveler with PTSD. Make sure to always double and triple check your itinerary, and remember that there are information booths set up around many airports with very helpful attendants who typically speak multiple languages! Don’t be afraid to ask for help and always stick with the person you’re traveling with (if you’re not a solo traveler). If you’re in a location where you don’t have wifi and can’t make calls it’s especially important to make sure you stay with your travel partner/s.
7.Always listen to announcements, because your flight could change gates at any moment. This is why it’s important to pay attention to the flight board of arrivals and departures as well. Of course this also goes without saying, never leave your bags unattended and always report suspicious behavior!
8.It’s okay if you find yourself feeling overwhelmed. If at any time you do feel overwhelmed, try to go to a quiet place, wherever you feel most comfortable, and take some calming breaths. Do whatever you can to try to ground yourself while reminding yourself that you’re safe. Try to picture your legs as tree trunks and your feet as roots going deep into the ground. This can be grounding and helpful to come back into the present moment during periods of dissociation. It also helps me to hold my husband’s hand tightly, and to sip cold water. Remember, this too shall pass. Think of the destination you’re going to and how it’s going to be INCREDIBLE!
Remember, the world isn’t nearly as dangerous as the news and some people make it out to be. Every traumatic event that happened to me in my life, was at or near my home at the time. Not once have I had something bad happen to me on vacation (unless you count the 16 hour flight with the kid kicking my seat and sneezing the whole time, ha!).
While traveling with PTSD, remember that there are certainly things that can always come up which can trigger flashbacks and other symptoms, but these things can happen at home as well. Don’t let this stop you from seeing the world though! Traveling has helped me to recover more than talk therapy ever has, and even though that PTSD suitcase goes with me along with the rest of my luggage, with time I hope that it can become a little lighter with each trip and each year!
What are your thoughts? Do you have PTSD or an anxiety related disorder? What are some things that you’ve done to help cope during periods of stress during travel?
Comment below and as always, happy safe travels!
*This article is for educational purposes only and is not intended to test, diagnose, or replace the advice of physicians or health care practitioners. It is also not intended to diagnose or prescribe treatment for any illness or disorder. Anyone already undergoing physician-prescribed therapy should seek the advice of his or her doctor before reducing the dosage or stopping such treatment. Please call anyone in the case of an emergency. *
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Howdy! We just got back from an incredible Christmas in Austin, Texas and it was great to escape the cold! Mind you, it was still in the forties there so for the average Texan, they were quite chilly! We had a ball of a time visiting everyone from my home state and on the way, we grabbed the best grub the South has to offer! Some of it was new to us, and some of it was good ol’ southern comfort food!
Here is a compiled list of the four best restaurants (in our opinion) that we visited this time around! Each one falls into a different category, ranging from fast food, to upscale dining!
You can bet your bootstraps we’ll be back to each one to celebrate the state where everything is bigger, the sunsets are longer, football reigns, and the friendship is overflowing!
Here’s our list:
As an environmentally conscious traveler, it warmed my heart to see that their bags had anti litter campaigns on them. Don’t mess with Texas!
– Our first stop in Texas, as we were nearing the end of our sixteen hour trek from Colorado, was Whataburger! A Whataburger Jr absolutely hit the spot for this hungry traveler! These wonderful burgers all come with mustard (which I LOVE), but if you’re like my hubby and don’t prefer it, remember to opt for your condiments of choice! Also, these burgers are huge! One is more than enough to satisfy the appetite (that was the case for me at least). Don’t forget that famous Whataburger ketchup too!
I’m not sure what makes it so incredible, it just is! There’s definitely a cult following of Whataburger ketchup lovers in Texas too, and you can buy it at the local grocery stores like HEB. So whenever you’re visiting the Lone Star State, don’t forget to stop at the greatest burger joint in the south!
2. Tres Amigos
-As far as authentic Mexican food goes, it’s nice to fool ourselves in other states that we have it! When you get to Texas, the fresh delicious smells of authentic dishes overpower all other senses, leaving you in a state of ecstasy! From the queso to the quesadillas, to the incredible salsa and guacamole, Tres Amigos is where it’s at!
A gorgeous Christmas tree at the front greeted us as I ran to greet my best friend inside this great place!
The service was also out of this world, we were never left wondering where our food or drinks were, and the vibe was impeccably impressive! Located in Austin, Texas, Tres Amigos is not only hospitable, but thriving in every sense! Just imagining those quesadillas again makes my mouth water! Five stars and two thumbs up for Tres Amigos!
3. LongHorn Steakhouse
-For a great down home steak, this is where we were directed, and had a great, big family dinner here! As soon as you walk in, you can immediately tell from the decor that this is Texas through and through.
You can’t get much more Texas than LongHorn Steakhouse!
The Martinis were to die for!
The Flo’s Filet Mignon was great and is one of their signature dishes! It definitely rivaled that of the one at Timberline Grill in Black Hawk, and the veggies were great too. Not to mention we had wonderful fellowship with friends and family here! The service was wonderful, and overall the vibe had a very rustic cowboy feel to it. Definitely recommend, and although we only tried the steak, our relatives said the chicken and other entree’s were delicious as well. While there are other locations across the USA, you just can’t beat the originals in Texas.
4. Eddie V’s
For fine dining this is THE place to be in Austin!
-There are multiple Eddie V’s locations, however, this one in Austin is the original! It’s absolutely gorgeous from head to toe the moment you walk in. We were only able to stay for a quick happy hour drink sadly, but for the short time we were there, we were treated like royalty! Eddie V’s even offered recommendations of places to go see, and other things to do in the area! Everything was above and beyond without a doubt.
Nautical themes are displayed beautifully throughout the gorgeous restaurant that is Eddie V’s.
The decor was out of this world! Nautical themes highlight the seafood Eddie V’s specializes in.
Beautiful artwork, with many blues playing off each other. It felt like we were back in The Maldives!
The drinks were handcrafted specimens that any artist can appreciate. The bread served was very warm and soft with a garnished butter. We’ll definitely be back for a full review on all of that amazing seafood on the menu!!
An incredible selection of wines are offered at Eddie V’s.
The “Red Dragon”
Bacardi Dragon Berry Rum and Fresh Muddled Strawberries, mint and lime. Absolutely delicious!
The service again, was so accommodating and personable! If you want to be treated like a King or Queen, make a reservation at Eddie Vs!
We had the greatest time in the South, and even got to capture a few beautiful landscapes and sunsets.
One of the many plateaus in Texas
Can’t forget those beautiful Texas Sunsets!
So next time you’re in the Austin Texas area, definitely mosie your way on down to some of the best restaurants around! Next time we’re there we’ll definitely check out more and update our list!
**Bonus Tip! The best beef jerky in the WORLD was at the only gas station open in the middle of the night in Raton, New Mexico. Clint and Sons was the name of the beef jerky, and the gas station is The Raton Truck Stop. Make sure to stop there not only for the incredible beef jerky and home made New Mexico trinkets, but also because it’s the only gas station open late at night within about 30 miles!**
What are some of your favorite restaurants in Texas? Anything we left out?
We really want to hit new stops again to come back with more new great recommendations next time!
And don’t forget to pick up some Whataburger Ketchup!
When most people think of a visit to the Rocky Mountains in Colorado, they conjure up images of snowboarding, skiing, and hiking through our many national forests and parks. Casinos aren’t usually the first thing that come to mind. In the small casino town of Black Hawk however, there’s definitely a plethora of incredible things to experience, and the 4-diamond rated Ameristar Resort and Spa is where all the action’s at, you can bet your bottom dollar on that!
Only a brief 15 minute beautiful drive through the mountains from Idaho Springs will get you to this gorgeous little mountain town.
We’re always excited to pull up to the Ameristar Black Hawk! The valet service is complimentary too, and the amazing staff always makes everyone feel so welcome from the minute you arrive.
A luxury resort featuring 536 rooms (including gorgeous Presidential and Mountain Pine suites), 2 rooftop hot tubs, a spa, fitness center, 2 gift shops, 5 restaurants, and 3 bars, Ameristar Black Hawk is an incredible treasure nestled in the Rockies! Peter and I had an amazing getaway here and stayed in a beautiful Deluxe King Room with a gorgeous mountain view! We also got to tour the newly renovated Bar 8042!
Ready to win some big money at Bar 8042 while enjoying the BEST Hibiscus Queen!
You can bet we had the greatest time at the newly renovated Bar 8042! It’s got a very contemporary atmosphere now as opposed to the old, rustic, log cabin feel that the old bar had. While it still has beautiful fire places encircling the 360 degree elevated bar, there’s now gorgeous new mood lighting!
Beautiful high intensity LED lights now illuminate the ceiling, with limitless options for vibrantly alternating themes and environments based on the time of day or on events taking place at the time.
Interesting Fact: 8042 is actually the exact elevation of the Bar! Hence the name, Bar 8042!
Sunday Night Lights and Wine Down Wednesday are just two of the events new to the scene at Ameristar BH, and new game tables are also a feature in Bar 8042, along with a DJ booth!
We also tried some of the updated (and most refreshing) new drinks, a Hibiscus Queen and Betha Smash! It truly felt like drinking a piece of art.
The Hibiscus Queen
Patron Reposado, fresh lime juice, hisbicus flower syrup, 8042 bitters. This was my favorite of the two, and was so invigorating!
The Betha Smash
Macallan 12 year “single malt smash,” fresh lemon juice, mint, bitters. An absolutely delicious cocktail.
Feeling like a queen drinking the amazing Hibiscus Queen!
Incredible lighting at the upgraded 360 degree Bar 8042!
Sometimes when a casino comes to mind, people don’t realize that a Resort like Ameristar Black Hawk is so much more than just a casino! Upstairs, ara Spa is a getaway in and of itself! Boasting two relaxing whirlpools, multiple rooms for massages and seasonal body wraps, a full service salon where you can get manicures, pedicures, highlights, blow outs, and much more, there’s something for everyone at ara.
Located on the ninth floor, it felt like we had stepped into another world of relaxation and pampering on another level!
ara Spa uses Sanitas skin care products, made here in Colorado.
“Potent Exfoliation with a side of Glow.” Check out just a small selection of their line of products here:
When it comes to food at Ameristar Resort and Spa Black Hawk, you get an incredible variety of options from 5 different restaurants and we definitely enjoyed everything they had to offer! The Waypost Deli had the best pork chili fries, and The Centennial Buffet was out of this world, with 6 cultures featured, a pasta station, crab legs, a salad station, and desserts you can’t put down. I’m not usually a sweets type gal, but the crème brulee and European style cream filled cookies were to die for!
The Timberline Grill, Ameristar Black Hawk’s Premier Steakhouse
For restaurant dining, the Fireside Kitchen is a great choice for farm to table cuisine. They have a great atmosphere and you can view people coming and going from the 2nd floor as you enjoy chorizo fundido with asadero cheese, that rivals most places in Texas for a fundido!
Perfect Night at The Timberline Grill!
The Timberline Grill, Black Hawk’s premier steakhouse, is another option available for fine dining on the first floor level. We ate there on our last night, and it was so romantic. The quality of the food absolutely rivaled the five star dining we had in The Maldives, and the service we received from our incredible waiter reminded us fondly of our dinner under the stars at the beach on the remote island of Cinnamon Hakuraa Huraa.
A perfect, rare 7 ounce filet mignon, and spicy brussell sprouts with Colorado honey and sriacha butter. On the side I ordered a chimichurri sauce made with fresh herbs, spices, EVOO, and sherry vinegar. It was the best steak I’d ever eaten!
After a long night of winning at the craps table (Ameristar Black Hawk has the best dealers ever and a huge shout out to the team!) going to the roof top hot tub the next morning was the crème de la crème to top off our stay. Of course, it’s great to enjoy the pool and rooftop hot tubs at night time as well.
An absolutely perfect place to enjoy your time and soak in the roof top hot tub!
We always have a great time up here! The mountain view is gorgeous! If you look closely, you can see the high winds blowing the snow off the tops of the mountains, constantly carving out a brand new landscape as each new wanderluster traverses the path. Each time I stare out, I wonder who actually makes it all the way to the very summit on some of those mountains? You can see a few photos of our hiking journeys scattered about the site, but more will be posted soon, that’s for sure!
Our experience was an unforgettable one at The Ameristar Resort and Spa Black Hawk, and we can’t wait to go back! We had been there before, but this trip was out of this world! Also, here’s another interesting tidbit for the gamblers out there. We haven’t once lost our money here. We’ve either broken even, or won money every single visit. The time before I even hit a thousand dollars on the Wheel of Fortune slot machine! So definitely book a trip, it’s a 10 out of 10 on every level. You can earn points with a mychoice card that allows you to collect points as you play games. After you get two thousand points, you move up to Advantage, where you get to earn “mycash” rewards which can be used throughout the casino. There are also giveaways going on where you can have a chance to win things like a new car! Bar 8042 is just the start of some more renovations that’ll begin in 2018, and we can’t wait to check out what’s to come!
So next time you’re up in the Colorado Rockies, remember, sometimes a getaway into the mountains can take a bit of a different turn from a ski resort, and up into the beautiful town of Black Hawk, where you’ll discover the luxury gem that is The Ameristar Resort and Spa, Black Hawk.
Visit their website at https://blackhawk.ameristar.com/ to make a reservation today!
After a perfection of a new haircut from Niki at The Parlour, (the best hairdresser ever) she told me about the new Elizabeth Hotel at 111 Chestnut St, right across the street that had just opened up, and their new rooftop bar. Now, I’m a sucker for rooftop bars and absolutely had to check it out. Convincing Peter was the toughest part, but not that tough once he saw the place too! It looked amazing when we got up there and the views of the mountains were outstanding! As you walk in, there’s a beautiful staircase. I’ll leave the gorgeous rooftop pictures to your imagination as my photos were terrible, so we definitely plan to go back not only for the best drinks and food around, but to grab some high res photos since I’d left my camera at home that day.
Definitely not the rooftop but definitely the beautiful staircase! Gorgeous poinsettias for a gorgeous Christmas decoration that don’t scream, “hey I’m a college town!” were the epitome of class! I loved them, especially since I felt like they would deter children, or people who have them (step away Johnny, they’re poison!). I have to say the fact that I didn’t see a single child the entire time, makes this entire place a DEFINITE 10 out of 10! Childfree in my book for the win!
I got more than lucky when I met the owner (possible owner? or was it the owner of the corporation?! Even Peter couldn’t remember and he’s the one with the good memory! We were so embarrassed! I do know that his name was Max. So all I have to say is, “yes, Max! The martinis are THAT good! You gave us the best tour ever of the place and it was so accommodating! I absolutely love wine and charcuteries as well so this was perfecto!”
Best Martinis in Fort Collins…even without olives! Crafted beautifully by the best bartender I’ve met so far in Colorado, Emili! Customer Service at The Elizabeth Hotel was spectacularly first rate. Not to mention our drinks were served in the most beautiful watermarked Rona crystal glasses. As a collector of waterford, baccarat, and other fine crystal, I noticed right away these were top notch.
Get Rona Martini Glasses Here:
Steelite Vintage Lace Martini / Cocktail Glasses, Set of 6
We were led first through the Magic Rat, a swanky lounge bar that would make Frank Sinatra envy the band coming to play this Thursday! It was so cushy that you wanted to sink into the happy hour all the way to the break of dawn! The atmosphere both there and then into the Emporium poured into the reception and flowed into your beautiful rona crystal glasses all into the night (not to mention what seemed to be a sunset hour going until your bones feel the music again). Violins and flutes sat as decorations across the entire venue, and felt like they could come alive around you and start playing just as easily as in Beauty and the Beast, except these gorgeous flowers didn’t have a single petal missing in The Elizabeth! You could feel at home just lounging at the Magic Rat and all across the hotel, like Belle at the Ball!
Magic Rat Lounge, Definitely fly me to the moon in here! It felt like any moment a jazz singer could walk in wearing a red sparkly dress and begin soothing you with sweet melodies.
The Emporium seemed to be the biggest hangout of the place, with a generous happy hour and wine bottles which are a story in and of themselves. The neat thing is that you can buy your wine right at The Emporium, for retail price, have your bottle opened, corked, and then even take it home!
Part of the selection of the retail wines that you choose from at The Emporium where you can also enjoy artisan cheeses, and amazing gelato on site!
This is a place to not only enjoy your wine but to have a decent little bit of shopping, gelato, charcuterie boards, along with shirts and other fineries for sale which were not too overwhelming for the palate. Did I mention the amazing sandwiches and noodle dishes?? The full menu in the restaurant is incredible as well.
If there wasn’t glass there I would have stuck my fingers right in it. It looked THAT delicious…..
The charcuterie boards were amazing and we ordered incredible “meat cones,” with pickles and mushrooms along with other delicacies included. The entire happy hour menu was a blast! It went until 6 which was perfect. I was very “happy,” and didn’t feel rushed! I ordered my famous Martini and Peter a Negroni. He also got Macaroni while I got Oxtail sliders that were out of this world amazing!!
Definitely order. Charcuterie Cone, oxtail sliders, with Macaroni and a Negroni (does that rhyme??) and a Martini. I thought other people had ice cream before I saw they were eating meat. Which isn’t a problem for me since I’m a savory over sweets person. It was great!
Enjoying my oxtail sliders and meat cones! Perfect! Could life get better?
The night ended with seeing the other sights offered at the Elizabeth. The Elizabeth has awesome interesting other nooks and crannies where you can purchase other goods to remember an unforgettable time here. It’s different from anywhere else in Fort Collins which is much to my liking. As someone who is not a college student but still loves to get away, this is a perfect loungey place for luxury on a great budget. Also just to enjoy like minded atmospheric souls. It strides away from, yet in a way caters to the, “I walk my dog every day and do yoga crowd,” while also intriguing the “please satisfy my spirit that craves the unknown boundaries of the yet to be seen,” crowd (or both at the same time!). At The Elizabeth, you can easily enjoy slipping into a more simplistic time, and with all it’s beautiful authenticity as soon as the kind greeters at the door say, “Welcome to The Elizabeth Hotel,” a 10/10 is easily earned. Now for another martini!
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