Tuesday, October 01, 2013

Anxiety and pre-trip nerves: I still get them nearly every time I travel!

You might assume that because I've travelled a lot, and still try to travel as much as possible, that I'm totally relaxed about traveling and am entirely positive about the whole thing.

Alas. I wish I was! The truth is, that for various reasons I can often feel quite anxious and stressed before a trip. This stress gives me a window into the reasons that some people might actually decide that travelling is all too hard and they should just stay home instead.

But then I take the trip (I always do - because I know I'd regret staying home) and then I realise how enjoyable it is and how much I learn from each travelling experience, and that's what makes me keep taking the next one and the next one.

I guess that my natural tendencies are towards anxiety and nervousness, even though most of the time in daily life I'm able to put these aside. And even though I hate the thought of saying so, I actually quite like routine. But I know that a "routine" life isn't really what makes me feel great and excited and enthusiastic.

In Japan, I ended up having quiet, pleasant train rides. Anxiety averted.
Let me give you some examples. Before I moved to Japan to teach English, I was terrified. I even had nightmares - mostly about the idea of being stuck in a train with hundreds of passengers crammed into a small compartment, and feeling like I wasn't able to breathe. I really did wonder if I'd made the right decision (even though I'd been trying to push my then boyfriend into moving somewhere new - anywhere! - for years!). Turns out, of course, moving to Japan was easily one of the best things that ever happened to me.

Another example, more recently, when I had a month in Europe. I decided to go a week earlier than my husband so that I could visit my dear friend in Slovakia, and that meant doing a long-haul flight alone with a three-year-old. I think many parents could understand that gearing up for that can fray the nerves, but more than that, I began to feel anxious just about the idea of being in foreign places with a possibly tired and upset boy, struggling to deal with all our baggage and to get where we needed to be (because, of course, I still travel like a backpacker, make limited reservations, and would rather take a bus or train than use a taxi or pickup service). There were moments shortly before that trip when I felt that I just couldn't do it. As you know, it turns out I could, and not only that, but it was even better than I expected - the feeling of wheeling my son's stroller along a Vienna street to catch the train into Slovakia, all our belongings either on my back or hanging off the stroller handles, using two foreign languages (or bits of them) to get by, and actually feeling totally in control of everything, all of this was a hugely powerful feeling.

Ready to go to the Gold Coast. Anxieties over (except for the fear of taking off and landing!).
And even more recently, the night before I needed to board the plane to Problogger on the Gold Coast, taking my first solo trip in four or five years, it wasn't the trip that was worrying me (that was pure excitement, a real thrill in fact) but the thought of leaving my son behind. He didn't help by waking up at midnight and wanting to cuddle for an hour and a half before I could get him back to sleep. Of course he would be fine without me, he's certainly not a baby any more, but the idea of leaving without him, even if it was just four days, was anxiety-provoking again. Of course he was OK, and my trip was brilliant.

The reason I share all this though is that it occurred to me that there are probably plenty of people out there who feel different kinds of anxieties about travelling and then as a consequence they actually don't go. They don't book trips or they book them and cancel them. And that's really a terrible shame. Travelling is such a great "reset" of life, it gives you a chance to get a different perspective when you're not at home in the daily grind of whatever your life involves, and you get a chance to stop and think when you're in a plane above the clouds or on a beautiful long train trip. Without these interludes of time away from so-called "real" life, I think you can't lead a "real life" at all. So go forth and travel, please, even if you're worried about it. Scratch that - especially if you're worried about it.

8 comments:

  1. I totally relate to this post -- I like routine and am getting worse as I age. I'm also getting more fearful as I age. I barely sleep the night before I travel, not just because I'm worried I'll miss the flight, but because I hate flying. Travel is daunting, especially with kids. I'm ashamed to say that I have actually cancelled trips. I would have cancelled more except that I would have been letting the whole family down. It's like baulking at the gate, I know, and I wish I could be freer and easier about it ... So, here and now, I promise never to do it again!

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    1. Ah, I suspected I wasn't the only one who sometimes feels this way, Louise! Except the benefits always outweigh the fear I think. It's sometimes hard to remember that at the time, though.

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  2. Most pf us have this anxiety and believe it or not that I can't sleep on nights if had to travell on early morning.

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    1. Ah yes, the worry that you won't wake up for a flight is very common!

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  3. I don't like travelling alone without Michael. Maybe because I get lost a lot, seriously I can't make my way out of a paper bag. xxx Rae

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    1. Haha - although getting lost can be a lot of fun sometimes!! I don't have a particularly good sense of direction either although if I'm on my own and *have* to do it myself it tends to work out better than I expect!

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  4. Hello Ms. Amanda,

    I hope you are doing well. I am not sure whether or not you are the one who wrote the wonderful story "To Russia, with mom," from 'The Magic of Mothers and Daughters' book of the Chicken Soup for the Soul Series. The story, however, touched my heart and soothed my soul in a very positive way. Please let me know if you are the same Amanda Kendle who wrote the story.

    Best regards,
    Hamza Hassan
    Riyadh, Saudi Arabia

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    Replies
    1. Yes, that's me! I got your email too and will reply later - glad to hear that you enjoyed my story.

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