On Travel Anxiety

Yup, it’s that season again! Everyone is ready for their much-awaited summer holidays. It’s finally time to leave all the stress behind and to enjoy a few care-free weeks away from home. But is it really..?
Nope, not for us anxiety-prone folks! We don’t leave the stress at home, we take it with us, heck, we even put some extra stress in our baggage, just in case.

Traveling used to be my nemesis. My family didn’t travel much when I was a kid and whenever we did, I hated it. I never wanted to go in the first place and once I was there, I usually couldn’t wait to go back home. A few years ago however, I discovered that traveling by plane (as opposed to by car) is actually quite an easy way to discover new places and as soon as I figured out that I actually wasn’t scared of flying (I used to think I was because my mother kept insisting that she was too afraid to travel by plane), a whole lot of new possibilities opened up. I have since become more eager to plan and book a vacation, as the stress usually only hits me once it’s time to pack my suitcase.

Like any good worrier, I’m very good at packing my suitcase. I’m very organised and therefore rarely forget anything I had previously planned on taking with me, meaning that packing is pretty much never a major source of stress.

Once the suitcase is packed, I usually start feeling a little uneasy. I’m in my head a lot and I don’t usually agree to make any plans the night before traveling because being anxious about the upcoming trip requires all of my focus. Ironically, doing something else might actually distract me from being anxious.

The whole airport procedure never fails to make me nervous because I always expect something to go wrong, even though nothing has ever gone wrong so far. If the airport is crowded and requiring me to queue a lot, I am obviously a little more stressed. If, on top of that, there is no air conditioning and not enough space to even properly wait in line, I shut down. At that point I probably look like a zombie (minus the urge to eat flesh, obviously), not talking and not reacting much to my surroundings − I retreat into some kind of a mini-bubble to get through the process relatively unharmed.

Once I arrive at my destination, I always stress about the bathroom configuration. Do you know those super modern open bathrooms, separated from the rest of the room by nothing but a glass wall ? Well, let me tell you, they’re my personal nightmare. If there’s one place I need my privacy in, it’s the bathroom. Bathroom time is my time, it’s not for sharing and definitely not for putting on a show for the other people in the room. Imagine my reaction when I found out that the last hotel I stayed at had one of those fancy bathrooms with only a glass door (at least it was a door) to separate the toilet from the rest of the room…

Once I get over the initial shock / relief regarding the configuration of the bathroom, one remaining potential stress factor is the sleeping situation. I usually don’t sleep much when I stay in new and/or unfamiliar places, which freaks me out in advance which, in turn, usually doesn’t do much to make me sleep better.

As you can see, I come across a whole collection of potential anxiety triggers before my vacation even starts.  Once I get to know the place and once I get used to the bathroom / sleeping arrangements, I usually calm down a little − until it’s time to go back home and the airport stress kicks in again!

In conclusion, going on vacation is basically a loop of stress for me, so everything that happens in between anxiety-inducing situations had better be worth it, otherwise I probably won’t be too eager to leave home again anytime soon.


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