I think I have a bit of travel anxiety. In the days leading up to an trip, I start obsessing over the details, like getting to and from the airport, potential delays (particularly when there is a transfer), and things like that.
I am very nervous about getting lost, although there is a kernel of rationality to that fear: I have no sense of direction and cannot read a map. I once went to Mexico City for work and I wanted to visit the Zócalo, the city’s large main square. One of the people I was working with gave me a map and circled the Zócalo on it and sent me on my way. After an hour of walking, I found myself at the Plaza de La Revolución (pictured). It was very cool, but nowhere near where I wanted to be:
I was at least able to retrace my steps and found my way back to my hotel, but since then, I have been sure to check and recheck and recheck anything I want to see whenever I go somewhere. It’s one thing to be prepared, but I feel like I carry it to the point that it’s less preparation and more compulsion.
I spend a lot of energy thinking about all the different disaster permutations, but one of the key bits of advice in any article about combating travel anxiety is, in the words of Rick Seaney writing in ABC News, “Stay calm and let go.”
It can be a bit difficult to do that when, say, your flight takes off and then immediately lands again because of smoke in the cabin (pictured). But even then, I was able to relax once I accepted the situation. I was prepared enough to update everyone that needed to be updated about what happened. I was friendly to the airline staff who had to deal with lines full of people who thought they were the most important person on that flight. And I went home and slept in my own bed and gave it another go the next day.
As I get ready for another work trip, I looked up some articles on travel anxiety to look for some tips to get through it all. Here a few that jumped out at me:
- “How to Overcome Travel Anxiety” (USA Today)
- “5 Tips for Dealing with Travel Anxiety” (Travel with Kate)
- “Cut Travel Anxiety in Half” (ABC News)
Time to fly again. I think I’m ready.