Don’t get me wrong. I love the concept of travelling. And I really do love to visit new places, experience different cultures, learn new things, eat good food and meet new people. There is just a lot of stress that goes along with travelling, especially for someone with pretty bad anxiety and with a mental illness like bipolar disorder. It can make things pretty complicated and things can go sour fast.
This past May I went on a trip to Germany that was actually amazing and a really good example of why, most of the time, I actually DO like to travel. I experienced almost zero anxiety the entire trip, except for a 15 minute period of time where I thought my friend and I were going to miss our bus. I was able to focus on the activities and the sights and the sounds and the tastes. I was able to do some activities all on my own. I was able to get around on the subway and bus system without stressing too much. I didn’t panic too much when I couldn’t find Wifi. I was able to venture far away from my Air BnB without worrying about whether I would find it again. I even got a little drunk one night and still made it back in one piece. So all in all, it was beautiful and eye-opening and fun and special and I will cherish it forever.
However, as I prepare for a couple of upcoming trips to Boston and Washington, I am again reminded of why I hate to travel and why I somewhat prefer smaller trips to familiar countries whose primary language is English.
- I hate pretty much all modes of transport. I hate to fly or take the train or the bus. I pretty much only like the car. And even then I get anxious. Why? I hate modes of transport with a lot of people because I am irrationally and terribly afraid of terrorist attacks. Airports and buses seem to be common targets so every time I am waiting in a terminal, the panic seeps in. Even imagining waiting in a terminal makes my skin crawl. I usually feel a little better after I pass the metal detectors and baggage check, because it’s pretty hard to sneak anything by them. But that’s why I hate the train and the bus, because often there IS no security at all and it’s super easy to waltz on with a weapon if someone wished to do so. I know I am crazy but I can’t help thinking about this. I feel safest in a car because although I can’t drive, I feel more in control of my surroundings. But then I get anxious about getting into a car accident. That’s the other thing I hate about traveling. I am also terribly afraid of a mechanical failure and my plane crashing.
- I hate being late. I get super anxious about missing my flight. I love to get to the airport HOURS early because then I know that I will catch my flight. I think I worry about this because one time I cut it really close and actually DID miss a flight. I worry about missing the flight a) because then I won’t get home on time and I might have to wait hours for another flight and I might have to miss work or b) I hate the idea of wasting money because of a personal failing (being late). Being late is something you can technically control in most ways. Obviously, weather, traffic, and other accidents can cause you to be late without it being your fault. But that’s why I like to leave hours early for everything. But not everyone wants to show up to the airport four hours early. Sometimes they want to spend more time sleeping or enjoying the city. A few years ago, I went to Spain and Greece with my sister. We went to a few different cities so we took a lot of flights and some of them were pretty early in the morning. A few times, we had to wake up around 3-4 a.m. My fear of missing our flights was so severe that it was almost all I thought about. It almost ruined the trip for me to be honest. Most of the time, I kept thinking about whether the bus to the airport would be late or whether we were going to the right spot to even catch the bus. I made my sister go with me a few times the day before to make sure we knew where the bus stop was. And even then I panicked. I have an upcoming trip to Washington that is literally less than 48 hours. I am really terrified that there will be a big snowstorm and my flight will get cancelled and I won’t get back in time for work. Like this literally keeps me up at night.
- I hate being lost. I hate not being able to use Google Maps when I need to in a pinch. I like to know where I am going. At home, I can just use my data but abroad, it would be much too expensive. Luckily, most major cities have tons of Wifi spots. But I still panicked about it a lot on my trip to Spain/Greece. My sister’s phone was really cool and you could load a map and the GPS could follow you on it without needing data. However, I really relied on that feature and I panicked all day long about my sister’s battery dying and not being able to find our Air BnB.
- I hate being disconnected. That’s another thing I panic about. I hate being phoneless and not able to call someone right when I need to. When I travel, I get legit anxiety whenever I notice that my battery is low. Scratch that. Even if the battery was at 80% I felt my chest tighten and my heart race. For Germany, I brought a second battery on the trip. It’s not healthy that I am so attached to my cell phone that I almost have a panic attack about not having access to it.
- Finally, I hate missing out. Don’t get me wrong. I love the idea of a vacation and taking time off work. But preparing for a vacation and making sure you finish everything you need to is stressful. Worrying that something will go wrong while you are away is stressful. I attach a lot of my self-esteem and self-image to my career, so taking a small pause causes me a lot of anxiety.
This isn’t meant to be a list of complaints. Rather, I am just curious if anyone of my readers or friends has these same thoughts as well or whether I am just ridiculous in my anxiety and everyone else can travel fine like a proper adult. Let me know!