Pre-trip anxiety. It’s a thing. How could it not be? Between Corona Virus, aka covid-19, and climate change making things muy unpredictable, you’d have to be truly oblivious to not feel at least a teeny bit stressed before a big trip.
Here’s my personal approach to not freaking out too badly prior to a lengthy journey halfway—well, maybe a quarter of the way—across the globe.
Pre-Trip Anxiety Buster 1: Packing Prep
One of the biggest worry sources I know of is the fear that I’ll forget something essential. So I make a giant-ass list about a month before I know I’m going on a long trip—I like the free Packing Pro app—and then I practice pack.
After about 10 years of frequent travel and nearly all of them spent trying to avoid baggage check, I’ve squeezed my wardrobe down to smaller and smaller proportions. This video from Travel Fashion Girl taught me, after about 5 years of just sort of randomly folding shit and putting it in little zipper bags, how to truly get the most out of packing cubes.
I admit, initially I went overboard. Alexis, the Travel Fashion Girl mentioned above, is pretty convincing in showing you how much you can squeeze into a bag. But just because I could didn’t mean I should. To be completely honest, I was way exceeding Alexis’ recos. So I edited, got rid of about 5 things: a sweater, a dress, a shirt, a sports bra or 2. And now I don’t have to sit on my suitcase old school.
Because this 7-week trip has been scheduled for a couple of months, I’ve had time: to make some lists, try stuff on, and be absolutely sure that everything I packed can roll up and unroll without needing an iron. (By the way, you can see my reading list at this link.) I have yet to wear everything I pack on a trip; I’ll see if this time I succeed. Even so, I did a trial run of packing over the weekend . We leave Wednesday, and I repacked on Monday and did the aforesaid edits. Then Steve said, hey, we didn’t spray that high-end bug repellent on our hiking stuff. Oh, bother. So I unpacked, edited a little more, did the bug spray stuff on the appropriate garments, repacked once they were dry.
My suitcase is not exactly light, but it’s not in danger of bursting. Steve’s packing a big case as his only bag. So we can pick up a couple of things if we want. But setting limits gives us discipline. We don’t take as much, and we don’t end up buying that much. Because seriously, neither of us or my son really needs any more t-shirts. Especially not since we bought those Honduran soccer shirts.
Meanwhile, check out those sassy leopard shoes! Madewell, on sale for like 30 bucks or something. I love the internet. Most of the time.
Pre-Trip Anxiety Buster 2: First Aid & Tech
I have one bag just for first aid. Because you know what sucks? Not having band-aids. Or Immodium, because in South America, you WILL get a day or two of stomach issues, and you WILL need Immodium. Also cough drops, ibuprofen (even though you can buy the more powerful 400 mg tabs in South America), and lots and lots of Purel. And wipes, for the tray tables on airplanes, and God help you if you touch one of the magazines. Just sayin’.
Pre-Trip Anxiety Buster 3: Reality Check
Here’s what I used to like to do: Imagine every single thing that could go wrong. Then fixate on it. Then lose some sleep, and also have more than one crying jag.
My mom used to say, “The things you worry about never come true.” In which case, a rather perverse logic dictates that you should worry a lot, and then you’ll be safe.
Well, no more. Look, I have to accept there are risks in everything I do. The only sure thing is that I, and everyone I know and love or don’t know or don’t love, will die. I increase my risk of getting Covid-19 by traveling, just as I increase my risk of pretty much any type of contagion. I’m going to an earthquake-prone country, and a region of it that’s experienced mudslides in recent weeks. I’m flying a bunch of different flights.
So I wash my hands a lot, and make a bet that the considerable odds of success will be in my favor. So far, so good. And if they aren’t, well, I’ll deal with whatever when it happens. Worst case scenario, I’m dead and then, well, on to a whole new adventure. And if there’s an emergency back home, I have insurance. I’ll make it back.
I guess the main thing is, I’ve faced the fact that I may not come home from any trip I go on, even if it’s just to the grocery store, and, while I’m not exactly ok with it, I’m not going to wreck the true awesomeness of my freedom by working myself into a tizzy about what could happen. I mean, not any more. Because I used to, and lemme tell you, that is not a good look or a good life.
Face your mortality. Live in the present. Not to sound like some dopey self-help book, but seriously, the simple stuff IS where it’s at. The devil is truly in the details. Tell that old boy or girl or gender-non-specific imp to talk to your hand, because you are too damn busy living.
I’m hoping to post regularly over the next several weeks, something I haven’t done in a while. If you wanna follow along, I’m planning to beef up my insta feed, including with some stories. I’m oh so modern! Gulp.
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Love to you all.