2018,  Family,  Travel

Musings: Travel Anxiety

Do you have travel anxiety?

I didn’t know this was a thing. One day, Juan (I believe this is who told me about this) brought up my packing style. I’m second guessing if this is whom I actually had the convo with, but the message has stuck with me, whoever it was with. The gist was when you pack a ton of stuff (or overpacking), you essentially have travel anxiety. When I first heard this it kinda made sense. I always overpack for every trip. I make up scenarios and needs for items that will not or never exist. I usually only use about 2/3 of what I bring, but I never seem to learn.

Soon, I’m leaving for a HUGE trip! A trip I want to shout out as the ‘trip of a lifetime.’ But for fear of jinxing it, I don’t want to say it. It also makes me feel guilty that I am not showing my excitement for a trip that was gifted to me. But I am excited. Barely containing my excitement, excited. But I’m trying to be a different traveler for this trip. So many random feels for something that should truly be exciting. I am definitely overthinking it all, which probably plays into this ‘travel anxiety’ or it is just part of my journey to understand myself more.

I’m in a weird place with this trip.

Family trips, couple trips, friends trips, ALL the trips — I’m usually the one who willingly plans out the details. Sometimes there are things pre-planned prior to traveling and sometimes I find things the day of, but usually, those who I’m with let me do my thing. I. Love. it. In the attempt to try to be more laid back and not pressure myself to plan, if I don’t feel inclined to do so, I am trying to travel differently. With this trip, from packing to the way I travel, I wanted to try something different. Just do what feels right and act accordingly. Not because I feel like I should do something, but because I want to do something.

I have been trying to figure out how I want to share this trip on social media. This is now a thing. I’m definitely overthinking it all, but therapy has me constantly questioning myself about what feels right for me. Does sharing every single second of my trip on IG stories sound fun? Or like a chore? Does once-a-day posting sound agreeable? Or am I just going to go on feel? I have no clue. I don’t want to set parameters on myself, but I do want to stay as present as possible. In the grand scheme of things, it really doesn’t matter what I do or do not post about my trip. I get to live it and that in itself is amazing.

Most of my friends and family know where I am going and how long I’ll be gone. But I have been trying not to divulge too many details. I also haven’t been obsessively looking into the details so I can enjoy each moment and location as it comes. Again, this is me trying to travel differently and experience this trip in a new (to me) way.

The one exciting, adult thing that I did do to prepare was to buy luggage. I splurged on the dreamy “Instagram luggage.” I wasn’t going too, but then I decided that it is a good investment and I’ll keep it for a long time. And if I don’t like it, I have 100 days to return it without any questions asked, plus it has a lifetime warranty. My friends keep saying I’ll be devastated after the trip, because of the scuffs and whatnot. But, I don’t really have an attachment to luggage, as I do for many other things. As long as it gets where it needs to be and keeps my stuff inside safe, then I’ll be okay. I did splurge even more and had it personalized. I figured, last time I didn’t get my name on my jersey, I regretted it. So I did not want to have that happen again 😉

Now that I’ve unloaded that, I can get back to more of the point I was originally trying to make.

With the countdown to my departure approaching, I wanted to see if overpacking was a form of travel anxiety. Of course, I went straight to the Interwebs and did a Google search. I came across a great Psychology Today article that ‘types’ out different packing styles and what it could indicate about their personality – Answers in a Suitcase. Fein, the author of said article, lists out ten different type of packers. I couldn’t find one I aligned with fully, but am a blend of a few of them.

I’m a good mix of the following

4. THE LAST-MINUTE PACKER—ORGANIZED STYLE – You are the kind of person who decides, plans and acts. You have an illusion of control and are upset when things get out of hand. You sometimes have trouble in relationships because you are more head than heart. Deep inside, you are childlike and whimsical, but this is not the face you present to the world. You are afraid of rejection.


10. JUST IN CASE – You want to be prepared for every eventuality. You try to cover your bases—in case this or that happens on the road. Some of it is reasonable, and some of it is over the top. You take care of others and give away too much of yourself. Although you seem to be open and trusting, you have a deep wariness about others, and try to prevent them from hurting you. You have a big heart.

But, add in this too...

5. THE CONSULTER – Packing is a group effort for you, and it involves asking your significant other, friends or family for advice. Does this shirt look good? What do they think of wearing all black? You need attention and caring and are not sure of yourself. You are a good friend to others. You require a lot of reassurance.

I will say, when assessing myself, I was really looking at the act of packing and how I aligned. But it was intriguing to read what my packing style said about my personality. Most of it blended together is true, but I don’t believe all of Fein’s assessments. But it was a fun and interesting read. I suggest you see which type of packer you are.

I’ve always thrown in random clothes at the last-minute and justified it as “just in case!” Verbatim. I usually always wait until the last-minute to do the majority of the packing. There is usually a small pile of stuff already organized to be packed, but the majority is left to the last-minute. I like to have a list, but sometimes it’s so last-minute that I don’t even have time to write a list out. Other times, I have my list, a pen, and some determination. This time around I did add in ‘The Consulter’ because I’ve never traveled to this part of the world and I felt like there would be good, free advice out there. Uncharacteristically, I used FB to crowdsource different things — packing and laundry trips. People had plenty of advice, mixed in with a little curiosity. I still wouldn’t post where I was going. But I did gather tons of great useful tips.

All of this helpful advice led to an extraordinary amount of supplies and things being purchased for my trip. Like, spending way too much before the actual trip 😉 I feel like if I admit this out loud, I won’t feel as bad about my purchases. But, I’ve bought some clothes, travel necessities, and travel size toiletries for my trip. Some are necessary and some because I was spoiling myself, but it made the packing and organizing process much more fun this time around.

All of my new purchases are organized and ready to be packed, in a nice little stack. My intention is to write them out in a list format, then write a list of things I still need to pack. It will be helpful to see my needs vs haves, then I can pack accordingly. Who knew a little packing strategy would make everything so much easier? It seems slightly over the top because it is. But I also feel prepared and am hoping this will negate me adding the “just in case” items before we leave. Using the lists to dictate my packing struggles will hopefully be a strategic tactic that keeps my luggage weight down and travels anxiety at bay.

So packing anxiety is a T H I N G! Like it’s searchable on the Interwebs. I did not find a specific definition of it, but there are plenty of tips to help relieve your packing anxiety. So, back to the conversation that started all this — overpacking is definitely a sign of packing anxiety, but they are not synonymous. There are plenty of articles with tips and tools to ease this type of anxiety. Interestingly enough, it can also be an indicator of certain characteristics of yourself (take with a grain of salt). So in all, there is something to the initial conversation, but maybe not the original assessment of my packing style. Regardless, I feel more educated and have a better understanding of myself, which is an awesome little bonus.

If I’m being completely honest, there are some nerves about my upcoming trip too. I’m nervous about how I will adjust to the time change, to the different language(s), a completely different culture, and the trip details overall. I use ‘nerves’ very loosely. I am slightly apprehensive, but I am using this apprehension to grow and challenge myself. I will not let stress dictate any blips during the trip and I will ebb and flow as much as the trip does. I accept there may be stressful moments (it’s traveling, duh), but staying present will remind me to work through those harder moments with grace.

I can’t wait to set off of my journey. I think it will be a trip of a lifetime, but I don’t have pressure for it to be. I think there will be bumps in the road and amazing food to taste, and I’m ready for ALL of it. More ready than I could have ever imagined. The heartache of this year has changed me a lot, but for the better! I’m a better woman, prepared for a life full of adventures. This one and all the ones to come after.

I can’t wait to put my passport to good use…


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