On Anxiety (3): Travel

See the earlier 1 and 2.

I’m away from Manchester and been so for nearly a month. But I get back in a day or so. We’ll have been away for about a month for winter holidays. This is our most regular trip and regular trip to the US. We got our visiting down nearly to a science then deaths, moves, and wackiness messed it up. Now it’s back to hoping and calling with only Xmas day being a clear and certain thing. The beloved and I are not well suited for that sort of form of life! Which isn’t good since that’s our form of life.

My anxiety about travelling has gotten more manageable if only because I’ve done so much of it. I remember a planned trip I had to back out of that my mom arranged. We were going to go to Vienna together. I bailed pretty close to the date. The fear of not speaking German was overwhelming (I recall that being the proximate anxiety which killed the trip).

Another factor is a kind of giving up. I don’t stress because I just go into full denial mode. Well, not so full as it used to be. (I have, at one time, shown up in a city, ran into an acquaintance going to the same conference, and asked, “Do you know what hotel I’m staying at and where it is?” I was dead serious.) But a key aspect is ignoring it. This is a kind of practice for ignoring the irrational things. I’ve slowly lifted the ignoring everything. I can pack, some stuff. Mostly. And pretty sensibly. I can book some things! Quite a few! I’d say there’s no category per se that I can’t book in most cases. Usually, booking fear only happens if there are other forces at work. Having clear lines of funding really helps. I generally don’t have to ask or wonder how a trip is being paid for…it’s in some budget, already.

I used to not sleep all night before pretty much any travel at all, but especially flights. This is no longer a rule! Part of the pattern would be delay in packing/prep, then it getting later, then being afraid of not waking up in time or sleeping through the alarms. Next thing you’d know, it’s morning. Zoe taking over some of (to all of) the packing or prep helped a lot in transitioning off that pattern.

There was perhaps a year where we tried to get me to do day trips outside of Manchester, i.e., hope a train to a hike in the Peak District. It’s very doable now, but that year was rough. Each weekend we’d try and maybe get close to the station before having to abort it.

Google transit has been a godsend these past few years (as is my smartphone in general). It just makes sorting out things on the fly a million time easier. Since I do it all the time anyway, there are few barriers to working with it in a novel travel situation. The biggest issue is connectivity!

One thing that clearly persists is that I really hate transitions. When I’m at my destination, I’m fine. If I’m at home, I’m fine. Even on the plane or train, I’m fine. Getting to the plane or train is a bit nerve-wracking. Anticipating going to the other place (even if I really want to be there!) is still a big deal. But not a crushing big deal anymore! It’s really quite liveable. I can identify it and discount it and even ameliorate it a bit with visualisation or other techniques.

(And this post is definitely me procrastinating late on a big complex set of complex chunks of work that need to be done through a flight home, i.e., one meeting the day the flight takes off and a teaching gig the next day after the flight lands. Whee! But I think it’s the work (reviewing contracts, updating slides) plus the volume (there’s really a lot and I didn’t get as much done as I wanted during break partly due to being sick) that’s the driver at the moment.)