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Pre-Flight Anxiety- Par for the Course

Our arrival picture at Arlanda, a symbol of overcoming ANXIETY.

Long trips, and in particular international travel, always elicit feelings of both exhilaration and apprehension, also known as ANXIETY.

There is so much to look forward to: seeing amazing and beautiful places, experiencing a new culture, tasting traditional foods, learning new bits of history, and if lucky, making some new friends. On my most recent trip, all of these came true.

But, no matter what I am looking forward to, how well I have planned, or even what my past experience has taught me, the worry center of my brain starts going into overload a couple days before I leave. I have an onslaught of unwarranted thoughts about everything I might forget, every travel danger I might encounter, and every thing that could go wrong at home while I am gone.  Anxiety kicks in..  For me, and some other international travelers I know, this is par for the course.

I have learned to use checklists throughout my planning process, to ensure that none of the essential details get overlooked in the preparation. The most important portion of this checklist is day of departure list. Then I am certain everything necessary gets into my bags, and that all the necessary safety and security steps are taken to protect my home and family during my absence. This gives me some peace of mind when moments of anxiety creep up.

Our trip to Germany was our biggest yet. We were going further, and staying longer, then any trip before. There was so much to look forward to, that all the worries stayed in the background, until the very last day. Then they kicked into over drive, and circumstances played their part to really perpetuate it all.

The morning of our departure, I woke to find my car had a completely flat tire, for no apparent reason. I inflated it with the compressor, only to find I could hear the very slow leak of air, as soon as the compressor was turned off. Rather than try to find a tire on Sunday, we decided we would drive my son's car to OHare. I got in his car to fill the tank, and found that it was well (3,000 miles well) past due for an oil change. The drive to and from the airport is about 260 miles. So I decided it would be a pointless risk and contribution to the eventual demise of the car, to make this drive without the oil change. I took the car to the only open shop in town to get it done.

In the midst of the oil change the manager approaches me with some mechanical piece in his hands. This is never a good sign! He tells me it is a broken tire pressure sensor, and that the only reason this car does not have a flat tire is because the sensor was stuck in the engaged position. At any moment, it could come unstuck, and the tire would deflate!

Needless to say, I spent the next 2.5 hours at the shop, waiting for the new sensor to arrive and be changed. My son could not pick me up, since my car had the flat, and the $25 each way taxi fare was not worth the hour I would get at back at home before the necessary return to retrieve the car. So, I sat and I waited.

At this point, my irrational fears were telling me this is all a warning, a great big omen of pending doom, and I should NOT go on this trip. I actually succumbed to a making a calculation of just how much money was going to be lost, if I were to just stay home instead, which was no small amount of change! If the conversation in my head had been broadcast, everyone in the shop would have thought I was crazy!

Finally, once I got the car home, just 2 hours before departure time, I convinced myself that it was not an omen, but a test. The universe was testing my resolve to take this incredible excursion. I had made a couple big trips, and said I was becoming a dedicated world explorer, but apparently I needed to prove the path I was choosing. My son and I calmly packed our luggage into the car, and went through all of the home security items on our checklist, and departed.

I don't know whether the events of that day were truly a test of my determination, but they definitely were not an omen. Of course, there was the usual stress of security and airplane flight, but 13 hours of safe travel later we would land at Arlanda Airport, in Stockholm, Sweden, for our layover. I took the picture from the airplane, as a symbol of our safe arrival, conquered fears, and the overcoming of anxiety.

Anxiety can tell you traveling is not right for you.  If you long to see the world, you deserve to.  Don't let anxiety beat you.  We will post more about anxiety in the future, and my security line sweats.  In the meantime, if you suffer from in-flight anxiety, check out this article for some tips to cope.

Arriving at Arlanda was the beginning of what would be an utterly amazing trip!  I am glad I won my battle with anxiety that day.  You will be too!


For more about me, and my why I share these stories with you, see Who We Are..

3 thoughts on “Pre-Flight Anxiety- Par for the Course

  1. Travel is so much more stressful than all those beautiful scenery pictures can ever depict – thanks for sharing this. I’d also love to see your checklist (I LOVE a list!) 🙂 Happy travels.

    1. Thank you Jo! Still working a little bit on learning, formatting and planning, but I will make a point to get that list up in the next couple weeks!

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