Monday, March 26, 2012

It's not travel anxiety, It's 'Things I Hate About Travelling'

I have a friend who tends to get, shall we say, anxious when she has to travel. I'm not sure why she gets this way, but weeks before a trip is due, her tweets will be full of everything that could possibly go wrong. And a few more disasters besides.

And, to add insult to injury, she once told me how easy I make travel seem. I mean, I am the one who meets disaster every time I travel. Who hates travelling alone, because I always worry I'll either forget something or lose something (although, to be fair, most of my travel disasters have happened when I've been in a group).

But then I thought about it, and I realised that in all fairness to her, I've never really talked about my travel stress. My tweets when I'm travelling are more along the lines of people watching and annoying airline people. So here, just for her, I put forward to you, all the things that stress me out when I travel. 

The thing I hate more than anything else, truth be told, is travelling alone. Which is how most of my travels have been for the past year, and I'll tell you why exactly it sucks. Because you have to lug your luggage with you everywhere. You want to go the restroom, or get something to eat (which in the case of O'hare is half a freaking mile away), or just check the latest flight status. You have to leave that precious seat next to the only functioning plug point, pick up all your luggage (because y'know, travelling light never does happen), and take it all with you. And then worry that you've left something behind, but don't know what it is, but you're sure you left something behind. Plus there's no one to really share all the little annoyances and quirks that you see in people around you that never really come out right when you relate them to people later.

And then there's security checks at airports. Which I loathe because they bring out all the clumsiness in me. Is it just me who thinks everyone else going through the process of taking off shoes and pulling out their laptops looks so damn self-assured and graceful while doing it? I seem to go all thumbs when it's my turn, and I always feel like everyone behind me is cursing how slow and stupid I am.

Which brings me to my biggest pet peeve: Perfectly groomed women. You've seen them. Heck, you probably are them. Colour-coordinated wardrobe, walking confidently in their five-inch heels, hair perfectly straightened, pulling their very stylish strolleys behind them. No matter what time of day or place it is.
My approach to catching early morning flights, especially when I was working, was usually getting into the most comfortable outfit I have, landing at my destination, and using the airport's washroom to do my minimal amount of make up etc. But there are all these women who surround me at the check-in counter even at 5 AM in the morning who look so put together that it is thoroughly intimidating. Not to mention those women who look as fresh at the end of an exhausting, crisis-filled day as they did in the morning. Me? My kaajal smudges within minutes of being put, no matter which brand (except Bobbi Brown, my latest discovery. Ladies, doesn't smudge. Truly.) or which season it is. How do they do it?!?

I enjoy travelling, I do. I like seeing places, visiting new cities and towns, trying local food. I like watching people as they travel, I love watching the skyline of a city as a flight takes off or lands, or fields and towns go by from the window of a train or bus. I do enjoy all that. 

It's just that the process of getting to those moments is so very draining and stressful, that you very often forget what lies beyond what's happening. Which I suppose could be said of life in general.

So there you are, R. Everything that stresses me when I travel. Now if only I haven't given you new things to stress about.

NB: The title of this post is totally stolen.


R said...

It's ok, you credited the source!

No, you haven't given me new things to worry about - as it turns out you worry about exactly the same things! My most potent worry, actually, is the my luggage will be too much and so this time I feel like I've packed too little (5 kg carry on? That's NOTHING!).

I actually DO make it a point to look 'good' or at least smart/trendy, yet practical, when I go flying. usually this means sneakers, jeans + belt regardless of whether they need one or not. Last time it meant boots with 3 inch heels because I had to take them to a mochi and didn't want to do it in Oz cos that would cost as much as the shoes. Part of my stress also involves rehearsing the laptop pull-out/put-in beforehand.

But I already mentioned this in my post so you are totes agreeing with me when I say the most stressful part of travel is the travelling. The new cities etc are GREAT I love exploring a new place (Delhi's as good as a new place this time). The energy spent getting TO them is the problem - I suppose we can be grateful it's not by ship.

I'm surprised you didn't mention my biggest stressor which I thought would be yours too - leaving your loved ones to go to a place 10,000km/miles away. I know this is the age of the internet and all but it still makes me uneasy. And oof, the 'heart in two places' thing ensures bummedness will follow you whenever you leave.

sumantakru said...

I think ship would be better. you set up home in a cabin and stay put while you float along for 2-3 weeks and then pack everything as you pack home.

Train too with an individual compartment is fun.

Like plane least of all. It doesn't give one time to settle down before it is already time to deplane.

a traveller said...

Given that I just did a non-stop 15-hour flight last week, I think i got plenty of time to settle :D

I don't think the leaving home piece has hit me all that much - I haven't done it as much and for as long as you've been doing. Most of my travels alone in the past few years were work-related, and only in the last year have I got into the leaving-home routine, which to a large degree was accompanied by anticipation for what lay ahead. So I guess I need a few more trips to make it a bugger stressor.

R said...

Great, so then instead of getting easier the more you do it, it's going to get progessively harder as you get more attached :/

Yeah, I like solo travel because I'm in control of everything but I hate solo travel because I have to be in control of everything. It's v. stressful because no matter how much preparation I do, it never seems to be enough. I always miss something, or appear to be taking a risk (e.g. this time my irreplaceable uni notes are flying in my check-in luggage).

Also lugging heavy suitcases around is the wurst :/ - after a long flight I'm always scared I won't have the energy to pull my bags off the carousel as it goes around in time AND I remain paranoid someone will nick them.

I think I'd get bored on a ship alone. No internet means 3 weeks of waiting to get there. Trains are great though, anything with wheels is #1 in my book. Airplanes are sort of a rip off because they're the most expensive and the most squashed (ignoring the fact that they get you to your destination in 1/10th of the time).