I like to challenge myself with going to new places and doing new things. I do love to travel. But then I always get hit with anxiety before the trips. This pattern started when we began going on scuba diving trips to faraway places. We would usually go on one big trip a year. Before that trip, I would start to worry about things – big and little things. I would worry that between trips I had forgotten how to scuba dive, or that I hadn’t made the correct airplane connections, or that we would miss our flight, or that I wouldn’t pack all the right items, and on and on. I think my main worry was that we would spend all this money on a trip, get days away from home, and find out that we hated the place. I just had a lot of unfounded worries running around in my head and they would grow and grow the closer it got to the trip. This anxiety would manifest in stomach aches and sleepless nights.
As a big trip was approaching, I found myself swearing that I would never plan another trip like this again. This would be last one. I knew the anxiety was all in my head (and my gut), but that didn’t keep it from being any less real for me. But I also knew I could not give in to the anxiety, that I had to follow through on my trip. The worry wasn’t always about going on the trip; it was sometimes about not being able to go – so I worried about getting sick before the trip, or having an accident, or anything that might cause us to miss the trip. One time, when we were going to Indonesia, the war with Iran broke out and U.S. citizens were advised not to travel to Muslim countries. Of course, Indonesia is one of the biggest Muslim countries in the world. At the same time, the SARS epidemic was happening in that part of the world, and we were flying through Hong Kong, another place people were advised not to go due to SARS. We were supposed to leave the country the day after they put out the travel adversary – what to do? This one was really a stomach turner. But we decided to go and it turned out to be one of our most amazing trips.
So we are going to the Galapagos next week and my anxiety is back. Will we have a good time? Will I pack the right clothes? Will we be able to eat anything while we are there, due to our wheat allergies and our restrictions on eating meat and fish? Will the hikes be too strenuous? The worries go on and on. One thing I know though is that I would have missed so many wonderful experiences, if I had listened to my stomach! So off we will go and I’ll try to bring lots of pictures back to share.