Travel anxieties

Something happens to a woman when she becomes a mother: she starts to worry about things – crazy things that will never happen. It’s very frustrating but there’s nothing that can be done about it except to laugh at the absurdity and put up with the worries.

Next week I’m going to Barcelona for work. It should be a great trip but I’m feeling anxious about it. I’m worried about leaving my kids even though I’m sure they’ll be just fine. I’m worried about the plane crashing even though I know the risk is miniscule – I really hate flying. I’m worried I might catch ebola while I’m there and get sick and die even though I’m probably no more likely to catch ebola in Spain than Scotland. I’m worried there might be an earthquake and the building I’m staying in will collapse and imprison me (I’ve always been a bit claustrophobic). I’m worried an Icelandic volcano will erupt while I’m there and ground all the planes in Europe preventing me from returning to my family. This probably isn’t so bad as Spain is not far away and I could probably return by train and ferry. I lay in bed last night with a long list of things I was anxious about and I’m now worried I might have left one out.

I have never taken anti-anxiety drugs. I don’t think I’m anxious enough to warrant that but hopefully writing about it and hearing what other people are anxious about might help. So if you feel anxious about something, please share it!

44 thoughts on “Travel anxieties

  1. If it helps, a lot of this anxiety is because your children are still so young and need you. While we all have anxieties, it’s worse when a child depends on you.
    You will be fine during your trip, nothing will happen, and your kids will be fine too. They will have a chance to grow, which may surprise you.
    A safe alternative to anti-anxiety drugs is the homeopathic Rescue Remedy 🙂 Good Luck and have fun!

  2. I’m worried that you will forget your camera. I love all the great photos you take of places I have never been and likely never will see. So be sure to pack it.

    1. Wow, bruises! I haven’t gone that far. People around me aren’t aware that I’m feeling nervous and I’m usually fine once I’m on the plane. It’s take-off and landing that I think about it most as I’ve read those are the most dangerous times when flying. Humans just aren’t supposed to fly!

  3. Diet may also be important. I understand that eating animal products (especially offal) is not for you, but you may want to try how you feel after not eating gluten grains for a month and eating more fermented foods (home made, because the ones in the stores are normally pasteurized, which kills the microbes you need and because home made has more biodiversity).

    1. I’m pretty sure I don’t have an intolerance to gluten. I don’t have any of the symptoms of this disease and I have none of the symptoms the woman in that article reported other than feeling anxious about my travel plans. I don’t have acne or eczema or dry patchy skin, I have regular periods, my blood pressure is normal, my BMI is normal (19.5), my iron levels are normal and all other vital signs are fine. I have no problems going cycling and running everyday and sleep well at night. I have annual blood tests because I had gestational diabetes during my first pregnancy and this puts me at greater risk of type 2 diabetes. So I get tested every year and so far it has been fine. But I also get the doctor to test for other things because I explain I’m vegan and so they test my B12 and iron levels as well. I also eat lots of fat. I understand the importance of fat in the diet and do not try to limit my intake. I eat heaps of nuts and am very generous with the olive oil in my cooking and can easily eat a whole avocado in one sitting. The only thing I try to limit in my diet is sugar. But fat is fine.

      I think I’d find it very hard to be gluten-free as gluten-free plant foods – like corn and rice – have a higher GI and I try to eat foods with a low GI. Wheat and oats are better for blood sugar levels. I think it would be virtually impossible to be a gluten-free, vegan, diabetic.

      1. Oh I didn’t know that about high/low GI and gluten. It’s rare to read something about wheat being better for certain things than others.

      2. There are a number of vegan recipes that use gluten as an ingredient – they call it seitan – as it’s a good source of protein. It’s actually really yummy and has a meaty texture. Some info here – http://www.vrg.org/recipes/vjseitan.htm. I’ve made it before and I don’t have any problems when I eat it. I’m sure there are many people who do have an intolerance to wheat but I also think it has become fashionable to be gluten-free and many people avoid it for no good reason.

        When I had gestational diabetes I was taking my blood sugar three times a day so I got to know which foods had more of an impact on my blood sugar. Rice was bad whereas pasta was fine.

  4. Hi Rachel,

    As I was reading the comments, Safari on my iPad crashed. That’s neither here nor there; it does that occasionally, though very rarely. But as it automatically relaunched and the page reloaded, I was taken back up to the top, and somehow, seeing your banner image in the context of this post suddenly reminded me of A Tale of Momentum and Inertia.

    Wishing you and your family a wonderful and safe new year in that beautiful place!

  5. I am anxious about water, heights, flying. I can’t swim or play at water parks, can’t enjoy rides in theme parks, yeah, take off and landing make me nervous too.

    I try to stay away from these as much as I can. Wherever not possible, I try to cover up my fear, believing everything will be alright. So I wish the same to you. Everything will be alright.

    My worst nightmare is to imagine how my child and wife will be taken care in case I m not here. Hopefully God will be kind to me.

    1. I can definitely understand why you’d be anxious about water! I’m anxious around water since I had kids as I’m now worried they might drown. I’m not worried about myself though. Your worst nightmare is the same as mine.

  6. If I were to tell you what makes me anxious, I’d never get to the end of the list. 🙂 However, I love flying. Perhaps you should talk to yourself about each thing that is making you anxious and follow it through to the end. e.g. If there were an Icelandic volcano and you couldn’t fly because of the ash, you could either wait in Barcelona or go home via other transport. It won’t work for everything but might help quell a few anxieties. Good luck!!

    1. I think there’s probably a genetic component to the levels of anxiety we feel. Daniel is more anxious than most kids and I’m sure I’m to blame for that.

  7. You never know real fear until you have children. I used to stress a lot more until I put myself in worst-case scenario and realized I am blessed with amazing people in my life who will always be there for my family. I’d rather nothing separated us, but they will by just fine without me. That makes things a lot less stressful.

    1. Yes, I think my kids would be fine without me too. They’re not so little anymore and they’ve got a terrific dad. He’s a better parent than I am in many ways.

      1. Of course it goes without saying they they are much better off with you in the picture, but still a bit reassuring to know they are cared for, I think.

  8. I worry more about my kids when I am with them. I don’t worry when they’re at school that something bad will happen, for example, but at home, I get light-headed when they are at the top of the stairs. I think of them constantly on trips, and miss them until it hurts.

    Before all trips, what I end up stress-dreaming about is getting to the airport and not having my passport, and/or waking up 20 minutes before I have to be at the airport and not being able to pack. In my dreams I’m always EXTREMELY SHOCKED that I need a passport for international travel, and honestly not that concerned about not having a suitcase.

    1. I usually have the passport panic when I’m at the airport and I end up triple checking it.

      Worrying when the kids are at home makes more sense as most accidents happen in the home anyway.

  9. Rachel, I am not sure if there is a genetic component to anxiety, but there sure is a ‘nurture’ one! I think we do learn to have anxieties. As Philip Larkin memorably wrote in a poem, “They fuck you up, your mum and dad” … so that even the benign ‘I hope you will be ok, I am worried about you’ is programming anxiety. But, not wishing to be presumptuous about your case, I would say in general that fear can be unlearned, and NOT through some analysis of deep seated causes but forward looking, through practical re-learned responses e.g. as in Susan Jeffers’ book “Feel the Fear and Do It Anyway”.

    1. Well, that’s exactly what I’m doing – feeling the fear and going anyway. It’s not so bad. The first time I left the kids for a trip was the hardest and this time is still hard but easier than the first. It’ll probably get easier each time I go away.

  10. When we leave our younger days behind we lose some of our familiarity with independence and doing things alone. Add to this the worry of letting things/people out of sight, out of control.

    Getting past the anxiety, just as you are doing, rebuilds confidence. Best of Luck and remember it is no different to what it was before. 🙂

    1. I’ve heard that the closer we get to death the more we fear it. I suppose this makes sense. When we’re very young and death seems so far away there’s not really any need to think about it. As we get older and near the end of our lives then it’s natural to think about it some more.

  11. But does training ourselves to not worry about (comparatively) little things also make us more prone to shrugging off the big society-scale ones?

    1. I think worry serves an evolutionary purpose. If we didn’t worry about our children then we might have been careless parents and child mortality used to much higher than it is now so worrying about our children was probably an important factor in keeping them alive. How this translates over to big picture worries like climate change I’m not sure. But I imagine that being worried about it is also motivation to do something about it.

  12. Something happens to a woman when she becomes a mother: she starts to worry about things – crazy things that will never happen.

    Well… I’m not a woman (or a mother for that matter) but I can relate to the “crazy things that will never happen” part. For myself, the anticipation before a trip is usually when the anxiety is at its worst. Then, once I get to the airport, I find myself in “travel mode”, and just go through the steps without much thought. It seems to get a little easier each time. And while it might not cure the anxiety, hopefully it helps knowing that others feel the same.

    1. Thanks, Ryan! It is very good to know that other people go through the same thing. I expect I will go into travel mode as well – that’s what usually happens – and once I’m there will enjoy myself immensely.

  13. Things that scare me? Most probably something terrible happening to my husband or kids, when my friends get really unwell- also that someone that I saw as a friend turns out to be rather antisocial and nasty- or is just plain mean- I’ve had the last one happen a few times, so perhaps my worry about that is qualified. Then again I have some excellent friends that balance that out. I still have dreams that I ve forgotten to finish my thesis or not gone to an exam and wake up with my heart beating nine to the dozen- I guess I have been worried about being flattened by a truck on a training ride, though I would probably be unconscious before I knew what was going on- probably being incapacitated by illness, that is mental or physical which limits the ability to function as fully as I do now- that is a bit scary- Every day we get up is a risk taking process- the key is not letting the fear of what could happen take over the joy of what the future holds and enjoying what we have at this moment- that’s the present- as it is a gift only available to those who are able to hold on to it.

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