Last time I was in an airport it was 2013. I was still used to flying then, even though I hadn’t flown in a year.
Now it’s been 8 years since I’ve been in an airport. I’ve taken the float plane to Vancouver, but that’s a completely different experience: no check ins, no security, no line-ups, no waiting to get out of the plane.
I’m feeling a surge of anxiety about travelling that I can’t suppress. I worry about whether I can still take my small suitcase as carry-on luggage, whether I’ll make it to the airport in time, if there will be parking, what will I eat now that I’m on this low-carb diet, do I still have to carry my liquids in a separate bag, should I bring spare medications or just the ones I need…you name it, I can worry about it. It doesn’t help that I’m flying during the late stages of the pandemic, so I’ll be masked the whole time, wondering if the guy coughing two aisles over from me has the Delta variant or not.
Anxiety is a major reason why I don’t travel.
Of course, many of these things are silly to worry about. My suitcase can likely still count as carry-on baggage, I’ll probably make it to the airport on time and not have a problem finding parking, and the guy two aisles over likely doesn’t have COVID.
Unfortunately, anxiety doesn’t respond well to logic, so instead I have to come up with coping strategies to calm it.
Things like checking in the day before, so I have my boarding pass and seat already selected, and comparing the allowed dimensions of carry-on luggage to my suitcase measurements before I leave. Like setting an early alarm, so I’m up and on my way with enough time to find a parking spot and get through security before heading to my boarding gate. I’ll bring snacks so I always have something low-carb to eat, and will pack my regular medications plus some extra in case of flight delays. I’ll wear a new N95 mask the whole time. Each solution will help manage one of the problems I’ve identified above.
Much of my anxiety stems from being outside of my comfort zone. I’m comfortable at home, where I can control things to some degree and the days are fairly predictable. I have enough medications. The fridge is stocked with food I can eat. I don’t have to be anywhere at a specific time. I can have a nap anytime I need to, I can go for a walk on familiar trails. I have a daily routine that works for me.
I know that it’s good to get out of your comfort zone, to mix up your routine. You can get stuck in a rut doing the same things all the time. But there’s a difference between being stuck in a rut and keeping anxiety at bay. I do mix things up a bit, like walking somewhere different or running errands instead of reading. However, travelling is a much bigger leap out of my comfort zone than doing small things over time to expand that zone.
I’ll keep parts of my routine while I’m away: the daily walk, the daily nap, the low-carb diet. But in other ways things will be different, and I’ll have to roll with that, something that doesn’t come easily to the anxious.
One thing I won’t be keeping up is this blog – I’m taking two weeks off from it and will be back the third week in August.
Wish me luck with my travels!
Featured image is free from Pixabay.