Here’s something no one says to you when you’re planning a big exciting trip away: Travel is scary.
Leaving home and flying to a place where you might not know a soul or speak the language with nothing but an overpacked bag and a lonely planet guide is bloody terrifying. Sure it’s also liberating, exciting, incredible and life changing but that doesn’t stop it from making you feel a bit wibbly. The problem is that everyone else around you waiting to send you off only see the good bits, they don’t know about the spiteful little voice in the back of your mind saying ‘You know you’re going to regret this, right?’
They don’t see you shaking as you press send on your visa application or bursting in to tears as the plane lifts off the tarmac because you really don’t know when you’ll be back.
When my Dad said goodbye to me four years ago he was genuinely baffled about why I was crying so much. “But you’re going to Australia! It’s so exciting!” He didn’t get that I was of course unbelievably excited to be finally seeing another continent, and one that I’d wanted to visit ever since I could remember. But that didn’t stop me from feeling sad as I hugged my Dad for the last time for a long time.
It’s harder for the person leaving to say goodbye too, don’t forget that. Everyone else just gets one person to miss, not nearly everyone they love.
Leaving a job and not knowing when you’ll next get paid is scary, regardless of how well you’ve saved. Leaving your friends and security network is hard. Leaving your whole life behind is unnerving.
So if you freak out, that’s okay. I just don’t get why no one talks about it. It’s like it’s not okay to admit that you’re feeling anything other than euphoric. Jesus, even when you get married people expect you to get last minute jitters. And plane tickets home are cheaper than a divorce, or so I’m told.
This expectancy makes it hard to vocalise what you might be feeling. No one wants to put a scaredy status on boastbook, only the ‘5 more days until freedom!” posts. Your friends don’t want to hear you complaining about how worried about things you are. Complaining about your amazing upcoming trip? Hello, first world problems ahoy!
Looking back to how I felt almost four years ago I wish I could give my old self a big hug. It’s easy now I can see with hindsight how awesome a time I was going to have, how my adventures over here would shape me into a better person and change my life.
Peering in from the other side though there is just a blank page, and that’s both liberating and terrifying.
On the eve of leaving for my first ‘big trip’ in nearly two years (where did the time go?) I have to remind myself of this once again. Because although I’ve spent the last few months counting down every hour until we leave I am also freaking the fuck out.
But I also know that it’s normal to feel like this. Feel the fear and do it anyway? That should be your travel motto.
A couple of years ago one of my good friends was coming to Australia. Right before they left I sent them a message:
“Hey, I just realised that you’re leaving today in Australia time. You’re probably excited but scared if you’re anything like me. I just want to say that even if you’re worried or scared you’re going to love every minute of the next couple of years.”
I got this reply:
“I am so frickin’ scared! I haven’t packed a thing. I just keep thinking, what the f*ck am I doing?!”
And this was from someone who had been to far more countries than me!
So my point is this: lets talk about the fear. Lets admit that travel is scary, but we still love doing it.Wobbling about your decision before you embark on a trip doesn’t mean you’re a bad traveller, it means you’re a normal human being. And that’s okay.