Travelling makes me nervous.
Perhaps that’s why I haven’t done a lot of it. As I approached my high school graduation, I imagined spending my gap year trekking through South America with a backpack bigger than my head and torso combined, or hostel-hopping around Europe, absorbing cultural experience and foreign beers in equal parts. But booking tickets, packing my bag, getting on a plane and navigating my way around?
Nope. Nup. Nah-uh.
I’m not saying I don’t travel at all – I’ve visited my fair share of countries, even spending a couple of months studying in Indonesia. But around the world adventures? I haven’t quite gotten there yet.
Tomorrow, we hop on a plane to Fiji. While I’m super excited for the trip, I’ve spent the last few days in a frazzle, making sure we’re ready to go and I know I’ll spend half of my night in a cold sweat trying to shake the feeling I’ve forgotten something.
So what better time to list exactly what makes me fret when it comes to travelling.
Having enough dosh to not only book tickets and accommodation, pay for travel insurance, cover any additional expenses and then be able to afford meals, sight seeing and shopping is just one big headache. I’m not great at saving money and I owe quite a few of my friends apologies for broken promises to come and visit in their respective countries, but just haven’t been able to save up the money to do so (I’m looking at you Amy and Stacey!). South east Asia? I can just about afford that. Europe? Excuse me have you seen the price of a one way ticket? In the meantime, I really like those shoes on sale over there…
When a miracle occurs and I actually have enough moola to book a plane ticket (and sometimes one back again), actually going through the process of sorting out times and prices makes me pretty nervous. I think the main issue is that I’m dealing with a lot of money and no matter where I’m going or which airline I’m booking with, I have this crazy fear I’m going to do something wrong and not be able to get my money back.
My boyfriend often finds me with a shaky finger hovering over the ‘Confirm payment’ button while muttering all of the details under my breath just to reconfirm to myself that yes, they are all correct and no, I haven’t booked that flight for the wrong year.
I once saw some bargain flights to Sydney and knowing I had a trip lined up a few months down the track, jumped online so I didn’t miss out on the deal. It wasn’t until after I’d paid for them I realised I’d booked my flight from the wrong airport. See? My fears confirmed.
Deciding where to stay
Did you know that there are thousands upon thousands of hotels/motels/resorts/backpackers you can stay in around the world? Of course you did. But this fact is even more obvious to me when I’m trying to find somewhere nice to stay that won’t break the budget, but won’t also have me writing a furious Trip Advisor review whilst in a bed bug fuelled rage.
Here’s a hint – websites LIE. Yeah, I know, I’m as shocked as you are. Kudos to all those dodgy resorts who manage to turn photos of a swimming pool that wouldn’t pass most health regulations into something that resembles a watery paradise fit for a mermaid princess. Therefore, Trip Advisor is my absolute ‘go to’ website when I’m trying to work out what is the real deal. The reviews are priceless and help reassure me I’ll be spending my hard earned holiday in heaven, not “for heaven’s sake, what is that smell?”
Do I have enough clothes? How many pairs of shoes do I need? What if the temperature unexpectedly drops by 20 degrees? How many books will I read? Am I taking enough shades of red lipstick? Am I even going to wear red lipstick?
I am a notorious list writer when it comes to packing for a trip, and that is exactly what I did the other day. Four pairs of shorts, four dresses and five tops – that sounded reasonable. When I started packing, I wondered what the heck I was thinking when I wrote that list, because I need options and I’m not leaving the country without them! I will take clothes with me I haven’t worn in months, let alone will want to wear on a two week trip in a foreign country. But what if I need them? And so in the suitcase they go. Don’t even get me started on the ‘travel sized’ toiletries I just spent up big on in the supermarket (but they’re just so cute and handy!).
Getting on the plane
This is the one part of traveling that makes my heart go into overdrive and my brain short circuit more than any other. We live about a two hour drive from the airport and I have calculated and re-calculated what time we should leave so many times I’ve forgotten where we’re even flying.
So many times I have been over prepared and arrived at the airport so early, I’ve read half a book before I’ve even been able to check my luggage in. But running like a mad woman through an airport to just make the gate before it closes? Not my cup of tea. (Although I did witness my mum and her best friend do that once, and I admit it was pretty humourous for those of us not almost missing our flights home.)
International flights get me in an even bigger frenzy because if that plane leaves without you, it is not so easy to whack an extra ticket on your credit card; it usually means you’re taking that over packed suitcase right back home again.
Tomorrow morning, I’ve prepared to arrive at the airport three hours before our flight and I’m already worried there’ll be a hold up on the freeway and we’ll be late. Knocking on wood as I speak.
Knowing where to go
Seeing all the sights
I spend a considerable amount of time researching the best places to visit and the most reputable tour companies to use before I go anywhere. Before our trip to Thailand I actually booked most of our trips so I didn’t have to worry about paying for them when we got there either. Trip Advisor is again a great place to find out which companies do the best tours and which ones are worth paying a little extra for. When you’re out cruising the islands with a dozen other people on a pretty fancy looking speedboat and pass a slightly ancient looking vessel packed to the brim with hot and bothered tourists, you know those extra bucks were worth it.
On that note, I have a 4am alarm set that I absolutely cannot sleep through and a suitcase to finish packing! At the end of the day, as long as I have my passport, my credit cards and an internet connection, you can pretty much buy anything you forget and this, my friends, helps me sleep a little sounder before take off.
But fingers crossed things go smoothly and wish me luck; I’ll be thinking of you all when the worries are behind me and I’m lying on the beach with a mocktail in hand! (Until we have to come home again. Sigh.)