Apprehension of Going on a Trip

E very time I prepare to go on a trip, there is always a sense of perturbation prior to leaving. Never mind that I have been traveling for years all over the world — whether it is a location in some distant land or a short jaunt to a nearby destination. Whether or not I am completely prepared for the trip does not seem to matter.

Apprehension of Going on a Trip

I originally was going to use the word anxiety to describe what I go through; but I felt that it was too strong of a word because I have never suffered from a panic attack — to my knowledge, anyway — and I have no known phobias. A number of things do go through my head prior to embarking on my next travel adventure, though: do I have everything I need for my trip? Am I taking too many things? Is my overall itinerary correct? Can this matter wait until I return? Did I prepare my home in a way that no one will know that I am gone?

Despite things working out well virtually every time, I still get that nagging feeling — especially when I have not traveled in a while. Of course, that feeling goes away once I start traveling…

…but the one thing which amazes me every single time I am about to embark on a trip is that the trip reminds me of just how much I have to do which has nothing to do with the trip. The voice mailbox is full. A message requires a response. An emergency repair must be completed. A sale on something I need is about to expire. Action must be taken by me on a plethora of items, as I am asked to do things which are considered important at virtually the last minute.

In other words, I need to save the world from certain doom. You know — minor things like that.

Somehow travel likes to remind me of what I am apparently going to be neglecting while I am gone. Regardless of how much I accomplish prior to my trip, there is always more errands and chores to be done — without fail. Staying home and giving everything the sudden attention needed would be so much easier — but then, what is the fun in that?

Why can’t all of the things which require my attention catch me during a slower week nowhere close to the day when my travel begins? And how does that pile in the middle of the floor which I have not had time to put away suddenly blossom into this massive landfill which overtakes my office?

I do not even have to mention that I am about to travel. Somehow all of this stuff knows — as if tasks and papers and text messages all have minds of their own and use their social media accounts to spread the word faster than an airline can have a passenger dragged off an airplane all bloodied and embarrassed.

Why can’t this stuff be more like an airline which takes five days to get its operations back to some semblance of normal? Cough.

The Trip Itself

“In Laos, I experienced the unluckiest 48 hours of my life: it involved eating a cockroach, staying in the dirtiest accommodation I’ve seen, watching a woman die from malaria, sitting next to the woman and her grieving husband for several hours, getting locked inside the next guesthouse I stayed in, having another cockroach run over my face as I slept, and being sexually assaulted by a backpacker.”

Lauren — I do not know her last name — apparently has been suffering from panic attacks since she was 16 years old and wrote this article for NomadicMatt about how to ease anxiety before a trip…

…and here I was, concerned about potentially long lines at airport security checkpoints, delayed or canceled flights, dealing with rude and clueless people, hotel reservations, car rental agreements, the quality of the food I eat, and ensuring that I planned my trip accordingly while still leaving enough room for spontaneity.

Wow. I guess everything is relative…


The apprehension can be rather daunting at times — almost to the point where I change my mind and do not want to travel after all.

Yeah. Right.

Hey — I did say almost

…but the irony is that I rarely forget anything and usually do accomplish a lot before embarking on a trip — everything is usually all right when I return as things wait for me to pay them attention and get things done — but that does not help to ease that temporary nervousness.

Many articles exist with advice on how to reduce anxiety prior to embarking on a trip — and I follow the basic advice which I gave in this article pertaining to what you can do about identity theft and credit card fraud and how to reduce your risk — but I have found that for me, the only true cure for that trepidation is to just go. Once my journey has begun, all of that concern magically melts away and I concentrate on having a successful trip and live in the moment while I am traveling…

…and that is often an amazing feeling.

Photograph ©2017 by Brian Cohen.

7 thoughts on “Apprehension of Going on a Trip”

  1. Jason says:

    I go on 4 overseas vacations a year.
    Here is what I do now to make it less stressful when I travel:
    1. As soon as I get back from a trip, I prepare my suit case for my next trip that will be in the next 3-4 months (minus the clothes for that trip).
    2. A month before my trip I plan and prepare all the clothes that I will bring for the next trip.
    3. Two weeks before I leave for my trip, except for a few toiletries, I am packed and ready to go.
    4. A week (7 days) before my departure, all of my clients and co-workers have been fully informed of my trip, I have confirmed my hotels, have all my financial accounts and credit cards etc ready. I am now ready to leave with just 15 minutes notice.
    5. The week before I leave, I am mentally and emotionally prepared for the flood of issues and problems that inevitably will pop up at the last minute for me to deal with. I am fully ready for battle and working 12-15 hours a day to deal with whatever comes up. It is much less stressful this way because there is nothing else that I need to do for my trip (other than checking in online of course), and I am ready to leave at a moment’s notice.
    Traveling was far more stressful before I created the above system.

    1. Brian Cohen says:

      Those are excellent tips, Jason — thank you — and you just reminded me of something about which I actually never thought because it is purely a habit of mine:

      There are certain items which I never remove from my bag when I am at home because they are dedicated solely to travel — razor, shaving cream, deodorant, toothpaste to name a few — so packing is not only easier and quicker for me; but so is unpacking…

      …and I do not have to be concerned with forgetting those items on the next trip.

      1. Jason says:

        I actually have several kits too that I use for all my trips keep in my suitcase.
        1. A small first aid kit that I put together with band aids, disinfectant, and a small tube of antibiotic ointment.
        2. A small medicine bag that has cold, stomach ache, and allergy remedies and ointments.
        3. Small toiletries bag that includes nail clipper etc.
        4. Small umbrella and light weight sandals.
        After each trip I replenish them and put them back in my suitcase as part of getting ready for my next trip. I also clean all of my bags after every trip and remove all stains, tags, and stickers.

  2. Charles says:

    My anxieties are related to two issues;
    1, Keeping track of all Hotels and early morning flights.
    2, Cover all insurance risks. While rare, medical problems can happen while travelling. Find out if your medical insurance and/or credit card will cover these expenses. Arrange travel insurance for other expenses and hope not to use it.

    1. Brian Cohen says:

      You have given a good reminder for people who travel to ensure that they are properly — but not overly — insured, Charles.

      Thank you.

  3. Jake says:

    What you wrote describes me perfectly. It’s not a pleasant experience. It does dissappear when I make it through security or get on the road.

    1. Brian Cohen says:

      …and once it disappears, the travel experience becomes more than worth enduring the apprehension, Jake — at least, in my opinion…

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