Whether it’s one week before you leave for your big adventure abroad or a few months prior, you are likely to encounter some pre-trip emotions.
As strong female travelers who want to get the most out of our experiences it is important to be aware of some of the most common emotions that may surface before you leave, and how to work through them.
Recently, I had an early going away party to celebrate my upcoming backpacking trip to Central and South America. The party was awesome. However, about three days after the party an interesting weather pattern of emotions floated in on my radar.
Call it what you will- closure, grief, or just a bad hangover-here are some of the fleeting sentiments that I experienced recently. If you feel these pre-trip emotions, here’s how to navigate them.
1. Sheer Bliss and Gratitude
A wave of bliss will overtake you at some point before you leave for your adventures abroad; the city you currently inhabit will take on a mystically beautiful aura. You will encounter watersheds of memories spent with family and friends. Lastly a few rip currents of gratitude might send you further out into your sea of euphoria as you catch glimpses of the daily life creature comforts you will soon abandon
2. Anger and Annoyance
My feelings of bliss and gratitude were promptly replaced by short bursts of anger and annoyance. For me, I began to get upset by small things that would have otherwise not bothered me. This second piece can also surface at work; feelings of disengagement at your job will happen because all you want to do is “check out” and get on that damn plane!
That deep gut-wrenching sadness, when the reality of your upcoming voyage hits you in the face like a brick. “What I am leaving!? No! Why? This is crazy.” Yep, you may have felt this similar pang of emotional turmoil at other large life crossroads…hello college graduation. I picture it as a giant hand writing the final sentences in chapter five of my biography and preparing to move onto chapter six. Unfortunately, nobody knows what chapter six is about.
As Go! Girl travelers we like to think of ourselves as intrepid women, akin to the likes of Angelina Jolie in Tomb Raider. Like it or not, even for the Lara Crofts among us, feelings of fright and doubt pre-departure are absolutely normal. Your mind may start entertaining ideas such as, “Am I really ready for something like this?” or “I am scared to leave behind my comfort zone here at home.”
5. Excitement/ Sense of WTF am I Doing!?
The final stage of the common pre-trip emotions…excitement! Yay! It is a month before your trip, the onward tickets are secured, you know what you want to pack and the first hostel awaits you with fresh linens (we hope). I keep going in and out of this stage. I get a surge of butterflies in my stomach and then my brain quickly says, “WTF! This is finally going to happen, I am so happy!” Bottom line here is that you have made it through the mucky feelings of closure and are strong and ready to embark on your amazing journey.
How to Navigate These Emotions
No doubt your pre-trip emotions will be uniquely your own, in any order and varying degrees of intensity. Here are a few tips on how to make it through.
1. Do not fight it or mask what you are feeling by staying busy- ease up, take time to be with it.
2. Stay excited and use this time to take small productive steps to get last minute planning done. That way your eye is still on the prize and you maintain focus.
3. Decompress and reflect on what piece of your life is ending. Journal, meditate, take a walk. Honor this recent chapter.
4. Know that you are not alone in feeling this way and that it will be okay. Seek out fellow travelers in Facebook groups that you can vent to.
5. Surround yourself with your most supportive people, whether that means a Skype date with mom or drinks with your favorite girls for the night. Be with people who lift you up and understand why you are choosing to travel.
I cried my eyes out before I moved to New Zealand! All of my friends drove me to the airport and everyone was sad. That, and the next couple of months were a little rough, but overall it was the best experience of my life!
I know I’m probably going to be a wreck once our departure date gets closer. I’m going to have to be the positive one for two people though because I know Scott is going to freak the eff out. I’ll have to come back to these tips when that time comes.