I am in the Travel Panic Zone

Length of trip divided by two is the time before a trip when I start to panic. This trip is 48 days long (almost seven weeks). Half of that is 24. That sets my “start to panic” date as June 1. That is about when I started to panic. I paniced for several days, ordered new clothes for the trip (this is part of my panic) and now I am in that calm part of the panic zone, where I think I am pretty organized and everything is going well and this time I will not go into major panic. Except, of course, I will.

I am not a calm person in the best of times. I am a bit highly strung, a bit intense, somewhat obsessive. Steve says I am “high maintenance” (but, I don’t think I really am – he just forgets what high maintenance is really like).

You need to panic more for a long trip. The watering system could break, your housesitter might not notice, and for seven weeks water could pour from your yard to the street. A neighbor could bulldoze your house (don’t laugh, one time a neighbor changed our driveway, raised it by four feet and removed our parking space – this is Santa Fe – these are the types of people who live here). Your cat could die (my wonderful Butch died on our May 2005 trip).

On a shorter trip the water would be a trickle, not a river; the neighbor would just change your driveway; the cat would get sick. It is those extra weeks where things happen. Bills don’t get paid, weather changes, trees die, pets forget who you are, battery dies on the car.

You would think that after doing many long trips like this, it would get easier. It does – but it was so difficult before, that easier still involves panic. Remember, I am in the calm zone now.

I am getting a lot organized for the trip.

  • I made a detailed itinerary.
  • I am putting together a Slow Travel binder with all my printouts.
  • All our bookings are made and double checked.
  • I emailed all accommodations asking for “fragrance-free” rooms. Fat lot of good that does, but I like to ask.
  • I bought a new suitcase for carryon (British Airways allows ONE carryon and you can’t have a purse as well).
  • I bought new hiking clothes because I am starting to panic about the heat.
  • I bought lightweight wool sweaters to take hiking in case we lose the trail and spend the night in the woods. It has never happened, but it could!!
  • Steve got a new rain jacket because whenever we hike in the rain his jacket hood covers his eyes, but he always forgets inbetween hiking trips, but this time I remembered!
  • I will start making my packing list! But now I am test-wearing the clothes we are taking to be sure I like them.

Read my detailed and annotated itinerary for the trip.

Today I decided my glasses are too scratched and I need new ones. I can’t tell you the number of times I got new glasses just before a trip. I am not sure if this is going to work out because in New Mexico you have to have a new prescription every two years, so I have to go to the eye doctor, then to the glasses store and the first eye appointment I could get was just a week before the trip. As I write this, I think that won’t work out – maybe a trip to Lenscrafters. Maybe scratched has been fine for the last six months and will be okay for seven weeks. (Note that New Mexico is not the paradise Bill Richardson running for president would have you believe. The doctor’s lobby must have got this rule passed. Why don’t I get to decide what prescription of glasses I need?) Okay, now I am extending my panic to politics and that is not going to help with this trip.

My main panic is that I don’t want to leave Santa Fe, the house which is so comfortable, my yard just coming into bloom, the cat. But I am always like this before a trip – and I always have a great time on our trips.

Still more to do – what am I doing writing a blog entry when I need to be getting ready? I think the calm zone is coming to an end.

We leave two weeks from Sunday and are really looking forward to the trip (but not the jetlag – a whole other thing to panic about).

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Pauline Kenny

Pauline Kenny and Steve Cohen are US expats living in Dorset. We moved to the UK in 2010. Read about our move. If you would like to talk about travel, please join us on the Slow Europe Travel Forums.

5 thoughts on “I am in the Travel Panic Zone”

  1. Hah! I am in Travel Panic Zone too!!!! We leave in TWO DAYS and I feel less ready than ever before. My family hates me when I get like this. I worry about the cat, my vegetable garden, our luggage not making it, messed up reservations and more…..Thank you for admitting to your disorder. I feel vindicated!

  2. Obsessive? I also include a cigarette lighter and compact in case I get lost and have to signal rescuers and build a fire. I did get lost in the Roma Forum last fall, so who knows?

  3. Pauline – you are not obsessive – this is normal isn’t it? LOL

    I am called high maintenance as well – I prefer to think of it as planned and organized. My travel partners get to enjoy trips without major glitches because I am so organized.

    Your trip sounds amazing!


  4. Pauline,

    It COULD be worse. When you feel panic coming on, close your eyes and imagine this:
    Palma shops for you for your trip. Then she goes to Santa Fe and decides what computer equipment, books and electronic gadgets you NEED to bring.
    Meanwhile, you go to the desert (105 degrees), and pack for Palma.

    Are you laughing? THAT would be panic!

  5. This pre-trip panic gets tiring. I just get it with my ridiculous ping-pong trips from Vancouver to Edmonton, but you’d think after 20 times, it would get easier. My front hall is lined up with electronic gizmos and a banjo that I’ll probably never have time to play. Some day I swear I’ll just take some socks, underwear, ativan and a toothbrush and get everything else at the airport – books, magazines and snacks.
    Have a good trip and maybe see you soon.

    m David

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