April 11, 2017
Most of us experience excitement when planning a trip. We look forward to seeing and learning amazing new things, meeting interesting people, expanding our understanding of customs and languages different from our own, or merely relaxing and enjoying a change of pace and scenery from our regular routine at home.
In addition to the excitement, though, we also may experience a bit of apprehension, some doubts, some anxiety, a little travel stress. What if something goes wrong? Did I pack too much…not enough? What if I get sick? What if I lose (or have stolen) my valuables or passport? What if no one understands me?
With all these possibilities….should I even be going??
We have listed 5 situations that may cause you some travel anxiety…and ways to deal with each of them in order to alleviate stressful travel:
The queue to go through the Security checkpoint snakes through the airport like the line up outside an Apple store the night before the latest gadget is released! You’ve already wasted time – traffic to the airport was a ‘bear’…then, your luggage was overweight and you had to take the time to pay extra for that. Now, it’s a crapshoot on whether or not you’ll even get through Security and to your departure gate before the plane takes off without you!
You will start your trip with far less travel anxiety, if you give yourself plenty of time and arrive early to your departure gate, Now you can relax and amuse yourself while waiting for your flight to board. Explore the airport, do a little shopping, read, surf the web, grab a snack… or catch a few winks.
Oftentimes, having people misunderstand you….or fail to comprehend you at all….can be a very humorous part of the international travel experience :-). On a chilly evening at an outdoor cafe in Cannes, France, I once asked the waiter to ‘light my shoes on fire’ when what I meant to ask was for him to ‘light the heater’ on the patio. On another occasion, in Mexico, I asked for ‘la nota’ thinking I was asking for the bill….the waiter brought me yet ‘another’ margarita. Oh, don’t worry…I drank it
At other times, however, it can be downright scary trying to make yourself understood – particularly if you are in a less than ideal situation. The taxi driver seems to be taking you somewhere you don’t want to go…or, you’ve lost your passport….or any other scenario where you feel threatened or uncomfortable. How can you get your point across when you don’t speak the language?
Try to learn basic phrases for the country you are going to travel in.
Getting ill while you’re away from home is a definite cause of travel stress. Maybe you’ve eaten something that your stomach is really wishing you hadn’t and diarrhea has struck with a vengeance – damn you, Montezuma!!. Or, you fell asleep on the beach and your skin is crackling like a lamb on a barbeque spit at a Greek festival. Or, you feel like crap and fear you may have picked up some local bug or dread disease.
Make the decision to adjust your own point of view when you encounter new customs and norms.
Each country comes with its own culture, set of ethics and values. What is totally acceptable in one country may be taboo in another. What we, as North Americans, may view as ‘rude’ or ‘aggressive’ behavior, is the norm in many countries. Alternatively, actions, gestures, or words that are acceptable to us, may be misunderstood or even deplorable to people from another country. For instance, throughout much of Asia, it is customary (and totally acceptable) to slurp your soup or noodles. The slurping sound ensures the cook that you are enjoying the food. In North America, slurping your soup is considered impolite and lacking in manners. Another example is a woman’s handbag placed on the floor near her is considered ‘bad Feng Shui’ in Asia but is perfectly acceptable in North America.
You travel the world in order to expand your mind, to learn about other cultures, and to explore our beautiful home. It is impossible to have a learning experience if you travel to a foreign country and expect everything to be the same as it is at home. When you encounter new customs and norms, make the decision to adjust your own point of view and learn to go with the flow. Your travel stress will be reduced exponentially if you do!
Security today is a major cause of travel anxiety. Card readers can skim personal information from your credit cards and passport, even from a distance. Con artists and others who are out to take advantage of ‘rich’ tourists abound. Your luggage passes through many hands from the time you drop it off until you retrieve it from the baggage claim carousel. Along the way, someone may have sticky fingers and steal valuables you have packed.
Security: A major cause of travel anxiety today.
Written by Emma Ghattas
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