A friend recently asked me for advice. She had a trip coming up where she would be traveling alone on a long car ride to meet up with some other friends. Knowing that I love traveling solo, she asked the usual things – tips for safety and tips for not getting bored. I gave her my best advice. But when I told her, I always get pre-trip anxiety, I saw a physical relief in her. I had given her permission to be anxious about it.
Just because I love going solo, and prefer it, doesn’t mean I don’t get anxious about it. I have heard that the week before your trip is when you are at the happiest. In the week before, you are excited and full of anticipation. While you are on your trip, reality sets in a little. You’re still happy, just not as happy as you were in the fantasy stage. But for me, it’s actually two weeks before the trip that I am at my happiest. The week before is marred by that pre-trip anxiety.
My mind races over all the things that can go wrong. What if my dog gets sick while I’m away. What if my car breaks down while I’m three days away from home. I worry about my family. And of course nowadays, what if I get all the way across the country and end up with COVID. I get anxious when I go with other people too. But there’s something different about going alone, knowing that the burden will be all on you.
Having anxiety does not make you weak or mean you have less faith in God. I’m pretty sure whoever came up with the saying, “Give it to God and go to bed” does not have any kind of chemical imbalance causing anxiety. In fact, I’m pretty sure that person is some kind of robot.
Pre-trip anxieties are normal. And it’s OK to have them. When you get ready for a trip, you are preparing to leave your cozy nest behind. You are stepping out of all the things that bring you stability and comfort.
Last year I drove two days to California. With the wildfires and COVID, I had lots of pre-trip anxieties. I considered canceling the trip so many times. But I never got a definite “no,” like the park closed down or my car was needing major repairs. So I went, and everything turned out fine.
Things can go wrong, but in reality, the percentage of things going wrong is extremely low. And in the event something does go wrong, it is probably not going to be the catastrophe you are imagining in your head.
I have been on a trip when I had a death in the family, and I had to turn right around and come home. I have had to fix a flat tire while on the road. And in neither of those instances, did the world come to an end.
I don’t have the magic saying to make pre-trip anxieties disappear. They are just something I work through. But they are normal, and having them doesn’t make you any less adventurous or faithful.