Sunday, May 16, 2010

Travelers' Anxiety

Most people who have been around me the past two weeks (and that's not many people since I've been a bit of a hermit) have seen that I'm somewhat on edge at the moment. The idea of traveling to so many exotic locations with only a backpack has led to the obvious questions: What do I bring? How will it all fit? What are all the situations I can find myself in where I need that one thing? I better be carrying it when I need it.

Since I will need to be able to carry all my stuff from place to place, and as I have read every online posting urging young intrepid travelers to "go light", I've been trying to come to terms with the dozen or so articles of clothing I can get by with wearing for an entire summer. Blog alert: If I can figure out how to upload pictures of myself on the road you're going to see me wearing a lot of the same things!

I've been parsing down my wardrobe using the following guidelines:
  • Try to have a basic range from beachwear to "smart casual" to clothes I can wear when I am in a house of worship.
  • Keep it plain and boring. Avoid logos like Polo Ralph Lauren which could obviously give me away as an American. I cannot hide than I'm a Westerner but I'd like to be able to pass off on first glance as indistinguishable between European, Canadian, or American.
  • Weight my pack towards items which won't be pleasant to re-wear without washing, such as socks. I hope to get by doing laundry every 10 days or so.
  • When in doubt, leave it behind.
My strategy is to keep my clothes in my backpack (which unfortunately needs to be checked for my flights) and carry along a daypack of sundries which will come onboard the plane with me. A slimmed down version of the daypack will come with me as I travel around cities and visit places, with my backpack locked down in either a hostel locker or hotel room.

I'm usually thorough in prepping for even the shortest of business trips, but the around-the-world itinerary has taken this thoroughness to an extreme. Having made my list and checked it twice, I'm trying to ensure that all the little essentials such as ear plugs, sleeping pills, and Imodium are covered.

The fact is that I'm pretty much always anxious just before I travel. The fear of the unknown seems to always recur whenever I travel somewhere new. I think this is natural for many people but I feel as if I experience this more than most.

I'm trying to comfort myself by reminding myself that many things I forget now I can find overseas. Even if I'm underprepared, I'll make do with what I have with me. I tend to calm down greatly once I'm actually in motion to my travel destination, and because of this I can't wait to get started on my trip. Twenty-four hours to takeoff...

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