Thursday, November 3, 2011

Travel Thursdays: (3) D-Day

Packing is an art I have NOT mastered and probably never will. I've gotten much better with practice but it's definitely my least favorite activity.

In this case I was packing for six weeks of travel. The climate would be anywhere from brisk to scorching and I somehow told myself I'd keep it simple and wear white t-shirts the whole time. Right. Amazing how I entertain my own B.S. sometimes.

I believed wholeheartedly in the "minimalist" mantra, but at the end of the day I couldn't deny my true identity as a "better to have and not need than need and not have" kinda girl.

It's a slippery slope, and it wasn't long before I was at the bottom of the mountain under a pile of my entire wardrobe. Shocker.

Even my luggage attempted to cover all bases; it was like a transformer - one part suitcase with rolling wheels and another part detachable backpack.

It had secret compartments and hidden backpack straps so you could carry the suitcase on your back, which was really cool in theory, but never happened.
I decided against one of those traditional backpacks...didn't want to do anything that screamed "tourist" while traveling alone.

I eventually closed my suitcase and wondered how the hell I got to this point. It was an amazing accomplishment...closing my suitcase AND the fact that somehow I had turned my dream into a reality.

As we headed to the airport there was definitely some uneasiness lingering, like I'd forgotten something important.

I pressured myself over every little decision leading up to this day. I spent a nice chunk of change buying things in an effort to make myself feel more prepared.

The truth is I could've bought out the entire travel section of Bed, Bath & Beyond and still felt uneasy. 

We all manage fear and anxiety in different ways but it's always a fruitless effort until we just face the music.

Trying to resist or distract from the fear instead of just being with it usually makes it mean more and linger longer than it needs to.

Looking back I think, "sure, it's going to be scary and uncomfortable at times...and that's ok.

If I wanted to feel safe and comfortable I'd stay home and not experience anything remarkable in life.

I say that now, but in the moment I was a mess.

We got to the airport and I spent a ridiculous amount of time curbside, painfully debating over whether or not to bring a certain sweater.
Should I bring it? Should I not bring it? What if I need it? I'm already over packed. I want it. I don't need it. I should take it. No, I should just leave it.


I was so frustrated with myself. I knew it was ridiculous and yet I couldn't find peace in either decision. That's because it had nothing to do with the sweater.

As my mom did her best to play the supporting role to my soap-opera style drama, the tears welled up and I lost it. The she lost it...and then we both laughed hysterically at my ridiculousness.

It was all hitting me. I was scared shitless. I was leaving everything I knew for a month and a half with countless unknowns looming. About 40% of the trip wasn't set in stone and in that moment all I could see was my fear.

There was no turning back now though. I was doing this and I knew I'd be fine once I got through the doors.

It was so hard to say goodbye to my mom. After a few tearful goodbyes, I finally had the courage to walk away.

By that time I was feeling the need for some liquid courage. I had some time to kill so I found a spot at the bar and took a moment to officially celebrate the start of this amazing journey.

About one hour, two beers and half a Valium later, I strolled up to the gate ever ready to board my flight and instead found myself staring blankly at the status board as the word "CANCELLED" blared over my flight number.

WTF?!!! Are you kidding me?

Remember back when volcanic ash from an Icelandic eruption caused major problems for air travel across half the planet?

Yeah, until that moment, I was one of the lucky ones. No ash in my flight path. My flight was good to go. And then, it wasn't. All flights to Spain were cancelled...indefinitely.

Good thing I took that Valium.

I went back home to an extensive game of musical flights, reserving one and booking another, waiting to see which one, if any, would be green lit to fly.

The initial projection put me a minimum of 4 days behind schedule. Now the fear was in having to cut out a leg of the trip or not being able to go at all, and that was really scary.

With the help of an amazing Continental rep, I boarded my flight to Barcelona the following night, losing just 1 day in my schedule.

It was a little bit of deja vu going back to the airport, but this time I had my fears in check, and they took a back seat to the excitement of knowing that in just a few hours, I'd be in Barcelona.

Next stop...Espana!



  1. Packing is always a hubs always gets the brunt of it.... hehe

  2. Flying is a pain but you gotta do it if you want to go to places like Barcelona... Great city for hiking and football!