Monday, May 2, 2016

Why I hate to travel

If you haven't noticed yet, my boyfriend and I travel a lot. Probably 3 times a year, we're jetting to some far-off locale for a week or a weekend. The most common question I receive when small-talking with one of his friends is "So where are you heading next?" followed by "Are you excited?" Which always leads to an awkward spot in the conversation, because the only honest answer I can give is "No."

I hate traveling.

Don't get me wrong. I like adventuring. I enjoy exploring. I love seeing new places and sights. And I'm happy for every break from work and responsibilities I can arrange. But I hate the actual process of traveling. And since I can tell (from the puzzled expressions I get whenever I tell people how little I want to go on my next vacation) that no one understands, I am going to attempt to explain why.

I hate living out of a suitcase, not having all my stuff at my fingertips. At home, no matter what horrible thing may happen to me, I'm prepared. On a trip, no matter how much you prepare, something inevitably happens that you're not ready for. Every tiny forgotten supply causes a major ordeal, and usually the resolution is to purchase an expensive replacement that you'll never use again because you already have 3 backups at home. 

If that's not enough, I'm sure you can understand why living out of a suitcase is especially painful for someone who loves her extensive wardrobe as much as I do. Not only do I have to limit my packing in quantity, but I also have to limit it in practicality. Everything must be wrinkle-resistant, must be layerable in case of unexpected weather, must be comfortable for long walks and long trips in a vehicle, must frequently be conservative and plain so as not to mark me as a stranger in a strange land, and, if space is especially tight, must match everything else in the suitcase so I can re-wear them in different combinations. With all these restrictions, there are only a poor few garments that pass muster for travel, and consequently, I have to wear the same old things every time I go on a trip.

I also despise flying. I would hands-down prefer to drive 16 hours to get to my destination than spend 2 hours on an airplane, but sometimes, you are forced to fly. When I fly, I have to agonize over what to pack in my carry-on, beat up my conscience over the amount of fossil fuels I'm wasting, spend hours sitting in a germ-infested airplane cabin trying to avoid disturbing my seatmates, die of boredom going through security, die of boredom waiting for the flight, die of boredom waiting for layovers, and spend the first hour of every flight in a state of abject terror (seriously, the more I fly, the more I am convinced I'm going to die in a fiery crash).

I hate being the foreigner. Traveling within the U.S. is not so bad, but whenever I'm in another country, I know I stick out like a sore thumb. I'm looked down on for being American and preyed on for supposedly having money. I hate speaking another language badly, and I feel like a lazy snob when I default to English. Even something as simple as having to ask for directions to a landmark, or where I can find a supermarket, is terrifying. For someone with crippling anxiety even in relatively familiar social situations, being in a different country is enough to send me back home with a case of hypertension.

Traveling always makes me sick. Being around a slew of new people harboring a slew of new viruses is a sure recipe for infection. Almost every time I go somewhere new, I come back home with the worst kind of souvenir: a cold.

This Friday, we're off to New Orleans for a week, followed by a Saturday's rest, then I'm heading to Richmond for my brother's Monday wedding, then on Wednesday it's back into the air for a week-long trip to Hawaii for another wedding. If that's not too much travel for a travelphobe, I don't know what is! You could wish me a bon voyage, but I think it would be more appropriate to send me your condolences.