Well friends, I’m on my way to Colombia, currently over…South…? Carolina? All I know is I’m in 26A and headed to a new country.
It hasn’t been the easiest start this time around. I’ve been going to sleep the past couple nights with my least favorite best friend: travel anxiety. Complete with four hours a night of wrestling with my covers, obsessive overthinking, and lots of rhythmic breathing exercises.
Jesus, what happened to us? My anxiety slyly asked, with all the poorly hidden malice of a middle school girl. Maybe we’re just not good at this anymore, it suggested while playing tapes of me forgetting to do something at work before I left. We’re going to fail our class because we haven’t had time to finish our homework for the next two weeks, and what if we forget our passport, or don’t have the right shoes and-
Breathe in four seconds, hold five seconds, out six seconds. Repeat until sleep comes. Or until you roll over and you can start the cycle all over again.
Anxiety blows. Travel anxiety blows. Having the fun anticipation for a trip taken away from you by endless worry BLOWS.
I know that anxiety manifests itself in me in a way that seems a lot like laziness or just being extremely carefree when it comes to travel. I just can’t focus on making plans, because that gives me more details to worry about. It’s easier to wing it and not have to worry about the specifics until you come to them, which seems a bit counter intuitive but seems to work okay.
However, at least once a trip this results in unpleasant and potentially avoidable situations. Most of the time at airports. But this time I totally swear it wasn’t even my fault!
I spent the first (extremely early) hours of my day calling LATAM and American Airlines because neither of them could actually figure out whose plane I was going to be leaving on in…. one hour and thirty minutes.
When I finally finished navigating the maze of customer service representatives and figured out that it was in fact American Airlines, I checked in online. Phew. Done.
I looked at my tickets. My flight out of Dulles would be leaving at 11:00 A.M. Just in time for me to make my 10:00 A.M. Flight out of Miami to Bogota! F*ck me, right?
Tearing into American Airlines with about 45 minutes left until when I THOUGHT my plane was supposed to be leaving, the lovely woman at the counter, Carmen, took pity on me and seemed to untangle the mess that was my ticket reservation (route times were flipped, no return ticket from Dallas, etc.)
I run to the gate on my ticket and see that the doors were closed and the screen was blank. I sweat and wait until the lady at the counter is free, torn between being patient, or just screaming, “I have no idea what the hell is going on!” Final conclusion: I am at the wrong gate and my plane shuts its doors in ten minutes. F*ck me.
I sprint to the new gate and try to give only the necessary information to the other counter lady, while we debate whether or not I actually bought my ticket for the 6:30 flight (I did), because it’s not on here as changed (Because I didn’t change it, they did) and did I pay the fee to change it? (Of course not, I didn’t change it!). I name dropped Carmen all up and down that conversation, and counter lady finally gave me my ticket.
But I’m here, and somehow snagged a nice little window seat out of the whole ordeal.
My anxiety has been sitting in smug “I told you so” silence ever since we got on the plane, but at least it’s finally shut the hell up.
And I’m on the way to see one of my MOST favorite micromanagement queen best friends, so there won’t be room in the bed for it anyway.
Pro Tip: Always wear sneakers at the airport. Barry Lewis has never once in his life let me on a plane without sneakers on. Flip flops be damned with their fragile inability to protect your feet, or allow you to make the inevitable sprint that you’ll need to do on at least one connection. Hasn’t let me down yet.
Sorry for all the bad words, Ma. I bleeped them out for you.