Yesterday I was at a friend’s farewell party. He’s heading to India, then Nepal and Australia, and possibly Vietnam, Cambodia and Laos, and who knows where else. His plan is to be abroad for at least 2 years.
At a point he turned to me and said, “Wow, all of a sudden it’s becoming real! I feel so…” and he unconsciously shifted the weight of his legs in a small bounce and gestured at his stomach.
He was lost for words, but I knew exactly what it was – it’s what I call the pre-trip excite-anxiet-adrenaline and I still get it.
Despite the years I’ve been travelling alone – I still get that dip in my stomach and the needles up and down my legs, when I think I’ll be leaving myself in a month for Colombia.
It’s a perfect cocktail of, “Wow, South America, finally! Aaah I can’t wait to dance, and see the jungle and all that tropical fruit, to finally be in a place where I can speak to the locals in their mother tongue.” Breathe in, wow.
The excitement runs through me like electricity.
Then anxiety butts in, “Hmm, I’d better book that first night right? It’s going to be a long way there. Huge lay over. Ah, what a pain, I’m gonna get there exhausted. Yeah, I’ll pre-book, it’ll put my mind at rest. But then, will I be okay there? South America is surely more crime populated than Asia. Oh wait, that’s how India felt in the beginning too, before I went. I’ll be fine – the places I choose to stay in are quiet villages most of the time. All’s gonna be good, like it’s been so far.”
I reassure myself for a while, then I fluctuate between both feelings until I actually board that plane.
Once I land, the adrenaline kicks in. My eyes are wide open like those of a child’s when walking into Disneyland, seeing their dreams coming into life. It’s great to get such a kick past childhood. Then the anxiety makes me look outside the bus window, trying to figure out where to stop to get to the place I’m sleeping in. But most of all, the adrenaline keeps me safe. I’m loving the new world around me but it keeps an eye out for danger.
I’m like a chameleon. One eye’s looking around with excitement, the other’s watching for my bag, making sure my passport, money and mobile are safe.
And that, my friends is why I’m grateful, that still after years of travelling, I still get that kick every time I leave. Sometimes I wonder if I’m actually addicted to that cocktail of overwhelming feelings.
The pre-trip excite-anxiet-adrenaline is what makes me feel alive. Nerves buzzing through my elbows, heart thumping with excitement and a whole new world to explore, one baby step at a time.
So go ahead traveller, don’t call it fear. Be grateful for it – call it your fuel, your way to feel alive and be safe at the same time.