I’ve loved to travel for as long as I can remember. The summer after 10th grade I spent in the South of France and Paris; after college, I backpacked through 20 countries in Western Europe and this past decade I’ve followed my photographer husband around 40 of the 50 United States. I have never taken the easy way towards travel either. I’ve seen those “package deals” and I’ve heard people still use “travel agents,” but I do no such thing.
I research compulsively and thoroughly. First scouting locations, trying out various dates, then trying variations of locations AND dates. When I finalize a date range and destination, I move on to the “Grand Hotel Search.” I scour TripAdvisor, Hotels.com, and hundreds of actual hotel websites; I’ll read reviews anywhere I can find them. I look for articles on “best hotels for families” and “best boutique hotels” and “best boutique hotels for families.” Once I settle on a hotel, I conduct price comparisons on several sites before committing. Occasionally after all that work, my inner frugality wins and I end up on Priceline.com, bidding on a random (4 star) hotel.
I’m also this thorough with researching the region to which I’m traveling. Then there are the restaurants. “Best organic restaurants, best vegetarian restaurants, best organic vegetarian restaurants, farm to table restaurants, family friendly restaurants.”
My husband uses the letters “OCD” to describe some of my behavior, but he’s wrong. I just want to be prepared and smart. I only have a few days somewhere and I want to make sure I make the most of every minute because they seem to fly faster every day.
I like to be prepared; it gives me a false sense of control because if I’ve learned anything, it’s you can’t control the things which are actually the ones which are going to throw the ultimate monkey wrench in my plans. If I forget sunscreen, I can buy some in Hawaii. I worry about bigger things like the plane crashing, both my kids getting sick on the plane and spending the entire time miserable, someone slicing their leg open while zip-lining or getting bitten by a barracuda while we snorkel. I worry the flight will make me anxious and nauseous and uncomfortable and the crowds and airports and lines and waiting. And leaving my cats home all alone. So many of my unfavorite things surround my favorite thing.
Without a doubt, sometime a week before I leave for any trip, the anxiety creeps in and doesn’t let out until I land. During this week I will cry every day, try too hard to do too much, forget something anyway, worry about a tooth hurting or a cough almost starting, burn something for dinner, go out at midnight to buy something I won’t use, and threaten to cancel the trip no fewer than seven times.
I will go, of course, and have a mostly great time, but you know what they say, you can take the girl on vacation but you can’t make her relax.