On this evening, a mere day before I go on my next great adventure, I am filled with some odd emotions. Today, I am filled with both nervousness and excitement on the eve of my 3-week journey through India. To handle these emotions, I think about them using what I refer to as the roller coaster metaphor. The idea is that the lead-up to a vacation is similar to the lead-up to riding a new, scary roller coaster.
First, let me cover my two main pre-travel emotions, then I’ll get into the details of the roller coaster metaphor and how it can help you to handle your travel nervousness too.
My Excitement before a Trip
I am going into the unknown. For me, the first week of vacation where I’ll be exploring the Ellora and Ajanta Caves and the waterfalls and tree bridges of Cherrapunji, are the deepest locations in India that I will go to on my entire trip. Even before I get to India I know how awesome it is going to be to see these unique one-of-a-kind places. It is also deep enough into the country to know that when I talk to people back home about India, nobody will have gone there. It will be the most adventurous part of the trip to talk about with those that I love and those who are curious.
The actual act of getting to India and getting far enough out to see these places will be tough. If it wasn’t tough, then everyone would go see them. The toughness of getting there really highlights the value for me. Taking an extra day or more just to get there to see these unique things makes them more special,
What I look forward to even more is when my wife joins me in Delhi India a week after I arrive. A week apart always makes us being together all the greater. Once she arrives I hit the less remote and more stable part of my trip, where I get to explore Delhi, the Taj Mahal in Agra, and safari to see Bengel Tigers, Jaipur, and Varanasi.
Seeing all of those places and experiencing them with my love will make them even better. So I have a lot of excitement leading into the trip!
Nervousness Feeling before a Trip
Sometimes when I think about how excited I am about a trip, I start feeling nervous and I think about how similar the feeling of excitement and nervousness truly are. How in one moment I feel very excited and then I think about something to worry about – like the weight of my luggage or whether a plane will be canceled and ruin part of my trip, and that excitement in my body, in my soul, turns to fear for a moment,
I find that before a trip like this nervousness goes hand in hand with excitement. I am going into the unknown. I understand that in India I shouldn’t drink water, I shouldn’t eat food from street vendors, I should not have salads and only cooked food to avoid getting very ill. I understand that there are a lot of people who scam tourists in India and I understand that there are a whole lot of poor people in India. I know that my white face will make me a target. But I also know that I can hold my own. That in the end I control what I do, what I eat, and how I get out of situations.
I have the confidence to travel deep into a country so I should be fine but some uneasiness before a journey like this is to be expected.
The Roller Coaster Metaphor – How to handle nervousness before a trip
If you read the sections above, you’ll see that I’ve clearly done my research. I know what to expect to be troublesome for me in India. I know that there are things to look out for. But I let my mind take me to the worst places that it could. I know that I will have a great time, I just need to get to the next step.
This feeling is one that is best compared to going on a roller coaster, going bungee jumping or sky diving if you prefer, or doing anything that is outside of your comfort zone for the very first time.
We all have a basic understanding of roller coasters. You hear the screams of the people on it, you see the huge line leading up to it and you want to go for the ride. It’s clearly scary but you also know that all of the people getting off the roller coaster had a great time despite how scary it may have been. It lures you onto it. You join the line.
When you first get on the line for the roller coaster, you are both excited and nervous. You know that roller coasters exist to bring people joy and that it should be safe given the volume of people who are both on the line with you and people who just exited the ride. When you finally get to the front of the line and are strapped into it you have that sudden burst of excitement or is it fear? as you wait for it to start moving. Did you realize that you won’t have control over the next 60 seconds of your life? You start to wonder whether you should cry out to the staff, take me off this thing before it starts moving! But you don’t, instead, you stay strapped into the roller coaster seat, swallowing your nervousness, getting ready for the ride to start. You have that moment of panic when you are strapped in and it seems that you can no longer escape, but you say nothing about it.
The ride takes off and on that first drop you just scream to get your feelings out, but everyone else thinks it’s because that first drop was the hardest. We do this because of how much fun we’re going to have on the ride and after the ride, you’re going to have an amazing story to tell and an amazing life experience. Most likely, you’ll want to go on the ride again.
Once the ride is over, you realize that your nervousness was just an element of the excitement that you had and you just want to do it all over again.
The Roller Coaster Metaphor for Travelers
When you’re traveling far away it is not a decision you make at the last minute. No, it is one that you plan for months beforehand, buying flights, booking hotels, and figuring out your schedule.
For roller coasters, you hear the screams before you see the start of the line. For travel, we learn about the destination before we book it. We see all of the wonderful things we are going to. be able to do when we get there we are excited and curious.
Once we are close to the flight date, we are close to the front of the roller coaster line. Of course, we are going to get on the roller coaster. Of course, we are going to get on that plane but right now we are having second thoughts. We know too much. We know that the roller coaster might have an issue while we are on it. We know that eventually we will be fully packed and on the plane and at our destination We just have to do it.
Then we are strapped into the roller coaster – just like we are finally getting to our destination for our travel experience. Yes, step off the plane and onto India’s soil. We are really doing this! And we already have a story to tell. Stepping out of the airport at your travel destination is just that first drop on the roller coaster.
We all know that it”’s going to be amazing!
Final Thoughts before my Big Trip
Right now I am getting on the line for that roller coaster. It’s a long line to get on the ride and I hear the screams in the air. I just can’t wait to get on the ride and experience India!