I’ve even been to the Himalayas but sometimes I wonder how I got there, not in terms of route or transport systems but how this heap of quivering manhood broke through his worries about travelling, bit the bullet, boarded the plane at one end and got off somewhere else.
My travel anxiety (or Reisefieber) which takes the form of a mild sense of unease when I think of going anywhere, probably has its roots in my mother fleeing from the bombs at the end of the war, she had to keep me safe, whatever cost to herself.
OK….. My travel anxiety perhaps started then, but this amateur psychology of mine doesn’t help at all when I’m faced with the big ‘J’. The Journey.
At one level I know I’m not in the grip of a hopelessly uncontrollable ever unfolding nightmare of tickets, planes, trains, cars, roads et al. But even as I’m writing this I know that what I’ve done all my life is translate my feelings of unease into an anxiety language that helps me bear it.
I have methods and approaches, oh boy do I have methods and approaches to help me cope.
The List! My list is a good friend. I know that without a clearly delineated list I can achieve nothing. Often it is bullet pointed but preferably numbered as numbers give me a sense of priority. For example, ‘timing’ would always be number one and ‘bottle of water’ way down the list at perhaps seventeen.
Note: bottle of water is for emergencies only, the secret is to drink as little as possible on journeys involving public transport so you never have to vacate your seat.
The Timetable is central to my equanimity. I like to start early and get cracking. I’m happy to sit, bag at feet, a’watching the dawn come up rather than risk being ‘last minute’ in my approach. Anything I can have control over I control, but what can I do about trains not arriving on time? Missed connections? Late arrivals? Fire, flood, famine, attack by vagabonds or little green men?
I take a professional attitude to thinking about what might occur on the journey. I worry. You name a natural disaster to me and I can already see it happening, even on the slow line from Harrogate to York. Pestilence? Plague? Meteor showers? Nothing would surprise me because I’ve been there in my head. People look out of the train window and see the rolling countryside. I look out of the train window and see fields drowning in a flood.
I must leave a sense of order behind me when embarking on a journey. My flat must be pristine. Of course I double-check locks, windows, plugs and water supplies. I like to know that all appliances are turned off. This has worked to my disadvantage as I helpfully applied my methods to my girlfriend’s house when we were going away for a few days. She was unhappy about the defrosted freezer and fridge that we came back to and I had to eat a lot of defrosted peas without complaining.
Rye bread is my way of settling my stomach for a journey. No spiced foods, no beans. I can think of nothing worse than queuing for a toilet in an aeroplane with diarrhoea or being subjected to bursts of flatulence sitting next to a stranger on a train.
But do you know what? I quite enjoy travelling my way. It makes every journey so eventful!