Travel plan musings.

(Hi everyone. I have been working on this post for weeks and trying to decide if I want to post it or not. Here goes…)

Since renewing my passport I have been torturing myself with anxiety and indecision over this.

My usual approach to a major travel endeavour (usually one where wildlife observation is involved) is to find a specialist company and travel as part of a group with a guide. The plus side of this is that I get to visit remote sites with the safety of transport and a guide and organised accommodation..

The negatives are:

  • Food. Meals are usually provided and in some countries vegetarianism is not understood. My worse experience of this was, believe it or not, in a horrendous hotel in Italy. I lost ten pounds in weight in 14 days but at least I escaped the fate of one of our party who came down with Legionella! *
  • People exhaust me. I need at least some time alone. This is not optional. Travelling in a group and eating with them does not involve much alone time.
  • Lack of freedom to move at my own pace, explore, take photos or sketch.

So, this time my preference would be to travel independently. Choose a country, research sites to visit and book B&B accommodation in towns – that leaves me free to find my own evening meals. So what is stopping me?

Driving.

I hate driving even here in the UK. The thought of driving overseas is too scary to contemplate. Getting around by public transport is impossible in many countries – particularly if you want to reach the quiet places like I do. This is why I have, at least, started trying to drive again in the hope of overcoming this fear. It occurred to me that I could try to choose countries that drive on the left like we do in the UK, which would make things a little easier. So, given the kind of habitats that interest me this gives me a choice between South Africa and Australia. Solo travel by tourists in South Africa is not encouraged for safety reasons, which leaves Australia. I am assuming that the events of ‘Mad Max’ and ‘Wolf Creek’ are not a real depiction of life on the roads there.

( Yes- by the way, I really do want to visit Canada and the US, not least because my WP friends there are so important to me. But I am not sure it is really feasible unless I get past this fear of driving. It is, at least further incentive to tackle the issue)

So why the fear of driving? I have found that other people with social anxiety are polarised by driving – some love it because they can travel without the interaction with others that is usually necessary with public transport. Others – like me- have found that people in charge of a vehicle are far more inconsiderate and aggressive (and therefore scary) than they are in real life. Normally I would simply not choose to be around aggressive or ultra-competitive people but on the roads there is no choice. It isn’t the mechanics of driving that puts me off – but the Jekyll and Hyde transformation even the nicest people seem to undergo when given wheels!

There is of course, always the fear of an accident and having to deal with other people or officialdom under strained and emotional circumstances.

I used to drive to work and until we moved in 2004. Driving these days always seems too fast and too complicated – rather like a microcosm of modern society in fact. My first car, which I loved, was a 1969 Triumph Herald 1360 like the one below but in mustard yellow. It suited me because it went at a slow speed that my brain could keep up with!

What really makes me angry with myself is seeing other plant enthusiasts who think nothing of flying to , say, Turkey. Hiring a car at the airport and taking off into the mountains alone without even booking any accommodation in advance and just deciding as they go along. And all without speaking more than a few words of the language too.

What is up with me???

The more I think about this the more I believe that this, more than anything, is preventing me from doing many of the things I want. The good news is that after ten months on a waiting list I finally have a counselling appointment next week. Whilst the depression is mostly gone I do need to work on the things I feel are preventing me from moving forwards and this is one of them.

What do I actually want/need?

This is the important question isn’t it?

Right now I am suffering from the effects of almost a year with barely any time off work. Evenings and weekends trying to cram in everything else I want to do with my life. I am either constantly around people or tense because I expect an interruption any moment. So priority number one:

Rest. I badly need the world to stop spinning. Or at least the bit of it inside my head. I need a week of warmth and solitude.

Then I might feel re-energised and able to make decisions again about a bigger travel adventure and maybe meeting people later in the year.

* By a quirk of fate I was directly exposed to legionella again in my home town only a few weeks later and got away with it then too. https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/2002_Barrow-in-Furness_legionellosis_outbreak

62 Comments

  1. First, I love your blue flower at the end of the post, just gorgeous!! I totally get the not wanting to drive thing! We just got back from a trip down south to visit family and colleges for my son, and I always dread the trip on those highways…if the speed limit is 70 you better be doing at least 80-85 to stay outta their way…hate it! I have to say one of my favorite times traveling was doing the Euro-rail from Portugal to Austria and stops in between. I usually get motion sickness, but on the train I was able to read and loved being able to enjoy the scenery and meet other passengers. Still, New Zealand is a dream for me, so I”d throw that out there as well…and what an awesome gift Susan is offering, what a sweetie!

    Liked by 2 people

  2. Thank you Jen.😍
    The flower is Gentiana acaulis and was photographed in the Italian Dolomites. This was not the holiday with the poor hotel. Quite the opposite. And the wine was free. I have never had so many hangovers in one week.
    I am the same with our motorways. If you stick to the limit it feels like you are not moving because of everyone else overtaking you.
    The rail trip sounds good. There is a similar possibility in Aus but is very expensive indeed!

    Liked by 3 people

  3. Our son has social anxiety also, has been seeing a therapist for a couple months now. It was interesting to me that he developed anxiety about driving. I didn’t realize these were often linked before this happened to him. He is 22 now, and drives into Seattle daily for his classes. He isn’t paralyzed by it, but hates that it bugs him so much. It will be interesting to see how this goes!
    Australia is magnificent and you won’t regret going! We are the same in our family, we all need our down time (and alone time) which makes traveling together easier. I won’t do the group thing, to much gogogo with all those people would exhaust me! I hope you find the right balance for you, I would hate for you to miss out on this great trip!!❤️

    Liked by 3 people

  4. Thank you my friend. It is funny how social anxiety works differently in different people. So many of us prefer to drive as it is less scary than public transport but I see the socual interaction as being similar. You might hope that the same manners and consideration might apply but in my experience it does not and people in cars are far more scary to me.
    I have my own first therapy appointment tomorrow. I hope your son is finding his useful?
    The next challenge for me is finding the time and energy to actually organise a trip. I need to firm up dates so I can book leave from work.

    Liked by 3 people

  5. He tells me it is helping, but I worry that he is telling me what he thinks I want to hear. He is usually quite honest with me, but he worries about ME too much.
    Yes, book that trip, thats an order! And you know I can kick your butt 😜

    Liked by 3 people

  6. I know exactly how you feel! Well kinda. I get anxiety over everything, including driving. I foresee a scenario in my head and it doesn’t even happen. But there I was freaking out about a wreck I could have….. one day I woke up and just decided, I’m not going to live like this anymore! Why on earth am I having anxiety over something that may never happen? Why freak out over something I cannot really control? I have to drive to get me from place to place. So, I drive safely and do everything right on my part. I breathe 🙂
    You my friend are missing out! The US has soooo many beautiful places to go and to see! I would suggest the Red Wood Forest.
    To overcome a fear, we gotta face the fear and sometimes face it more than once or twice. Sometimes the fear may still be there, but we are stronger and know how to face it.
    Good thing is….. most drivers are just like you lol and most drivers in the US are not worried at all about how your driving is. They are on a mission just like you. Big cities can be kinda packed at times, and if you don’t have patience it can get to you. The key is the patience. Waiting in long lines, switching lanes… it’s all about how calm and slow or fast your trying to move in. I love driving in bigger cities. Crazy right? But I like to watch others. I like to imagine where they are going or what they just came from. I put stories to them. And I love jamming to my music! Sitting in traffic is okay with me, I’m in no hurry. Life is going fast enough. So I try (now) to enjoy every bit of anything and everything around me 🙂
    Idk if that helps! But I hope one day you make it here and travel all around!!

    Liked by 2 people

  7. What a lovely response and you seem to understand why it is important to me. Yes there might be travel alternatives but the point is I do not want to be limited by fearing something trivial that most folks find easy. You do get that, thank you.

    Liked by 1 person

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