I’m going on vacation! I booked a real, non-weekend-only trip where I’ll fly outside of the United States for the first time in 16 years. I’m so excited and grateful for the opportunity provided by a two-for-one deal to France that I’m piggy-backing on with my mom to make it more affordable. Thanks, mom!
But on top of that gratefulness and excitement is a bit of anxiety. I know, I know, get over myself and embrace the vacay. I plan to, but I still need to deal with a few latent fears and anxieties that I know some of y’all are also feeling about vacation.
Here’s how I’ll be handling vacation anxiety…
Get ahead on work
As a freelancer, the amount of work I have to do is tangible. If I miss work time, there’s still the same amount of work to do. And as one of those dreaded Millennials who feels too guilty to take a vacation, it’s a double whammy. “I shouldn’t go! It’ll make me look bad! Also there’s still a lot of work to do!”
There’s probably no chance I’ll stop feeling guilty, but I can at least assuage it by making sure I’m ahead on work before I leave. Get to inbox zero (or at least inbox less), get your concrete deliverables done ahead of time, set up auto-reply vacation emails, and have someone watching your shit while you’re gone.
Talk to your boss about what you’ve accomplished so that you can feel good about leaving and safer in the knowledge that they know you kicked butt to make sure tasks got done.
Embrace the project-free life
A lot of us have trouble dealing with what seems like “useless” time. But you’re actually doing a lot: recharging in a way that will make you more productive later, learning, enriching your life experiences, and doing exactly what you deserve to do: taking time for yourself.
If you aren’t able to go totally dark with work, designate very specific times to check in so you’re not randomly looking all day. If you need to be “efficient” to feel calm (I get that), channel that efficiency desire into planning outings and experiences on the trip.
Prepare to leave your comfort zone
This is something Americans are definitely more prone to: not being prepared for lifestyle changes and variations in accommodations. Depending on where you’re traveling, you may be off your game based on where you’re staying and what’s different from your current day-to-day.
Do your research on your destination to make sure you’ve got a grasp on language, travel, and etiquette. Allow yourself time to adjust. Then be prepared to self-soothe in your downtime. Having to speak another language to get around, dealing with minor (or major) inconveniences, and generally being less calm can take its toll. Bring a favorite book, a letter from a friend, a face mask, or your favorite tea, masturbate, etc. to find your familiar and zen out. If you exercise on a normal day, plan for it on your trip, too.
Deal with flight anxiety
We heard from a real live pilot about how to deal with flying, specifically. It’s awesome:
As a pilot, the best thing I can suggest to deal with flight anxiety is to learn a bit more about aviation — air crash investigations do not count. Actually read about how planes fly, how they are built to withstand turbulence, the difference between what you and what your pilot actually thinks of as a life threatening situation, etc.
Lean on technology when you need it
If you’re lonely, video chat with a friend on wifi. If you’re lost, load up your map app. If you’re struggling to communicate, open up Google Translate. Technology can totally be your pal on a vacation, despite what you’ll hear from old men yelling at clouds.
Just work out a plan with your phone company if you’re traveling internationally so that doesn’t become an added stress.
Plan for a buffer day after
I’m one of those that usually needs a buffer day after a vacation to get over jet lag, recenter, and not get pre-work anxiety going back. Plan for that ahead of time, whether it’s a day before to go over lists and/or a day or two after to just be at home and breathe.
More anxiety tips