While I like a good online resource as much as the next person, or a lovely narrative about an interesting place, I also use this blog as a place to process my thoughts and plant good advice for future me that is in dire need of some.
Who IS that girl, so wise in her words? I wish we were friends.
This spring has been odd in so many ways. I know I want to capture this time, this weird feeling of being uprooted and unsettled. It has been beautiful and free and stressful and confusing. Drew and I left our lovely London flat on September 1st, with the intention of being settled in a new destination by the beginning of the January.
We haven’t settled anywhere yet, as I flip the calendar to May, the hope of a January relocation in the distant past.
But the stress of finding a new home, in a new country, and dealing with logistics behind all that is taxing. It will soon pass and months from now, I presume I’ll look back wistfully and say, ‘Remember those months we spent, waiting for visas and spending so much time with our families? Wasn’t that great? When can we do that again?’
As we get the perfunctory eye roll from well-meaning people who don’t understand why we’re embarking on yet another road trip this week (yes, it’s true and we can’t wait!), it’s good to remember that everyone needs a break every now and again. Your stress might look different than ours – never-ending workload, medical woes, the drudgery of the every day. But when things start to get tough, it’s time to consider getting away from it all.
We all benefit from a good old-fashioned time out, especially those of us suffering with physical or mental stress (ahem, are we alone in this?).
So, future me, hear this: the lure of travel, the deep-seeded urge to get away, is actually beneficial for you. The stress you’re feeling, no matter how absurd it is in the grand scheme of things, is real. The weird 4am reading sessions, frustrations at various holders-of-visa-paperwork, the feeling of overwhelm when it doesn’t appear that you have anything in life to be overwhelmed about?
Yeah, those things are signs of stress.
If you ask most people suffering with mental or physical stress, they will tell you that the ability to shut-off isn’t easy. That inability to take it down a notch is probably a sign that you’re in the throes of it. But there are few things in life that feel as good as pulling out of the driveway and heading to warmer pastures, or relaxing into the airplane seat on your way to anywhere-else-but-here.
Physically going somewhere (anywhere!) offers us a new reality to exist in, even if just for a short time.
When the people are new and the location is unfamiliar, you yourself can be renewed, in a way that is difficult to replicate at home. The benefits of travel can last well beyond when you pull back into the driveway. Even if that unpacked luggage on the floor doesn’t always feel like the best welcome home gift.
Of course, there are a few logistical things to get in order to make your time away free from stress. In our case, we pack away a few large envelopes full of our visa paperwork, just in case (In case of what? I can only imagine but those documents will be there when and if.).
We carry our passports, ready in a minute to overnight to the Chinese consulate as soon as we get word that they’re needed.
It may be dull, but we also keep our travel insurance active, one less thing to keep me up at night. The last thing we want is to get seriously ill on the road, and the comfort in knowing that expenses are covered is invaluable. Good travel insurance will even cover complications with existing medical conditions, so I don’t have to keep knocking on wood all the time.
Future me, your time of uncertainty is almost over. But it will be back, as it always is, because of this fun game called life.
The next time you find yourself overwhelmed, the days slipping away at an uncomfortable rate, remember the formula to soothe yourself that always works. Plan a little time away. You may try and tame the stress in the other usual ways: another cocktail, brunch, yoga, journal.
But don’t ignore the urge to book a trip, or jump on a plane.
It’s good for your sanity to get a change in scenery, to feel that feeling of driving down the road towards the unknown.