My Dirty Little Travel Secret


Can I tell you guys a secret? It might surprise you.

Your favorite traveling dinosaur (me, obviously) came thisclose to canceling my trip to Africa last week. In case you missed it, I leave for my bucket list trip to Southern Africa (a safari in South Africa, Botswana, and Zimbabwe), in about two weeks. An African safari has been on my list of “life goals” for as long as I can remember – like hiking the Inca Trail to Machu Picchu, trekking in Nepal, and visiting New Zealand – and in case you haven’t noticed, I’ve been checking off those items pretty steadily over the past few years. So why the hell would I possibly consider canceling?

I can’t imagine missing this view!

Well, it’s funny. See, in between coming home from New Zealand and flying to Prague for the marathon (more about that trip coming soon, by the way), I was home for almost exactly three months. To some people, that may seem like the blink of an eye, but to me, it felt like a lifetime. I didn’t get on a plane during those three months – something I’m 100% positive has not happened since 2011. I have just gotten used to constantly going somewhere, whether it is to another state for a marathon or to another country. This time, my only travel was drives of an hour or two to visit family and friends.

To tell you the truth, I got used to it. I thought I would go crazy, but in reality, I was focused on marathon training and work, and I just didn’t really have time to think about the fact that I was constantly home. And you know what? I like my home. In a way, it was nice to have free weekends and not constantly feel like I am playing catch up. That doesn’t mean I wasn’t excited about all my upcoming trips – of course I was! – but I just felt content. I was ok being home and ok being gone.

Perhaps because I took a long (for me) break from travel, I felt overwhelmed when I went to Prague. The trip hit me harder than it usually does and I was exhausted for much of the time I was there. That’s not something I usually struggle with. What’s funny is that the travel was comparatively really easy; our longest flight was 8 hours from Atlanta to Amsterdam, and the other two were very short. Compared to the to-and-fro for say, New Zealand or Nepal, it was a cake walk. On the way home, I felt like I was about to burst into tears at the thought of such long travel days to and from Africa.

I’m soft now. SAD!

See, because I booked my ticket with frequent flyer miles, the routing is insane. I have four flights over the course of about 38 hours on my way to Johannesburg, with no “real” layover where I can get a hotel room and rest. I don’t sleep well on flights, and just thinking about how terrible I will inevitably feel was enough to have me nearly in tears. I seriously considered canceling the trip, but promised myself I would not make any decisions until I had been home from Prague for a few days (and better rested) before I decided. I know, I know – poor little me, traveling for free to Africa and worried about her precious sleep. Trust me, I get it! I feel ridiculous just typing it.Β  I used to be a person that would get home from a weekend marathon trip at 2 am and wake up at 6 to get to work the next morning. Hell, I started my current job after taking a red eye flight home from the Casper Marathon and heading straight from the airport to the office! So yeah…I feel a little crazy and lame.

Of course, after sitting on it for a few days and talking to AJ, I feel better. While I’m still a little daunted – and a little embarrassed that I have become such a homebody – I know it is the right decision. I know I will not regret going and I’ll have the time of my life, and I have no doubt about that. It’s funny because I’ve never understood when people (AJ included!) say that they don’t want to travel because it takes too long to get somewhere, but now I get it! I mean, it won’t stop me…but I get it.


On the other hand…I have to say I am a little bit grateful. I am glad that I feel this way! I have worried for years that I would be miserable if I ever had to slow down my travel schedule for some reason. While I would never completely want to give up traveling (and have no plans to do so), I’m glad to know I won’t lose my mind if and when I make that decision. Maybe it’s a result of getting older, having a happy marriage, or living in a place I mostly like. I know I have felt less frantic and compulsive about travel as I have been able to accomplish some of my major travel goals. I don’t have to worry as much now about not seeing the big places on my bucket list. I know that, heaven forbid, something happen tomorrow and I never go anywhere else, I can be content with the amazing experiences I have had.

So, I didn’t cancel my trip. I’m excited again now and gearing up for the experience of a lifetime! I can’t wait to share it all with you – the good, the bad, and the jetlag.

LEAVE A COMMENT: Does lengthy travel intimidate you? What are your barriers to traveling?


6 thoughts on “My Dirty Little Travel Secret

  1. Danielle – I’ve done a number of long (24+ hour) trips and they are brutal but what can you do? I did a IAD->SFO->NRT->SIN->JKT->DPS and I didn’t know if I was coming or going. It took about 2-3 days to re-acclimate. I know this isn’t feasible for most people but I have found it’s worth the extra to go to Premium Economy or Business class for those segments longer than 10 hours. It definitely helps arriving more rested.

    Also, I was in Kenya and Uganda a number of years ago and Africa is fabulous. You cannot pass it up. Good luck and safe travels.

    1. This makes me feel a lot better, Ody! I have done a lot of 24+ hour trips, but recently started having some really bad experiences (my seat being changed at the last minute to a middle seat, not getting the gluten free meal I requested, etc) so it has been ramping up my anxiety. Seeing that you survived all those stops is helpful!

  2. “Maybe it’s a result of getting older, having a happy marriage, or living in a place I mostly like.”

    Absolutely THIS.

    I always go back to my first marathon, running with a pacer and decent sized group, and everyone sharing – and learning how many people ended up at a marathon as a result of running FROM something or using running to cope with things. We’ve talked about that … years ago now πŸ™‚

    Same for travel – there is obviously a certain level that is natural for curiosity and the sense of adventure and experiences and so on. Then there is a point where other things are compromised in deference to getting away – and not in the usual ‘I am going out to eat less to save for travel’, but the whole “if I am not away for at least 50% of the month then I will volunteer for something or do local travel or … um, ANYTHING but be at home with my family” (yes I have known people like that, a couple of uncles, friends of my parents, and a couple of old friends of my own). It is never said, but is made clear through actions.

    For my first job I traveled a lot – and managed to wrap in loads of personal travel with the work travel, it was great. And even my last job, especially pre-kids, I would augment work travel with fun stuff. Now? I want to minimize inefficient time away from home (Lisa). Now WITH Lisa … I want to travel more (darn kids draining our money).

    So … long-winded as usual … I feel what you are feeling is completely natural. You feel more ‘at home’ at home – you are blessed with a great marriage and have discovered more and more great stuff locally .. so while I anticipate you will continue to explore the globe, home is no longer a place to do laundry between trips πŸ™‚

    Oh – one last aside – it really IS great discovering all the cool stuff your local area has to offer. When we moved here I had no clue about what was around, so we just went on adventure after adventure … and pretty quickly we were showing stuff to people who’d been here their whole lives! I think it is natural to overlook the natural beauty and opportunities right at home.

    1. Very true! I definitely was one of those people who was trying to avoid home in my first marriage and even in the first few years afterwards. Now that I have checked so many things off my bucket list (and no longer have to panic about dying before I do some of those things), have such a stable home life, and live in a place I don’t hate, I’m finding a lot more peace with not being on the go so often. It’s nice to know that I still can travel (and will, because I love it!) but I don’t HAVE to.

  3. First of all, HOLY CRAP I didn’t know you’re going to Africa!!! And second, I love how we can still surprise ourselves and find out something new. I know this is what you may call a “bad” feeling but you realized you actually love being home and don’t necessarily need a trip planned for you to feel complete. That, my friend is a very good thing.
    Lastly, I thought flying to and from Hawaii from the east coast would be almost impossible for me with my anxiety and lack of sleep but it was actually not that bad. Don’t set yourself up for “this is going to be horrible and I will be exhausted” before you even leave. Who knows? you may surprise yourself once again πŸ™‚

    1. Ehhhh… I’ve done a lot of 24+ hour trips by now so I’m pretty familiar with how bad I will feel, unfortunately. Plus, I’m actually traveling overnight through TWO nights, so that’s two nights in a row of basically zero sleep. I normally feel so much pressure to hit the ground running when I get to a new place, but I am going to try not to put so much pressure on myself this time and just get out there when I feel ready. You’re right, though – it is a great realization that I am comfortable with being home! You may have missed my Africa announcement – I think maybe you were in Cuba when I announced it?!

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