Being an awkward aspie and a traveling enthusiast aren’t always a good fit. Crowded airports, having to sit uncomfortably close to strange people on a plane, navigating in new places and trying to figure out how to buy a train ticket, there are an awful lot of things that can be super triggering for an aspie who feels a strong need to be in control at all times.
I always get stomach ache when I travel. It’s an exception if I don’t. Every freaking time I have to sit and wait at the airport and sit on a plane for more than an hour I start having pains, no matter what I have eaten. I always react to stress with my belly, and it’s such a nuisance. And, like many aspies, I hate it if things are out of my control. Delayed flights, your luggage getting left behind, the transport you have booked not showing up.. There are so many things that take you out of your comfort zone and can leave you feeling lost and out of control.
But. I love traveling. Not being on the plane part obviously, but visiting new places. In the past my fear of unexpected situations really overshadowed everything whenever we went on holiday abroad, but with time I have managed to overcome some of my fears – not completely of course, but it’s more like I have decided that I won’t let my challenges prevent me from living. While being scared, visiting new places also gives me a sense of freedom and accomplishment. For so long I was stuck at home, being held back by my issues, that now I crave to see and explore. Getting stuck again- it’s actually my biggest fears in life nowadays. I have fought so hard to move away from that and I guess my crave to travel is a way to somehow take back the lost time. Today, traveling is a way to make feel more alive. It’s worth the stomach ache and the sedatives.
I just came back from a long weekend trip from Salou, Spain and I’m having the worst post-holiday blues. Being back home I am having anxieties about going back to work, having to face the normal life, somehow feeling less free and less alive. It is all a strange mix of emotions, and I think I’ve always been trying to escape something – back in the day it was by escaping reality in the safety of my own home and now it’s by always seeking to go somewhere else, to feel free of my emotional chains.Here is a little check-list that helps me feel a little more in control when travelling:
- Well, first, make a check-list! Whatever it is, write down what you need to do before the holiday, what you need to print, what you need to find out beforehand or what you need to pack. Try to make yourself feel more organized.
- Print out all documents instead of having them on your computer or phone. It somehow makes me feel more secure having things on paper, in a concrete form. Also, no stress about what happens if you broke or lost your phone.
- If you can, find out how to navigate at the airport. It can be confusing if there are many terminals. Find out if you need to take a shuttle buss to another terminal. Look at a map of the airport and print it out.
- Write down instructions for yourself: first you go to the counter for check-in, the next step is security and you need to take out certain items, etc. It can be less daunting if you have all steps written down, especially if you haven’t flown for a while.
- Take coins with you so you can buy food or drinks from machines in the case that you are feeling overwhelmed and don’t want to go in a full cafe or just can’t manage saying out your order when a queue is forming behind you.
- Get an aisle seat if you can. Makes it easier if you get an upset stomach from the stress.
- Arrange transportation from the airport in advance so you can reduce the chances of getting on the wrong train or buss. It might cost a little more, but will make you feel safer.
These are just a few things I’ve found helpful and surely there are a lot more. Everyone should plan ahead, but it’s even more important for us aspies to figure out strategies to make ourselves feel safer and more in control.
I’m already thinking of my next trip (this time to USA to see my friend) and panicking a little bit..