Over Memorial Day Weekend, I took my first out of state vacation by airplane since the pandemic started.  Travel is one of my absolute passions, and like so many others during the pandemic, I found myself itching to get away.  I had done some long weekend trips to other areas of Florida, but nothing on an airplane since December 2019.  It was exciting to get away, but I felt a lot of anxiety before leaving. 

I love to travel, and I fancy myself a travel pro.  Before the pandemic, I had no problem getting on a plane and exploring a new place.  I rarely, if ever, do a guided tour.  I usually grab a guidebook, read a few travel blogs, follow some hashtags on Instagram and let the adventure begin. 

This time was different for me.  I was going to New York and a trip to New York is so routine for me, I was surprised when I found myself feeling anxious and getting worried.

I was wondering what happened to me.  I felt like I had regressed.  I was wondering if the pandemic caused my “travel muscle” to weaken like a muscle does when you don’t exercise.  I decided to change my mindset, break through the anxiety, and determined that if I can figure out what I can control, I would feel better. 

I decided to make a list of what I needed to do to get myself ready for the trip.  I checked the weather in the area so I would know what to pack.  Side note: the weather was so rainy and cold that I ended up packing incorrectly anyway, but I was able to borrow a coat when I was there, and I just laugh about it now.  That’s resilience!

I also decided to view this trip as an experiment.  I was going to New York, a place where I used to live and that I am remarkably familiar with.  If I could do this trip and feel comfortable, I would be okay travelling elsewhere.  I did everything in my power to make sure this trip went off without a hitch. 

I arrived at the airport early and went through the security process with ease.  I had lunch at the airport and then boarded the plane.  The crew mentioned that it was a brand-new plane, so that helped me to feel better.  We made our way onto the runway and prepared for take-off.  I felt that anxiety creep its way back into me.  I told myself, “I’m on the plane, we are out on the runway, the only place now is to go up, and there’s no turning back.”  The self-talk did help. 

As I watched Fort Lauderdale fade away into the distance, I began to relax and feel comfortable.  I was on my way to New York to see my brother and his girlfriend.  I knew that I was having dinner that night at one of my favorite restaurants.  I was finally able to relax. 

A few hours later, we arrived at JFK airport and my brother picked us up.  We drove into New York City, and it was full of car traffic and lots of people walking around.  It seemed pre-pandemic to me.  This made me feel good. 

We checked into our hotel and then met my brother and his girlfriend for dinner.  The next morning, I got up early and took a walk around the Financial District where I worked in the early 2000s.  It was great seeing how the area changed, but also stayed the same.  I thoroughly enjoyed my walk, and I was able to reflect on how much my life has changed since my 20s. 

As I did my reflection, I honored the changes that I decided to make as well as the ones that were made for me.  I realized that change is not something to be fearful of and that making decisions in the past were the right decisions at the time.  I am so grateful for where I have been and where I am in the present.  I’m extremely excited to see what unfolds in the future. 

I would absolutely call my experiment trip a success, and more than that I realized that even though you may “regress” and lose some muscle definition, it is quite easy to get back out there, start exercising again, and continue making forward progress. 

I had blamed the pandemic for my anxiety about travel, when in fact I was just a little out of shape.

I’m ready for my next adventure.

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