Adventures Aren’t Supposed to Be Easy
How to Ride Through Travel Stress – and Manage Anxiety During Big Changes in Your Life
By Dave Fox
May 22, 2015
I’m typing this on my balcony in Singapore. It’s a breezy day, not too hot. The air is filled with the sounds of jackhammers and fog horns. My view ripples outward: Densely packed apartment buildings, then a belt of greenery, then sets of massive cranes that lift shipping containers off of cargo ships. Finally, far in the distance, I see the Singapore Strait, and some Indonesian and Malaysian islands.
I’ve been living in Singapore for nearly four years now, and this cluttered view has been my daily scenery for the last 15 months. I’m going to miss the balcony that has become my office, my dining room, and the perch where I go when I need to breathe. But there are new adventures on the horizon.
In seven days, our things will be packed into a container of their own, and carted over to those shipping cranes. Nine days after that, Kattina and I will leave Singapore.
On July 7, we’ll fly to Ho Chi Minh City (Saigon), Vietnam, to look for a house. A few days later, we’ll continue to Seattle for the summer. We’ll see friends and family in Seattle and Colorado. (And I’m looking into setting up some writing workshops or Globejotting happy hours. I’ll have details soon.) Finally, in late July, we’ll bounce back to our new home in Vietnam. Kattina will start her new job, teaching science at an international school there. I will keep doing what I do – with exciting new things on the way.
International moves are stressful. Kattina and I have both had moments of panic this past week over whether everything will get done. We have an agreement that only one of us is allowed to panic at once. (I think we gleaned that advice from Warren and Betsy Talbot of Married With Luggage. If not, Warren and Betsy, you get a free plug anyway.) But in the midst of our chaos, I came to a realization:
We are on an adventure – and adventures aren’t supposed to be easy.
This is an idea we embrace when we’re traveling. We’ve climbed a mountain in Sri Lanka in the middle of the night, waded through chilly streams to sleep in a remote village in Nepal, bushwhacked through a pitch-black jungle that was crawling with wild animals in Borneo, and been squished during a festival mob scene in Burma. In moments, these experiences were uncomfortable. In moments a couple of them were frightening. But we got through them and came out on the other side with amazing stories.
I realized the other day that although packing to move, dealing with all the visa paperwork and apartment move-out issues – and don’t get me started on the current ant infestation in our apartment – isn’t as fun as exploring new places, we need to look at this move the same way we travel. Right now, we’re not getting the instant gratification and thrills we feel when we plunge into culture shock, but we’re on a bigger, longer adventure. Right now is the hardest part. Most adventures have hard parts. Many have discomforts. We endure these things because the rewards outweigh them.
Remember that the next time you’re traveling or trying something new, and feeling frazzled. Remember it too before you travel. Some people avoid dream journeys because they fear the potential discomforts. But when you’re in the midst of those moments, you deal with them, you get through them, and in the end, you’re rewarded with a more fulfilling life.
Whether you’re journaling for yourself or sharing your stories with others, writing the stories of your travel adventures is one of the best way to process your more challenging moments. Learn how to write about them in my fun online travel writing courses.