Let’s be honest: we all have days when we feel like this little girl in the photo. Maybe we’d feel better if we just sat down and wailed until we got it out of our system.
How do you handle it when you wake up under a dark cloud whilst traveling? Or what do you do when you get triggered by an unpleasant interaction with someone in your travel group? How do you handle your exhaustion from jet lag or too much partying so it does not stop you from experiencing what a beautiful and interesting part of the world has to offer?
Recently I was traveling with a group of spectators for the Giro d’Italia. There was a small group of people within our group who called themselves “Axis of Evil”. Yes, really. I did not manage my travel plans well so I was exhausted by the time I joined the tour and once I was triggered it was difficult to recover.
Here is what I learned:
Make more space for rest and recovery when I travel, especially with a group.
For me, if I feel like crying then I am probably triggered.
When I am triggered I need to get curious before I have invested too much time in the confabulation I will inevitably create. (I definitely get attached to my stories.)
Stay engaged with people instead of withdrawing.
Start counting the positive interactions with people to start a positive feedback loop and break a negative one.
We all make a big investment of our time and treasure. We spend months anticipating our travel plans. It is important to spend at least as much time as we do packing to ensure we truly enjoy the experience.
Melbourne in Victoria Australia is a terrific destination for a vacation. A lot of people avoid travelling to New Zealand and Australia because they think it is too far to fly. From San Francisco or Los Angeles it is about 12 hours (depending on the wind) to Auckland. For people on the West coast it is equivalent to flying to Europe. I have made the trip over a dozen times now in one direction or another. This time I mentally prepared to continue on to Melbourne–another 4.5 hour flight. (There are direct 14 hour flights from LAX to Melbourne on other airlines.)
On both legs the Air New Zealand plane was their new style with seats in Economy that have these foot rests that if you have control of the entire row you can create a bed. It does not do you much good if you are flying with a bickering married couple from Oak Park, Illinois like I did. I smiled as I imagined the three of us stretching out on “bench.” However, great if traveling with children.
I had done some reading about avoiding jet lag and I tried a few new ideas. First I ate dinner at 7 in the airport (a few slices of wood-fire pizza). I avoided alcohol both pre-flight and en route. I declined the dinner and took a couple of Advil PM. I slept really well–at least 8 hours. Then I ate lightly until I arrived in Melbourne.
I was tired when we landed in Auckland and would have loved a shower. Instead I drank a flat white. I stayed awake all day both to speed getting on the right time zone and because there were penguins to see and friends to enjoy. I slept soundly and I woke up around 3 a.m. The key is to not panic or stress when you awake off schedule. Just as we can go without eating for longer periods than we often think possible–we can function for a few days with less sleep as we adjust.
On the way home I ate a light lunch and then declined a big dinner. I drank some hot tea and ate the cheese and crackers offered. I lucked out and had the row to myself, so I got to try the new “couch” in economy. It works quite well and would have been even more restful if the cabin lighting had not malfunctioned. They could not be dimmed. I still managed to get 4 or 5 hours of sleep. I watched quite a few films–watch The Dressmaker if you can.
I arrived in Sacramento by noon. I stayed up until 8 p.m. It was easy to go to sleep because it was already dark. I slept straight through until my alarm went off. I felt great today.