International Incident: A Completely Neurotic Guide to Travel

Dan ruefully shook his head a couple of weeks ago and chuckled when he saw me pull out my travel backpack. Yes, I started packing for our UAB Chamber Trio tour a tad early. My sweet husband is used to my travel neurosis and just jokingly chides me a little. He is the kind of traveler who packs three hours before leaving- maybe the only big difference we have between us. I love to travel, but am incredibly anxious about leaving home; packing early for some reason helps to calm me down.

Tower Bridge, London.

Now before you get the slightest bit impressed by my obsessive proactive packing, please know that no matter how early I pack, there will still be the traditional last second panic racing about the house before I am finally loaded into the car and deposited at the Birmingham Airport by what I’m sure is a very relieved Dan. He is a good and patient man…thankfully he seems to think I’m worth it.

I have lists- Rick Steves’ and my own diligent research from the internet. I pack and unpack and pack again. And again. I vow that after the lesson learned traveling to Italy with a suitcase the size of a coffin several years ago that I will downsize, taking only the carefully rolled up items that I truly need (I watched videos to learn how to pack effectively!). This is tough when you are packing for five recitals and daily sightseeing, along with big variations in temperature and weather, but I was determined; I would use my smallest backpack roller bag (along with my clarinet bag).

I color coordinated (wait…black’s not really colorful, but we musicians have to wear lots of it), packed only two pairs of (black) shoes, I bought the tiniest of toiletries, gave up on any hair tools and brought the most minimal of make-up and jewelry. I had everything in freaking packing cubes, for God’s sake, and my travel clarinet case was pared down to the bare minimum of what I needed for performance. I was feeling all full of myself, like I was on Rick Steves’ Straight-A-Brown-Nose List. I was a lean, mean, packing machine, and there was no stopping me.

And then, just when I’ve announced, “I’m done!” and swear on a stack of bibles that I will not under any circumstance unzip my bag again until I’m in London, up spring the seeds of doubt. Maybe I need another sweater? Did I really put those performance pants in? Just how many pairs of undies did I roll up? And on and on, as the departure date looms closer and my anxiety hits DEFCON Seven (okay, that may be a tad overdramatized, but you get the picture…).

Westminster Abbey

It is at this point that I melt down, crying at poor Dan for no apparent reason other than he asked me how I was doing (have I also mentioned that I’m in the throes of menopause?). I suddenly lose my passport and debit card, only to find them right where I’d safely stored them. I start worrying that Dan and the animals may not survive my absence unless the house is perfectly clean, every dish and every piece of laundry done and put away, every closet cleaned out, and my Last Will and Testament in plain view. My ever-patient husband really does deserve a medal of some sort- seriously.

Finally, everything is done and the clock is ticking away; it’s time to actually leave my house, my husband, and my animals, get in a plane and cross the Pond to London. At this point I’ve reached the stage of, “Screw it. If I don’t have it, I can buy it in London- it’s not like they don’t have stores.” I feel the inevitability that this trip is happening and I’d better put my big girl panties on (Please God, let me have packed enough of them!).

West End dragon.

Dan drops me off outside of the Delta terminal and holds me tight. You’ll be home before you know it, Honey! He kisses me and sends me on my way as he’s done so many times before in the seventeen years we’ve been together. I head to Security and on to my gate, my small-but-stuffed carry on bags ready to fly the friendly skies to a week of adventure and music making in a country I’ve wanted to see since I was a little girl. And hey- I know I’m from BirmingHAM, but I so feel like I could be from Birmingum with a little work. Let’s do this!

(PS: I’m here and loving it! More to come soon…)

Hear me roar!

2 thoughts on “International Incident: A Completely Neurotic Guide to Travel

  1. I had to laugh. I’m going on vacation Nov. 10th and I’ve already started to lay out clothes in the guest room (aka staging area). Loved the photos especially Westminster Abbey!

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