My palms sweat, my heart races and my stomach feels like a hot tub with all its jets on. My brain is simultaneously fixated on finding a place where I can safely throw up and holding steadfast against my gag reflex.
These feelings seem to come up every time I travel, but I refuse to allow them to prevent me from seeing new places, learning about new cultures and trying new cuisines.
The most prominent feeling, which rears its ugly head without fail, is that of nausea. Whether we travel by bus, boat or airplane, no mode of transportation is immune to my overpowering motion sickness. Even the relaxing sway of a hammock turns my stomach upside down!
Despite the fact that it would be easier on my digestive system to stay sedentary and prevent all future use of barf bags, I still force myself to travel and experience new corners of the world. It’s worth it!
Even when those far-reaching places on earth are situated high above sea-level, I journey onwards. You see, I’m also one of the 20% of people susceptible to altitude sickness. We discovered this ailment during our overnight visit to Everest Base Camp in Tibet.
Spending those 18 hours or so at the base of one of the world’s most majestic mountains, I succumbed to my headache, the feelings of nausea and general lack of strength. On that trip, I fell victim to: The Everest Mistake.
I found it impossible to look past my physical discomfort and I didn’t allow myself the opportunity to enjoy the amazing aspects of the experience. From that day on, I vowed that I would never make The Everest Mistake again. No matter where I travel, I now understand that the physical pain and unpleasantness are only temporary, and that my goal is to see the beauty in spite of it.
Fear of Flying
The last aspect that I will not allow me to stop traveling is my fear of flying, also known as pteromerhanophobia. It sounds like I should be afraid of flighted dinosaurs, rather than taking the safest mode of transportation available. As with many fears, this is not rooted in anything logical. I can’t explain why my breathing becomes shallow, my heart pounds in my chest and my mind replays Hollywood movies of plane crashes, when I buckle in to my aisle seat.
I wasn’t always terrified to fly the friendly skies, but rather, it’s a fear that developed suddenly in my mid-twenties. In the decade since, I’ve been forcing myself to continue boarding planes and the fear is slowly subsiding.
Fear, pain and motion sickness, when combined is strong enough to bring anyone to their knees. For me, though, the pleasure of traveling drives me to get back on my feet. Not literally, however, as the anti-nauseant medication I take generally knocks me out and keeps me drowsy long after the arduous journey is over.