I have a lot of experience with being a highly sensitive person. My whole life, really.
I have much less experience, however, with catering to my sensitive self. I’ve spent maybe 1% of my life doing that. Perhaps a bit more. Maybe less. Regardless of exact percentages, it’s still a very new practice.
Just a few days ago, I returned from sixteen days of travel. I was in Portland first, taking photos of Havi and Rallying at her space, The Playground. Then I had a spate of photo sessions with some other glorious folks. Afterward, I Amtrak-ed it up to Seattle for a dear friend’s wedding.
The trip was bookended by plane rides, of course. JFK to PDX, then SEA to JFK. I’ve taken tons of plane rides in my lifetime, and this is the first pair where I’ve felt somewhat in-control of the packing and preparing. The first time I’ve been able to accept that I have needs that are worth attending to, and then attended to them.
As a result of this acceptance and needs-attending, the first leg of the trip began differently than past ones. I’d been planning for this particular journey for nearly six months. I wanted to make sure I had several photo sessions booked way in advance, and I did. I needed to know that I’d be able to pay for the trip way ahead of time, and I accepted that, and it happened.
The month before traveling, I did a lot of preparing, too. Much of it I couldn’t have done alone. I get easily overwhelmed by travel and planning, and I’m lucky to have a partner who understands and assists. In the weeks leading up to the trip, I: went to get a new prescription and new glasses (vision! wow!); got a bridesmaid dress pressed; purchased tiny bottles for toiletries; rescheduled photo and coaching sessions to accommodate travel; did lots of things at work to prep for lots of time away; made lists; checked said lists twice; and more.
For some people, all this would be no big deal. For me, it was huge. Not only that I did these things in a somewhat calm manner, but that I allowed myself to prep for weeks, instead of last-minute, which would not have helped anything.
So I took weeks to get ready. I took Sea-Bands, and ear plugs, and socks, and a sweater-ey scarf, and a drape-ey scarf for the plane. I got cash out of the ATM so I could take a cab from the airport, knowing I wouldn’t want to deal with light rails and buses when my plane touched down at midnight.
Why am I sharing this with you? Why does it matter whether I took three hours or three days or three weeks to prepare for a trip?
Because I want you to know that it isn’t easy, or neat, to be a highly sensitive person and plan for travel and work and life. If you find packing your suitcase to be really stressful, I hear you. If you’ve ever hesitated to embark on a trip because you were afraid it would just take too much out of you, I find that thoroughly understandable. A good first step is identifying some of your needs, and slowly becoming more okay with learning to meet them.
What are your travel needs? And how have you begun to go about meeting them?