A Traveler’s Recurring Nightmare – Literally

2393382468_919d6491c0_zIt used to be the dreaded final exam dream that would have me waking in a cold sweat a few times a year. You probably know it, too: That recurring dream where you’re headed to the final exam in a class but you’re not prepared. There are variations on this classic. For some, in the dream they didn’t study for the test. For others, they also forgot to attend the class. For still others, they then arrive for the test naked or in their pajamas. I’ve had the first two of those flavors many times, and in my case it’s always, always, always a math test. (No surprise there. Though I did study for math deciduously, because it wasn’t a strength of mine.)

In the last year I’ve noticed I’m no longer haunted by this final exam dream, probably because school is a distant memory. Or perhaps it’s because I’ve moved on to a new type of frustration dream that reflects my current life.

It’s the travel nightmare.

In this dream, I can’t get to where I need to be on time. Something out of my control is always holding me back. Sometimes it’s the airport gate, and I can’t seem to get out of security. Or sometimes I can’t figure out which is my hotel room because I lost the key sleeve—and, of course, I’m in a huge hurry, trying to make a deadline or to pack for a flight.

Strangely enough, I’m not a stressed traveler. I allow plenty of time. (My husband says, too much. Which reminds me of an observation of a friend. He says there are two types of travelers: those who get to the airport early, and those who get to the airport late. And they’re all married to each other.) I’ve never missed a flight. And I always find my hotel room.

Perhaps I need to acknowledge the underlying stress in travel and try to process this more overtly. No, I think I’ll just let my deepest psyche work that one out in my dreams.

 Do you ever experience travel-related frustration dreams?

Photo: Flickr/belen becker

The Covert Stress of Reentry

14973731919_7530d9b4e0_zOne of the biggest pain points for frequent travelers doesn’t even happen on the road, but at home. It’s that window between when your body walks in the door after a trip, and when your mind and heart settle in. You made it home—that’s the good news. But chances are, you’ve arrived tired, stressed, and (often) hungry, a recipe for an adult meltdown, if you’re not careful. That’s the bad news.

Reentry is often overlooked as being stressful because it’s on the home side of the trip. After all, aren’t you so, so happy to be home? And chances are that your loved ones have missed you, too, so they dive at you, ready to have you all to themselves finally. All good, right? Not really. You may very well not be ready.

I’ve noticed that even if I get home from a trip at 2 a.m., I need to sit and acclimate to being home—sort of soak it all in–for at least an hour before heading to bed. And when we first were married, my husband reported that I acted like he was a stranger when I returned from a trip. He’d only regain the real me 24 hours later. I probably still do that, but we’re just accustomed to it now.

On a recent Michael Hyatt podcast, Michele Cushatt reported that after her almost-weekly trips she schedules one day of doing nothing but restorative things, to regain herself before continuing the week. Another frequent traveler I know has a ritual of unpacking his suitcase immediately, no matter what the time. It’s his way of signaling to himself that he’s making a clean break of the travel…he’s really home.

What do you do when you get home from a trip to ease the reentry?

Photo: Flickr/Hernan Pinera