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There's a New Trauma in Town - Travel Trauma

There’s a new Trauma in town – Travel Trauma! Brand new triggers of old fears. And I walked right into them….

I didn’t write much last week about what I went through trying to travel for the first time in three years. I hadn’t been to my favorite getaway in Canada, where I have gone every year since I was a teenager. It’s where I go to get calm and centered, to check in with myself, experience great theatre and nature, and visit wonderful friends. But it kind of went sideways….

The chaos started in June, when my flight was cancelled, and I was moved to a 6:30am flight – UGH. Well, ok, deep breath, we’ll make it work. But the day before the flight – surprise! – THAT flight was canceled. And Air Canada wanted to reroute me – through Montreal – nope! Hopped on United’s website – which I assume lots of other folks did, because the Economy flights disappeared right under my fingers and I had to fly Business Class. This actually worked just fine - expensive, but fine – shockingly…but that was not to last.

I started stressing about my return flight on Air Canada, which I learned when I was up there is a complete disaster. Not even answering their phones. I wanted to strategize before my return so I wouldn’t get stuck coming back – nope! The Wi-Fi went out all across Canada. Can’t look up anything – and cannot do the work I needed to do that day without Wi-Fi.

I was amazed at the stress and anxiety this triggered in me – not being heard – no one to talk to – not being able to get my needs met – my safety untethered…. These patterns go all the way back to trying to explain what I needed to my family. I was overwhelmed and frightened, heart pounding and mind racing.

Of course, the stress lowered my immune system and I got a cold – which I was afraid was Covid and I would not be able to get back home – couldn’t find a PCR test either…. but I got better and checked in for my flight home.

Hah! Also nope! That flight was canceled while my friend (bless her) was driving me to the airport. There were storms at my home airport, so no flights that evening and I had to stay another night. Scramble to find a flight on an airline I didn’t know at an airport I didn’t know – then to find a hotel at the last minute. All of which I did, but that sense of Un-Safety was overwhelming… really rattled me in my heart’s core.

Now I got home just fine, and actually felt remarkably calm – I had managed several tough scenarios and shored up my resilience. My suitcase didn’t get lost – I didn’t catch Covid (finally got my PCR) – my friends were awesome – my husband was wonderful – very blessed and lucky.

But the thousands upon thousands of folks who are stuck in Travel Trauma across the world are being set up with huge triggers – no shelter, food issues, cannot be heard – cannot find safety for oneself and family. This is a very real thing and is adding to the multiple traumas we are already experiencing. Not to mention triggering our Old Traumas that may be unrecognized and unhealed. Maybe the airports should provide counselors in the terminals?? Good grief! It’s gonna be a long summer....

Overall, take slow calming breaths to downshift your nervous system. Be very nice to folks who are trying to help you, it will get you nowhere to lose your cool. Eat well and rest to keep yourself fueled and healthy. Burst into tears in your friend's car like I did - it was a great release. Stay safe, everyone! We will get through this.


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