Lessons Learned: First Time Traveling Fears

I admit that I was quite nervous traveling to Germany last month. My first time overseas, and it only took me 50+ years to finally venture out! For me, the fear was being out of my comfort zone. I didn’t speak German and I didn’t have a phone to use in case there was an emergency or if we were lost.

My rate of fear varied from when I booked the flight to when we landed back in the States. I wasn’t thrilled about flying over the ocean for 800 hours (yes, I’m exaggerating but it felt like a long, long time) until common sense kicked in. Whether land or sea, a plane crash statistically isn’t good and usually has the same outcome.

Once we landed, my fears surfaced again. Damn the movies for setting off my imagination! How many times have you seen a character sweating bullets as they waited to make it through customs? How the character and you would hold your breaths to see whether or not customs would pull him or her aside for further questioning. The good news is that we were “cattled” around to get through the gates. I had some trouble understanding the passport gatekeeper, but Mike understood him—accent and all. I’m glad we didn’t look suspicious.

The next fear was soon after when we took the airport shuttle to my son’s house. Having never been to his home or having seen any outside pictures of the place, I had no idea whether or not we’d reached our destination. We had no phone to call him. My son had described the place to us, but the outside of this place wasn’t anything like he had described in his email. Or maybe what we pictured.

We had the driver beep his horn, as per instructions from my son. When we didn’t see him after a minute, I was nervous about getting out of the van. That van was my security. What would we do if the driver left us with no son in sight? And by the way, the driver didn’t care. He was busy unloading our luggage.

I’m sure that if we were left in the small village without a phone, without knowing the language, without knowing where in the hell we were, we still would’ve managed. Luckily we were fine. Son showed up. Driver was happy that I removed my grip from the seat cushion.

The odd times when my fear kicked in came when Mike and I took walks around the village. Don’t ask me why, because I don’t understand it either. My only guess is that I didn’t have a phone to call Son if something should happen and because we didn’t speak German. Common theme here?

Another odd time was when we went to K-Town (Kaisertown). The area that we were walking in didn’t feel right. I didn’t get a good vibe. We were probably fine. I had two strong men to protect me. But I wimped. They respected my decision that it was time to head back to the car.

And then there were times when my fear probably should have kicked in. One was after Wine-fest in Bad Durkheim. We took the trains home and almost got off at the wrong stop. We decided to follow an older couple who were heading to the station before our stop. A somewhat drunk American, who has been living in Germany for the last three years, rushed to the open door and told us to get back on. We were getting off at the wrong stop. We believed her. She was part of the group, a family, which we had struck up a conversation with on our way back from the festival. We got back on the train just as the doors were closing. She got us back on track. But really? We took advice from a drunk instead of the older couple who seemed to know where they were going? I had no worries, thank you wine.

I know that next time I travel overseas, I’ll still have those fears. Hopefully they will be a little less now that I’ve been over there once. I’m hoping to go over to Germany again and hopefully soon, before the little bit of comfort that I’ve earned hasn’t left me.

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