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My Spookiest Travel Experience 2022


Desert highway

Welcome back!


In the spirit of the spooky season, I thought it would be fun to chat about my spookiest travel experience to date.

 

Back in 2022, I traveled a lot. I went to Niagara Falls, Toronto, Minnesota, Virginia, Michigan, Germany, dozens of cities across Ontario like London, and Austin, Texas.


For the most part, my travels are quite fun and safe, but Austin was different. I was so spooked leading up to this trip that I remember telling myself I could back out up until the point where my luggage was checked. If I my luggage is going on a trip, so am I!


Austin, Texas

Why was I was so spooked for this trip? Because it was my first time ever traveling completely on my own.


Prior to this trip, I had only ever flown with my family. I never had to worry about losing my boarding pass or passport, missing my flight, whether I could lift my carry on into the overhead bins, sitting next to a stranger, asking this stranger to move when I needed to use the bathroom, etc. I always had my family to rely on for those things.


But that's not the case when you're flying alone. There's no one else to rely on but yourself. That really spooked me because, at the time, I didn't know if I was capable of relying on myself in a travel setting since I'd never done that before.


I also had some irrational fears of flying. I'm alone, without my family, and surrounded by strangers. What if we crash and that was the last time I would see them? What if we need to do an emergency landing in the ocean? What if we run out of fuel?


Frau Hannah and her stuffed whale



Instead of relying on my family to help sooth my worries, I remember listening so intently to the emergency protocols, keeping my stuffed whale on my lap, and clutching my cross pendant while praying on take-off and landing.




The airport wasn't any less spooky. Since I hadn't been to the airport in a long time, and it was the tail end of the pandemic, I wasn't sure what the protocols were anymore. I knew I had to wear a mask and submit my negative testing, but I was caught off guard when I was told my mother couldn't see me off.


We had just gotten all my luggage out of the car and were walking up the airport entrance when the security guard there said only those with a ticket could enter. An understandable precaution giving the state of the world at the time, but not something I anticipated.


Frau Hannah family

Obviously my mother couldn't go beyond security with me, but I was already spooked to be flying alone. I thought at least I wouldn't have to do the airport alone, but I was wrong.


My one little comfort was now gone. I, instead, had to navigating the airport all on my own for the first time, which was quite daunting.


Checking in, checking my luggage, going through security and border control, and finding my gate were all things I never needed to do on my own before. However, all these responsibilities were solely on me this time and that was intimidating.


Security line at Pearson

I also happened to be randomly selected for extra security protocols (which I found out while checking in), meaning, on top of all the regular security protocols, I also had to get my hands and feet swabbed, as well as all the belongings and electronics in my carry on. This just added to the anxiety.


I was also anxious because, in Austin, I was supposed to be meeting up a friend of mine that I hadn't known too long. It was comforting knowing someone was on the other end, but because I didn't know them too well at this point, I had the fear that maybe they wouldn't show.


Toronto to Austin

I kept thinking, if they didn't show, how would I get to and from the airport? Where would I stay? How would I get around? How would I know where to go and not to go? Should I just book a return flight home if that happened? Would I have to stay in the airport for the night?


There were so many unknowns on this trip that made it such a spooky experience in the beginning, but the key-phrase in that sentence is in the beginning. While all of this was scary at the time, it was only scary for a moment. The beautiful thing about these kinds of worries or anxieties is that they are fleeting.


In the grand scheme of things, this spooky experience was such a small part of my life, but thanks to this experience, I'm less afraid now. Traveling alone is no longer an unknown that I fear, but a known I've grown to love.

Frau Hannah boarding a plane

Airports are now very much a happy place for me, I absolutely love Austin and consider it a second home, I enjoy being on planes and exploring new places alone, and I know what I can do to soothe myself. But I couldn't have gotten to this point without the first spooky experience.


Truly, the only way to get rid of the fear of the unknown is to make it known. Easier said than done sometimes, but, in my experience, so worth it.


 

What's your spookiest travel experience? Let me know in the comments below!


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