Saturday, March 22, 2014

HSPs, Travel & Preparing for the Unknown

The late John Lennon once said "Life is what happens while you're busy making other plans."

A couple of years ago, Sarah and I spent a week in Taos, NM, attending the annual Labyrinth Society Gathering. I won't get into details about the event itself-- although Labyrinths are highly relevant to HSPs, in my opinion-- but the whole business of "going" got me to thinking about the issue of HSPs and travel.

In the course of my 15-odd years of being part of the global HSP "community," I have heard many highly sensitive people lament that travel is either very difficult for them, or they avoid it altogether, too concerned about dealing with the unfamiliarity of strange places, the discomfort of hotel beds and the general overstimulation that goes with planning and going on a trip.

It always surprises me a bit that there have not been dedicated books and web sites, specifically written about this topic. For a while, there was an "HSP Travel" blog on the web, but it ceased publication a few years back. A couple of HSP writers published short booklets about travel and "HSP-friendly" venues in their cities. Aside from that, nothing.

After the snow; Denver Airport, 10/26/2011
But I digress. There are a few simple things you can do, as an HSP, to make the traveling experience less taxing and more enjoyable.

One of the items on Dr. Elaine Aron's self-assessment for sensitivity reads: "Changes in my life shake me up." Another reads: "I make it a high priority to arrange my life to avoid upsetting or overwhelming situations."

Now, think about these two in the context of being an HSP and dealing with modern travel-- being in a strange location, dealing with flight delays and cancellations, and so forth.

Of course, you can't prepare for everything. Like flight delays caused by weather. Case in point: We thought that flying to Albuquerque via Denver would be a safe bet, in October. Alas, no! 

On our return flight, we ended up with major delays, due to an unexpected blizzard... causing us to miss one flight and have to wait five hours to connect with the next one.

Ultimately it was a good reminder that some things are just beyond our control... and then the best thing we can do is just settle in and relax; pacing endlessly or getting overwrought with worry will not make any difference. 

As an HSP, the best thing you can do is find a part of the terminal that has fewer people and settle in with a good book or-- if you're traveling with your laptop computer-- use the airport's free wifi network to catch up on some correspondence, write in your journal, or even play puzzle games or whatever else you might do online during slack times.

Remember, there are certain things you simply can't change (like flight schedules and the weather); focus on the ones you can!

Safe travels!

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