Anticipating Australia: Fears, Insecurities and Excitement
At the end of November, I will be flying to Australia for a 10-day trip with Tourism Australia—my second stint in the land Down Under. I had the opportunity to visit for the first time in November 2016. While it was an incredibly memorable, awe-inducing experience, it also came with some hiccups, hindsight and scares that I'm hoping to avoid this time around. Here's a look at what I'm anticipating. Can you relate?
I'm Scared About...
The chance of getting sick. Last year, I got a sinus infection the week before I left for Australia. Due to the high pressure and long hours spent on planes, both on the way there and to several destinations within Australia during the trip, I was miserable with sinus pain much of the time. I had to skip several activities due to my illness last year, and I'm scared of getting sick again.
Being so far from family and friends. Yes, I know there are lots of people who regularly travel to Australia for work and for play. Maybe the 14-hour flight and 16-hour time difference becomes a bit more routine once you've done it enough, but for a first-timer, it was absolutely terrifying knowing I was a world away from my "people." I kept thinking that I couldn't get to them fast enough, should anything happen to one of them or me during my trip.
I'm Feeling Insecure About...
FOMO over missing a big chunk of the holiday season in Chicago. The Christmas season is the best time of the year, so I've agonized over not getting to attend some of my favorite activities like tree-lighting ceremonies and our neighborhood Christmas stroll. Plus, I'm feeling guilty for missing my dad being in town for his annual conference.
Packing the right things. I learned the hard way last year that overpacking makes traveling to Australia overly complicated. For example, I'll never again attempt to bring a shoulder duffel bag as my carryon, or simultaneously try to pull a giant, 50-pound suitcase through the airport with said duffel bag stacked on top (hint: It doesn't work). That said, without knowing exactly what the weather will be like while I'm there, plus a secret itinerary from Tourism Australia, it will be difficult to narrow down the essentials.
Spending 10 days with people I don't know. I consider myself an extroverted introvert. I am usually good in networking situations where I don't know many people—but for a limited amount of time. An introvert at heart, I get my energy from alone time and being with the people I'm closest to. I know I'll be in good company with meeting planners on the trip, but the not-knowing part is unsettling to my type-A personality.
I'm Excited About...
Getting to experience new destinations. This year's itinerary will take me to Brisbane and Cairns. Last year, I got to visit Brisbane for only about eight hours, so I'm looking forward to learning more about the city and its culture. Rumor has it we'll get to be the first media group in the world to see inside the forthcoming W Hotel Brisbane, the city's first five-star hotel to open in 20 years (opening in March 2018). I've been Googling photos of Cairns, aka the gateway to the Great Barrier Reef. I can't wait to see it!
Meeting new people. The opportunity to spend time together in one of the most beautiful places on earth is a true bonding experience, as I discovered on last year's adventure. I made a few lifelong friends on that visit, and I'm hoping the same will hold true for this year's crew.
The element of surprise. As mentioned earlier, most of the itinerary is a surprise, planned by Tourism Australia. I have no doubt it will be full of take-my-breath-away moments, and for that I'm overflowing with excitement.