When Work Takes You 10,000 Miles From Home

work travelI recently traveled to India for work. I was gone for 13 days. We visited four different cities, took seven flights, drove hundreds of miles, and had an overnight stop in Dubai. It was one of the most memorable two weeks of my career, and I loved every minute of the adventure — okay, minus the 33-hour journey home. However, it didn’t start this way, and I was a mess leading up to the trip.
When I first found out I had the opportunity to travel to the Middle East, my brain went into overdrive. I am naturally a worry wart and have anxiety, so this was a double whammy. One side of my brain was excited for this once-in-a-lifetime opportunity. The other side was full of “what-ifs” and irrational fears and the panic attacks set in.
From past work travel both domestically and overseas, I know I always have a tough time leaving. The lead-up to the trip is always the worst. But, once I arrive at my destination, the fear and anxiety tend to subside. So, why was this trip so much worse?
The numbers really got to me. Ten thousand miles from home, a 9.5-hour time change, a 16-hour flight, seven airplanes (especially when I don’t like to fly), etc. Below are some questions that ran through my mind — some of them valid and some irrational. Note that I was too superstitious to write this on the plane on the way back because there was still time for something to go wrong. Now that I am back on American soil, I can answer the many questions that plagued me and how it actually felt to be that far away from home… from my norm:
  • Can I miss Halloween? Yes, the kids won’t even notice I’m gone and there is less candy to have to share if I’m not stealing their Butterfingers and Laffy Taffys.
  • I don’t love to fly. Can I really do a 16-hour flight, which was only one of seven legs? Yes, I had a colleague who traveled with us, and I felt safer with her knowing she’s traveled the world and was an expert. Plus, where else can you have uninterrupted peace and quiet for 16 hours straight?
  • Are Indian airlines safe? This one was crippling me. Turns out, the three local airlines were safe, friendly, and best of all — uneventful. The airports were another story.
  • What if I get sick and have to be hospitalized in India and can’t come home as planned? This was a stretch but something I always worry about. I did see plenty of hospitals though so that was comforting.
  • What if something happens to one of the kids while I’m gone? Then my husband can deal with it, and I can hop on the next flight back if needed.
  • Will I be able to adjust to the 9.5-hour time difference? There was no way to know until I tried. The biggest time zone difference I’ve ever had to adapt to was five hours which I thought was difficult. I never adjusted completely, and when I did sleep, it wasn’t solid sleep. But, I slept when I could and managed to get 4–5 hours a night.
  • What if I can’t eat anything because I don’t like the local food? My colleagues laughed at me because I brought a carry-on bag full of snacks. Ramen noodles, peanut butter crackers, cashews, popcorn, candy, etc. I ended up having to leave most of it behind because I never needed it and needed the luggage space once I bought gifts. The truth is, I gained weight because I found plenty of Indian food to eat and am now missing some of my new favorite Indian dishes.
  • What if I panic mid-flight? My doctor prescribes me meds to fly and most of the time I take them just to make the flight more bearable. I had my meds handy just in case I felt extra anxious or wanted extra help dozing off, but to be honest, I never needed them.
  • Is it too late to back out? Probably. My colleagues would understand but I would always regret not taking the risk and passing up on what I now know to be an amazing and memorable trip.

Two things that were always in the back of my mind were that if something drastic happened, I could always hop on a plane and head home. Plus, my family and friends were just a phone call away. Granted, it may have been the middle of the night for one of us, but I FaceTimed often and my little one got a kick out of it being morning where I was and still nighttime in Jacksonville.

And before I knew it, 13 days flew by and I was home. My journey was over but I brought back a lifetime of memories. And, I am a stronger person because I conquered my fear and realized it’s okay to be worried and be afraid — that’s part of being a mama.
Kerry Schicker
Boy mom. Household CEO. Corporate leader. Outdoor lover. Social seeker. Sun worshipper. Curious traveler. Champagne enthusiast. These words describe me, Kerry Schicker, and contributor for Jacksonville Mom. I first approached founders Vicky and Megan after a heartbreaking miscarriage a few years ago. I had a very unpleasant experience with my OB at the time and I needed to get it off my chest so I wrote an anonymous blog that resonated with some of our readers. I have since written dozens of blogs mostly about motherhood. I have a passion for writing. My 20-year career has grown through some form of writing including TV news reporting and producing, magazine publishing, public relations, advertising, marketing, blogging and my current day job doing HR and employee communications for a Fortune 300 FinTech company. I am thankful that Jacksonville has such a supportive community for moms like me, and I can't imagine raising my two boys anywhere else.


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