“Fake it till you make it”: Navigating Stressful Travel Experiences

Read all the exciting things our scholars have been up to!

Over these last few weeks, I’ve dealt with a few hiccups during my day trips and overnight trips to other towns and cities in the UK, particularly with the traveling aspect. For instance, when going to Brighton two weekends ago, my return train was canceled and the next one was delayed, causing me to not return home till 2 AM. Similarly, when visiting Manchester this past weekend, the rail strikes, though canceled, still caused disruptions that required me to take a coach bus. I then missed my coach bus to Manchester, unable to find the coach station in time! (My navigation app told me it was a 5-minute walk from the train station, but it, unfortunately, took much longer.) Then, my return back to London took much longer than expected due to traffic and my navigation app once again letting me down, providing the wrong bus schedule.

In each of these situations, I was tempted to freak out. I had become too reliant on my navigation apps since I didn’t know the local public transportation system well enough to figure it out on my own. But then when the app let me astray, I felt completely lost. It can be really scary when things go wrong, especially when you’re in a place you’ve never been to, all on your own. But maintaining a calm outer persona kept my internal panic at bay. I decided to talk to the staff at the coach or bus station, who definitely better guided me than my phone. I reminded myself that I would get to where I needed to go eventually, and there was no point in freaking out further now. I listened to my favorite songs, got comfy wherever I was, and basically externally operated as if nothing had gone wrong. Honestly, the phrase “fake it till you make it” really works wonders in situations like these, both in the figurative sense of pretending to be calm until you actually feel calm, and the literal sense of being relaxed until you make it to your destination.

I’ve also had to adopt this attitude in my day-to-day experience. Attending college in a major city where you don’t live on its campus means I always have to allot extra time for commuting, a big adjustment from my 5-minute walk to classes when I lived at Wellesley. The 25-minute commute via public transport often takes as long as 40 or even 50 minutes depending on London traffic, which most of my traveling apps don’t account for. Transportation issues are frequent and unavoidable here—whether it’s the unpredictable weather, rail strikes, traffic, or misdirection from my phone. So, it’s important to keep myself grounded and be confident that I will get to my destination, eventually. This has also improved my experience of finally arriving at Manchester, Brighton, or other places in the UK because the residual stress from traveling has faded by the time I get to my destination.

So, the first photo is my friend who I met in Manchester, and the second is the famous Manchester street art, looking beautiful even in the gloomy weather!