Battling travel hypochondria

Two days ago, I spent all 14 hours of the New York – Delhi nonstop flight worrying that my seatmate was quietly infecting me with something nasty.

He stayed bundled in his ski parka and wool hat the enitre flight. He had a telltale IV drip bandage on the back of his hand, sat eyes closed with a grimace, and didn’t eat a bite (except for the occasional pill from the bag in his pocket).

Has anyone else ever borne the weight of travel-induced hypochondria?

Maybe it comes from the battery of shots the docs recommend for going almost anywhere these days. Get ’em and you’re attuned more closely to the threats; skip ’em and add a dollop of risk to that awareness.

Maybe it’s an unavoidable side effect of Western culture, obsessed as we are with hand goop and Airborne and sneeze technique.

Maybe it’s just me. But I’d like to chalk it up to travel’s tendency to push us to find the story in any given detail — to make us reach for reasons and explanations to make sense of it all (no matter how quixotic it feels).

Pursuing countless such paths per second, it’s no wonder some of them swerve into fear. Some rightly so, some as false alarms. Moving forward, the goal becomes keeping the number of alarms roughly equivalent to the number of legitimate threats — and thus eliminating that pesky brick-in-the-backpack known as travel hypochondria.

Photo by Jaako via Flickr.

Posted by | Comments (1)  | February 24, 2010
Category: Air Travel, General, Notes from the collective travel mind, Travel Health

One Response to “Battling travel hypochondria”

  1. Keith Says:

    It’s tough. We hear so much about planes are giant germ capsules and then pharmaceutical companies push products out onto the market to combat it. I think the key is to follow cleanliness routines wherever you are (wash your hands, don’t lick your fingers, etc.) and you’ll be better off for it.

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