We all have phobias, right? Spiders, heights, snakes, planes, snakes on planes – there are few of us who are immune from having irrational fears about things that either can’t hurt us or which are unlikely to do so. I’m not scared of planes, heights, or snakes (though spiders still freak me out). Instead, my phobia is a bit strange: I’m afraid of booking travel in advance.
This isn’t some cutesy attempt at making a normal habit seem slightly more peculiar. I actually get massive anxiety about booking travel in advance. The strange part is, I don’t even have any kind of negative experience to back it up. It’s not like I’ve ever booked a trip, had to cancel, and then lost all my miles or cash. I’m not even sure where it comes from, but it’s there and I can’t seem to rationalize it away.
For starters, I have the worst time deciding on hotels. It’s probably because I enjoy the research phase a bit too much. I knew I was going to stay at the Conrad Makkah during Umrah, but still couldn’t pull the trigger on the actual booking until I was in the car, driving towards the airport. The same goes for airfare. When I flew to Europe last summer, I had my AirBerlin business class seat on hold until 3 AM of the morning I was supposed to depart. When I had packed my bags and was ready to doze off, I finally called AAdvantage to finalize the booking. This past week, I’ve been driving my dad crazy because he keeps asking when I’m going to book the flight I’ve got on hold for him that departs in two weeks. Uhm, don’t worry it will get done.
Some of this anxiety might come from booking so much group travel. It can be challenging when you’re redeeming points from different accounts and the airline doesn’t allow holds (i.e. Alaska). When that’s the case, I’m paranoid about booking a bunch of people on one flight and then losing the remaining award space for the rest of the group. Yes, there are ways to circumvent this (i.e. hold the award with a partner airline and release it just as I’m ready to book) but all of that makes me anxious to the point where I can’t even pull the trigger on single award bookings until the last minute.
All of this is compounded by a fear that I’ll book a multiple night hotel stay and be unable to cancel it if I end up being miserable there. I know you’re thinking the solution to this would be to book refundable rates or do what Elena suggested in one of her blog posts: Make separate reservations for each night so you can cancel one if you end up at the Bates Motel. So that’s kind of what I do – I book a hotel for 1-2 nights and then book additional nights if I want to stay longer. It’s still not enough to alleviate my ridiculous booking phobia, but it worked out well in New York, where I found the Kimpton Ink 48 to be a nice hotel but the Andaz 5th Avenue was a better fit on the last two nights when I needed to be closer to midtown.
Anyway, I’m trying to be better about this by addressing it and making an effort not to worry about ridiculous scenarios that won’t even come to pass or that I can easily circumvent. But I want to know: Does anyone else have this problem when it comes to booking travel? Or any other travel-related phobias for that matter? I’d love to hear from you in the comment section.
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