It’s a New Year, and the perfect time to admit that I am powerless. I think I have hit rock bottom.

But I have given it a lot of thought and decided I don’t want any help. I want to keep on chasing the intoxicating traveler’s high. I can make a three-night trip into a month-long binge of trip preparation pleasure. And there is absolutely nothing I want to do about it.

There is something very captivating and alluring that happens when you move from occasional to frequent traveler. You start getting into predictable and intensely enjoyable patterns of vacation preparation. I can’t stop with the almost continual, methodical planning and daydreaming that get me closer to the pay off of finally walking out my door and beginning the trip.

First I get immense satisfaction during the packing ritual. I binge for a week. Every day at work I fantasize about getting home and looking at my stuff. Do I want to take this, do I want to take that? I put all my possible travel companions in their own area and mull them all over for the next few days. I then start weeding out. I have some favorite things that every time I pack I include because they are my really favorite things. But they always end up staying home.

Travel: Are you addicted?

There is an art to not packing until just the right moment. If I do it too soon I forget what I packed and have to rifle through my stuff and make sure I have that pair of shorts. If I wait too long I end up having to make on the spot decisions of what to not take because my suitcase is too stuffed or over weight. I prefer giving slow, rational thought to what I can live without. I sometimes get second thoughts and try to derail my meticulous packing plan. Maybe I should only pack wrinkle-free things because I won’t have an iron.

The night before the trip I go into a walking stupor. I try and pace myself and only get so excited at any given moment. I want the endorphins to last through the click of my seat belt and announcement that my trip has begun. I make several final passes in front of the staging area to determine the order in which I will pack my stuff in the morning.

Now it is time for the final survey around the house looking for those things that will be done just before I close my suitcase — like empty the grounds in the coffee maker, set the thermostat, check notes for Coco’s kennel, and take out the kitchen garbage. I have organized myself into a heightened pretrip delirium.

Then I finally let go. I have reached the moment of satisfaction that everything is ready and I can totally give in to trip mode. I drop into bed and let go of all preparations. I want to dream about what I think my trip will be like. From here out I just let it unfold as it is meant to be. I am under the spell of the traveler’s high.


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