This Always Happens Before My Big Trip

Can you relate?

I’m not sure if I should call myself a digital nomad, but my job description is pretty close. I juggle a career in lifestyle journalism (I write, take videos and photos, and do content creation for several publications), maintain my blog and social media accounts, do commercial modeling and acting every now and then, and help with the family business. I juggle it all like a video game waiter about to crash into a wall while balancing a tower of wine glasses.

Crazy schedule aside, the great thing about being a freelancer is that I’m able to book trips that last for weeks to months at a time. I travel while working on my tasks as a freelancer. I do my best to finish all the big projects and shoots before my trip and just do light tasks through my iPhone and MacBook while I’m soaking up by the beach or exploring a new city. Or I schedule my no-itinerary days between deadlines. It works most of the time.

Sounds glamorous? I wish! It’s not as smooth sailing as people think. In fact, for the last few years, I noticed this always happens the week before my flight out:

An overwhelming amount of workload falls on my shoulders.

It’s not just any kind of last-minute task. I’m talking about overwhelming, panic-attack inducing workload or problems that cannonball out of nowhere, out to kill you. It’s as if there’s a bitter, anti-wanderlust pixie whose main mission in life is to keep you from pursuing and enjoying that glorious trip.

My American uncle Tom once joked, “The menehunes are after you!” Like the dwendes (dwarves) of Philippine folklore, the Hawaiian menehune is a naughty and crafty dwarf that can play tricks on humans, making them feel like bad luck has suddenly taken a liking to them. For me, I prefer calling them the anti-wanderlust pixie.

“Oh, you’re going on a two-week hiatus to a bohemian tropical island? Here’s a fire you need to put out. I also have a list of additional deliverables from your editor and let me tempt you with an invitation to a big photo shoot that will be held the day after your flight,” said imaginary anti-wanderlust pixie. “Let’s see if you’d still want to pursue that trip.”

Cue imaginary pixie’s evil laugh.

Somewhere out there is an imaginary anti-wanderlust pixie that’s out to ruin your vacation plans. (Photo taken in Zambales, Philippines)

This always happens to me. Work issues suddenly pile up on the last few days before the trip. Responsibilities at home quadruple. An exciting acting/modeling project is offered, but alas, the shoot falls on the day after I leave.

Then I go through the usual crisis of: “Should I rebook or cancel my trip? Was it a stupid idea for me to schedule it this month? Why do the good projects get offered just as I’m about to leave?”


I know I’m not the only one. Friend #1 was asked to make a new presentation for his ad agency the morning of his flight to Bangkok. He made it by the hair of his chinny chin chin. Friend #2 had a meltdown at work a few days before her big solo trip. Friend #3 had to finish and email a presentation during his layover. I’m telling you, if you believe in guardian angels, you should beware of the evil anti-wanderlust pixie.

Despite the setbacks, your heart is determined to pursue that trip, but not after a few anxiety and panic attacks.

And then after that magnificent trip, you come home to several weeks of… crickets. Boredom. An extra light workload. Wanderlust cravings. An itch to book another trip because it’s too mundane at work.

The evil pixie is laughing maniacally at this thought bubble.

Last year, I contracted COVID days before my planned Thailand trip. I moved my trip to another month, but not after incurring exorbitant rebooking fees and non-refundable expenses. Two weeks before my already rescheduled trip, my beloved rescued dog Snoopy died of kidney failure. I packed my broken heart into my suitcase (griefcase?) as I traveled around Thailand.

This year, the anti-wanderlist pixie comes in a different form. My modeling agent told me a few days ago that I’m one of the top picks for a commercial, which will be shot on—you guessed it—my planned Vietnam backpacking trip in a few days.

This time I made a deal with my agent: If I get the commercial (It’s a brand I’ve always wanted to work with!), I will cancel 3/4 of my Vietnam trip. I will do just five days in Vietnam, come back home to shoot the commercial, and then continue the remaining part of my Vietnam trip later this year.

Today is the day they’re supposed to make a decision. I’m waiting with bated breath on my computer. I’m waiting for that Viber message telling me if I got the commercial or not. If it’s a yes, I’m going to maniacally refund, rebook, and cancel several items on my travel list before the non-refundable fees kick in. If I don’t get the commercial, I will maniacally pack my bags and finish all my work assignments before my flight in a few days.

Now excuse me while I strangle the evil anti-wanderlust pixie laughing beside me.

First published: February 10, 2020
Updated: August 16, 2023