Most airlines will send you an email a week or two before your flight with the subject headline, “Prepare For Your Upcoming Trip”. The content is informative, explaining how to check in for your flight, what luggage weight restrictions to know, how to navigate through the terminal, or when you actually take flight. In my mind, these emails are wrongly titled. What can prepare you for travel?
Most of us rush out to buy new luggage. We sell our belongings for extra cash. The necessary call to the credit card company must be made. We attempt fitting all necessary liquids into a minuscule plastic bag. Those are all deemed “travel preparations”. Those little to-do lists are important, but they do not really prepare you for travel.
As I write this, I am buried in a mountain of work. Actually it is looking more like a mythological mountain with perhaps Cyclops on top, sneering at me each night until 2 and 3 AM saying, “No Suzy, there is always more to do”. I am so caught up in writing, that I forgot I leave in less than a month for my first three-month adventure.
I could be rushing out to do those travel preparations, but frankly I do not have the time just yet. Instead, I choose to emotionally prepare. Mental preparation for a big trip is often neglected. The airline doesn’t email you to tell you how to gear up emotionally for your trip. Lists don’t achieve the daunting task either. For those of you planning extended summer vacations or taking off soon on a round the world adventure or gearing up for a summer spent in your basement watching re-runs and chick-flicks, here are some steps towards mentally and emotionally gearing up for your trip across the world or just down to the neighborhood bar.
1. Stop Being a Hot Head and Practice Patience
I do not know how many times I have found myself in a trying travel situation. This could stem from my first plane ride abroad where my family and I spent an 8 hour delay to Paris sprawled across the floor of the Dulles Airport. Travel is no stranger to conflict, frustration and short fuses. The same goes for day-to-day life. Road rage may creep in on that car ride to work. The post office has a long aggravating line. While this can be challenging for a saucy redhead, if I can practice patience before I leave, I tend to keep my cool on the road. Part of travel preparation comes with getting into that patient mindset. My destination is always more appreciated in the end when I don’t exhaust myself on battles with rude people or crying over lost luggage.
2. Chant The Take-Off Mantra, “I think I can. I think I can. I CAN!”
I am starting to sound like a corny motivational speaker, but sometimes I question what I am doing this summer. I know a few people in Florence, where I will be living, but it is not home. As travel hesitation creeps in, to prepare for my trip I am chanting this mantra in my head, “I can do it”. As trite as it may be, a little self-confidence can go a long way towards alleviating travel worry. Clearly if you have purchased the ticket, taken the leap and quit your job for the road, you are pretty much Superman or Superwoman. Nothing can stop you, not even the Lex Luthors you might meet on the road. Preparing for travel calls for a positive mindset about all that you might face.
3. Write a List of Why You Are Traveling
I probably write several “To-Do” lists a day. Crossing off completed assignments and articles feels incredibly gratifying. Sometimes I wonder though why I am doing this. Sit on down with that pen and paper and remind yourself why you are traveling. This can be goals you want to achieve, changes you want to see in yourself, or simply what you want to discover. There are no rules to this list and the reasons and tasks don’t need to be accomplished by Friday at 5PM. Seeing those reasons on paper tends to set my travel priorities straight.
4. For Better or Worse, Get Excited
It sounds simple enough, but with my busy pre-flight schedule, I forgot to get excited. I am going to try and squeeze in a few Italian movie nights here and there to get those excitement wheels turning. Wherever you may be headed, read up on your destination or watch movies that pertain to your travels. That excitement will hopefully carry on to the plane ride, making your trip a more enjoyable one with lasting impressions. Sure, things will not always be grand, but if you are excited about the good, the bad, the ugly, and the in-between, travel will sneak up on you, surprising you at what challenges you can overcome with excitement.
Nothing can truly prepare you for travel in the fullest sense. There will always be those “I wish I would have…” comments, but that goes with most things in life. Until time machines hit the market, test out these mental travel preparations tips in the mean time.
What do you do to prepare emotionally or mentally for travel? I would love to hear your tips so I can be ready for my June 8th departure.