I just returned from a month in the Mediterranean; a once-in-a-life time trip which was both a blessing and a challenge.
I feel very fortunate to have traveled to Cyprus, my birthplace, after 44 years. We also went to Malta. My husband and I were able to reconnect with family, make new friends and enjoy spectacular scenery.
But traveling is not without its challenges, especially when you are away for an extended period of time. This is the longest I’ve been away from home and from the office, and I’m humbled to discover that no matter how organized one thinks they are, there will always be a few bumps in the road. I thought I’d share some of the things I learned, so you can enjoy a smoother ride the next time you travel.
Pre and Post Travel Prep
Block the day before your vacation for tying up loose ends, like paying bills, watering plants, arranging for mail pickup, etc. In addition to packing, you may need some time to run to the store for last-minute items.
Block the day after your vacation as a ‘recovery day’: to unpack, do the laundry, catch up on emails, and pay any bills you may have missed while you were away.
Consider these pre and post travel days part of your vacation. Putting time aside to prepare will allow you to relax and enjoy your trip. Having the extra day to catch up will lessen stress and allow you to return to work more relaxed.
I’m so envious of people who can travel through Europe with just a backpack. When I first started traveling, I took a lot of ‘just in case’ stuff. Now, every time I pack, I take a little less. And although I like to think I streamlined my wardrobe to just the basics this time, I still didn’t use everything I brought.
I was given a few gifts, and when I had to squeeze them into my luggage to bring home, I wished I had brought less. Thankfully, I didn’t go over the weight restriction (I was really glad I brought my luggage scale with me so I could weigh the luggage before I got to the airport), but it was stressful to have to pack so tightly. And when they opened my luggage at security, it was a challenge to get everything back in – especially with everyone watching!
Although it’s important to pack light, there are a couple of extras I recommend packing, for the peace-of-mind they provide: extra batteries (for camera, computer and phone), and extra underwear. Just like the spare tire in your trunk, you’ll only appreciate these things when you really need them.
Know Your Numbers
If you are already using online banking, you can pay your bills while you’re away – which is so convenient. However, I suggest you set up reminders on your phone. I don’t know about you, but when I’m on holidays, I seldom know what day it is.
Make sure you bring (or have access to) your account numbers and passwords while you’re away. Don’t rely on your memory – somehow, it’s not as sharp while we’re vacationing. I like to bring photocopies of the front and back of all my credit cards as well as my passport. Should anything be lost or stolen, I have all the numbers I need to report it.
Book Good Seats
On long flights, there’s nothing worse than being stuck in a terrible seat on the plane – especially if you are trying to get some sleep. Comfort matters – and good seats don’t always have to cost extra (although sometimes it’s worth paying a little). Once you’ve booked your flight, check out www.seatguru.com. This cool site points out the best and worse seats on the specific plane you will be flying, so you can book them right away (you’ll need your flight number).
Never have expectations
You may not be able to see it all or do it all. Things may not go according to plan. It doesn’t mean you failed. If you can let go of expectations about how things should be, you’ll be in a better frame of mind to truly enjoy the adventure. Be open to the possibility that what the universe planned for you may be better than what you planned for yourself. So be flexible, go with the flow – you’ll be much happier.
Despite the inevitable challenges, traveling is more than worth the effort. Some of my best memories and happiest moments are from the trips I’ve taken. I hope these tips will make your experience even better. Happy travels.
And I hope you’ll share your best travel tip in the comment section below…