Lessons learned

This year, I learned a few things about traveling on a long trip.  These things aren’t as big on shorter trips, but become more obvious the longer the trip.

Delays happen

From traffic delays getting to the airport to delays departing from the gate to delays getting your bags at your destination, delays will always happen.  Plan for them, allow extra time, and go with the flow.  You won’t get to your next spot any faster by getting upset.

Expect that the unexpected will happen

Sometimes there are detours or something else comes up that sounds better than what was planned.  Taking advantage of such opportunities can make for an exciting trip.

Say hello

It is surprising how many people are so involved with themselves that they don’t look around at others.  It seems like we all do our own thing and only interact by accident.  Say hello to the person sitting next to you in the waiting area, the guy behind you in the boarding line, and even the passenger next to you on a flight.  A simple hello or “Where are you going?” can make a new friend.

Try something new

Our comfort zones are very often a limiting factor to the endless possibilities.  If you always hang out with friends when you travel, try going solo.  If you always eat at chain restaurants, check out the mom and pop store next door.  Part of traveling is getting to know the culture and what it would be like if you lived there.  When you get home, you can visit the chain restaurants all you want.

Leave it at home

Packing is one of those things everyone stresses about.  Lots of things go in the suitcase “just in case” that are never used.  Many personal items can be bought at the local drugstore if really needed.  Wash clothes instead of bringing duplicates.

Challenge yourself

You can accomplish a lot more than you may think you can. By challenging yourself to do something that you’re weak at or scared of doing, you can learn so much about yourself.  “I can’t” turn into surprising “I can” moments that you will remember forever.  And if you fail, well, you can keep that to yourself.

Ship it home

Souvenirs are great to bring home to remember all the things you did.  But you don’t have to pack them all in your suitcase to go home with!  Shipping stuff home using the Post Office and flat rate boxes is easy and inexpensive.  And when you get home, you get to open boxes and remember what you got.

Memories are valuable

Many details about a trip are forgotten soon after they happen.  Document your trip with photos, diary entries, emails, voice recordings, and videos.  Looking back at where you’ve been can be very rewarding and inspiring.  A photo album is a great thing.

Have fun

With all the effort to plan and execute a trip, you can get pretty stressed out.  It’s important to remember traveling is suppose to be fun, exciting, and awesome.  If it isn’t, you might as well stay home.  Forget the negatives, enjoy the positives, and the trip will work itself out.

Here’s to safe and exciting travels in the new year.  Cheers!