Travel blends art and science. The science is packing, efficiency, and logistics. The art is deciding where to go and how you'll spend your time. While there is no right or wrong answer to how you should travel, there are a few things you need to think about and decide before your next trip.
The basic things to consider before your next trip are simple: trip duration, location, and communication. Even the most spontaneous, live-in-the-moment people need these questions answered. A major consideration is communication: how will you stay connected during your travels? Check with your mobile provider about international travel and/or roaming charges. Armed with answers to these three items, you have the bare bones for a great conversation and to guide you to other decisions.
The more complicated considerations happen when you start discussing logistics: transportation, budget, culture & customs, and lodging. It's easy to spend hours searching TripAdvisor and AirBnB trying to find the right place to stay for the right price, especially when you're keeping to a strict budget. If you factor in an unknown culture with a language you don't speak, how much more complicated will things get? The answers to these questions are easy - you know yourself better than anyone, but it's important to be as prepared as possible when putting yourself (and possibly others) in an unfamiliar situation.
All The Small Things
Once the easy and slightly more difficult decisions shake out, you have to think about all the little, weird nuances of your life that may require an adjustment while you travel. Do you have pets who need to be looked after while you're gone? Do you need travel documents or visas? Do you need to request time off from work? What happens when you get to your destination - do you need a plan or are you going to go where the wind takes you? Think about your average day and week. What interactions do you have with others that would cause stress if you overlooked them? With enough forethought, you can easily handle all these different parts of your life. If you wait til the last minute, however, you're bound to forget something critically important.
For the list makers of the world, here are the questions you need to answer for your next trip.
The Easy Stuff
- How long will you be gone?
- Where are you going?
- Do you need to be able to make phone calls/use data?
The Hard Stuff
- What's your budget? Total budget? Planning budget (airfare, hotels, etc)? On the ground budget (food, souvenirs, etc)?
- Where are you staying?
- Will you have a "home base" or bounce around and stay in different cities?
- Do you have dietary restrictions?
- Can you speak the language?
The Weird Stuff
- Do you need a petsitter? If yes, do you have a reliable one?
- Hold the mail? Pause any regular appointments like a cleaning service?
- What's the weather at your destination? How will you pack?
- Do you need time for tourist attractions or will you go off the beaten path? Or both?
- Do you need visas or other travel documents?
- Do you need boosters or other immunizations?
- How will this affect your job?
For each trip you take, there are certain things you need to handle before you hit the road. Unfortunately, we're all adults and have responsibilities. While I appreciate spontaneity, be sure to tick these boxes so you're not stressed when you return. There's nothing worse than needing a vacation from your vacation so spend some extra time in the planning stages in order to have the best experience possible.