Some people need only reserve their plane ticket and resolve the rest as they go.
Others need every room, dining experience, transportation detail and daily itinerary locked down before they leave. Oh, and it would be nice if they could adjust the weather too, but…
There’s no single right way to plan a trip. It comes down to your need for control, your personality type, your comfort with winging it and myriad other issues. But no matter what your planning style, at some point you have to answer this question: “Am I ready to go?”
The answer isn’t simple because implied in that main question is a second one: Ready for what?
To me, I have dig deeper than train schedules, visa requirements and hotel availabilities. I need to do more than just prepare my itinerary. I have to prepare me.
To do this, I have to ask myself (as do you) some tough questions:
- What do I want to get out of this trip?
- What do I want to be or become as a result of this trip?
- How do I want this trip to change me? For example, do I want to be more adventurous? More open? More patient? Less critical?
- Depending on how I want to change, what will I do on this trip to achieve that goal? And most important, what will I do before this trip to help achieve that goal?
Trips are wonderful learning laboratories. They give us the opportunity to try on new perspectives and even build new habits. We’re away from work and daily routine. We’re freed to experiment and explore. But the learning that they provide occurs best if we seek out that learning and prepare for it.
I’ve got a trip coming up with my family. A big one that includes several countries in a region I’ve never visited. All my reservations – well, most of my reservations – are in place. But am I ready? Not yet.
I’ve not answered all of the above questions yet. Not thought through how to make this trip meaningful not just for me (the one whose done all the research) but also for my family who will show up at the airport with only the faintest idea of what lies ahead.
The irony of travel planning is this. I can spend days or even weeks preparing for a trip, learning about the history and culture of a place. All that has tremendous value. But if I don’t think through some of those questions above, I may come home with a great experience, but not the best one possible. And to me, life’s too short not to pursue the best option.