The idea of traveling seems to draw two contradictory reactions for a lot of people. First, they jump for joy at the idea of visiting a new, exciting locale. Then, they hide in terror of the anticipation that goes along with planning. Some people lean more heavily to one side or the other here, but most travelers have experienced both.
All geared up for my first trip to Europe in March 2007
The experience is magnified if you happen to be an infrequent traveler. You are not the travel guru who is on an airplane often enough to warrant first class cabins without trying. You don’t spend more time in exotic locales than your own home. Maybe you don’t have the flexibility, or perhaps you just prefer to stay at home most of the time.
If travel is a rare, coveted experience, it is important that it remain as stress-free as possible. If you are looking to cast away your roots and embark on a long-term travel adventure, you similarly want to reduce the number of headaches going into it.
This, of course, requires getting into the traveling mindset.
What is the Traveling Mindset?
When it comes to travel, there are a number of things seem to hold a person back. The keyword here is “seem”. Whether it’s a lack of funds, a lack of time, or a fear of planning, excuses abound. Sometimes there are legitimate barriers to travel — but often it is simply fear and anxiety getting in the way. Only once these doubts are set aside can you truly start enjoying the idea of a vacation or a long-term trip.
It ain’t all sunshine and roses.
It’s important to take stock of potential roadblocks and find ways around them. If you’re committing to one vacation a year, it shouldn’t be overwhelming. If you’re paralyzed by stress at the idea of a long-term trip, maybe you should rethink the trip altogether.
Let’s examine some of the frequent stressors in more detail.
It’s too expensive
Money, money, money.
Whether it’s a flight to Europe or passes to Disney World, traveling can take a definite toll on the pocketbook. Affordability is one of the largest deciding factors of a vacation, and often sticker shock can put the breaks on a potential trip. However, there are countless ways to make travel affordable, including frequent flyer miles, points-earning credit cards, the avoidance of tourist traps, and more.
When approaching a potential vacation, set a budget ahead of time and try to work within it. It might seem surprising, but it is possible to travel far and wide for little cost.
There isn’t enough time
This is especially hard on the infrequent traveler. Most typical 9-5 jobs in the US offer about ten vacation days a year when you start out. This seems almost negligible when taking into consideration appointments, sick days (which are sometimes lumped together with vacation days), and family obligations.
So…what do I do, again?
For this reason, it’s important to strategize at the beginning of the year. How many days can be allotted to true vacation time? How many should be saved for potential emergencies? Does your workplace offer other options, such as a sabbatical? Also, keep in mind that vacations do not have to be month– or week-long affairs. They can consist of a series of long weekends, strategically placed throughout the year to help prevent burnout.
There’s more pain than gain
Planning a trip can, admittedly, seem overwhelming. Just narrowing down where to go can be intimidating, and the work doesn’t end there. It’s important to maintain a positive outlook and remember that sometimes, less is more. If creating a step-by-step itinerary is habitual, but also stressful, it might be a good idea to step back and, instead, come up with a bare bones outline (there is a such thing as over-planning!).
Not knowing exactly what is going to happen each day is part of the fun of travel, and will allow for new, unexpected adventures.
Don’t forget to stop and enjoy where you are, however you got there.
These are just a few hurdles that travelers may face. Once they are overcome, planning for a trip becomes something to look forward to, rather than dread. There are so many benefits to travel, including exposure to new cultures, a well-deserved break from the daily monotony, and an opportunity to try new adventures. It isn’t even necessary to travel far. What’s important is that you commit to the mindset of a traveler – keeping your eyes — and your mind — open while enjoying the ride.
What roadblocks have you had to overcome to make your travel dreams a reality?