My Travel Guide: (Mental) Prep & Conceptualizing

When it comes to travel, I think we often drop the ball on perhaps the most important phase in making it meaningful: preparing ourselves and reflecting on where we want to go. We spend a lot of time buying tickets, coordinating schedules, and scrounging budgets but we fail to do the initial and most crucial preparation. As I’ll hound on through this series, traveling (or more aptly, adventuring) is experiential. It’s more than taking selfies and buying souvenirs.  It’s bigger than, “I went to this place and saw this thing.” Traveling is really about conceiving for yourself the significance of your destination. I urge the would-be traveler go through these two steps first:

State of Mind

There’s a lot to be said about the mentality of being a traveler. In order to really explore and experience the world, you’ve got to let go of your regular situation at home. For some, that’s their stressful daily grind at work. For others, it’s the level of comfort and convenience they’ll only find at home. Those are the chains that will keep you from doing anything outside “the usual.” Once you’ve worked out your budget, travel companions, and itinerary, anything else will simply keep you from soaking up the experience that is visiting a new place with a new culture and new scenery.

What’s great is that we often create these limitations for ourselves, and we are thus empowered to overcome them. This might sound like a very “Millennial” perspective; admittedly my peers will probably find this challenge the easiest to overcome, but it’s possible for anyone. With the right amount of time, planning, and preparation, anyone can break those barriers.

For me, I’ve built a life and support network that encourages my  aspirations. I’m in a flexible stage that allows me to travel, dig, take pictures, research, and write. My life goals include continuing that flexibility as a professional. I consider what I do in the off-season as a “refueling” stage for the next season. I’m building opportunities to continue that stream of resources and support through things like my ScribAux Editing and Writing Help service (shameless self-promotion).

Pictured: Me taking pictures.

Naturally, these things aren’t going to be for everyone to emulate but that doesn’t mean one can’t make travel an end to their means. Make your next adventure a goal. Saving money for your budget or gathering vacation days suddenly has a whole new meaning.

Where to go?:

So you’ve broken the mental shackles that have kept you from venturing out into the world. You must now face perhaps the most important question in planning: where do you want to go?

There’s no easy answer to this and I can’t tell you where to go. Archaeology has me hopping “across the pond” to Europe each summer. I’ve made it a personal goal to visit at least one new place that the Ancient Romans controlled each time I go.

Paestum blog.jpg
Paestum was by far my favorite new place last season

Undoubtedly, there is a least one place that you’ve wanted to go since you were a kid. Where is it? How easy is it to get there and are there any places on the way that are also worth visiting? What makes that place so appealing and are there other destinations that have those same attractive qualities?

If you need some inspiration, several resources exist to guide the would-be traveler. The Culture Trip provides a huge variety of articles geared toward expanding the reader’s cultural experience and hopefully inspire them to take an adventure. Lots of people swear by Trip Advisor, which fuses ratings and reviews of various travel destinations and accommodations with a venue to book your next trip. I’m a little leery about relying on it as a resource because commercialized showcasing and democratized ratings sometimes fall short of allowing you to form your own experience. Of course, there’s plenty of well known individuals like Anthony Bourdain (No Reservations, and Parts Unknown), Rick Steves (Rick Steve’s Europe), and even the gang from Amazon’s The Grand Tour who make a living off of traveling. Beyond their TV shows, they’ve all created at least a few resources that can aid the traveler in making their own journeys.

After you’ve decided you’re going to travel, and once you’ve decided where you’re going, you’re ready to start actually making plans!

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