Posts Tagged ‘travel’

be prepared: travel

The words Be Prepared are powerful ones.  To me, they immediately bring to mind my days as a Girl Guide.  Preparedness is a good thing and a bad thing. 

  • On the good, I’m a forward thinking person who can see the big picture, anticipate problems and plan for them.  I am generally organized and have set myself up as the go-to and in-charge person.  I get a kick out of that.
  • On the bad, I’m not comfortable in situations where I don’t know what’s coming, I’m less able to be spontaneous, and I REALLY hate surprises.  I am a control freak in the best and worst of ways. 

There are so many things to be prepared for – especially now with the H1N1 Pandemic hype/reality all around us.  Today I’m going to talk about travel, but will likely get to other preparedness topics as I get further into this.

Be Prepared and Travel First of all, get a passport.  How in the world will you fly to Paris on a whim (or even to the U.S.) without this most important of documents? 

Second, pack the right stuff.  I started out travelling by carrying a huge bag, bursting with every stitch of clothing, gadget and medicine that I might need later.  It didn’t take me long to find sites about packing – my favourite is One Bag – which showed me that if you think about where you’re going and preparing for that situation only, you’ll really cut down on the things you’ll have to carry. 

  • Layers are your friend.  If you’re going someplace sort of cold, it is more efficient to pack a sweater, a windbreaker, gloves and a hat (all of which can be used together to make a warm coat, or separately with other things) than it is to pack a heavy coat that can only be used in cold weather.
  • Bring things that match.  The packing sites suggest picking one or two colours as your palette and make sure that everything goes with everything.  I remember being at a meeting with plaid pants (they were cool, really!) and a striped sweater.  I couldn’t wear the two things together and, of course, the meeting rooms were FREEZING.  Monochromatic dressing also means fewer shoes are necessary.
  • Wash stuff in the sink as you go and be ready to wear things over and over.  But also take something colourful to cheer you up… one former favourite grey sweater got demoted after being worn three weeks straight on a trip through a chillier than expected Europe.   Colourful accessories saved my sanity.
  • Look at your itinerary.  One Bag wonders if it is REALLY worth it to drag your diving gear along on the off-chance that you’ll go diving (especially if you could rent the equipment there)? Are you REALLY going to go to a fancy dress party whilst on vacation (especially when black dress pants and a clean t-shirt with a  pretty wrap will do for most situations)? 

Third, learn about where you’re going.  I’m embarrassed to say that I ended up in Brussels with no idea what I should see and what was interesting there.  I spent too much time wandering and likely missed a lot.  Shameful.

Planning your travel is almost as fun as actually going.  Anticipating, researching and planning your trip thoroughly will prevent you walking aimlessly and will give you a measure of familiarity that allows you to find the Rijks Museum in Amsterdam and know the intricacies of  The Night Watch .  One of my favourite “discoveries” came as I walked up the steps of the the Louvre and saw the Winged Victory of Samothrace.  I knew she was in the building but didn’t know exactly where. 

Me in London - 2001 in front of Buckingham Palace


I will admit that planning too much can limit the spontaneity of your trip.  Remember that there is great value in wandering around and getting lost.  Especially in Venice .  Take some time to watch people. 

In the interest of honesty…my suggestions here refer to airplane travel.  I CAN get everything I want to carry into a 52L backpack and be happy for three weeks BUT I am not so good at containing myself for car trips.  If my family reads that I’m suggesting that people follow my example by packing light, there will be mocking … and incriminating photos of my car fully loaded from last Christmas may surface.

As I said, half the fun of travel is preparing for it. Financialy, planning (and dreaming) are the most I can afford at the moment, but some day I’ll go back to Paris, London, and Rome.   In the words of Nike … Just do it!


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