For many, summertime means vacation time. For some, these words bring an instant smile, while for others it brings about an instant bout of stress. First, take a deep breath, let it out, and release your tension. Now, let’s talk about summertime travel and ways to make your vacation most pleasant.
Travel means planning. If you’re traveling with a partner or the whole family, step one is to get everyone involved in the planning in some way. You might have an educational experience in mind for the kids. However, they might have anything but learning in mind. To compromise, try to find some learning experiences and let them choose what appeals to them most. Travel is a balancing act. If everyone gets to do some of what they want to do, everyone ends up happier.
Additionally, consider your reason for summer travel. Do you need to just get away and unwind? Then don’t overbook yourself with a crammed schedule. If you have a destination in mind, get a tour book or choose some online sites that show highlights of the place. Allow everyone traveling to pick one or two things that are important to them. Remember to plan in some time for you to relax and do what you want to do on the trip—it’s important for everybody else to enjoy themselves, but your enjoyment is important too.
Consider Travel as an Experience
Most people don’t come home from vacation talking about how many miles they covered or how many cities they were in. More often, people tell you about their experiences. As you consider your travel destination, remember that a memorable experience can happen anywhere.
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For instance, camping at a small lake 20 miles from your home where there’s time to walk, cook meals together, experience nature, and pursue common interests can make a memorable vacation experience that you might talk about for years.
On the other hand, going to Italy might sound glamorous to you, but is it the experience you long for? Some people love the hustle and bustle of the big city, but others want to unwind by lying on a beach. Similarly, a couple of weeks on the beach in Bali might sound amazing, but the long flights, language barriers, and the experiences available might not make Bali or some other popular destination the right place for you to get what you want from a vacation.
Consider your personal preferences and the needs of the travelers who will share the experience with you.
If you’re looking to get more out of your summer vacation, volunteer vacations go all over the world and can offer you one-of-a-kind experiences. Consider an organization like Volunteer Experience HQ, with projects as diverse as conservation, construction, childcare, wildlife, arts and music, and refugee support.1 This kind of trip might not be everyone’s cup of tea, but again, if you want a memorable summer travel experience, a volunteer vacation might bring just the more intimate understanding of a new culture that you would enjoy.
If you’ve always stayed in a standard hotel, you might consider staying in a home. There are companies that help you rent a home, apartment, or even a spare room in homes all over the world. Some companies are set up so you can see the reviews from others who have stayed at a property. For some ideas, take a look at Airbnb or VRBO.
Pack for Comfort
Once you know your travel destination and activities, it’s time to start packing. Come up with a basic list of what you need, then edit it. Traveling light takes a lot of the challenges and even some of the cost out of traveling.
Remember, there are laundry services everywhere you may be going. Choose some wardrobe basics that are comfortable and easy to care for. Make a list of what you plan to take and what new things you might need. Avoid stress by not waiting until the last minute.
Now, take a look at your luggage. Trying to catch a flight with a rolling case with a wobbly wheel isn’t going to be fun. Make sure your bags are clean, sturdy, and in good repair.
When planning items for self-care, remember airline restrictions. Check current TSA rules and pack accordingly. Remember that any prescription medications should be packed in original containers with a prescription label.
If traveling internationally, there could be vaccines required. Check the Center for Disease Control and Prevention’s website for information on vaccines and other recommendations. Another important checkpoint when traveling internationally is visas. Rules change, so always make sure by visiting Travisa or another resource for current visa requirements.2,3
Long flights are … long. Always pack your carry-on with supplies that will help you get through the time onboard. Cover your technology bases, include snacks and maybe a book or deck of cards in case of technology failure or boredom. Take lip balm or moisturizer as you’ll find the air very dry at altitude. Take a refillable water bottle and fill it after you’ve gotten through TSA.
You’ll also need all your travel documents for everyone you’re traveling with. Organize identification, passports, your travel itinerary, travel insurance, and health insurance information.
Plan for needed cash and credit cards. Let your credit card companies know you’re traveling and when you’ll return. Keep copies of credit card information so that you can contact in case of loss or theft. Carry all information, including the name and location of your hotel and list of emergency contacts. It’s also important to print your travel information, in addition to having it electronically. You might also want to keep a copy of some of this on your checked baggage.
Take Care of Your Body on the Road
Airline restrictions can make packing for body and health a bit more challenging. One solution is to simplify. Containers of liquids are a challenge in many ways. Try one of the new four-way bar soaps that are good for cleaning skin, hair, clothes, and even dishes in a pinch.4,5
Never travel without good scents. A touch of a familiar essential oil is a comfort when on the road. A stuffy room, a crowded bus, or just a tense situation can be relieved with a bit of aromatherapy. Try a sleek and handy personal diffuser or pack a small bottle of oil in your carry-on or checked baggage. Most essential oils are small enough to meet airline size requirements. Always pack oils in a heavy, sealed plastic bag to avoid mishaps.
Skincare on the road can be simple but still complete. Try a solid body butter or balm, preferably containing sunscreen. Any new product should be tested out at home before the trip and on all family members if you’re traveling with others.
Whatever your fitness level, remember that you’re likely going to be moving when you travel. If you are active, don’t imagine you’ll travel without your running shoes, hiking boots, or workout gear. There are wonderful fitness adventures everywhere. Even if you’re just planning to walk around a giant amusement park for a week, be prepared with good sturdy shoes that have been broken in before your trip.
Taking care of your body is particularly important if your summer travel involves long flights. Get up during the flight and walk around as much as possible. After landing, get well-hydrated and take a walk just to get your circulation going and work some kinks out of your muscles. You might be a bit weary, but a stroll in the park or a gentle yoga session at a class or in your hotel room might be just what your traveling body needs.
The Travel Mindset
Wherever you’re going, the travel mindset might be the most important part of having a successful travel experience. A travel mindset can be a very different way of thinking from how you go through your normal days. Your travel mindset knows that some things are on a tight schedule but not most things. Happy travelers see themselves as explorers out to see, learn, and embrace new experiences—even those ones that come along as surprises.
Focus on the Positive
Cultivating positivity sets each travel experience off on the right foot. Yes, there are elements that could go amiss, but face those obstacles when they arise. Keep your energy positive and strong. Embrace the unknown of adventure as a present you have not yet unwrapped.
If you’re traveling with others, take the time at the start of each travel day to talk over your plans for the day. Check in with your fellow travelers to see what they’ve learned. If some are struggling with the adventure, you’ll want to know that early on so that you can make any adjustments to the itinerary or help them change their mindset.
Positivity attracts more positivity. If you set off on your travel days with the wonder of a child on Christmas morning, you’ll likely receive gifts beyond what you had hoped for. Expecting good keeps your body in rest-and-repose mode, allowing you to keep your energy reserves strong and your mind calm. In this condition, a little bump in the road remains just that—a little bump that is easily navigated over.
Savor the Differences
Travel brings new experiences, new sights, and new flavors. That is one of the wonders of travel. Remind yourself that these new experiences will broaden your knowledge and your horizons. Yes, other places do things differently than you might do at home—how wonderful! Open your eyes to learning new things and experiencing new traditions and ways of living.
If you’ve never traveled, especially internationally, it’s easy to have developed a narrow view of the world. What you may know about different countries may come from the news, which shows the worst of what is happening in the world. Kind people doing good things isn’t necessarily newsworthy. Remember that wherever you are in the world, if you fall down, someone will help you up. You might choose to be that person also. That mindset will create a travel experience filled with warm memories and real contact with other lovely humans.
Have an Explorer Mindset
Be sure that your summer travel fun will bring you lessons, information, and great new ideas. Embrace your role as a student and open your arms to education. Ask questions out of real curiosity. Do some homework on your travel destination before you leave but know that the real story will unfold for you on the road.
People are often very happy to tell you about the wonders of where they live. Ask people you meet on the road for suggestions about their favorite restaurants or sightseeing ideas. In some countries, tourism is a source of income for many. Asking for suggestions may bring you information about local travel gems that aren’t included in travel guides.
Sharpen Your Intuition
Safety is always important wherever you are in the world. Pay attention to what’s around you and trust your internal “radar.” If something doesn’t feel right, pay attention to that inkling. If someone suggests a restaurant or sightseeing idea and something inside tells you no, then just trust your internal guidance system. It is possible to stay alert and aware and still enjoy a wonderful adventure.
Summer travel time is here or at least quickly approaching. Sit and think about that thing you’ve been wanting to do or that place you’ve been wanting to visit. Do some homework and learn more. Maybe this is your year to check that destination or experience off your list. Hopefully, this article has given you some basic ideas to add to your own experiences.
Whatever you do, wherever you go, be prepared to have fun. Visualize the best. Be the person you’d like to meet. The world is filled with good, kind and interesting people. Go share yourself with them and they may do the same. Have fun!
Photo credits: photobyphotoboy/shutterstock.com, RomanSamborskyi/shutterstock.com, learesphoto/shutterstock.com, DashaPetrenko/shutterstock.com