Travel With Zen: Practical Tips Before, During, and After Your Trip
Travel can be dismantling to anyone, especially if you are highly sensitive like me. Airports, packing, long lines, hundreds of strangers, cramped spaces, beeping, buzzing, overhead speakers, overall madness. Well, I was invited to a workshop I REALLY wanted to attend, and it happened to take place in Scotland. Amazingly, I was able to get there and back in one piece! I took some mental notes along the way as I realized how to stay calm and centered in each moment.
*Here are some photos if you are interested: Linz ~ Edinburgh
Packing and Preparation
Start your packing list two weeks in advance.
Think of the few things that would be catastrophic to forget and put those at the top of the list in capital letters. For example, mine are shown below. These are literally the only three things that would be a real hassle to forget. (Everything else could be purchased at my destination if I really needed something.)
Cross off items with a thick Sharpie after they have been physically placed in your suitcase.
Plan your outfits for each day instead of packing a bunch of combinations and then deciding what to wear when you get there.
Choose clothes that can be incorporated into multiple outfits - i.e. black leggings or a black sweater.
Always bring an extra pair of underwear and socks. It doesn't take up a lot of room and you will not regret it.
Give yourself ample free time the week before you travel. If possible, do not make any important plans the day before and the day of your departure. There are two reasons for this:
The next few days will be very overwhelming, no matter how well you planned ahead, so save your energy.
It allows you some time for any last-minute errands that you may have forgotten.
Make sure you have all documents ready a few days in advance - passport, license, etc.
Download the airline's app and practice logging in to find your trip.
Stay in the present moment, where your feet are, instead of worrying about what is coming next. Try to enjoy it, even if happens to be one of the less desirable aspects in the process. Look at your surroundings, smell what you smell, and hear what you hear. Mindfulness will help release your anxiety from moment to moment.
Practice gratitude. Think about the miraculousness of what is taking place. In seven hours you can literally be in another country that is 3,500 miles away. If someone who lived hundreds of years ago were to spend a day in our world now, I would venture to guess that they would not be complaining about long lines and cramped spaces. Really consider that for a moment.
Continue to do the things you would do at home, even if slightly modified. This helps with consistency and prevents you from falling off the beam. There will be a lot of factors out of your control so take charge of what you can.
For me this is:
Yoga (I went three days in a row!)
Eating healthy, with a few treats here and there :)
Down time in between activities, a chance to check in and recharge
Listening to music
Remember your "why"
List the benefits of this trip and why you are traveling, instead of worrying about how every little step is going to play out.
This is a big-picture concept and it has changed everything for me. I learned that when I am excited about where I am going, and more importantly why I am going, the joy outweighs the fear. I had faith that the how would be worked out along the way, and I was right. I knew that I would be gaining too much to be worried about the minutiae (rushed moments and loud speakers); those were merely background noise and relatively unimportant.
Nothing seems like a hassle when you are living your purpose and taking steps that support your mission.
Don't plan anything for the day you return or the day afterward (if you can help it).
Take this time to settle in, process your time away and give yourself a chance to integrate the trip's takeaways.
I hope some of these steps will help you to coordinate and enjoy your next travel opportunity! The planning and structure will give you the freedom to fly (literally and figuratively) so that you can be fully present in each moment and put your thoughts and emotions toward what truly matters.