You take a bite of your pasta that tastes like wet cardboard layered with white glue. Giving up, you unwrap the brownie and chomp down only to wonder what they used to color it brown, because it certainly isn’t chocolate. Your travel experience, whether the purpose is to get from point A to point B or to enjoy the sights along the way vary as much as people’s feelings about travel. I know people who won’t get on a plane under any circumstances and folks who would drop anything and walk out the door given a free ticket. Over the years and miles I’ve learned a few things that have made travel immensely more pleasurable and something I look forward to regardless of the circumstances.
When you’re packing or preparing, remember that if you bring your ID (or passport if international), a form of payment like a credit card, and your cell phone you can take care of pretty much anything you forget or any issue that might come up. People drive themselves crazy trying to make sure they didn’t forget anything. While it’s certainly annoying to forget your swimsuit or USB battery pack these are things you can pretty easily replace. Focus your attention on remembering these three things, and chill about everything else.
Leave your house cleaned up and your bed made. Normally I’m fine with a bit of a messy house and I basically never make the bed. Trust me when I say I’ve experienced this both ways. I’ve come home to a messy house plenty of times, and I’ve come home to a clean house a bunch of times. It feels remarkably better to come home to a clean house and especially a made (preferably with fresh sheets the night before you leave) bed. Even more so if you get home late in the day or evening. Before I leave I look around and say “do I want to see that exactly as I left it when I get home?
Leave more time. It sucks to get up early, it sucks to spend more time at the airport than necessary, it sucks to sit around waiting. But what sucks even more is missing the boat. Time, even more than money, is the currency of travel. Give yourself extra “spending money.” You can always buy things you forgot, but in a lot of cases you can’t buy more time. When you’re stuck on the freeway in a totally unexpected traffic jam there is no amount of money that is going to get you there faster.
You won’t regret getting there too early, but you’ll always regret not having left enough time for the unexpected.
Change Your Mind
Finally, adjust your mindset so that you look at travel as truly about the journey, not the destination. This is harder to do when you’re traveling for work or a very specific purpose, but it’s still good to do. Realizing that whatever happens, even if it seems like an inconvenience or a bad thing, is part and parcel of the adventure of travel. The more you embrace it, the more you’re going to enjoy your travel and the more you’re going to get out of it.
This final point relates to time being the currency of travel as well. Modern travel is nothing short of magic. That you can wake up in Rome, have a cornetto and a cappuccino, and then lay your head on a pillow in New York City is beyond anything that should even be possible. Which is to say that if you planned to fly in at 9am for an 11am meeting and you’re not going to make it that’s on you, not the fault of the unexpected three-hour delay. The fact that you didn’t get dysentery and die on your voyage is a miracle.
Like Louis CK says: “everything’s amazing and nobody is happy.” Relax and enjoy the ride.