Ten Things Travelling Teaches
1. Destination is more than important. If you don’t know where you’re travelling to, one thing is quite sure – you’ll get lost. Even if the plan is to tour multiple destinations, it’s important to know where the first stop will be. Where am I headed in life? Where would I like to be after this flight? Of course, I don’t know everything about the destination right now, but I have few ideas around where it is and will learn much more on my way there.
2. Preparing for a trip is increasingly being outsourced, thanks to new generation destination managers who take care of everything in exchange for money, but the more attention I pay to each trip – exploring options and checking out alternatives, the more I’m able to save. Many times, I actually get better itinerary options. What is the purpose of outsourcing my entire day to chance? Well, that’s what I do each time I start one without a deliberate prepare.
3. Visa. That word. It’s one of the most annoying processes in travel, no thanks to embassies who take ages to look through documents. Well, to be fair, some countries call for more checks. Like visas, the things that allow us gain access to more opportunities in life require time, attention, dotting the i’s and crossing the t’s.
4. Tickets actually prove that one is ready to travel. Well, folks who don’t fly commercial can skip this. But beyond the document itself, one key lesson from tickets is that we can actually spend much less by exploring options. Life should never be about settling for the first available option, explorers discover more and can even live with that feeling of satisfaction that comes with knowing that you made the best choice among a whole lot of options.
5. Airports can be anything from manageable to pleasurable. However, regardless of how nice the airport is, the increasing level of checks in a post-911 world can erase the lounge experience. Reality, though, is that everyone goes through checks for the safety of all. If I submit myself for checks and don’t bring danger, and everyone else does the same, we can all be sure of no heart-stopping man-made inflight drama. If you want safety, bring it. If you want change, bring it. Many times, people-groups can only enjoy the sum of what each person in the group brings.
6. Airport lounges make all the difference when it comes to looking forward to those minutes (or hours) before a trip. If you live in a city that is known for terrible traffic – the type that is responsible for nearly 100% of missed flights – then arriving too early is something you probably want to avoid if you’ll have to hang out on those metal chairs. If you’ll spend a long time at airports, you should probably fly fewer airlines so you can get a loyalty card that entitles you to relaxing – and free food/drinks – at those nice lounges. I like how focus is often defined as looking at one thing so much that you hardly see others. As with walking into airline lounges when you have the right loyalty card(s), focusing on one thing towards becoming an expert in it will open many doors.
7. Like lounges, Air Miles also come with loyalty and focus. The more loyal (or focused) you are, the more miles you earn. The more miles you earn, the more things you don’t have to pay for. That free date change, some more leg room, extra luggage, getting ahead of the long queue without being unethical, the obvious attention to details when you show your card… and much more. As with air miles, so with life. Give your career 10,000 hours of hard work and it brings you many things others pay dearly for.
8. Electronic gadgets, especially those tiny plugs, can mess up your trip – if you leave them at home. You spend the first night, after arriving late, unable to send the “I’m there” eMail and you may have to do some shopping even before settling in. Even little things matter! If we don’t fix the seemingly small things, we may end up paying dearly later.
9. Weather is something we have no control over, but it’s best to check ahead of the trip. Otherwise, you may wear the wrong shoes and end up on your back in a quiet city in Germany, or end up without a jacket in Nottingham during one of those very cold days. Maybe when, like me, you experience what it means to travel without checking what the weather will look like, you’ll appreciate the importance of packing the right stuff in your bag. Or for life, packing the right set of skills that can keep you warm even when the economic temperature is in the negative.
10. As far as luggage is concerned, travel light, as much as you can. If the trip doesn’t exceed 2 weeks and I have the chance to either buy more stuff or replace/renew them, I travel with only one bag that I don’t need to check in. That way, I’ve been able to get on flights even when I run late. Check in online print your boarding pass and walk to the gate with your light-packed cabin luggage. Did I tell you that I’ve never lost a luggage since I started doing that? In life, as with travel, the less burdens you carry, the better your quality of life. Travel light.