It's summer holiday time for lots of people, and I thought: "How about a quick series about traveling?" As you know, I work really hard while I work, but I only work eight, maybe eight and a half or nine months a year, so I'm gone a lot, and even while I work, as I am a speaker, I travel all the time. There are a lot of things that I do in order to make my life easier, because when you travel that much, you need to have specific mindsets, tips and sometimes even physical tricks to keep you sane while you are on the go. Keep reading or watch the video below for more...
Traveling is actually great. It changes your routine, and when you're moving away from your comfort zone, then you are forced to make new connections in your mind to get used to a different hotel, a different environment, a different city... and this enhances your creative thinking. If you are always at home at the same place, and you need to write a book, for example, or you need to get your creative juices flowing, traveling can really help rejuvenating or replenishing your creative thinking.
Before I get into my little tips and tricks, I'd like to outline another benefit travel can have. Travel experiences induce neuroplasticity. That means that the brain regions associated to learning, to memory and to processing emotions get really engaged when you travel, and that has a long lasting effect on your own capability of thinking, of using your brain, using your memory, using your connections and dealing with your emotions. It's really great for your emotional wellbeing! You don't have to go far away; just being in a different environment has a lot of benefits.
Today, let's talk about before you go.
1. Switch out the Stress
Very often, we get stressed out before leaving for a holiday. We absolutely need a holiday, and we're usually tired and working harder than ever to have time to get everything ready. You need to switch that mindset of being stressed out to being excited and looking forward to it, because you can manage, you can do it. Pretend you won a trip somewhere. Someone calls you and says: "I am giving you two tickets for a trip to wherever: the Bahamas, or a cruise, or to Italy for two weeks, all expenses paid, and you leave in two days." You are going to figure it out, right? Of course, you'll have to postpone some stuff, reschedule meetings, but you'll make it happen, even if you have to work 24/7 for the next two days. It may be the experience of a lifetime! Pretend that this is happening, that the trip that you are going on, THAT holiday is super exciting, because when you are excited for something, you respond very differently than when you feel stressed.
2. Make Lists
Make lists, obviously. Be organized. The brain likes order, so don't have everything in your head. Lists of things that need to be done before you go, of things that need to be packed, of meetings that need to be organized... Book these meetings in advance. If you need to get your hair cut or your nails done before you leave... Make a schedule! This includes scheduling activities and meet-ups with people that you want to connect with while you are there.
I have two trips that I'm going on right now, and one of them is a speaking engagement in Ontario. I have lots of friends there, and a lot of people tell me: "Oh, let's get together, and I hope to see you when you're in Toronto." Well, I've been pre-planning in advance when I'm going to meet with them, because I want to make sure that I see them. If you book those meetings in advance, then you have better chances of making them happen while you're there. Otherwise you are there, you forget to call, and all of a sudden it's last minute and the person's not available and you were in their area and you never got to see them.
3. Two of Everything!
Another thing that I do regarding packing is I have everything in double. I don't unpack my cosmetics bag. I don't have to pack it because I have two toothbrushes, I have two lipsticks... Two of everything! That really helps when you travel a lot. I don't have to pack my cosmetics all the time.
#4. Get it Done
I pack way in advance, and I make sure that I won’t want to wear the clothes that I'm packing before I leave. Or, too bad, I won't be able to wear them for the next few days. Sometimes I even start packing a week early! The night before I start packing my suitcase, I go to bed, and I speak to my personal assistant in my head: "While I sleep tonight, why don't you go and do all my packing for me? You know the size of my suitcase, you know everything that I own. You know what clothes I prefer when I travel. You go do all my packing, and when I wake up tomorrow after a very beautiful night's sleep, you tell me exactly what to put in my suitcase." The next day, my suitcase is all packed in 15 minutes, tops!
You can also use lists. Sometimes, I just think about the number of days I'll be away, and I say: "Okay, I will be there for five days, so I need that many outfits. Which ones am I going to wear twice?" And usually, it's like one or two pants for five days, and maybe four tops, and one of them I wear a second time, as I am not always with the same people. Packing things that won't wrinkle is also a good idea, as well as having a dedicated place in the house to put the stuff you need to bring when you think of something.
#5. Lighten the Burden
I have two trips back-to-back, one to Ontario, and one to Italy right after. Of course, this involves packing many different things, so some of it, I will ship in advance. You could do that. I only have a normal-sized suitcase, because some of it will stay there at my speaking engagement and I won't need to take it back with me.
#6. Sign Off
Put it in your email signature: "I will be away from this date to that date." If people see that and they had intended to contact you, they'll be like: "Oh, she's going to be away all month long. I better talk to her now." And when you set up your out of office assistant, if you're leaving on the Tuesday, set it up from the Sunday on, so on the Monday, the last day before you go, you don't have to respond to those fresh emails. Pretend that you leave a day earlier, and set it up for a day later as well. So if you come back on the ninth of September, set your out of office assistant until the 10th. Give yourself an extra day on each end, before and after you leave.
People don't need to know that you're back, and people don't need to know that you're not gone yet. This ensure that the day before you leave is dedicated to taking care of the last minute stuff, errands, etc.
Hopefully, these little tips will help you. Next time, we will be talking about while you are away, what to do to keep your mindset fresh and enjoy your trip.
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Check out some of my previous blog posts...
Learnings from Ted Lasso
A Formula to Thrive Through Change
How to Handle Overly Confident or Arrogant Individuals