I’ve always been early off the bat to prepare for trips away- when I was younger I’d often pack my bags two or three weeks in advance of my family leaving for a 2-week holiday, out of pure eagerness and impatience for it. I’ve managed by now to learn to stifle some of the excitement that comes with anticipating a trip abroad, yet still find myself indulging in the odd splurge into my savings to buy something that I’ll ‘definitely use’ whilst travelling – even if I end up completely forgetting to pack it and only realising when I get home that it’s been sitting on my desk the entire time I’ve been away (Captain Hindsight is a killer).
With a week to go until a short break in Europe, I thought I’d start some of this travel-blogging craic early and share my checklist for the next week with regards to packing, saving, and preparing myself both mentally and physically for a trip away. In order to do this successfully I’ve broken the list down into various important aspects of travel that I feel should be taken into account when trying to plan and pack for a spell abroad.
Given that I’m working everyday until Friday, today (Sunday) might be the only chance I’m going to get to head into town and pick up any necessities before flying on Saturday morning. If I hadn’t considered this and taken my potential free time into account I would most likely be left rushing about on Friday evening trying to source everything in time before shops close – taking the risk of forgetting something vital. I know I will have access to a computer and printer during the week, and so will have the opportunity to print off tickets, boarding passes, and other necessary travel documents well ahead of schedule.
I’m attending a music festival in Budapest for a week, and so packing light yet intuitively is going to be key. In order to save money I’ve already sourced a backpack that I can borrow for the week, and although I own a small and portable tent, the research I’ve done on the festival has told me that there are ‘camping packs’ available for 20-30 euro on the festival grounds. These contain a tent and other necessary items that would be awkward and cumbersome for campers to travel with, many festival attendees (like ourselves) opting to fly into the city and spending a night or two in hostels before roughing it in the campsite.
Health and Diet:
This is a big one for me, as I’ve always felt that the way I’ve been treating my body and mind in the lead up to an important event, date, or period of time always has a direct correlation to the successes or failures of it. In other words – if I’ve been eating and drinking like crap a few days before I have to undertake something as substantial as an entire day spent travelling, I’m not going to feel my best and will be more likely to make silly mistakes and forget to do things that would hinder the smooth flow of the journey, and ultimately impact the enjoyment of travel negatively. It might seem like a no-brainer, but if we consciously eat well and maintain a balanced mindset in the lead-up to as unpredictable a life event as travel can be, we will at the very least possess the ability to know ourselves and trust our own intuition to maintain calm in the midst of chaos should a crisis occur.
Not to mention the importance of being correctly fueled and energised to navigate busy airports, train stations, and strange cities without burning out and ending up sitting alone, lost and emotional in a bar in Rome (I wish I wasn’t speaking from experience).
Yet another aspect of travel where I have previously failed miserably, budgeting for even the shortest trip away is so key when your available funds fluctuate regularly between a healthy and comforting 3-4 digit number, to a minus figure that should only be used to describe the depths of Winter in Antarctica. At the beginning of this month I wrote down exactly what funds were available to me at the time, how much I was guaranteed to earn by the time the trip came around, and also took into account the minimum amount of money I could allow myself to get by on day-to day until my departure. If I felt I ever exceeded this amount, or if something came up that I hadn’t expected to need money for, I kept a mental tally of this until I got the opportunity to write it down so I wouldn’t forget. This is the first time I actually feel like I’ve been on top of my spending habits and in control enough to maintain such a balance – the only thing I regret slightly is depending that my latest paycheck will come through before Friday, but it’s never been late before!
As well as researching the available facilities at the festival itself, we’ve also arranged to fly into a neighbouring city instead of directly to the nearest airport, as we found we saved money that way. It’s worth looking these things up in advance and researching the options for reaching your destination, as quite often (especially in Europe) it can prove cheaper to fly into somewhere else and get a train to where you want to go – an added bonus to this is that you get to see a whole other country on your travels!
I’ll probably think of more things that I should have written here in a while, but for now I’ll leave it at that and head off to find some insect repellent…