Travel is a common topic here at OHO. It’s perhaps the most common disruption to our daily routines and normal lives, whether they’re short trips to familiar places or longer journeys to see new vistas. Many pixels have been disrupted in how to keep yourself safe and enjoy yourself when you’re away from home, not to mention keeping your home safe while you aren’t there. It’s not why we travel, though. Aside from bringing us new experiences to enrich our lives and allowing us to spend time with friends old and new, travel can teach us really interesting – and fun – things about ourselves and how we live our lives. Today, I’d like to share with you some of the lessons I’ve learned from being on the road that have made both my travel life and my home life so much better.
Think ahead about how to simplify the prep work and packing to do the things you do. Because I go on frequent, short trips that often involve training or other activities on the other end, packing can get complicated. One especially memorable trip required me to bring video gear, everything I needed for a combatives (fighting) class and a shooting class, plus all of the clothing and accessories necessary to be part of a wedding party. Being within driving distance certainly made it easier to pack because I could just load up my car, but it’s not that large and I still needed to get my stuff between car, hotel, and various venues, so I still needed to be efficient with how I got it all together. Instead of running around trying to pack for everything at once and cram it all into as few total bags as possible, though, it turned out to be better to focus on one event at a time and use modular kits I’ve built up over time. That made it easy to just pull the ones I needed for each activity and combine them logically so my wedding makeup wasn’t in with my protective gear for the range. Even if you don’t travel regularly, you can use these concepts to make everyday life easier. Maybe you keep a gym bag packed with everything you need except for clean clothes, so that you’re not forgetting some sports equipment or toiletry item every other time. Maybe you put a checklist on your door so you can make sure you have all of the things you need to leave the house without having to remember independently. Maybe you put a small bin of cleaning supplies in each bathroom in your home so you have them right there when you have a few minutes to shine things up. They’re all ways to make it faster and easier to get to the things you want or need to do, instead of wasting time on getting ready to do them.
Confirm your plans, and get organized about how to deal with any potential issues. I go out of town regularly enough that I can’t plan just one trip at a time, so a simple system like just keeping all of my confirmation emails for various bookings in my inbox can get confusing quickly, not to mention make it impossible, or at least time-consuming, to double-check what’s going on where and when. Instead, I’ve started using the apps for the airlines and hotels I prefer, and getting very detailed with calendar entries so that they include booking information, destination addresses, meeting agendas, and more. Other methods could include using a separate email folder or making a bullet journal spread for each trip. Then, before each trip, I’ll make sure that all of my reservations are intact and that I’ve gathered any last-minute details about how to actually execute on my plans, like checking on vaccination or masking requirements. When you aren’t jet-setting, the same applies. Getting beyond relying on your memory and digging through the hundreds or thousands of emails in your inbox can make a big difference in reducing stress and making changed plans less stressful whether it’s a plane trip or a neighborhood play date. It might seem silly to remind you to use your calendar app, but how often have you not put an event in it because you’re sure you’ll remember? Or had to dig through emails and web pages and business cards to find the correct number to reschedule or cancel an appointment? Or showed up somewhere and found that the class you were excited about was canceled or that you can’t get in because you didn’t bring some required at-the-door fee in cash that you’d forgotten about? If you’re going to do that work ahead of time to make sure a trip goes smoothly, find ways you can do the same for more mundane activities at home.
Pay attention to what’s happening around you. When you’re traveling, it’s a way to keep you from getting lost, to keep track of your companions and belongings, and to try to spot potential incoming danger. Getting too engrossed in my phone or in a conversation can mean missing a boarding call or not seeing a sketchy-looking stranger eying up me or my bags. Even being sucked into paying attention to directions and finding the correct turn-off to my destination can cause me to miss a dangerously swerving driver or an ambulance trying to pass me. It’s not all bad things that I might not catch either…if I’m oblivious to my surroundings because I’m too worried about my upcoming meeting or performing well in a class, I’m also oblivious to the talented street musician on my walk to a restaurant, or the beautiful sunrise on my way to the range. Same goes at home, though. You still might run into an unexpected road closure, you still might need to watch for an opportunistic thief at your favorite lunch spot, and you might still be in danger in familiar environments, with your only advantage being that you know what’s normal and not. Zoning out on that drive you make every day can mean you autopilot your way to the wrong place because you forgot you had to make a special stop that one time. Head down into a heavy texting session can distract you from the group of trouble-making teenagers hanging out near where you’re gassing up your car. And being too focused on work can make you forget to look out a window and pause for a brilliant sunset, or take a few hours to enjoy a local park you forgot existed.
What other lessons have you learned from getting out of town, that you’ve brought back home to make your regular life better?