Suddenly it dawned on me! I haven't really travelled anywhere (as in "on a jet plane") in a long, long time. An opportunity to go to England came along; the busy summer tourism season has yet to begin; so I made the decision to go and I am packing my bags. As I began thinking about such details as weather, the weight of my empty suitcases (yes, I still actually pack a suitcase), and potential flat tires between me and the airport, a number of tasks to complete and other considerations came flooding into my mind.
I believe in allowing plenty of time for planning, for packing, and for traveling. Whenever possible, having a flexible schedule makes it more probable that important matters will be handled prior to departure and essential items will be packed and not left on the bathroom shelf.
What to pack is always a challenge. Were I to spend more time focusing on this, I would be less likely to return home with half a case full of unused garments. My philosophy has always been 'better safe than sorry'. I am not of the school of packing lightly. I pack as much as I could possibly need and still stay within the weight limits imposed by the airlines today.
Peace of mind is one of the greatest benefits of travel - if you can swing it. I find that if I can pay whatever bills might be due in my absence, I can relax far more easily. While this may not always be possible (depending on the duration of your visit, etc.), I do find that putting my desk in order prior to departure is a huge stress reliever. Whether you work in a large office or for a small company, be sure to alert your boss before you make too many plans. Remember that as well as you may know the inner workings of your work place, none of us are mind readers. Be sure your travel plans aren't going to be too great of an inconvenience. Time away from work is necessary, healthy, and expected. But for some reason it is rarely convenient. Being as thoughtful of others when making your own plans does not go unnoticed. When the shoe is on the other foot, your respectful behavior will pay you dividends. People are not surprisingly
more willing to bend over backwards for you if you have shown your willingness to do the same for them.
Lining up a house sitter, a baby sitter, or a pet sitter is one of those tasks which needs to be completed well before you start purchasing those non-refundable airline tickets. I could regale you with far too many stories about putting off this detail until the last minute. Not only can this be a potential deal breaker, it is a guaranteed stress maker. We all know how crucial these people are to our happiness. Treat them like gold. Without them, the priceless peace of mind we so desire is impossible. After all, we are entrusting our children, our pets, and even our irreplaceable Night Blooming Cereus, to their capable hands.
One of the joys of visiting friends is bringing them a house present. A gift for our host(s) is essential. This is a custom which predates the Trojan Horse and shows our appreciation in a tangible and lasting way. Some people are more difficult than others to find that perfect gift for, but I recommend persevering. Not until you are truly satisfied that we have come up with a meaningful present will really feel the gratitude you wish to express. The thrill of finding just the right gift is a great way to start off any trip. When we are visiting friends, especially if we are staying with them, we have some responsibilities as guests. It should be obvious that specific arrival and departure times should be fixed and adhered to. Offer to help with kitchen and dining room chores such as cooking, setting the table, and washing up the dishes, pots and pans. We
are not guests in a hotel and the offer to assist is very much appreciated, even if it is declined. Some hosts prefer to do things themselves. If this is the case, do not insist on interfering. Do offer to strip your bed at the end of your stay. This offer may also be declined, however the offer will be taken for its good intention.
I cherish the time I have to share with loved ones in far away lands. With careful planning ahead of time, and with a feeling of gratitude in our hearts, we can turn these times into long lasting good memories for everyone!