Get ready for your next trip by following this straightforward advice from Becki Rupp of Trailblazer Wellness. Ask yourself the right questions to get the best experience.
Has being at home driven you to dream about your next travel experience? Have you been watching virtual tours and anticipating where you’ll go and what you’ll do when you can travel again?
Our “pre-travel time” allows us to do more than just figure out the next place to go and book it. It offers the opportunity to identify our intention.It lets us proactively prepare mentally and physically so we can make the most of the travel experience.
When we invest the time, thought, and actions into getting our bodies and minds ready for a trip, the payoff is richer and creates more meaningful memories.
Get Ready for Your Next Trip
So if you’re ready to prepare for your next trip — even if you’re not sure when it’ll be — here are 5 elements to explore. This goes beyond where to go, how you’ll get there, and what you’ll do.
These questions will help you prep for the trip and get the best experience possible:
- Why do you want to take this trip?
- Which values are important to you as they relate to the trip?
- What actions do you need to take leading up to the trip to get the most out of it?
- Which strengths can you use to help you prepare?
- How will you stay motivated to keep on track with your action plan?
Grab a journal (or even just a sheet of paper) to jot notes, draw pictures, or combine words and images to keep track of your insights.
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Ask Yourself: Why this trip?
The first and most important step is to think a bit more deeply about why you want to take this trip. Why is it important to you? What experiences do you want to have? What are you hoping to get out of it?
Your first response may be something like “because it looks beautiful” or “I’ve always wanted to go there.”
Now think a little harder and dig a little deeper. Bring out your inner 3-year-old who keeps asking why.
Consider these questions to prep for your trip:
- Why is it important for you to see the beauty in person?
- What originally inspired you to want to go there?
- What are you hoping to feel or learn from the experience?
Here’s an example to help you apply this process…
One of my dream trips is to hike in the Alps. I remember watching The Sound of Music when I was young and being captivated by the mountain scenes, especially since I lived in relatively flat Michigan.
Now I live in Colorado with the mountains outside my windows. So why do I still want to go to the Alps?
As I think about it more, my deeper why is that I want to be in the midst of the rich history of Switzerland.
I also crave how being surrounded by big mountains gives me perspective on my life. The experience reminds me that the things I’m worrying about will pass, and the mountains will still be there for me and for others.
So, ultimately, I want to get that peace and perspective out of a longer hike in an incredible environment, surrounded by a history and culture that isn’t my own.
Which values align with your trip?
To best prepare for your next trip, you need to think a bit about which values tie in with your dream trip. This may come up naturally as you explore the why behind your trip, or you may think of other values.
There are tons of ways to identify and prioritize your values, so use whatever feels right to you. One of my favorite (and free) tools is the Values in Action (VIA) survey. It aligns values with character strengths using a scientifically validated series of questions developed by psychologists and researchers.
Gratitude and curiosity are values that rank highly for me, and those definitely relate to my travels. I’m always grateful to experience new places, learn about the history and culture, and gain new perspectives.
And curiosity has taken me down many alleys, up staircases, and into restaurants!
By considering which values are aligned with your trip, you may find certain opportunities or experiences rising to the top of your list of things to do while you’re traveling. It may shift your priorities, or provide some insight on why you’re drawn to a specific activity or place.
Actions to take to get ready for your trip
With a solid understanding of why you want to go on your trip and how your values influence your itinerary, it’s time to get practical and tactical!
Unless you’re planning to spend all of your time lying on the beach – not that there’s anything wrong with that! – it’ll probably be helpful to do some pre-trip physical and mental preparation to make the most of your “why.”
For most of us, traveling involves more physical activity than we do in our everyday life.
Whether you’re exploring city streets or trekking through new territory, you’ll likely be logging more steps and carrying more with you than normal.
Have you ever come home from a trip and said, “I need a vacation to recover from my vacation!”? To minimize or avoid that feeling, start ramping up your activity level before you leave.
Tips to Physically Get Ready:
Look at your itinerary and really think about how much more you’ll be doing than normal. Consider all the different types of activities that you’re not used to doing.
Whether it’s more walking, riding a bike for a few hours or days, getting out on a paddling excursion, or even just more time on your feet, be aware and then take time to prepare
Add more walking into your weekends. Rent a bike to go for a ride around your town. Head out to a nearby lake for a paddling lesson.
If you’re going to be carrying luggage or a day pack frequently, you may also want to do some strength training to make it easier on your muscles.
You don’t need to join a gym or get fancy equipment – you can use your backpack, luggage, books or even bottles of water or wine!
Here are a few exercises you can do with a suitcase:
And don’t forget about stretching – both before your trip and while you’re traveling.
Being more flexible will help with those awkward positions in planes, trains. and automobiles. It will also help you as you make your way around unfamiliar territory.
Getting more active before you go will build your strength and stamina, as well as your confidence!
Read next: Travel fitness starts at home
Which strengths can you use to prepare for travel?
As you consider what you need to do to get ready for your trip, reflect on some past accomplishments in your life that make you proud.
What themes appear across your accomplishments? What strengths did you use to achieve them?
Then think about how you might use these strengths as you prepare for your next trip.
If you’re struggling to identify your strengths, one tool to consider is the Clifton Strengths Finder. It’s been used by millions of people to pinpoint their natural talents and learn how to make the most of them.
Reflecting on our strengths helps us figure out how we might use them in different parts of our lives. This includes preparing for a trip!
Knowing your strengths makes unusual or unknown situations easier to manage.
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Here’s an example to help you apply this…
One of my strengths is “arranger”. I love pulling together people to do something fun and meaningful. It can be as simple as a day hike with a few friends, or more complex like a bicycle ride for 300+ women to raise money for a nonprofit.
I use my “arranger” strength to get ready for traveling, too. I coordinate who’s going, figure out the transportation, plot the itinerary and route.
Another of my top strengths is adaptability. A few years ago, my husband and I planned a trip to Glacier National Park in Montana, including nights at two of the in-park hotels and a multi-day backpacking stretch in-between.
Sadly, wildfires were raging when we got there, which made backpacking a bad idea and even the hotels smelled like a campfire.
So we headed south to Yellowstone and explored there instead!
What strengths come to mind for you that you can tap into as you prepare for your trip?
How will you stay motivated?
If you look back at past trips and realize you may have enjoyed them more if you’d prepared a bit better before you left, you’re not alone.
But hey, life between trips is busy, and the next thing you know, it’s time to pack!
As you look at your future trips, it can be helpful to have a motivation source (or two) to keep you on track with the mental and physical preparation.
Consider these questions to stay motivated to get ready for your trip:
- Is the trip itself, and knowing what you want to get out of it, enough of a motivator? Or do you need some additional motivational support?
- Do you stay motivated when you’ve told family and friends what you’re planning to do? Would it be helpful for you to have an accountability partner?
- Do you work best when someone gives you a specific plan to follow? Do you prefer to craft your own path for preparation?
- Would it be helpful to take a class or be part of a group that is preparing for something similar?
Pick a strategy or two to support you and keep your motivation going as you get ready for your trip.
Putting your trip preparation all together
Now that you’ve explored your why, your values, the actions you can take, your strengths, and your motivators, how do you feel about your trip?
Did this trip prep create some new insights and ideas about how you’ll plan future travel?
Approaching travel with intention and reflection can bring deeper meaning to your pre-trip and on-the-ground experience.
Have these questions helped you to get ready for your next trip? Tell us the benefits you get from better trip prep in the comments below.