Let me start off by sharing: I am not an expert in travel. However, I do feel confident in my ability to craft a trip that is in line with my preferred travel flow and optimize my overall experience. More importantly, I have been able to successfully plan ways to achieve balance when travelling with someone who doesn’t have the same travel flow as me. For context, the things I share below have been informed by various types of trips that I have taken: for business and for fun, international travel and domestic, with others and alone.
Let’s get started.
What in the heck do I mean when saying “travel flow?” Essentially: identifying your basic personal needs and preferred environments. While, yes, we could incorporate the introvert vs. extrovert spectrum into this conversation, I am going to focus more on personal preferences (that may or may not be informed by your personality type). Think about your ideal day, 24 hours, and how it would be broken up. Ask yourself: in what type of conditions do you hit your hangriest? sassiest? most uncomfortable? never? Not true. Really, think about your past trips and if there were moments that you thought to yourself “I’d rather be [eating, drinking coffee, doing something else, be somewhere else, be alone, etc.]” What was going on? Why wasn’t it great? Okay, now that you have that in mind: how can you become more self-aware to make your travels better? I encourage you to do the focus on the following:
- Assessing sleep preferences: Do you prefer to wake up early jump start your day, or, do you prefer sleep in and optimize the luxury of extra time that vacation often allows?
- Assessing your preferred morning routine: Do you know that you need to eat breakfast, take a shower in the morning, drink coffee, [fill in the blank], to be able to feel refreshed and ready for the day?
- Assessing your energy endurance: Do you like to go go go from one thing to the next, or, do you like to mosey around and take your time?
- Assessing your comfort of the unknown: Do you thrive with having a structured plan, or, do you prefer to see where adventure takes you?
- Assessing how you recharge: Do you need quiet time / a nap at some point through out the day, or, does the thought of that make your skin crawl with restlessness?
- Assessing your travel patience: When driving, do you avoid stopping at all costs just to get to your destination quicker, or, do you like to stop every so often to stretch your legs and take a breather?
I have found, people have VERY specific preferences when travelling, specifically preferences about the things mentioned above. And, those preferences are very quick to define the mood that the person will be in. It is worth taking a moment to reflect on your own preferences and check in with those you are traveling with to learn theirs. Are your preferences on polar ends of the spectrum with your travel buddy’s? How will you plan to meet in the middle? Are some of them non-negotiables for you?
My travel flow is rather specific, and I definitely have non-negotiables that I like to travel with in mind to allow myself to enjoy my time much, much more. For example: 1. I love getting an early start to the day and fueling up with coffee. On days that I am physically travelling by car, bus, plane, or train, I need a solid breakfast as I often get motion sick and I’ve found if I can take hunger out of the equation it can actually help lessen or even ward off my dizziness. 2. I always feel better when I have time to shower and enough time to get ready with my normal blow-dry-my-hair-routine. 3. I prefer a loose itinerary (details about this idea will be shared in a future blog post) to allow for intentional moseying around. I despise feeling rushed in life as it takes me out of the present moment, however, I really appreciate structure. 4. I thrive most when there is at least an hour of down time in the afternoon to regroup, recharge, and refresh.
So now that I know what my preferences are, what do I do with them? To be honest, most of my preferences exist on a sliding scale depending on who is accompanying me on the trip and just what exactly the intentions and goals are of the travels. The next step is to problem solve. When traveling with those who prefer to sleep in, I think of solo things that I can do to feel like I am jump starting my day without completely leaving the group behind. Cleaning up a shared space (without making too much noise), popping out to a local coffee shop to grab a coffee, or even optimizing the quiet and getting my shower in early allows me to occupy the time and cater to my preferences. I have, however, recently explored the world of dry shampoo and how my hair reacts to it to allow for compromises to be made when my travel doesn’t allow for a full morning routine. I typically always have snacks, water, ibuprofen, and motion sickness medicine with me just in case I begin to feel hangry or under the weather.
The biggest take-away, however, is that I recognize that these are very much my own preferences and sometimes they can’t be catered to. Thinking of creative solutions to make sure that your non-negotiables are met, your preferences heard, and your travel flow identified will allow for much smoother travel.