Does anyone else have cabin fever? Maybe you’re planning a trip to a warmer climate in the next few weeks or dreaming about summer vacation that feels like forever away. Regardless, it’s never too early—or too late—to dream a little. Our favorite world traveler, Luci Swindoll, offered the following tips for your next trip:
In fifty-plus years of bouncing around the globe I’ve picked up a few principles that work well for me anywhere. You can take ‘em or leave ‘em . . . but here they are:
Keep a Travel Journal. Choose a little book that works for you. It might be fancy or plain, but it needs to be user friendly. Write down everything you want to remember—places, dates, names, addresses, thoughts and ideas. Make little drawings, especially maps to spots you might want to visit again.
Pack light. Take a travel clothes line and wash stuff as you go. Take fewer clothes than you need and keep them ready for wear. Leave room in your bag for memorabilia.
Always take a camera. I could wax eloquent on this because I love cameras, but you decide what’s best for you. I usually take at least two cameras, in case I drop one in the water or lose one.
Plan ahead. Make reservations in advance and get confirmation numbers. Pay what you can before you go. Read all about the place(s) you’re going to see.
Check the value of the dollar. If it’s inflated you might want to charge your purchases on credit cards. By the time you get your bill, you could get a better rate. Of course, it could be higher too, but it’s worth the chance.
Buy a good map and mark it up in color as you go along. You’ll be amazed at the number of times you’ll want to remember exactly where you crossed a river or ate that meal or saw a lion. (I usually get maps that unfold easily; otherwise they can be a crazy-maker.) And remember, you’re drawing your own little maps in your journal, so you’ll always have points of reference.
Take pictures of the food you’re eating. When you’re in a new, fun place or want to tell somebody back home about that meal . . . take a snapshot. As a friend of mine says, “you know you’re on vacation when you take pictures of the food.”
Begin each day with prayer. Bring God into your travel by praising Him for what you’re seeing. Ask His guidance and direction as you try new things, meet new people and see new places. Pray for traveling mercies and safety. When you get home, thank Him for the trip. Countless people never leave their neighborhoods, so be grateful for the fact you got to go.
Have fun. Plan surprises to enjoy along the way. Take a kite to fly on a foreign beach or field. Make party hats and wear them at a gathering with strangers (get the picture of that!). Wrap gifts and on your way, give them to the friends with whom you’re traveling.
Don’t be afraid to try new things. You may never get back that way again, so gear up for new adventures. Take your time where you can. Eat food you might not eat at home. Try speaking another language. Inquire about the culture and listen to what other people have to say. Maintain an open heart and mind. You might make a new friend with whom you’ll become close for a lifetime. Suspend judgment on how other people live that’s different from your own.
Remember that two are better than one. You may not always have the option of traveling with someone else but when you do, it will make the trip easier. One can get the tickets while the other gets the sandwiches. One can stand in line while the other checks for that misplaced passport. One can run an errand while the other does the wash. And when the trip is over, thank them for the pleasure of their company.
Don’t chide yourself if you get lost or take an unexpected detour. I’ve been lost all over the world and have some of my best memories from those times. New doors open. You discover things and people you would have never known.
The traveler is different from the person who prefers to stay at home. She tends to have a broader soul and a richer spirit. She embraces differences more easily and her options are endless. Don’t be afraid to travel—in so doing, you find parts of yourself you never knew were missing.