Tips & Advice / Travel / Video

Getting Mentally & Emotionally Ready to Travel

To those of us who internally freak out right before a trip — so, basically almost everyone — this is for you.

As I was preparing for Burning Man, I realized this week that you can find lots of resources on what to pack or how to plan a trip, but not so much about getting in the right emotional and mental state. The truth is, I always get so nervous/excited/scared right before a trip, and I hate feeling on edge when traveling. I would so much rather be a relaxed traveler, no matter where I wander — wouldn’t you?

It might sound a little crazy, but ideally, getting ready for a trip should also include a bit of work to calm your nerves. Mental preparation doesn’t take much, and it can greatly (read: positively) affect how you experience and enjoy your trip. Here’s what to keep in mind:

1. Research, research, research. 

Have a cultural understanding of where you’re going — what sort of traditions do the people have, what type of clothing is okay to wear, what do they value, etc. etc. etc.? For New Year’s in Iceland, everyone and their grandmas sit down to watch a tv show, which I found out through sleuthing on Pinterest. I made a point to view it since I knew it was an important part of the culture there. I didn’t understand a word because it was all in Icelandic, but hey, how often will I get to watch an Icelandic holiday show?

2. Expectations = bad. 

Don’t let your happiness depend on checking tourist destinations off a list. Enjoy the freaking journey.

3. Open mind, open heart.

Yeah, yeah, I know, so granola. But you’ll be surprised at some of the cool stuff you’ll find and awesome people you’ll meet if you open up. Decide before your trip what your boundaries will be, and hopefully you push yourself a little bit beyond your normal day-to-day. My first year at Burning Man I went up in an airplane and watched skydivers jump out onto Black Rock City. It was by far one of the coolest things I did that year, and it all happened because I started talking to someone behind me in line at the post office.

4. Travel is not always postcard-worthy.

Some days will be better than others. We tend to think of vacations as 100% perfect all the time, and that’s just not the case. Things won’t always go as planned and you can either adapt or have a breakdown. The former is preferable. Once you resign yourself to the fact that there will be bumps in the road, you won’t feel the pressure to make this the best trip of your life.

What’s your advice to get in the right headspace before traveling? What things do you do or remember so you don’t stress the entire time leading up to and during your trip?

35 thoughts on “Getting Mentally & Emotionally Ready to Travel

  1. Pingback: Getting Mentally & Emotionally Ready to Travel | Avion de papier

  2. Agree! Things won’t always go as planned, but hey that’s why it’s called adventure, right? 🙂 Thanks for this.

  3. This is great and thanks for sharing!

    One thing I always do is, if I go to a new destination, although I have a shortlist of places I’d like to visit, I don’t plan itinerary until I arrive, or even plan as I go along. There’s always going to be sights or things one finds along the way that is unexpected.

    In terms of food, my experience is to just go with the flow. Of course there are famous or popular restaurants/cafes that is a recommended by friends, review etc, but I find I set a higher expectation for myself if I go to these restaurants, especially when I spend a lot of effort in locating the place. It is a real disappointment if, after all the effort, the restaurant is not good – it’s happened to me many times. Also, taste preferences are different for everyone, the food may be really good for a friend, may not be as good for me. When I find restaurants randomly and end up having a good meal, it’s much more satisfying – at least in my opinion.

  4. Hi Theresa – lovely suggestions!
    My preparation for travelling also includes getting a good sleep, eating healthy and doing some exercises to get myself in the best shape I can as travelling may sometimes get physically exhausting, thus challenging to stay in a good mindset.
    Have a nice time in Birmingham! 🙂
    – Ruta

    • Hi Ruta, that’s such a good point. If you’re in good physical health, it also greatly helps in other facets of your life. Eating well is key, and I also try to get in some serious exercise the few days before a trip. It wears me out a bit and keeps me calm. Thank you for the great input!

    • It’s totally normal to have a bit of dread with a trip, no matter how much you love traveling! Just know that there are rare instances you’ll regret going somewhere new with friends. 🙂 Thanks for reading.

  5. Hi 🙂
    I think when people want to get mentally and emotionally ready for a trip, they should just read your article! I totally agree with the points you make.
    Before I go on a trip, I always say goodbye to my friends on Whatsapp, Facebook and other websites. When I am travelling I do not want to be online the whole time. I want to relax and have time to think and the best way to do this is for me to be far away physically and offline.
    -Littlegreenraven

    • Yes, disconnecting is key. I obviously post to social media and such, but it is quite nice to sometimes just throw social media and all connections out the window and just be for a few days. Thank you for the thoughtful comment!

  6. I actually don’t get nervous or overly excited before a trip. As close as I’ve come is being either relieved to leave one location for somewhere new, or disappointment that it’s time to go home. But then, very few things unsettle me. Go figure.

    • That’s a good thing! I try very hard not to be an uptight traveler because it’s probably one of the worst ways to be on the road. Looking forward to something new or feeling a little sad, though, that’s expected! 🙂 Thanks for reading

  7. Pingback: Getting your travel mindset on… | myfavoritebeachhouse

  8. When I figure out that I am going to travel I just go without saying anything to anybody. The reason of that is I don`t want to be disturbed. I try to enjoy my travel. As you said, Travel is not always postcard-worthy. The main important thing is to get refreshed and ready for you future plans. Because, life is the main travel itself. You are just part of it.

  9. I never made too much preparation for traveling and even packed my clothes and one day food on the very day the plane started. You cannot prepare for what you don’t know about. Let it be unexpectedly adventurous!!! 🙂

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