The final count down to departure is here!
My hubby reminded me I am one more sleep until I am officially in single digit ‘sleeps’ till departure! Which means packing needs to happen … which means checking in for my flight is almost here … which means actually leaving on a jet plane is gonna happen (did you all hear the song in your head, oh yah!) and …holy heck … which means actually kicking off this adventure for reals! Eeeek!
As I approach the runway, I like to compartmentalize the things that need to get done before I go. This helps me control the wee bit of overwhelm that tends to happen just before I leave. Prepping home and life and work to leave for a whole month does take a little work!
Here is how I go about prepping of things …
1) Trial Your Time Away
I figure out the exact number of days I will be away. Then a couple of months before actually departing, I pay close attention to and write down what happens in my world for that same span of time. For example, leaving for a month? Bills will be due, monthly subscriptions will arrive, dog food needs to be bought, plants will be thirsty, etc.
2) Make Three Lists
Write down ALL the things that needed to happen during that trial. Now organize that list into 3 buckets:
- what you must do list before you go
- the things you need someone or something to do for you while you are away
- best yet, the things that just won’t get done and that’s ok. (Try to put most in this last bucket to save yourself some stress and work before you head out)
3) House and Home
From that list, look at what needs to happen around the house and just start making it happen as soon as you think of it. Don’t wait till the weekend before you go – you just never know what might trip you up.
Out for groceries and needs some deodorant for the trip – buy it! Take the dog for a check up and you need dog food to tide your pooch over while you are off galavanting – buy it right there! Summer is here and you usually plant amazing flowers but they need daily work – don’t, plant a fern or try a rock garden, my speciality. Water the indoor plants every week? Trail one of those plant test tube watering things you out in the soil.
Pro tip: be kind to your ‘just back from a trip’ self and think about what you might also need at home the couple days after you get back. No one wants to run out to the vet for dog food the day after a long flight, so buy enough to cover some time after you are home too.
Pro-pro tip: leave your house clean. Wash the sheets, empty the dishwasher, clean the toilet – coming home after a trip is so much more glorious when your house is clean and you can just relax!
4) Work out Work
Start months ahead of time! All those things you have been meaning to delegate – make a list and make it happen! All that cross training or mentoring or process documentation you have been meaning to get done – do it right now! Meow, meow!
No matter how prepared you think you are and how much you do in advance … be aware that your ‘do before I leave’ list at work will get LONGER not shorter before you go. Remember ‘indispensable is un-promotable’! So embrace it, do what you can and lean on your team to make magic happen without you. They will!
Pro tip: when you return, before jumping in to take things back or return to that committee or portfolio, pause a beat. Are there things that actually make more sense with your humans than with you? Are they rocking it and should keep on rocking it? Let them!
5) Prepping to Pack
It has been a while since I have had the pleasure of a big long distance hiking trip …so I thought I would look back and take my own advice about packing. I reviewed these past blog posts and, not to toot my own horn, they are quite helpful!
Some reading and thinking about how you want to approach packing will help you identify things to take with you as you go about your every day life – packing as you go!
6) Collect the Things
Set a space aside in your house to start collecting the things you want to pack.
I put up one of those huge post it note posters up on a wall with my packing list and start adding the items to a bin or laundry basket beside it as I find them or wash them or buy them.
Pro-tip: pay attention to how much is in that pile. Seeing the things collect makes the trip real for me AND gives you a good idea of just how much stuff you will soon be jamming into a pack! This should keep you mindful and not overpacking!
7) Organize your Travel Documents
A few things I always make sure I have with me – not just on my phone or in my email – but actually in hard copy are:
- Photocopy of my passport (tucked into a very secret place in my pack just in case my real one is lost or stolen)
- Photocopy of my immunizations (and not just the COVID-19 vaccines, all of them – your immunization passport)
- Print out of key contacts – your emergency contact phone numbers, travel insurance and credit card company, etc. The just in case you need a life line list!
- A copy of your itinerary with accommodation addresses and contact info and confirmation numbers, and your flight itinerary, etc.
Pro-tip: some countries have special requirements to visit at all or for trips of a longer duration. When I went to Scotland for 6 months in 2008, I needed a letter from my employer that I had a job to go back to, from my bank that I had a mortgage, proof I had enough money to support my trip, a return ticket, etc. I guess they thought I might have been there to find my Outlander and never leave. Ha ha
8) Documenting Memories
Think about how you want to document your memories from the trip. Photos? Special camera? A journal? Snapchat? Then prep what you need to make that plan happen.
I am a scrapbooker so my approach is a little much for some people but this is what I am thinking for this upcoming trip:
- Ephemera – I bring a freezer size Ziplock with me for all my receipts, brochures, train tickets, etc. Toss a black Sharpie in the bag to write just a sentence or two on the back of each of things you want to remember about that memory.
- Photos – I set up an album for each day of my trip. I use the date and a highlight for that day as the album name in my iPhone. Example: June 24 YVR to LHR. Each night, I review my photos of the day (delete the ones that are not amazing) and drop the keepers in the day’s album.
- Social media – I will start with a short proof of life video each morning on my Running for the Gate Instagram and finish with a blog post with photos and some details about the day.
- Journal – I love sitting in a pub or coffee shop pouring this traveller’s soul onto an actual paper page with a great pen. All the soulful stuff that is a little too deep for my blog. I also add some notes in the margin of my guide books about the trail and weather and my walking times for the day.
10) Be Social
The next best thing to talking about how amazing your trip was is to talk about how amazing it WILL be!
Do not leave too much to do at the last minute. Instead use the couple weeks before you go to be social. Go to the pub, host the BBQ, do the social things and let your friends and family build up that excitement even more!
Wow, this trip is real now peeps!