Travel will always involve a bit of uncertainty. When away from home and our daily routines, the chances of something unexpected happening dramatically increase. This is a big reason why many people travel, but for others this truth is a hard pill to swallow. That partly explains why people travel so differently.
Here’s two different ways travelers think about what it means to be ‘ready for anything,’ and six ways anyone can be more prepared to hit the road.
Ready traveler 1: Embrace serendipity
Some travelers are totally cool with booking their airfare, then figuring out the rest of their plans once they land. Booking last-minute deals from vendors such as HotelTonight can be thoroughly enjoyable. Some are even more extreme, like the traveler who simply shows up to the airport ticket counter and buys the next available flight – wherever it may be going, domestic or foreign. That kind of serendipity can be admirable, but not many could stomach it, even if they have logged extensive travel to every inhabited continent.
Ready traveler 2: Be extra prepared
For others, the opposite strategy makes the most sense. They might over-prepare beforehand and book everything in advance. They do this to ensure their itinerary goes as smoothly as planned and mitigate any surprises. This type of traveler might even overpack on the chance a foreign store won’t have what they want. It might seem a little irrational to some, but there’s many different ways to travel, and going with everything you might need clearly makes some feel more comfortable.
There are some things any traveler can do to be ready for anything. It’s possible to adventure safely and protect your investment without ruining the sense of excitement (travel insurance, anyone?). In fact, having basic assurances taken care of ahead of time will often make it easier to pursue more exciting opportunities once you reach your destination. Here are six ways to do just that:
Know before you go
Did you know it’s hard to find a public bathroom in some (but not all) European countries? In some cases, you even need local currency, often coins, to use them. You would know this if you did some basic research, which can go a long way to saving your bladder and sanity while navigating a foreign country. Spend an hour online or speaking with someone who’s been there to know what to expect. Not only will this help you, but it’s scientifically proven to build anticipation and help you enjoy your trip more.
Your packing list will vary depending on where you go. But the following items are particularly well-suited for flexibility. Multipurpose gear such as quick-drying hybrid shorts instead of swim trunks (ladies: running shorts and sports bras work in a pinch, too), moleskin if hiking, and definitely a reusable water bottle. Even more than food, staying hydrated will sharpen your thinking to help you find your next great meal, bathroom, or whatever. A small first-aid kit can also come in handy. But don’t feel like you have to pack everything – most of the places you visit will have well-stocked stores and will gladly accept your money.
Go with the flow
Although true to life in general, this proverb is especially applicable to travel. Since travel plans rarely go to plan, going with the flow or rolling with the punches will help you enjoy the journey and avoid unnecessary stress that won’t do you any favors. Be flexible with your timing. Accept that cancellations (either by weather, a delayed flight, or acts of God) can and will happen. You’ll also do well to learn a few basic phrases in the language of your destination. “Hello,” “please,” “thank you,” and “bathroom” amazingly can get you almost anywhere with the help of pointing and gestures.
Ready your paperwork
It might sound boring, but it can save you a lot of headaches later – make sure all your travel documents and paperwork are ready ahead of time. If traveling abroad, make sure you know of any visa or health requirements. Store backup photos of important documents such as your passport to your phone. And keep some cash and a backup credit card handy in case you lose your wallet, purse, or luggage.
Buy travel insurance
For many, this is the ultimate backup plan. In fact, travel insurance has been especially helpful and increasingly popular during the global COVID-19 pandemic, which added a new layer of complexity to both domestic and global travel plans. Chances are no harm will come to you while traveling. Really. But when it does, travel insurance can be a sanity, health, and sometimes even life saver. Need a recommendation? Consider Seven Corners travel insurance. For nearly 30 years it has offered 24/7 travel assistance and helped millions of people all over the world get out of any unforeseen pickle or serious complication.
Panicky people make worse decisions than calm people. When something unexpected happens while traveling, you don’t want to complicate your situation with bad decisions. It’s in your best interest to fight any panic urges and reassure yourself that most people are inherently good. Many of them will often help you for free if in distress. Anyone who travels a lot has seen this play out countless times in dozens of countries and all 50 states. That’s an assurance you can bet on.