Travel Badge


Saloon

Originally uploaded by nodigio

Step One: That quaint little town in Vermont, the huge cheese festival in Wisconsin, Burning Man in Utah, Paris, Milan, Tokyo – the world is yours for the exploring. You know how to savor it all, what the best sights are and where to find the yummiest little hidden restaurants. Sampling every bakery in Germany, tracing your roots through Scandinavia, sunbathing on a French beach, being rowed in a gondola down the canals of Venice – whatever your fantasies, you know how to make them happen – and you have photos and videos to share on your return.

St. Augustine said the world is a book and those who stay at home only read one page. You’ve read whole chapters!

Step Two: Travel gives you confidence. Once you’ve successfully dealt with Customs, booked your own flight or cruise, handled mislaid luggage, and packed the cure for Montezuma’s Revenge before you left home, you know you’ll be able to tackle practically anything. You’ll gain a new appreciation for the things you love most when you can explore their history at their point of origin. Think how cool it would be to learn how to make French pastries in a French patisserie school, or to ski distant mountains, or visit the landmarks mentioned in your favorite novels. Once you leave home, even if it’s a road trip to another state, you’ll encounter adventures of all sorts, and you’ll learn how others do things. Maybe you’ll pick up a few tips and ass them to your own repertoire. And the stories you’ll collect to share will make travelling worth it.

Step Three: Find your destination. Do you want to visit a particular city or festival in the US? Have you always dreamed of lazing on the beach of Mexico sipping a tequila sunrise? Do you want to visit a ghost town, or see the set of your favorite show? Do you want to take a cruise to the Bahamas, or visit the Conch Republic? Do you see yourself there alone or with a friend? Is it winter or summer or fall or spring?

If you don’t have a dream destination in mind, what are your interests? Do you want room service and a spa, or does roughing it down a whitewater river sound fascinating? Would like to immerse yourself in a museum, or hear your favorite performer live? Do you need a guide to show you the sights or does exploration intrigue you? What hobby do you have that you’d like to know more about?

Pick a place that will make you happy.

Step Four: Do you want to go solo, or with a companion? Family is your best choice if you get along, because you already have ways of communicating and already share a common history and know what independence level suits you best. Friends are great, too, but be upfront about independence levels and schedules and areas of interest. Some compromise is expected, but neither of you should be expected to do everything the other wants. If you bring children, you’re schedules will have to take their needs into account, and your activities will have to be geared towards theirs, so you can probably forget the wine tastings and beerfest.

Don’t put off a trip just because you don’t have anyone else to go with you. You’ll be surprised at how many friends you can make when you go it alone.

Step Five: Research your destination. If you pre-plan as much of your trip as you can, you can save money and not miss sights you don’t yet know about. Check out underground travel guides and, regular travel guides, websites, and documentaries about your destination.

Find a Mentor who’s been there before and pick their brains about what they did and what they wish they’d done as well as the time of year they went, where they stayed and ate. Get as many persoanl recommendxations as you can about hotels, restaurants, tour guides, shops, festivals, places of interest, historical sites, memorial sites, places to avoid, and places not to be missed.

Read up on curent events at and near your destination. You may be able to find a newspaper on line. Check it out. Or search for people who keep blogs and write about your destination.

Make a list of the places you’d like to see and things you’d like to do while there. Leave some room for spontaneity – you never know what intriguing thing will lure to explore it. And there may be delays and detours – take advantage of them to enjoy new and unexpected activities.

Step Six: Make the time to take that trip. Set a date, mark it on your calendar. Give yourself at least 6 months to plan and prepare for this trip. If you’re on a tight budget, consider the times when travel is less expensive, when rates are cheaper. Travel in the off-season has special benefits – from low prices to attentive shopkeepers. Just make sure your destiantion isn’t smack in the middle of tsunami or monsoon season!

If you aren’t sure you can make the time – maybe if your boss can’t give you a pay raise, he might be able to give you some extra time off instead. It never hurts to ask. If you can stay connected to work via the internet and phone, maybe you can take some work with you (but remember, make some time to have fun yourself). Maybe you have to attend a business seminar or convention – find out what free time you’ll have and see what fin activities you can schedule for those times. Perhaps you can extend your business trip by a couple of days to have a mini-trip of your own. Can you work overtime to create your time off?

However you do it, if you really want to travel, you’ll be able to create some time for yourself. So be sure to just do it.

Step Seven: Start your travel fund. Even if you combine your travel with a business trip, you’ll still have to fund your personal portion – tickets to broadway reviews or the Cirque du Soleil are expenses out of your pocket, as is admission to the museums and the hsitorical horse and buggy ride through Times Square. Start saving up for the fun and interesting things you want to do – and don’t forget to leave a nice amount for the souvenirs you’ll want and film or flash drives for the pictures/video you’ll take.

There are a lot of ways to save a little extra money. If you eat out a lot, eat at home instead or bring your lunches. Bring your lunch can easily save you almost $50 a week. Dinners cost more, so you save more by eating at home. If you have to see the newest movies in the theater, go to a matinee instead of the evening showing and eat before you go so you don’t spend another $15 on soda and popcorn. Buy tickets early – you can often get discounts and special offers so shop around. Online is a great way to do this.

Step Eight: If you’re traveling out of the country, or to someplace where another language is spoken, brush up on the language before you go. You don’t have to speak it perfectly, but you should at least have a few essential phrases in your repertoire. http://www.threadless.com sells a marvelous T-shirt for travelers that has pictures of essential things so if you’re at a loss for whords, pointing to the picture on the T-shirt can help.

Step Nine: Final preparations. Get your tickets and reservations – and their receipts! – togerther. Leave a copy of your itinerary with friends or family members so they’ll know about where you should be if there’s an emergency. Have your email, mail, newspapers, and special deliveries placed on hold or re-directed to a neighbor. Place jewelry and small valuables ina secure location. Arrange to have a house-sitter check your house (and if you have pets, to take care of them) twice daily. Invest in timed light switches to turn lights and TVs on and off randomly so it looks as if someone’s home. Obtain phone numbers you can call from along your travel route to report lost or stolen credit cards and keep those in a different place than your cards. Set up automatic bill payments if you will be gone when bills come due. Make photocopies of your passport, credit cards, driver’s license, health insurance cards, and other essential documents to store in a safe place in case you need them. Bring along a hand-cranked shortwave radio so you can listen to local channels for news and weather – and music!

Step Ten: Go! Have fun! Bon voyage! See you when you get back! Have a great time! Take lots of pictures! Bring back souvenirs!

Step Eleven: Claim your badge!

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