Kate’s 8: Steps for Planning a Travel Adventure

Here is a list of tips I learned while planning my trip. Nothing groundbreaking but definitely important things to keep in mind. While these fortune cookies of advice are focused on travel aboard, they could apply to anyone ready to travel somewhere new. 

Thinking or wishing about your own trip somewhere abroad? Consider the following (in order):

Kate’s 8: Steps for Planning a Travel Adventure

  1. Make a list. Where do you want to go? How many countries/cities do you want to explore? Start big but know when to pare down. Think about distance, budget and timeline before committing to any set plan.
  2. Ask friends for advice. Chances are at least one of your friends or friend of friends have been to the destination you’re dying to visit. Fellow travelers love giving tips and recommendations so don’t be afraid to ask. Cast a wide net to seek out help…or ask them to come along!
  3. Research necessary logistics. This is super important. Research the places you are going and make sure you have all the necessary visas, vaccinations and a valid passport. Contracting a deadly disease or deportation shouldn’t be at the top of your bucket list. 
  4. Purchase the ticket and tell everyone you know. There is something incredibly final about clicking “pay” and receiving that Ticket Confirmation in your Inbox. When I first started planning, I had countless people asking me when I was leaving, where I was going, and when I was coming back. I needed to have some answers, both for them and for myself. You WILL be held accountable by your friends and family. Buy the ticket and don’t look back. 
  5. Start shopping early. Researching the right backpack and  hiking sandals takes time. Don’t get stuck with equipment or shoe apparel you’re not happy with or get forced into expedited shipping so your Osprey 55 L Farpoint will show up three days before you leave. For your procrastinators, Amazon Prime is a godsend. 
  6. Save, save, save. This might be the trickiest part. You will need to make some changes in order to accumulate the money, time and willpower to go. I recommend keeping a piggy bank or personal travel fund that you pay into every week. Made your lunch instead of going out? Add $5.00 to the money jar. Chose a smaller apartment to save on rent? Add $50 each month. Investing incrementally is a great way to save money while focusing on the larger goal instead of the daily sacrifices. 
  7. Give yourself a buffer window. Whether you’re taking time off of work, traveling after school or quitting your job, it’s important to have some time to prepare and reflect before jet setting on your incredible adventure. Set aside some buffer time (if you can afford it) before leaving for your trip. I gave myself almost a month between the time I left my job and left the country. Double checking the packing list and getting a couple nights of zzz’s will make you more alert and ready to go!
  8. Don’t wait. There will be no “right time” for you to go on a trip. Life is a series of somethings or someones you won’t want to leave behind. Truth is that those people, those careers, and those responsibilities will all be there when you get back. Don’t underestimate the incredible opportunity to see the world and fulfill your wanderlust. Chances are, you won’t regret anything but the trip not taken. 

Be brave. Trust yourself. See something new. 

Sacred Rim, WY
Sacred Rim, WY
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The Question Every Traveler, Millennial, and Retiree Is Asking

I spent last weekend on the Jersey Shore with three wonderful people, a final trip before my European excursion. Each day was filled with good food, naps on the beach and pure relaxation. On Saturday evening, I left my clothes on the sand and waded into the ocean alone. I ventured deep into the blackness until the warm salty water covered my arms and neck. Up above, starlight shone through holes cut in the construction paper sky and covered the world in a soft glow. I looked east—I’ll be crossing you soon, dear Atlantic Ocean— and out over the incoming tide. Here, in this liquid wonderland, the future felt limitless.

Many of my peers are struggling to make sense of their seemingly limitless future, a time  I affectionately call the Two Year Itch.  It’s been two years since college graduation and the collective plunge into the outside world. The newlywed phase of increased freedom and responsibility has been replaced with a less positive feeling. These young talented minds, taught to speak in tweets and think like CEOs, are currently  treading water wondering why the perfect job, career path or soul mate hasn’t floated by. Many are quitting/changing their jobs, moving to new cities or pursuing medical, law or graduate school. Some are married, more are in relationships and most are divided as to whether “being single” is the best or worst part of their young adult lives. I watch my friends and former classmates lift their heads above the water and gaze back toward shore, internally questioning their initial sense of direction and motivation. Under the dark blue sky, we ask ourselves the same question.

Where should I go from here?Map

This is not a question unique to the Millennial generation in 2014. This is a question for all of us: for every passionate activist, retired employee, single parent and widowed spouse. This question spurs doubt in our choices and fear of the unknown. We question our decisions or refuse to make them at all. Cracking the binding of a blank passport, we have no plane ticket, no itinerary and no planned destination. Time is of the essence and we have everywhere and nowhere to go.

Let’s take one step back and focus on the why. Why are we going? Where do we hope the going is going to get us? Sara Horowitz, founder of Freelancers Union, defines the “what” as meaningful independence:

“the ability to pursue your passions and your dreams, secure in the knowledge that

you’re connected to people, groups, and institutions that have your back.”

To me, this goal rings true. I must identify my passions and dreams so I may pursue them. I must surround myself with the people who can make these ideas happen in a supportive environment. The ocean is vast and the stars are bright.

Katelyn’s Five (of many) Goals and Dreams:

  • Backpack through Europe.
  • Live in New York City.
  • Carve writing into my daily routine.
  • Visit Hawaii. 
  • Work at a company with motivated and inspirational people.

Now make your list. Are the jobs, people and activities in your life working toward meaningful independence? If not, it might be time to make a change. Until then, just keep swimming.