Tuesday, June 12, 2007

7 Big Things That Made My Trip Better

For whatever it's worth, here's some things that helped preserve my sanity while traveling to the UK. I really needed some stuff to make sure I didn't spaz out too much before, during or after the trip since it was going to be two weeks away from work, and only one day back home before jumping back in.

1) We made a solid commitment to go to bed on time for the two weeks before the trip.
(for us that meant 11pm) It worked up until the last couple of days, (and we fudged a little bit the weekend before - but we slept in the next morning) and I have to say it really made a difference to have a backlog of sleep stored up.

2) We took homeopathic jet-lag pills. You take one before you take off, and then every two hours in flight, and one on landing. Other than needing a one hour nap in Dublin we felt pretty darn good, so I think they worked! (remember you shouldn't eat/use mint in combination with homeopathics because it cancels out the effect - includes gum and toothpaste!)

3) We made a spreadsheet of everything we wanted to bring. Yes, seriously. Pretty geeky, I know, but it actually saved me from trying to hold everything in my brain. I guess the biggest reason I opted for spreadsheet over a simple word document was because we wanted to strategize our laundry to all be washable in one load on the day we got to Scotland in the middle of our trip. The spreadsheet let me coordinate outfits and check that they were all of colors that could be washed together with G's clothes too. (SuperGeek: We did it in Google spreadsheets so we could both access and update the same spreadsheet at any time. Useful for random rememberings at work. Jot it down and then I can focus back to the task at hand.)

4) We made a spreadsheet of "To Do Before" and "To Buy"
Actually it was a different worksheet in the same Google spreadsheet, but the same principle - having a joint place to jot down things we needed to remember, and then color coordinated the cells for who was supposed to do what task. Also helped us prioritize and know which things to let go of when we ran out of time.

5) We brought earplugs and eye-masks for sleeping on the plane.
It was actually the first time I tried either of these things on a plane and I was really surprised at just how much they blocked out and let me get better rest in flight.

6) We brought our own (somewhat healthy) snacks.
Granola/power bars and dried fruit, I thought about other things but didn't have time to get them, protein would have been nice. I learned on our first (and only!) big driving/no stopping for food day that skipping a meal was REALLY bad for me. The only saving grace on many a day was the Power Bars I had in my backpack. Crazy stuff happens on trips, especially when you have to work within the time schedules of public transportation. Not so much a worry when you are coming here to a house full of food and natural foods store nearby, but for long trips, especially since somehow we didn't have vegetarian meals reserved for us on the overseas leg, and they sell silly, expensive boxes of crummy snacks for in-country flights. (Beef jerky and Oreos anyone? Ok, Oreos if I have to...)

7) I mentally prepped myself to "be in the moment".
For the two weeks before the trip I kept reminding myself of what an opportunity it was to be going and that I really wanted to get as much as I possibly could out of it. I think it really helped me to quickly get back to a good attitude whenever I got cranky/tired/worn out on the actual trip (cuz that just happens when you travel). Practicing getting in that frame of mind made it easy to find the beauty in every moment, the silver linings in any little clouds. Being in the moment also meant taking on less stress/worries while traveling - there's much out of my control, freaking about it won't change anything, so may as well just go with the flow.

I think those were the big things that helped the most. I'm posting this as a reminder to me for the next time I take a trip.