O the Agony! Keep The Joy Going While Waiting for the Big Trip

The Big Trip plane tickets are booked, your Twitter posts all include #rtwsoon, and all systems are a-go. Today, you’re here in that limbo of time –the waiting.  Waiting as in… I’m going to Mexico in 59 days, 3 hours, and 2 seconds. Waiting as described in a recent blog post by @Somanyplaces and shared so insightfully by @prolificliving in her article on the nature of waiting. Completely sympathize with that waiting pain.

waiting before traveling

Photo compliments of eyeofeyestein

You’ve done a good job – researching hours a day on the Interweb, connecting with other @travelers, and faxing your credit card number to sights unknown. But, that can only help so much in keeping the excitement going.  There’s some joy in the transaction, but after a while the fun may escape you when the visa hasn’t arrived or your countdown as the word “months” in it.

Truth is, you’re ready to travel – the problem is your plane doesn’t depart for a while. In that tweener period, there are a few things to keep the travel joy high before you travel soon.

Cook! (And Shop for the Ingredients)

Cooking before traveling

Psst. I got a great recipe for South Indian Coconut Rice…Your friend makes an amazing Pad Thai…. Anthony Bourdain was raving about the paella on the Travel Channel. Find those authentic recipes and get cooking. You’re going to be searching for food or eating about a third of the time while traveling, so it’s time to get into the travel groove by making the food yourself.

AND, It’s not just that act of cooking that will keep the excitement rolling for that upcoming trip, it’s the act of shopping for the ingredients too. This means, doing a little recipe research, finding the local store that carries the kase for the pannekoeken, the fish sauce for Pad Thai, the garam masala for that coconut rice.  It’s probably at that market you always pass on the way home from work, but feel a little intimidated to go in. I mean, everything’s in Chinese! But it’s a little more immersive and involved than getting take-out and will hint at what shopping will be like in country.

Extra bonus experiences:

  • Talk to the shopkeepers and get cooking tips! Who knows where the conversation may lead…
  • Your dinner not up to par? Start researching those cooking classes in your destination or at home.

Read! (More than the Guidebooks)

books before travel

The Lonely Planets are stacked up by your bedside, but let’s face it… they are not pleasure reading after a while. It’s time to visit the library and find the stories of the places you’re visiting. I recommend historical fiction as these stories give me the history of place in between amazing characters and lyrics about make the culture, placs theirs. Biographies are excellent too – start with a figure most known in the country and then one of a traveler who’s visited the country. Two points of view, two contexts to bring the place more to life than the recent “Top 5 Must Sees” post (including my own.)

Extra bonus experience:

  • Live in a University town? There’s probably a literary festival.
  • Join or start a travel book club. Lucky us in San Francisco have this meetup group.

Celebrate! (With your Neighbors)

traveling and celebrating

Chances are, there is an immigrant population in your town. Chances are they are having some celebration this year. Find where Holi is happening, Chinese New Year is rolling by, Cinco De Mayo is celebrating, and Fasching is, well, fasching. Join in the fun with your neighbors and feel the celebratory joy of being a traveler, guest, and neighbor in your hometown.

Extra bonus experience:

  • No obvious festivals in that Google search? Check out the community center of that ethnicity and ask around (This may mean an actual phone call).

Host! (A Couchsurfer)

Couchsurfing and traveling

Photo compliments of thedailyenglishshow

Whether you’ve Couchsurfed or not, if you’re planning a big trip or in the travel consciousness, then you’ve heard about it. The org works like Facebook – one needs have “friends” and recommendations before being hosted for free in a destination. After all, as a host you don’t just want some random crashing on your couch. To build up that street, er couch, cred, start hosting on your own couch. You’ll get a sense of how it works AND feel the joy of helping out another traveler who may be from one of your destinations!

Don’t have a couch or can’t host? Sign up on couchsurfing as “meet for a drink or coffee” and connect with travelers.

Extra bonus experience:

  • Got a long time before you leave and you haven’t sold all your stuff? Host a foreign exchange student.


Classes and traveling

Photo compliments of By James Sarmiento

Readers of this blog know that I love everything about Kerala, South India. So they can understand (and I’ll try to describe) my excitement in learning there was a South Indian Dosa making class right near my work. And it’s this Thursday.  I am deliriously happy at finding this class. It keeps that travel excitement alive for me, even though I’ve settled down for a bit.

I realize South Indian food is pretty niche, but there’s probably a Thai, Italian or Mexican cooking class going on at your local Whole Foods. No? Then check out your local community college for language classes, your library for presentations by other travelers, or an arts and crafts workshop at the shop that carries all that gorgeous Moroccan pottery.

Extra bonus experience:

  • Sign up to teach a class when you return.

No matter when you are leaving, or even if you’re not going anywhere, try these activities in the interim to keep rolling in that travel joy.

”To live means to experience–through doing, feeling, thinking. Experience takes place in time, so time is the ultimate scarce resource we have.” Mihaly Csikszentmihalyi

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3 Responses to “O the Agony! Keep The Joy Going While Waiting for the Big Trip”

  1. February 21, 2011 at 8:12 pm #

    Thanks for the mention!!! There is something sweet in waiting, too… though I’m ready for the adventure to be here already!!

  2. Erika
    February 22, 2011 at 11:39 am #

    Those are all great ideas and excellent ways to keep the excitement going! I really enjoy your blog and suggestions for how to plan trips, keep the enthusiasm, and enjoy the experience.


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