Have you ever returned from a trip feeling like it didn’t do any difference to you? People asked, “So how was your trip?” “Good”, you answered, realizing the effort of all that planning, budgeting and navigating brings back just one word to sum it up.
“What did you do?” A curious friend presses for more. “Oh we went to this place and it was beautiful, the food was really good and we bought a whole bunch of stuff.”
And you have a few Instagram photos to prove that it was a great trip.
I don’t know about you but that doesn’t seem like a very interesting trip to me. You can basically do all those things anywhere. But what differentiates a checklist trip from a meaningful one that gets you excited to share your stories is a more precisely crafted experience that matters to you. The memories become milestones of your personal journey that will keep you coming back to appreciate its significance.
Although not everything would go as planned, you can definitely have a clear direction of how you want your trip to turn out. It starts with asking yourself these five questions before you even start on your itinerary.
1) What is one objective of your trip?
Your objective could be anything as long as it’s a clear one. It could be challenging like doing something you’ve never tried before, or it could be something as simple as taking a break from the city life.
However, the best kind of objectives usually meet an intrinsic need, so consider that. Plan for the experiences you want to have instead of just the places you want to go.
2) What are you doing to meet your objective?
Here’s where you need to get real specific. If you want to escape from your hectic lifestyle, go as slow as you can, get close to nature, shut off your phone and space out your plans. Or if you’re seeking for an adventure, go off the beaten track and push your limits.
As much as it’s tempting to just take nice pictures on the beach, remember that you have an objective to meet. While activities can be totally spontaneous, focusing on your objective keeps you from steering too far off.
3) What kind of experiences can you forgo in your trip?
You can’t fit everything into one trip, so eliminate those that you can do without. Do you have to visit every tourist attraction? Would you rather spend more on accommodation or activities? How important is it for you to try out all kinds of food? Weigh out time, budget, experience and snip away.
4) What is one experience you would go for even if no one follows you?
This is when you realize what really matters to you. It may not be within your comfort zone to do things alone, but what is one thing that can’t be compromised on this trip? Heck, you might even have to say no to other plans for this to happen. Do it. Craft your own experience.
5) What is one thing you hope to gain from this trip?
It could be overcoming a fear, learning something new, meeting new people, bringing home good stories… you might even discover something totally different from what you expected. But if you keep this goal in mind, it would change how you talk to people, make decisions, respond to negative situations and celebrate the positive ones.
Know why you travel
Personally, it made a huge difference in the way I travel once I started asking these questions. I became more self-aware, and traveling got a whole lot more meaningful. Those memories mark important moments of my life that I’ll remember for a long, long time. I hope it does the same to you. 🙂