When I started Traveling I didn’t have much more in mind than that I wanted to focus on positive and happy travels. The idea developed over time and lately I’ve thought about ways to make a trip blissful. While my take on this is aimed at longer term journeys of weeks, months or even years, it can be applied to day tours, weekend getaways and shorter trips as well.
What will help make your trip as blissful as possible? In this first part, I’ll look at what you can bring.
An Optimistic State of Mind
In my experience, the mental comes first. If I’m not at peace and optimistic within, how can I truly appreciate and enjoy where I am in the world or what I’m doing?
While awe-inspiring places can calm frazzled minds, give complainers reason to shut up and cause instant happy feelings, no travel experience, no matter how amazing, can compensate for a crappy attitude.
If you start out with an optimistic mind-set, no expectations, and make a choice to smile (literally or figuratively) regardless of what happens around you at any given moment you’ll see that blissful traveling aren’t dependent on outer circumstances, events or experiences. This is easy when things are going swimmingly. For anything undesirable out of your control you can decide you’ll stay neutral and not let it affect your mood or ruin your trip. Metaphorically speaking you sit on the beach watching the waves instead of jumping into the water.
A Healthy & Happy Body
I believe it is much easier to reach a peaceful mental state if you are feeling healthy and happy physically. Plus you can enjoy your trip more in a healthy and happy body. If you prepare for traveling with good, wholesome food, any form of exercise and enough sleep to avoid jetlag or tiredness, your body will feel better and there’s greater chance you’ll feel happier and more positive within.
One afternoon on my Sweden trip in 2017, I stood on the train platform in Boden, where I’d stayed in a budget hotel three nights, and waited for the train to Gallivare. From there, I would travel by bus south to Östersund via Porjus, Jokkmokk, Arvidsjaur, Sorsele, Storuman, Vilhelmina, Dorotea, Hoting and Strömsund. Surrounded by a group of teens and their teachers, I realized I lacked purpose. Unlike before I reached my previous destinations, I felt no excitement or desire to travel there. So why would I continue when I didn’t have any specific reason to visit these villages and towns except that I would have seen them? Two minutes before the train arrived I left the station and took the next bus back to Lulea instead.
Choosing one or several purposes for your trip, whether adventure, sporty activities, volunteering, language studies, sightseing, art, culture, music, food or just relaxing on beaches, gives your travels another sense of meaning. Even the purpose of not planning, going with the flow and doing whatever takes your fancy. Or travel for the sake of traveling. Or self-discovery. Make the purpose mean something to you.
A Sense of Preparation
For my last trip abroad to Thailand on January 2 I bought the flight ticket about 10 days before departure. I had my third and last Twinrix shot at a walk-in clinic in Stockholm in December. (I took my first in January 2011 for the India trip that never happened and apparently it was okay to not follow the usual 0-, 1-, and 6-month schedule.) I didn’t write a packing list and ticked off items to bring. I found an inexpensive netbook to use instead of my old laptop two days before I left. I bought my last summer clothes and the bag I’d travel with a few hours before the flight. I finished packing my bag just before I left for the airport and I reorganized the content on the Arlanda Express train. I was the last person to check in.
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Though I had read about Koh Yao Yai and Koh Yao Noi on Wikitravel and hoped to catch the 12.30pm ferry from Phuket’s Bang Rong Pier, I didn’t know where I would stay. And although I had places in mind I wanted to travel to, I had no definite plans. My intention was partly to travel with no plans to feel as free as possible. While this brought a freedom I’d never experienced before, I did miss a few things as a result of lack of preparation. Like sunscreen. I learned my lesson.
I also learned that ticking off lists, researching, making plans and booking accommodation for at least one or two days in advance don’t need to rule out freedom. When you know you’ve got everything you need with you, some of what to expect from a place, how you’ll get somewhere and where you’ll stay, this brings another sense of freedom. Either approach works but preparing enough (however that looks like for you) can make a trip more blissful.
Comfortable Clothes and Shoes
On the way to Frösakull with my grandmother Marta one afternoon I got out of the car before the turn-off to her summer cottage to take a swim in the sea first. Since my shoes were far from comfortable I left them in the car and strolled barefoot on the burning hot asphalt a few hundred meters to the beach and back. I ended up with blisters all over my feet. The next two weeks I only wore flip-flops and every painful step was a reminder to always bring comfortable flats.
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Unless you’re a hardcore fashionista who won’t ever sacrifice fashion and style for comfort, dressing the part doesn’t have to exclude comfortable outfits. As long as you have clothes to keep you warm and dry in cool temperatures, cool enough on hot and humid days, and comfortable to suit specific weather and situations, the better your body will feel and the greater chance for bliss.
Since what to pack or not to pack is such a personal part of travel (everyone has their own favorite gadgets or belongings), I focus on light traveling.
After my months in France as an au-pair I returned with one large backpack, two suitcases, several hand bags and a large ski bag. At the airport in Chambery, driving around one of those baggage carts, I tried to look as if I searched for the rest of my travel companions because I felt embarrassed to have brought that much on my own.
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While staying put and having a base to travel from can accommodate heavier luggage than a backpacking trip in Southeast Asia, light luggage makes for a light trip and a lighter mind. Go for whatever your definition of light.
So that’s my take on how you can prepare for blissful travels. With an optimistic attitude, a healthy and happy body, at least one specific why for you trip, clothes to keep your body comfortable, enough preparation, and luggage that doesn’t weigh you down, you’re several steps closer to bliss.
In the next part, I will look at how you can stay blissful while you are traveling.
What else can you bring on a trip that ensure a blissful time away? Did I miss anything?