The Pre-Departure Emotional Sanity Check List
For the past several months, I’ve been planning my big departure to the other side of the world. Through my previous experiences with long-term travel, I’ve discovered that there’s lots of boxes that need to be checked off before an adventure of this caliber. Aside from the obvious (quit job and move out of apartment), there are also plenty not so obvious but equally important items (obtaining proper visas, getting all necessary vaccinations and prescriptions for medication, etc.)
What people don’t warn you about is the emotional stress and turbulence that comes with leaving your current life and purchasing a one way ticket to the other side of the world. Yes, it’s exciting! And yes, it takes courage! But unless you’ve been living in a bubble and have no attachments (which is entirely impossible in my opinion), leaving everything and everyone behind can be an emotionally taxing and traumatic experience. All my “Travel Preparation” research yielded results for logistical preparation, but hardly anything about maintaining your sanity and preparing yourself emotionally for this experience.
So, to help others who “find themselves” in my predicament, I’ve created my own Emotional Sanity Preparation Check List that I would like to pass on.
1. Get Comfortable Being Alone- Over the span of the next few weeks, months, years, or however long you plan to travel, although you will meet plenty of people on your trip, if this is a solo adventure then the reality is you will spend a lot of time alone. You will become your own best friend and get to know yourself better than you’ve ever cared to. So I advise that in order to prepare for this, start spending some time alone. Go for longs walks, treat yourself to lunch, plant yourself in a cafe or on a park bench and people watch. Start settling in and getting comfy with just you.
2. Surround yourself with positive people who support you- Whether it be family members, friends, acquaintances, or perfect strangers, spend time around people who support you and “get it”. They will help give you the confidence and push that you need.
3. Exercise– Always a good one! This helps ease your anxiety, fears, and keeps you looking good and feeling great.
4. Maintain a Positive Mental Attitude– Practice cultivating a positive attitude. When things become overhwhelming and the seed of doubt begins to sprout (and it will!), practice remaining positive. The more you practice this, the more habitual it will become.
5. Do Yoga and/or Meditate– Mind/Body/Soul. Yoga and meditation will help you keep calm and get yourself into the right state of mind to face the upcoming challenges.
6. Read Inspiring Books– Every time I am facing a big life transformation or struggling in any way, I read a Paulo Coelho book. He is a beautiful and inspiring writer and knows how to get right down to the nitty gritty on feelings and life perspectives.
7. Read Travel Blogs– This one helps me tremendously. In fact, the people who have helped give me courage the most are the people I’ve never even met. I find people who have similar outlooks on life and have the same aspirations as me, and stalk them obsessively through their blogs. They give me all sorts of ideas and it’s a healthy reminder that I am not as crazy and obscure as most of my peers peg me to be (well, maybe).
8. Treat yo’ self– Go get yourself a massage or a pedicure! Allow yourself to be pampered and de-stress.
9. Say Goodbye, but Understand that Nothing is Permanent– The only constant in life is change. Whether you stay or whether you go, life goes on. Seasons change, people change, and we all grow older every day. We don’t ever really know what will happen tomorrow. What we do know is that we are here for a short amount of time and must go after our dreams fiercely while we can. Instead of Goodbye, say “Until next time”.
10. Keep your Goals in Mind– While you are simultaneously packing boxes, dealing with visa issues, getting your shots, and engaging in some serious emotional management, it’s easy to get overhwhlemed and start questioning whether all of this is worth it. So, reflect on your goals. Know why you are doing this (for adventure, to become a better person, to write about it, to see some fabulous places) and hold steadfast to your beliefs.
11. Take a Breath, Relax, and Remember.. Everything happens one moment at a time. Don’t over-analyze every step in the journey. Remember that it all comes one moment at a time, one day at a time. Everything will fall into place as long as you keep moving forward. Absorb your experiences, take pride in your unique bravery, and enjoy the adventure completely!