It took me two full years of constant travel before I finally decided to track our trips.
On January 9, 2017, I wrote out Travel Tracker on the top of a journal page, and I committed to adding every flight, car ride and in between. I watched as the list slowly—and at the same time quickly—grew week after week.
At the end of last year, I counted 32 trips, more than ten destinations, and discovered no trip lasting longer than several weeks. When I share these stats, most people wonder how we manage to travel this much—without losing our heads.
Here’s the short answer:
We do lose it once in a while, but mostly we’ve learned to go with the flow.
Here’s the long answer:
Thanks to a few key lessons we’ve become accustomed to constant movement, and we think the same lessons can help everyone live a balanced, happy life.
I’ll start with my two favorites:
Travel lightly for more adventure
The greatest lesson traveling teaches is that you don’t need to pack heavy for a successful trip. In fact, the lighter you pack the more adventure you find.
Think about it: A bag that weighs you down does little for your mood, and as a result, you may be less likely to go out on a whim and discover something new.
Over the years (and several tries at bags), we’ve decided backpacks are best for any kind of traveler. A well-fitting backpack frees you up to maneuver and walk from one destination to the next with very little effort. Plus, it’s smaller than most carry-on bags and forces you to pack lightly.
Packing your bag takes on more meaning when you have to thoughtfully choose each item versus throwing everything you want in a big, roller bag. Next time you pack, take the time to evaluate which clothing items are essential; which ones can work double duty; and which ones you can wear while you travel.
Pair down your toiletries bag to the bare necessities, and for those who pack makeup: keep it simple. You don’t need highlighter, contour, and every eyeshadow to feel good on your trip. I would even suggest trying to ditch it all. It’s a freeing feeling to own a naked face, and it’s a great break for your skin.
For those who are new to packing lightly, roll your clothes very tightly first. Then, take advantage of the space you have by treating it like a Tetris game. Hang shoes by the strings around a backpack handle, stuff said shoes with socks and underwear, and use a clip to attach water bottles.
Make it fun and don’t stress when you have to leave something behind, which leads me to the next (and most life-relevant) lesson:
Stress complicates everything
Any kind of travel, whether it’s a short trip or long-term hiatus, doesn’t come without a few hiccups along the way. It’s the reality of being somewhere new (and if you’re with a partner, navigating the new place as a team).
With any kind of mishap, there will be stress. You can’t avoid it, but you can control your reaction to it. Recognizing you’re stressed is the first step. Then, you can thoughtfully choose how to deal with it.
Maybe you need a few minutes to breathe. Maybe you need your travel partner to re-explain the situation. Maybe you just need to relax for a second and take in your surroundings.
Whatever you do next, remember that letting your stress takeover will only complicate everything.
And we’ve found that stress never helps—not when you’re lost, not when you’re late, and especially not when you can’t decide where to eat.
I know you’re with me on the last one.
Here’s a true example:
We were flying out of San Francisco on our way to Beijing. We had gone through security, enjoyed one last U.S. beer, and were headed to our gate when I suddenly realized I didn’t have my wristlet purse. I frantically searched the area around me and ran to the bathroom to check (I’ve frequently left wallets in the bathroom). Nothing. My passport, my $500 China visa, and my phone were gone.
At that moment, I wanted to lose it and so did Jordan. I could see the annoyance in his face as he realized I had lost something yet again, and this time it could impact a trip we fought so hard to take.
Because stress loves to lay it on thick, our plane was also going to board in less than an hour. We had to act. Luckily, there was no time to stress.
I headed to the gate to explain my situation. They connected me to lost and found. After waiting for the most agonizing three minutes of my life, I heard the security guard confirm that he had nothing, too.
Luckily, Jordan was also acting instead of stressing and decided to call my phone. Some very nice gentlemen answered and said he found the purse by the bathroom and was on his way to the lost and found.
Jordan retrieved the wristlet while I waited on the phone. Once it returned to my hands, we recovered with deep breaths of relief until we boarded our 13-hour flight.
If we would have stressed, it could have easily led to a fight or flight kind of situation. Luckily, we’d experienced my haphazard mistakes before, so we knew action was the best solution.
For the record: I’ve always found what I’ve lost and I’m not sure whether or not I should be proud of that.
Travel without abandon
We live in an incredibly connected world, where we can access the other side of our planet within hours. This is the incredible magic of modern travel. Not the stuff you bring or the stresses you incur. It’s about connection.
Next time you take a trip away from home, remember these two pieces of advice: travel light and stress less. You may be surprised where it takes you.