Love Travel? Get Ready

Five tips to uplift your spirits

2020? Wonderful, I thought, 20 years since I changed my life, from teaching to travel-writing, let’s celebrate in a big way. I planned, 10 new countries in one year. I managed the first one, Ethiopia, in February and that was it, but as long as I’m healthy, I will look to the future and be ready to go.

How? Here are a few tips to keep the dream alive.   

Plan, plan, plan

New Zealand, Borneo, Grand Tour of Ireland, I’ve booked them, early 2021. Might happen or might not, but in the meantime it makes me feel good and hopeful. Some  of us have a bucket list and that’s a good start but if current restrictions saved you money, why not go for the trip of a lifetime, a dream you thought you could never afford? I’m making a new list, as wild as I dare. Annapurna, Nepal Brochures are out, 2021-22, special offers with Silver Travel partners and with extra time on our hands, we’re spoiled for choice. Where could we go, what could we do? Cruise, safari, cookery, culture, slow travel, walking, it might be a brand-new start, new destination, new activity.

Check entry requirements, there and back, and insurance covering Covid-19, different levels and no age limit in some cases. Choose your dates and book, often low deposit and no risk involved with reputable companies (see Silver Travel partners). There will be a vaccine somewhere along the way, let’s be ready and beat the crowds.

Snap away

We all take photos on our trips, don’t we? We want to remember, show family and friends, maybe illustrate a talk or post something on social media. We have the basics, but we can always improve and this is a good time to try. I’m not great with technology but now I’m prepared to experiment, try new equipment, then re-read books and features on travel photography, watch holiday adverts, TV programmes and whether it’s composition, colour or anything else, somewhere I will say ‘gosh I never thought of that, must try it’.

When I set off on my daily walk, I take a camera and whatever happens, amazing or not, I snap away. How did I not see this stump sticking up? How did I cut off the bird’s tail or shake the camera? Hopefully I’ll remember to be more careful and when adventure starts again, my pictures will be over the moon! 

Learn a new language

Making friends in Nepal Only 25% of the world’s population speak English (including non-natives) so to liven up your travel, the local language, or at least a smattering of it, will help. I have been to Nepal many times, I don’t speak the language but I manage a few questions and answers which make the world of difference. I get through customs ‘oh madame… you speak Nepali? No problem…’, travel by taxi -normal fare- and I make lots of friends who invite me to their homes, festivals, schools and more. Even a few words will do -the locals love it-  and for us it’s a chance to discover real life and occasionally venture off the beaten track.

What will you choose? Something entirely new or will you revive your school French or Spanish? There are plenty of online courses to guide you along and it’s fun to practise, even at home. Then as any expert will tell you, language learning is excellent for the mind, a great way to sharpen your memory and boost your confidence, especially in difficult times.    

Blog like an expert

Broadstairs beach, Kent Most of us keep a holiday diary. Read your last one, or your favourite section, how does it feel? Do you see the colours, smell the flowers, taste the food, hear the bells? Now while we wait to travel again, we can hone our writing skills and learn to ‘blog like an expert’. Look up on the web, short text, decent pictures, bringing the destination to life as if you were there, could you do it next time round?

Take me to a Roman site and I will listen to the guide with one ear while looking around and jotting details. History’s in the books but would I remember the apple blossom, the rising mist, the cobbled lanes or the sheep grazing in a meadow? That’s what makes the difference so when you wander out, however close to home, write down a few notes. Diary or blog, enjoy it and wherever you travel next, it will enhance your experience. Share if you wish.    

Keep fit

As we know, travel may be demanding -even on an ocean cruise…so many activities- and if we want to be ready, we need good heath. Pool, gym, cycle, walk, it’s up to you. I walk, minimum three miles a day, whatever the weather. During lockdown, there was no stopping in the village shop for a bar of chocolate or a bun (husband was shielding) so my diet improved and I lost weight. That was positive.

Now I am back on the chocolate but grandson has enrolled me (and his Mum) on a coastal walk around Kent, every other week. We’re only half-way through  but when we’ve finished, we’re off on a trek in San Marino. Travel is coming back and I have to keep fit!  

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Solange Hando

Award-winning travel writer & member of BGTW

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