Pre-Departure Must-Do’s | Part One

I love to go places. My friends and family call me a drifter, a wanderer, and I guess they’re right. I’ve never been great at staying in one place for long. It doesn’t matter if that place is home or the beautiful Madison campus or the best city in the world. I like the idea of leaving to go somewhere new and starting from zero. It’s refreshing and spontaneous.

That said, this blog post will seem anything but. It’s more of a common-sense post. I just thought I’d share it anyways because sometimes it’s the mundane details in our day-to-day lives that we may take for granted or overlook.

These are some of my pre-departure must-do’s before taking a long trip:

Make the most of your last couple days at home.

I like to stay as busy as possible in the days leading up to a new adventure. To some people, my schedule might resemble chaos, but I like it that way. It prevents me from looking back and feeling as though I didn’t make the most of my time at home.

The week before I left for Spain (I’m currently spending the holidays in Spain but will be studying in Ireland; it’s a long story), I was probably at my most productive. Ever. The first couple days were occupied by final exams. By the time I actually got home on December 18, I barely had four days to get my act together before my afternoon flight on December 22.

In those four days, I spent my time going to doctor’s appointments, having coffee with one friend and dinner with others, interviewing for a prospective summer internship, going to brunch with friends and family, spending a night in downtown Chicago, visiting my favorite teacher of all time, shopping for my trip, stopping at the bank, getting my phone-plan straightened out/frozen at AT&T, packing the night before, etc. You get the picture.

Sometimes having stuff to do is a gift because it’s another reason to remember each day as its own.

Make time for the people who matter.

Right before I leave for a trip is when I’m reminded of the people who really care for me (and for whom I care in return). They’re the ones who call ahead or go out of their way to spend time with me. They’re the ones I go out of my way to visit with. For me, it’s a special reminder that I’m loved, and it means a lot because I think it’s easy for some of us to forget that there are people out there whom we matter to. I don’t say it a lot, but I’m so lucky to have so many beautiful souls in my life. The best part of it all is that I know they’re here to stay.

Start a “going-away” tradition and embrace it.

I leave home a lot, so I always think it’s fun to have a little sendoff. Whenever I study abroad or travel for months at a time over the summer, there is always a “going-away” party beforehand. Sometimes I throw it; sometimes a friend or family-friend does. Either way, it’s a good excuse to have a little feast and just get together for a good time.

My mom and I have our own tradition as well, and Dad helps to make it happen. Mom always books a night for us at our favorite hotel downtown so that we can spend as much time in the city as we’d like. Usually, it consists of dinner with Mom’s friends or business associates and a sports game. I LOVE the Chicago Blackhawks, so that’s always my #1 choice. We couldn’t make it this time, but we still had a memorable dinner with amazing people at a restaurant called Leña Brava. If you’re ever in Chicago, I highly recommend it.

And finally, since it’s never too late to start a new/old tradition, my friends and I decided that dinner at our favorite local Italian trattoria would be just that. We already have dinner there whenever all of us are in town at the same time, so it’s actually an age-old tradition between us. This time, however, instead of splitting the check five ways like we always do, they insisted that it only be four. I was moved.