There are a well known gaps in travel – the gap year, the career break, and the ever popular 1 year round-the-world trip. Getting to these gaps is the hard part but once you’re there it’s easy (travel time!) There’s a harder and much more annoying gap that happens more frequently and is tougher to deal with; the ready-to-go gap.

mind the gap

The ready-to-go gap can be called anything really (I just made it up) but it’s the name I give that period of time before you travel and after you’re done planning and preparing. I tend to procrastinate and do things at the last minute so my ready-to-go gap is about 5 minutes before my next flight but most people are organized and have a few days or even longer.

Generally spare time is a great thing to have but good planners tend to try and fill this gap with even more plans which lead to stress. The key to handling the ready-to-go gap is to shift your focus temporarily and do less, not more.

Are You There Yet?

you are here shirtNo matter how well you plan or prepare, there are some things that can’t be done too far in advance. Packing your bags or securing your house weeks in advance doesn’t make sense and there is such a thing as too much research about a tourist destination. You’re there now, in the gap. Fight the urge to plan more things in addition to all of the other plans you’ve already made. All you’ll accomplish is to stress yourself out by adding more things to do in the same amount of time.

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Shift Your Focus

There are a few ways to go about this but the important constant is to forget about your upcoming trip temporarily.

  • Start traveling. There is an entire countryside, town, city, etc. right around you. Take your travel planning skills and arrange a few small trips around town. Not enough time for that? Go out for a drink at a place you’ve never been to or change your focus and give your surroundings a new angle with your camera.
  • Plan for your next, next trip. If you can’t get enough planning, set your sights on future travels. Don’t get bogged down in details and have some fun with it. You’ll be overcoming one of the obstacles to traveling the world too by figuring out where else you’d like to go.
  • Take a mental break. Don’t drive yourself nuts by thinking about your next trip constantly, squeezing in “one last thing”, or get depressed because “this sucks, I’m ready to be gone.” We all get like that at times but the thing that takes the least amount of work can be the hardest. Let go and appreciate the moments you’ve got so you’ll enjoy here as much as there.
  • Delegate. Instead of tracking your plans like a hawk ask someone else you trust to help you out. Put your fears that you’ve forgotten something aside by running your plans by a friend. If you’re traveling with someone share the responsibilities so you can both have an enjoyable ready-to-go gap.
  • Write about it. It’s always fun to write down your expectations of a particular place before you go and see the differences once you return. If you have a travel blog use the ready-to-go gap to prepare and imaginary trip post.
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Don’t Fight It, Enjoy It

Traveling takes work for most people. You’ve got to save money and make sacrifices (financial and otherwise) to do it. Don’t mope too much before your next trip and enjoy the fact that you were diligent and planned ahead. Reward yourself for being a good planner and take the time to relax, catch up on some other things you’ve been putting off, or go out to that local museum you never knew about. You may even find yourself enjoying and planning for the ready-to-go gap one day.

[photos by: Marcin Wichary, erix!]