journeys: anticipation & preparation

~ on anticipation ~

Part of the thrill of travel is in the anticipation. As soon as the idea takes root in imagination, our curiosity blossoms. We want to immerse ourselves as soon as possible in the journey.  Our date of travel may be far off, but we’re anxious to begin our journey, even if only in our minds.

Perhaps we read novels, memoirs or travel essays set in our destination.  We might read about history, architecture or food. I’ve always loved to read fiction, so tying travel and fiction together seems like a perfect wine-food pairing.  You can find inspiration on my two pages (works in process): books |u.s.a.| and books |international a-z|.

Maybe we love photography, so we thumb through books by famous photographers such as Ansel Adams, Henri Cartier-Bresson, Dorothea Lange, or others; we might look through travel magazines like National Geographic Traveler or Afar for inspiration.  We may explore photography exhibits at museums.


Hyeres, France (1932) – Henri Cartier-Bresson at the Barnes Foundation

We might be interested in painting or drawing, and so peruse art by Monet, Georgia O’Keeffe, Paul Gauguin and others, in art books or museums.


The Powdered Woman by Adolfo Best Maugard at the Philadelphia Museum of Art

We might watch movies, TV series, documentaries or travel shows set in the locale we’re visiting.  These may draw us in, inspiring us to see a culture in a new light.

Maybe we study a language before traveling to a new culture. Either we take college courses, or a course in adult education, or do self-study courses.  Maybe we simply pick up a few phrases or we delve deep to study the complexities of language.

If we’re taking a road trip, we might make a playlist of music that either mentions our destination, or evokes feelings about it. Music can immerse us as we journey to the place, and keep washing over us once we arrive.  We can create a playlist for other trips too, filled with music endemic to that place, like Fado in Portugal or Spanish guitar in Spain.


Legends Corner, Nashville, Tennessee

Maybe part of our ritual is to prepare a journal we’ll keep when we embark on our journey.  We might create a bullet journal, or draw pictures of our destination, or glue in inspirational artwork, or paste some photos of the place.  Possibly, we create a collage, or make a list of creative intentions for our wanderings: how shall we push ourselves to create something new from our wanderings?

We might pick up nature guides that we’ll use to identify plants or birds native to a particular region.

Possibly we join a group to help us prepare, such as a Meetup Travel Group or an A-Z Book Club that reads books from all over the world; a hiking or rock-climbing group to help us get in shape; or a fellowship like American Pilgrims on the Camino, to learn from others who have done the pilgrimage and want to share their experiences with the uninitiated.

~ how do we prepare for our journey? ~

We probably buy a couple of guidebooks.  We look online for travel guides and blogs. We search for images in magazines or online.

We pin down our dates.  Possibly they’re hazy at first; we only know the time of year we’d like to go. Maybe the first thing we do is book our flights.  Or we might book our first couple of hotels or Airbnb apartments.  Maybe we build our trip around a cultural or natural event, such as Oktoberfest or fall colors or cherry blossom season. Once our money is invested, our journey becomes reality.

Cherry blossoms Japan

Cherry blossom season in Japan

Once the trip dates are finalized, we can start plotting our itinerary, maybe in a journal or a Word document or an Excel sheet.  We make note of the places we want to see, recommended restaurants and entertainment venues.  We try to figure out how much we can see in each day.  Maybe we like to take it slowly, seeing a few sights and then lingering in cafes or bars, or lounging on a beach.  Or maybe we try to see as much as possible.  Will we walk everywhere, or take public transportation, tuk-tuks or carriage rides?

Maybe we buy a map and start plotting our journey.  If we’re taking a road trip, we might use Google Maps to determine driving distances between places.  If we’re using public transportation, we can find transport information on blogs, or travel websites, or again, on Google Maps.

If we are walking on some kind of pilgrimage, or planning a strenuous activity, we might need to prepare ourselves physically, by going to the gym, walking, hiking, climbing, skiing, swimming, surfing or bicycling. We might need to practice carrying a backpack.

Most likely, we need to get our equipment in order: make sure we have the right camera and lenses, that we have an art journal and art supplies, or a voice recorder.  Possibly we want to make sure we have a back up battery for our phone if we’ll use it as our camera.

Finally, we have to pack.  If we’re doing a pilgrimage, such as the Camino de Santiago, we need to pack all the essentials, but keep our backpack as light as possible.  If we’re going on a romantic holiday, we might want to have cute clothes.  Maybe we leave room in our suitcases to buy local clothing. Possibly, if we want to seamlessly meld into a place, we’ll bring along clothing that’s commonly worn in that locale.  If we’re interested in fashion, we might pack cute outfits that we can wear against scenic backdrops, as many photographers do on Instagram.

OR. Maybe we don’t prepare at all.  Maybe we are spontaneous souls who throw ourselves out into the world. We go with the flow, wide open to surprise.


“ANTICIPATION & PREPARATION” INVITATION: I invite you to write a 750-word (or less) post on your own blog about anticipation & preparation for a recently visited or a future particular destination. If you don’t have a blog, I invite you to write in the comments. Include the link in the comments below by Thursday, March 29 at 1:00 p.m. EST.  When I write my post in response to this challenge on Friday, March 30, I’ll include your links in that post. My first post will be about Cape May, New Jersey. 🙂

This will be an ongoing invitation, once weekly and then bi-weekly through April, and monthly after that. Feel free to jump in at any time. 🙂

I hope you’ll join in our community. I look forward to reading your posts!