Set priorities, plan, and relax
For most people, the opportunities for travel do overs are rare. How many trips of a lifetime can the average person take? A bad experience (or no experience) at that one important sight or activity could ruin an entire trip, if you let it.
Happily, there are ways to overcome this:
1. Set priorities. What are the most important places? What are the one or two things to see/do that will make your trip? Identify those things and place them prominently in your itinerary. Instead of visiting all of the ancient architectural/historical sites, for example, pick the one or two that interest you the most.
2. Allow extra time for unforeseen situations, like inclement weather, missed connections, and traffic jams. The corollary is to plan light, non-critical activities on the first and last day of the trip. If your flight is cancelled on Monday and your bucket list item is scheduled for Tuesday, you will miss it.
3. Accept the fact that unfortunate delays and miscommunications do occur. It is your attitude that influences how you handle them. The story of how you handled a delay or miscommunication might seem funny when you retell it at home. For example, misreading a road sign in Ireland and driving on a hiking path to the Cliffs of Mohr might cause anxious moments when it happens but it does make a funny story.
4. Have a Plan B. What would be a good substitute for your top place/activity if you miss it? Sometimes Plan B turns out to be better than Plan A.
5. Try to spend 2 nights in each town or city unless the area is small or does not have much that is important to you. Alternately, pick one strategically located town or city as your home base and take day trips from there. For example, from Padova, Italy, you can easily reach Vicenza, Milano, and Verona by train.
6. Relax. Enjoy the travel experience as it unfolds. Sometimes the best memories are a result of unexpected changes.
7. Allow for the possibility of returning at a later date. For most people, thinking that they might return relieves some the stress of ‘seeing it all’. This works especially well if the places you defer to a later time are lower priorities.
(Originally posted in 2011)