This week, as I simultaneously sink into winter on the farm and prepare for my next adventure, I’ve been reflecting on the idea of how effective impending travel plans are at getting our lives in order.
With a month-long trip to Israel and Jordan coming up next week, I’ve had to think ahead to deadlines and work my tush off to get everything finished on time. Because I know, from bitter experience, how painful not doing that before I leave can be.
There was that time in Zambia when, sitting at the slick Baines’ River Camp on the banks of the Zambezi, I tried desperately to get a travel gadgets column off to an editor on time while I should have been out on an afternoon leopard-spotting safari.
There was that afternoon in Nepal when I very nearly missed seeing the soul-stirring aarti ceremony at the Kathmandu burning ghats, because I was trying to Dropbox a video to an editor using a feeble Wi-Fi network.
And how can I forget the moment I discovered I’d have zero reception for my ten day journey through Mongolia (you’d think that would have been obvious, but for some reason I had expected Wi-Fi on the steppe), knowing I had two stories I hadn’t managed to send off before I left.
Anyway, I think I’ve learnt my lesson. And I now see travel as the ultimate way to get myself organised. Not only does leaving home force me to get my work filed early and my emails sorted, but knowing how much new energy, people, places and things will be flowing in during the trip spurs me to create space in other parts of my life, too.
That means going through my closet and letting go of pieces I no longer love or that no longer serve me, knowing full well that whatever you let go always comes back to you in the same amount. It means sifting through my email subscriptions and cutting off any I no longer find useful, and paying rent and overdue bills, so I can minimise the correspondence I need to sort through once I get home. It means catching up with my nearest and dearest before I leave, so it doesn’t end up being months without connection by the time I get back.
Having done all of this pre-trip organisation and clearing makes us, I think, more present on our journeys. Not having to worry about the deadlines we didn’t meet, the people we didn’t see, or the stuff that’s weighing us down leaves us fresh, open and prepared. So we can let all that juicy energy we’re going to encounter while we’re away flow right on in.