Pre-Travel Rituals

The All Important Travel Notebook Selection Process

As long as I can remember, I have loved travelling. When I was a kid there was nothing more exciting that going on a weekend fishing trip with my dad or spending the weekend at Grandmom’s. Later there was the uber-excitement of a camping trip with my friend Eddie or with the Boy Scouts.

Ever since those distant days of young travel, I have partaken in a pre-travel ritual. And I have noticed that over the years those rituals have changed a great deal.


Ask Mom where clothes are

Ask Mom what this “laundry” thing is

Pack everything in house in shopping bag

Allow Mom to repack sensible items like toothbrush and pants

Say goodbye to siblings as though I would never see them again


The day before trip lay out everything I deem important on my bed

Find more stuff

Collect every package of junk food available

Make and tick things off of my checklist (nb: this was the first appearance of the checklist, a thing which would become ubiquitous in my life in general, as well as my travel life)

Realize en route that I had forgotten to say goodbye to anyone


Choose backpack, as had found that travelling is much easier if only use one bag and it fits on your back

Lay out everything I want to bring, cut it in half to fit in one bag

Find toiletries, such as soap, deodorant, condoms, toothbrush and paste

Call parents to let them know I’ll be away for a while

On the morning of the trip, check bank account and wallet, wonder how long I can make $6 last and then wonder about this rumor of kindness of strangers

On the way out the door, grab a book


One month before trip, check bank account and wallet, stop eating food

Three weeks before trip make packing and to-do lists

Two weeks before trip check weather and political climate at destination, edit pack list

One week before trip, arrange people to look after my cat and plants

One week before trip, go shopping and do laundry

Four days before trip, make list of medications, creams, and ointments I’ll need

Add foot spray to list above

Two days before, do a practice pack, unpack, pack again, after two dry runs, heavily consider pack list, edit

Look up destination’s spider population; obsessively worry about destination’s spider population

After carefully eking out a notebook so as to ensure I will need a new notebook for the trip, narrow down choice to five or six notebooks, do same with books

Day before, curtain call pack in the morning, afternoon pack while watching comfort TV (Seinfeld)

Day before, choose travel book and notebook

Say goodbye to cat in nearly tearful farewell, call friends or send goodbye messages.

Check oven, toaster, faucets, and plugged-in appliances 20 times


One month before trip, check bank account and wallet, consider life choices

One month before trip, write up a first draft of pack and to do lists

One month before trip, read two books that exemplifies personality of people at destination

Three weeks before trip, watch documentaries on destination

Three weeks before trip, visit doctor, inquire about required vaccinations, get them, get optional ones too

Two weeks before trip, put my affairs in order (i.e. tell my mom I am travelling and get insurance on my bank card

Two weeks before trip, order travel insurance

For next two weeks, tell people about benefits of travel insurance

Two weeks before trip, second draft packing list, add separate list for medicines and toiletries based on plausibility of destination causing stomach ails, constipation, diarrhea, or hemorrhoids, take notice that this list is longer than main pack list

Foot spray

One week before trip, do laundry, clean house, sit cat down and tell her I am leaving for a while, scoop her response out of the litter box

Three days before trip, make final pack list, but allow blank space for last minute edits and called audibles

Two days before trip, pack while watching comfort TV (Frasier) and sipping coffee

Two days before trip, carefully consider all meals and alcohol, nobody needs to have the shits 7 miles above the world or on a bus

Day before the trip, pack again, but carry full bag around the flat to ensure comfort, clean fridge, floors, bathrooms, in case of death would like visitors to have a good (unrealistic) perception of how I kept my flat on a daily basis

Google customs and habits of those at destination so as not to piss them off

Day before the trip, do not eat or drink anything but salad, chicken, and water

Leaving day, make bed, say goodbye to cat, kiss cat, cry, check oven, toaster, faucets, appliances 40 times, take out trash

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