It’s difficult to believe that three weeks from today we will be setting off on yet another European adventure. There was a point when I never thought this would be possible again. It has been almost three years since our fateful return from the last adventure which didn’t exactly go as planned by any stretch of the imagination. During this time, I retired, we packed, we moved, we sold a house and bought a new one. We’ve reorganized our daily routine to fit our retired life and new location. All the while, these activities were overshadowed by great effort and concern towards resolving the issues with my health. Today, I am happy to report that my very rare autoimmune disease is in remission with only maintenance doses of the magic drug infusion required every six months. I will never be “back to normal”, but I think I’ve arrived at my “new normal” and I’m satisfied with that. It’s time to really move on. As a friend recently commented about the transitions in her own life, “It’s not a new chapter. It’s a new book.” That’s exactly how I feel.
Planning and organization are my thing! I’m sure I picked up these strategies by osmosis from my mom who used them daily to exercise some control over her ever-changing life which involved constantly packing, moving, and setting up house again to accommodate Dad’s work. They are concepts essential to a successful business model but can be applied to any endeavor including moving and travel.
The key is planning ahead! For every one of our long trips ranging 6-8 weeks, I have begun researching almost a year in advance. Of course, these days, the internet makes this task infinitely more approachable than it ever was though you can get overwhelmed with information. I also download books to my Kindle and check out books from the library. In the process, I take lots and lots of notes and make many, many lists using my favorite apps…
• Notes – I use this for lists (love the interactive check-off circle) & specific itineraries. It’s especially easy to read and refer to on my phone when I’m out and about and don’t want to be an obvious tourist.
• Notes Plus – I enjoy old school handwriting with my new school Apple Pencil for detailed research notes which I only use on my iPad.
• Books – This is where I store all my PDFs related to the trip such as tickets and reservations organized into one Collection.
Even with all this technical wizardry, you need to be careful. Every time there’s a software update, it can potentially cause some items you’ve created or saved to mysteriously disappear. Usually I can figure out how to get them back eventually, but, just in case, I have a neatly organized folder with important hard copies as backup which I take along.
All of this represents hours and hours of work on my part, but I love doing it. I always keep the long-term goal in mind which is to enjoy a great vacation with a minimum of stress and worry. In the end, the experience is so much richer and more rewarding having put in all the time and effort to plan and organize it this way.