Famed author Robert Louis Stevenson was a lifelong traveller. After an adolescence traversing the continent, and a courtship chase across the still-untamed America, he ended his years sailing to Samoa and settling there. It was he who coined the phrase “It is better to travel hopefully than to arrive”. Today’s busy jet-setters can be apt to focus entirely on their arrival, where work commitments or holiday enticements await. However, the art of travelling hopefully, making the most of the journey and using this ‘time out of time’ to relax and revive need not be lost in the 21st century.
Firstly, allow plenty of time to reach the point of departure, allowing for traffic hold-ups and unexpected diversions. That way, there is a chance to start to slow down and unwind, avoiding unnecessary anxiety. If you’re travelling by air, consider booking into an exclusive lounge to guarantee a pleasant and comfortable wait.
Modern technology makes it possible to stay switched on and glued to small screens around the clock, but this is not conducive to relaxation. Tackle any imperative work as soon as possible to give yourself the best chance of fully switching off later on. The blue light from a laptop screen will interfere with the hormone melatonin, which aids sleep. If you are flying long haul, particularly from west to east, a spell of restorative sleep will be essential to alleviate jet lag on arrival. Pack an eye mask, noise cancelling headphones and earplugs and control the urge to carry on working once cabin lights are dimmed.
Preparation always has been, and always will be key to establishing peace of mind when travelling. A simple standardised packing list, to be checked off before each departure, can be kept for reference on a smartphone or tablet. For flyers, one’s seat allocation can make the difference between a restful flight and an unhappy experience. Some work the system assiduously to claim a spot next to a vacant seat, or have a strong preference between window and aisle. It is always worth reserving, if only to prevent ending up in the least flexible middle seat.
Changing climes can be a challenge, so it is sensible to dress in layers. A smart appearance is more likely to win a coveted upgrade, but avoid tight, constricting garments and opt for soft fabrics and a loose fit. Pack a warm scarf and socks in carry-on luggage in case the air conditioning turns chilly; the scarf can alternatively serve as an extra pillow.
If time and boundaries permit, consider taking a train instead of a plane. With no lengthy check-in procedures or luggage restrictions, space is often less cramped, particularly on high-speed European services. Watching the world go by offers a rare possibility to do some much underestimated daydreaming. Travel is a suspension between hectic reality and the roles and responsibilities that will reclaim us at the other end. Learning to travel hopefully is a habit that turns hours in transit into more than just rewards points.
For frequent visitors to the same locality, owning a local property there can make sound financial sense. Schedule in a meeting at your nearest Engel & Völkers office or access the E&V website to begin your search for a second home.