The Seven Stages Of “Pre-Travel”

“It’s all about the journey, not the destination.”

We hear this saying all the time. Some argue it’s about the destination, others that it’s all about the journey getting there. It’s different for different people. But whilst this debate has been roaring on not much has been said about the what it’s like before the whole thing kicks off, or the “Pre-Travel” phase as I’ve coined it. As such, and with my own leaving date suddenly sprinting towards me, I’ve come up with the “Seven Stages of Pre-Travel.” Seven stages that you tend to experience up until your adventure really begins:

1. BOOKING ELATION

You actually went and booked it! You might have done something insanely spontaneous (In my case alcohol is usually involved) or you’ve been thinking about this for ages and you’ve finally bitten the bullet. Either way, the money’s gone, your ticket’s booked and you’re filled with pure excitement. There are so many possibilities of what could happen, where you could go, who you’ll meet! You tell anyone and everyone that you’re going and this novelty wont wear off for a long time.

2. FANATICAL DAYDREAMING

Travel Map.jpg

You know your destination, and now you’re thinking about all the mind-blowing places you’re going to be seeing. You write lists of places you’re desperate to visit, find their locations and think about possible routes to take. Some of you might book hotels and plan out every little detail, that’s absolutely fine, others might just think up ideas and leave it at that. Either way this stage is amazing! You spend your days looking up exciting places and then day dream about being there. You watch youtube videos and read reviews and it becomes unbelievably difficult to focus on anything else. This carries on right up until…

3. THE STRESSFUL BIT

It’s getting closer now! Visas need to be sorted out. If you’re going for a long time you might have to sort out credit and debit cards. International tariffs for your phone might have to be changed. Does your passport need renewing? This stage has lots and lots of forms (Especially if you’re trying to get a Chinese working visa like me!). There’s no denying it, this stage can get annoying. There’s that fear that your visa might get declined and you’re suddenly worrying about if you have enough money to do everything you want. It’s not entirely in your own hands yet. If your visa gets declined or you suddenly realise you actually have no money, you can’t go. Things can still go wrong and you’re waiting on other bodies to give you the green light. And then all of a sudden, it’s done! Everything’s sorted and now it’s entirely on you!

4. COMMITED

“Twenty years from now you will be more disappointed by the things you didn’t do than by the ones you did do.” – Mark Twain

This is probably where I am right now. A mix of here and stage five. All the documents are sorted and you’re just waiting to go. You’ve been waiting for so long for your leaving date and now all of a sudden it’s right here, staring you in the face. There are no more hurdles to trip over, no more third parties that might interfere with your plans. You’ve gotta be committed to this or your bail out on your own rights. It’s a huge mix of excitement and terror. Everyone’s afraid of the unknown and that’s exactly where you’re headed. But we all know that’s where all the best stories lie.

5. THE LONG GOODBYE

Who knows how long you’ll be gone for? You’re planning for six months but if you find some work  you could be gone for years and there’s all these friends you wont be seeing in the meantime. This awkward feeling that best friends could become long lost friends and how it will definitely be different by the time you get back. You must now squeeze seeing all of your mates one last time before time runs out. Who knows what you’ll both be like by the time you get back? By the next time you see each other you could both be married with kids! (If you’re anything like me, lots of drinking will happen now).

6. THE FINAL DAY

“I watched the sun rise over the M25, illuminating a scene I’d passed through a thousand times before. As I squinted out at the familiar details I usually ignored, I was struck by the urge to memorise how it felt to be in England. I wanted to remember it all.” – Lauren Juliff – ‘How Not To Travel The World.’

All of a sudden every day objects becomes very important. You start feeling nostalgic about practically anything. “This will be the last time I see that Tesco’s.” You’ll go and have your favourite meal (My mums roast lamb…..words cannot describe how good it is!) and spend all of your time with the people you’re closest to. Everyone will eventually head to bed and you’ll lie awake thinking about the next day.

Oh and at some point you’ll probably pack.

7. AND YOU’RE OFF

“Almost from the moment I boarded my flight, life in England became meaningless. Seat-belt signs lit up, problems switched off. Broken armrests took precedence over broken hearts. By the time the plane was airborne I’d forgotten England even existed.” – Alex Garland – ‘The Beach.’

For some people it’s when the plane is airborne for others it’s when they leave the house. For me it’s right after I’ve walked through security and left everyone else behind. That’s it. You’re travelling now! No one on the other side of security can come through and you’re not about to head back. You could be in any random airport, anywhere else in the world. It’s started. Go grab some food, have a drink or two and get on the plane. Adventure awaits!

Plane sunset.jpg

The China We Never See: 14 Photos Of Unusual Chinese Locations

Considering China’s huge size and population (Not to mention it’s new found global importance) I’ve found that most of us actually know very little about the country. We’ve all  heard of Beijing, Shanghai and ‘The Great Wall,’ however after these most of us tend to run out of places to name.

So since I’ll soon be returning to the Middle Kingdom I thought I’d share with you some of the best, if slightly more obscure, places the country has to offer. Enjoy!

 

1. Zhangye Danxia National Geological ParkZhangye Denxia Land Form

2. Changbaishan Tianchi Lake

Changbiashan Tianchi Lake

3. Zhangjiajie National ParkZhangjiajie National Park

4. Yangshuo Rice TerracesIMG_3867

5. Dushanzhi Grand CanyonDushanzi Grand Canyon, Xinjang Province

6. Mount HuangshanMt Huangshan

7. Yulong River

Yulong River.jpg

8. Foshan Seated Buddha

Seated Buddha Foshan.jpg

9. ZhangyeZhangye.jpg

10. Taklamakan Desert

Taklamakan Desert.jpg

11. JiuzhaigouJiuzhaigou.jpg

12. Hangzhou

Hangzhou Pagoda Bridge

13. Fenghuang Ancient Town

Fenghuang Ancient Town.jpg

14. Blue Moon Valley

Blue Moon Valley.jpg

For a country over the size of nine million kilometres there is still far more to see in China! If you have any more suggestions of places you’ve been that you’d also recommend please do share them with us and I’ll try to see them during my next stay!

Being A Bad Traveller: 8 Ways To Piss Off Your Mates After Travelling

So you’ve just got back from that trip of a lifetime, you’re trying to get back into that routine but you just can’t shake your post trip blues. Here’s eight sure fire ways to annoy your friends in the process:

  1. Simply don’t stop talking about it! Just remember literally any conversation can be spun back round to your two week stint in Thailand. “Have you seen the new Game Of Thrones episode?” “Nah man, they didn’t have a TV in our hostel. I did meet this guy Mark in Koh Phangan. He said he’d been to one of the locations they filmed at! Ah he was such a laugh, you’d have loved him. Funny story: So we’d just taken some shrooms at this full moon party…….”
  2. Pronounce everything relating to your trip in its original mother tongue. “We took the train from Valenthia to Bartheylona after eating some incredible Pie-Ay-A.” Valencia, Barcelona, Paella. You get the gist.

    Thailand Beach Photo
    To be fair Thailand is pretty awesome!
  3. Compare everything to where you were. Especially the price of things! “You paid how much for that beer? You could get a whole crate for that price in India!”Nothing quite improves the experience of paying a fiver for a pint than your mate, still fully clad in harem trousers, pointing this out. Which leads us nicely on to….
  4. Continue to wear clothing from your travels. Yes it might be comfortable. Yes it might remind you of your travels but my God it’s mid January and you’re wearing shorts, a straw hat and a vest adorned with “Eat Sleep Rave Repeat!”
  5. Attempt to speak the language of the country you were just in. You’ve just had two weeks in Minorca and have undoubtedly mastered Spanish. Now you’ve got a hot date you’re trying to impress and she’s picked a Mexican restaurant. Showtime! Of course it doesn’t help that your waiters name is Billy, he’s never been to Spain nor can he speak any Spanish. Plus you’ve just tried to order “Three large umbrellas.”Smooth.
  6. Point out how other people only go on “Holidays” and their trips certainly do not count as “Proper Travelling!” “You haven’t really visited a place until you’ve stayed with the locals…… in the jungle…..in a shack…..with no roof or running water….and definitely no electricity. Everything short of that is essentially just going for a two week stint at a five star hotel!”
  7. Photos Photos Photos! Better than that make a slideshow! And what better way to improve it than some cultural backing music. Or just use the tried and tested theme tune from ‘The Beach.’
  8. Tell everyone how they need to go travelling! You might have only been to Amsterdam for the weekend but that doesn’t matter. You are now the master of travelling and it is required of you to pass on this new found wisdom!

There’s plenty more techniques to annoying your mates after you’ve been travelling these are just the ones that first sprang to my mind (Definitely not because I’m guilty of a whole bunch of them..). If you’ve got any more I’d love to hear them!

Still in spite of all the above you really do need to go travelling! Make sure it’s travelling travelling though and not just a holiday….

Jamaican Homer