1. Make sure your passport is up to date!
If you haven’t traveled in a while, make sure you check your passport to make sure it is valid for at least 6 months of your return home. Keep in mind that passport wait times can take up to 18 weeks. There is a faster process in case you are desperate, but an added stress that if you can avoid it, is a lot better!
2. Expect your airport experience, and air travel to be a little different than you remembered
We are all in the same boat – or shall we say – onboard the same flight! :). Know that this new normal is new not just new to us as travelers, but to the people you meet behind the check-in desks, the flight crew and the pilots. Everybody is doing their best with keeping up with restriction changes, rules and regulations, not to mention trying to stay safe and healthy themselves. Just relax and enjoy yourself, instead of trying to make it different, or the way you would have done it.
3. Give yourself some more time…and space!
Check-in lines may be longer, and staff may be short! Plan an extra hour on each end, to get through the airport. I’d say try to arrive about 3 hours before your international departure, to be on the safe side!
4. Make copies of all your vaccination records
Check with your doctor’s office and/or health insurance provider if you can get a vaccination certificate signed by your physician. When you got vaccinated, if you were asked to show your medical insurance card, you may find that your health care provider now has these letters loaded on your online personal portal. Check online, or call your doctor’s office or your health insurance member services to find out. Print everything before your journey. Keep together with your other travel documents, as you depart on your next adventure. It is also a good idea to snap a picture of the front of your vaccination card. Make sure the date of each individual shot is visible in the picture!
5. Pack a snack-bag!
You may not find the same level of food service onboard your flight as the last time you traveled internationally. Make sure you pack your favorite snacks with you, in case they run out of pre-packed sandwiches on that trans-continental, or trans-Atlantic flight. Avoid packing nuts, as some airlines have a no-nut policy for allergy reasons.
6. Follow local policies, rules and regulations, while being true to yourself
It’s more fun to travel while keeping an open mind and heart! When you arrive in your destination, you may find that you do not fully agree with their version of how to follow the safety and health guidelines put in place. In such cases, it is important that you maintain your own personal autonomy with what works for you (i.e. wear a mask, keep a distance, wash your hands, etc.), while also remaining flexible and open with what you see and hear from your newfound friends in your host country.
As Rumi so beautifully put it – “there are a thousand ways to kneel and kiss the ground, there are a thousand ways to go home again”.
7. Take care of sleep hygiene, gut health, and eat at the local time!
As always, but maybe even more importantly after not having traveled for a while, remember that sleeping and eating on the right times in your destination will help to get over jet lag. Even if it’s just a couple of hours difference (and I find the older I get :)), the more important it is to adhere to the local times. This means even if you don’t feel hungry, eat when it’s time to have breakfast, go to sleep at bedtime! The health food store carries many good natural products that can help you get your sleep rhythm back to normal. I would also throw in a good full spectrum pro-biotic formula that doesn’t have to be refrigerated. Take one each morning, or before each meal, to make sure your gut stays healthy during your trip. It makes a big difference!
8. Have compassion. Show empathy. Be kind.
Cultural differences in perception, values, communication, speech, language capabilities, eye contact an non-verbal cues, are just a few ways in which we can stumble into misunderstanding with the people we meet, and other aspects of the external world around us. With mask wearing, the verbal as well as non-verbal cues may be even more difficult to read. Let go of expectations and slow down! Be generous and patient with yourself and those you meet. Seek to understand, before needing to be understood. When in doubt or when agitation shows up, breathe!
The Havana Jazz Festival is still planned for mid-January. We have extended the registration deadline for this journey until October 30.
Travel safely – I hope to see you soon!
Cross Cultural Journeys