How to mentally prepare for your upcoming Trafalgar trip | REAL WORD

Your next travel adventure is booked, so what’s next? Preparing for the trip of a lifetime, of course! But getting ready for travel isn’t just a physical process of packing clothes and sorting out visas, you also need to feel mentally prepared, and in the right head space to really make the most of your trip.

One person who really understands this is Ilja Kok, a Trafalgar Travel Director working out of Western Europe. Ilja has the pleasure of meeting hundreds of Trafalgar guests every season, so who better to share a few tips than someone who lives and breathes the Trafalgar experience. We caught up with Ilja, to find out the 5 key ways you can mentally prepare for your next big adventure…

1 – Be open to understanding the similarities and differences between people

One of the best things about travelling is seeing how cultures and environments differ so much from country to country. Everything is new when you travel, from the streets, to the houses, to the local people, and questioning why things are different is such an important part of your learning journey. Sometimes the differences we see can be difficult and even upsetting, but this process helps you to understand your own place in the world. It gives a sense of perspective, and a renewed determination to make a positive impact in some way. 

The same can be said for similarities. I sometimes think that travelling with Trafalgar is like a mini United Nations. You can often have 7,8, even 9 different nationalities on one trip, all getting to know each other and sharing similar passions and interests.

For me it’s so wonderful to be able to watch these relationships blossom, and for people to realise just how much they have in common with others from completely different backgrounds. 

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2 – Be open to trying new experiences

If you’re going to bring one thing on a Trafalgar trip, it should be an open mind and a willingness to try new things. Experiences are by far the most valuable thing you can invest your money in, and I can absolutely guarantee you’ll remember the happiness, hilarity, uniqueness or uncomfortableness of an experience far more than the money you paid for it.

Speaking from my personal experience, I can absolutely say that the guests who are willing to try new things and sign up for a whole host of Optionals, are the happiest at the end of the trip. Not only do they make new friends by sharing in a new experience, but they also have a story to tell afterwards. And that’s what we all want, on holiday and in life – to feel like we’ve been a part of something special. As a Travel Director, it’s the best part of my job – helping my guests organise a joyful and memorable trip filled with experiences that are special to them. I know they’re having a great time, and I feel proud to be able to facilitate that for them.

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RELATED CONTENT: 27 reasons why a trip to Europe is good for the soul

3 – Don’t be afraid to be yourself

It’s natural to feel a little shy or nervous on the first day of your trip, but never forget that your story is worth listening to. People want to get to know the real you, so don’t be afraid to be a little vulnerable. Share you story with others, be an active participant in the group, and each day try to push yourself out of your comfort zone just that little bit more.

So often I meet guests on the first day who feel shy and a little awkward, but by the end of the Trafalgar trip they have blossomed into a different person else entirely, full of confidence and self belief.

I even recently received a letter from a past guest, who told me that thanks to the trip she’d just been on, she’d had the confidence to leave a job she hated. Travel does that to you – it’s makes you realise just what you’re capable of!

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4 – Expect the unexpected

Expect the unexpected may sound odd on a trip where all the hassle and organising is done for you, but with Trafalgar, it’s all about the unexpected! Not only do us Travel Directors always squeeze in a few little surprises along the way, pointing out our favourite locals only Hidden Gems and places you’d probably never find on your own, but it’s also how we spend time with the local people that really takes guests by surprise.

We’re not purveyors or culture tourists, but rather we really give our guests the chance to meet, spend time and swap stories with locals who love sharing their homes and livelihoods with us. Never does this feel forced or uncomfortable, but rather these interactions happen in a completely organic way. I think it always surprises our guests, that they can leave a local experience like Be My Guest, feeling like they’ve just visited a friend and been a part of something really special.

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GET INSPIRED: Learn more about Be My Guest

5 – Come with a responsible mindset

The fact that our guests have chosen a Trafalgar trip, already means that they care about the environmental impact of their travels. In Europe we travel almost exclusively by coach, one of the greenest modes of transport, and on every trip our guests will be able to take part in a responsible travel experience that allows them to feel like they’re giving back, and making their travels matter.

But aside from this, there are smaller actions I would encourage everyone to take when preparing for their trip. Pack a reusable water bottle and coffee cup, avoid travel size toiletries as these use up unnecessary plastic, and bring a tote bag to avoid using single use plastic bags. Our e-docs program is also fantastic, and I’d urge any guest to sign up to receive their travel docs via email instead of physical copies, saving on precious paper and helping to plant a tree in the process. As an individual I’m hugely passionate about responsible tourism, so it’s always lovely to be able to meet like minded people who share these passions and interests.

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Keen to learn more about Ilja? You can follow her travels on Instagram @ilja.trafalgar

Do you have any tips you’d like to share for how best to mentally prep for a Trafalgar trip? Share them with out community by posting in the comments below.

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