When I travel, I often find myself planning my next trip before I am even home from the first one. As a student, I am constantly trying to squeeze as many vacations or study abroad trips into my limited breaks from regular classes as I possibly can. While there is absolutely nothing I would rather do than spend my time exploring this wonderful and mysterious world, I can occasionally bite off more than I am able to chew and schedule these adventures a bit too close together. This is what I am experiencing now.
Barely one week ago, I returned home from an intense two-week tour in Ghana with my university chorale. The experience was completely incredible, but I have only just begun to feel as if I am back to normal after a 6-hour time difference, a grueling 32-hour journey from Accra back home to Memphis, and navigating some of the extreme emotions that come with performing our set comprised entirely of African-American spirituals in the courtyards of the colonial forts that were the starting points of the transatlantic slave trade. All of this, and I have to be ready to depart for Havana in three short days. Obviously, I signed up for these experiences knowing how quick the turnaround would be between them (on top of having to move home from college less than a week before I left for Ghana), and do not mistake this post as any sort of complaint about these amazing opportunities. However, despite generally considering myself an experienced traveler, I was unprepared for how difficult this transition would be.
In an effort to be more prepared the next time I inevitably put myself in this situation, I have compiled a list of things that have helped me be prepared to leave again (emotionally, physically, and logistically):
Despite my efforts, it is unlikely that I will feel fully ready by the time I leave for Cuba on Friday. However, simply being aware of that “unreadiness” is a large part of being in the right mental space to depart. I am of course going to carry a part of my last journey with me to Cuba, but I will also be embracing my time in Havana for what it is, without the influence of my past travels. I look forward to my new journey as exactly that—a new journey.