Timeless or Time Sensitive?

Lebanon Road Signs

There is an important connection between two key writing questions: “Who is the target audience?” and “Should the writing acknowledge the present moment?” This came to mind while I was working on the short piece below, a sample exercise for a particular writing style. In addressing the topic of international vacations, my first inclination was to write about the impact of COVID-19 on American travel. Yet the bounds of the exercise forbid that approach, and I realized with fresh appreciation that mindful writing can be relevant for a current moment without being time sensitive. In this case, by tackling a perennial or timeless question like “How can I prepare for going abroad?” during a time when most people can only prepare and not actually travel.

Going Abroad? How to Enjoy the Anticipation

For both first-time travelers and seasoned adventurers, anticipating a vacation to a faraway place can bring a rush of emotions — some positive and some negative. Coping with anticipation and making the most of the time leading up to a major trip are a fundamental part of ensuring a successful journey. International vacations can be challenging and life-changing, and the well-prepared traveler will benefit the most. Prior planning prevents poor performance, as an old saying goes, and here are three ways to best use the time before going abroad.


Pick an out-of-the-way location, such as an extra bedroom, and begin packing — even months before your trip begins. This is the perfect opportunity to take your time over small decisions so that you don’t have to tackle them all in the final days. You can lay out bags and luggage; select and sort small supply items; and get a good sense of what you still need to acquire. And along the way, you’ll be able to indulge in thinking about your vacation!

Paperwork and Technology

International travel means documentation and legal requirements. One key reason to put vacation plans in place as early as possible is to allow time for making a list and working through tasks. Just like setting aside physical space for advance packing, prepare by setting aside space in your digital and paper filing systems for tracking such topics as: identification, passports and visas; credit cards and money; airfare and accommodations; and apps and data plans for devices.

Where in the World?

While packing and handling documentation are part of any international trip, the details depend on your destination — and these are only some of the location-specific decisions that you can prepare for in advance. Reflecting on the unique joys and quirks of your vacation locale can suggest areas where you need more assistance and preparation. What are the weather conditions and seasonal factors? What about food, language and customs? Anticipating challenges can help every traveler feel relaxed and eager for what’s to come.