Like a good respectable self-reformist, you decreed upon yourself the commandments that are your resolutions for 2011. One of which includes the desire to ‘travel more’. With a destination picked and dates decided but yet to arrive, you perch on your seat counting the milli-seconds before you take off.
Except travel plans are more akin to a realistic portrayal of a puppy in 101 Dalmatians: conceived in a fit of festivity, abandoned before the Christmas decorations come off, dust-clad and forgotten before maturity - and certainly never been taken out for a walk.
Sceptical I may sound, there are actually ways - trial-and-error-ed ones in fact - to make sure that you don’t give up on your plans mid-way, to give you enough motivation to plan and execute the travelling from start to finish. Give them a try - the difference could be between spending a Sunday afternoon observing either beach-dwelling hot chicks/guys or a Hollyoaks Omnibus.
Steady dosage wins the trip
This is sadly how many exciting travel plans meet their pitfall: all the glamour, exoticness of visiting a dream location are extinguished, their appeal sinking like an obese whale until, eventually, it fades into obscurity.
So you’ve come up with a destination. You’ve given it a set of dates. What there’s all to do is planning, and enduring the period between the dormant stage and the designated time of travelling. Which is most likely the period when these trips find themselves abandoned, neglected, forgotten and unmissed because, well, you’ve lost interest.
What often happens is that you’ve overdone the hype during the planning stage. When you do too much planning in one obesely overbearing effort to get absolutely everything scheduled, you exhaust all the excitement and motivation essential to maintain the level of enthusiasm during the limbo state of anticipation.
Try dissecting your holiday planning into different aspects - transport, accommodation, activities, entertainment - and approaching them in stages. That way you’ll give yourself consistent dosages of eagerness, keeping you as determined when stepping out of home as when the trip idea first occurred to you.
Unleash your inner Indiana Jones
A choice of location is never sufficient - the greater purpose always lies with the action you wish to partake, whether it’s skiing, hurling tomatoes at each other, finding spirituality in a coffee shop, or letting your genitals swagger amidst your fellow naked-runners.
Pick a to-do that is potentially memorable; throw in elements of adventure, adrenaline, unpredictability, rarity and there you have it, a promise of participation too good - and too shameful - to turn your back on.
Never hitchhiked before? Practise clenching your fist into a thumbs-up position and off you go. Adamant you can traverse an entire country solely by cycling? Go lubricate your chains. Think you’re fearless and can hurl yourself off anywhere attached to only a cord or parachute? Do it - I dare you.
Reverse psychology works here too: the more pledges you make, the harder you’ll find backing out courtesy of peer pressure. Now, no one likes to the called a coward or chicken - right Marty McFly?
Praise be to Mark Zuckerberg and his near-complete digital colonisation schemes - if only we prank Bin Laden into getting Facebook - ponds and landmasses are negligible obstacles when it comes down to communication. Similarly, technological wonders like Skype and Twitter allow acquaintances to be made and kept regardless of the mileage between separations.
So use that to your advantage.
Get to know the place even before you get there by rounding up people you know who are familiar with your destination, mobilising your friends, family and relatives who may be there at your time of visit, and commence the chinwag. Psych them up with anticipation of seeing you, in turn allowing them to psych you up to an adventure with some hospitable ground.
Or why not let enter into your life fragments of your heart’s desired location? With Imperial College’s fame as one of the most multi-cultural institutions in the UK, chances are six-degrees of separation will bless you with a connection or two in your destination-of-choice.
A common origin of inspiration for travel ideas: the bookshelves stacked full with ultramarine spines and their orangey counterparts. Predictably, delving into a Lonely Planet or Rough Guide is probably seldom the starting point of travel preparations.
Though some people swear by that, they’d sooner conduct intercourse with a duck than use a travel guidebook.
Loather of where-to-go’s or not, literature is an ideal means of beginning your research on your destination, which, in particular for countries and continents you have yet to be physically introduced to, is sometimes a life-and-death essentiality. If you so wholeheartedly despise being held by the leash, fret not still - there are many other forms of literature at your disposal.
Highly likely is that every inch of the globe has been written about at least once, whether in fictional or non-fictional accounts, depicting current affairs or history, focusing on natural habits or human population. Choose a field of your interest and seek a book on a similar subject of your planned destination - guaranteed to prolong your fascination into outliving your impatience.
A good place to start the literary treasure hunt is your loyal Lonely Planet and Rough Guide, which generally include a to-read list for its reported destinations. Alternatively browse for travel blogs - perhaps quality is not always ensured, but once in a while do some genuine gems crop up. Also try online travel publications like MatadorNetwork and BootsNAll.