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How to Make Your Best Trips Last a Lifetime

travelers on road trip
Allianz - travelers on road trip

Ask your friends, family, co-workers, and perfect strangers the following question:

“Where are you traveling to next?”

If the people you know are like the people we know — including the strangers who are now looking at us funny — then odds are they’re going to paint you a picture of their best trips imaginable.

Voyages halfway around the world to soak in an exotic, sparsely populated island retreat. A midwestern ranch where they can wrangle cattle and a 96-oz. porterhouse. Or an ancestral journey to discover their roots.

Travelers are not messing around. These aren’t weekends in Columbus, Ohio to attend their second cousin’s third wedding. These are big trips with big expectations. And chief among those expectations is creating memories that will last a lifetime.

But how do you go about creating memorable moments with work calling you from two time zones away and distractions waiting around every corner.

You do it very intentionally, that’s how. Here’s where to start…

Don’t Make Trips Memorable For the Wrong Reasons

Travelers don’t look back on their most memorable, best trips and think, “Wow, of all the times that the airline lost my baggage, that was the most excellent!”

Before we talk about how to get long-lasting satisfaction out of your travel, we need to talk about how to avoid all those terrible words and phrases travelers fear most: cancelled, delayed, and even medical evacuation.

Fortunately, we have travel insurance. And a travel insurance plan from Allianz Global Assistance can help transform a trip that seems doomed from the start into a comeback tour you’ll never forget. Consider, for example, the OneTrip Premier plan. With trip cancellation and double the post-departure benefits of other plans, OneTrip Premier can provide peace of mind for those getaways when you’re going the extra mile, whether it’s first-class seating or actual miles. It even has some unexpected benefits, including having a NOAA hurricane warning as a covered reason for trip cancellation. And with SmartBenefitsSM, if you experience a covered travel or baggage delay that fits the bill, you can have $100 per person, per day automatically deposited into an account — no receipts required.

Of course, that’s just one of many plan you have to choose from. Take your time and select the travel insurance plan that best matches your budget and itinerary.1

We should add one more benefit of having a travel insurance plan from Allianz Global Assistance. Often times, just having the peace of mind that you’ve planned for nearly any eventuality is enough to help you kick back, relax, and make some memories.

Live in the Moment

Have you ever been at a crowded event — a parade, concert, or even a boardwalk bustling with street performers — and witnessed the curious sight of someone watching it all through their smartphone camera? We can only assume they’re recording it for posterity. But instead of appreciating all that’s happening right in front of their eyes in the moment, they’re focused on the future — and focused on a tiny viewfinder.

Living in the moment, being present, and mindfulness. Each of these phrases references the concept of suspending fixation on the future and past, and instead fully devoting yourself to the present.

It’s often easier said than done. But as people rethink travel and plan their best trips long put on hold, this theme of mindfulness is popping up time and again.

Here a few ways in which you practice being more present in the moment on your next trip:

  • Leave your smartphone behind. Yes, we went there. We fully understand that traveling without your phone, camera navigational tool, calendar, and music library is interesting as a concept, but difficult to pull off in the real world. But hear us out. Maybe you bring your phone, but attach certain rules. For example, you can only use it for emergencies. Or you can only use it the first and last hour of each day. Maybe you simply uninstall certain apps, such as social networks. Not only are smartphones perhaps our biggest distraction, but by completely disconnecting or limiting their use on a trip we chart a whole new course. Take, for example, the idea of talking to locals for directions instead of relying on the phone’s GPS. Who knows, during your conversation, you might get a free history lesson or a tip for an out-of-the-way restaurant — an unforgettable experience that’s not on dining apps. Likewise, instead of streaming music or movies, force yourself to tune into available TV and radio channels to learn about local life. We do suggest that if you disconnect entirely from your smartphone, to keep one under lock and key or have a landline handy in case of emergency.2, 3
  • Savor every moment. When you hear or read the term “savor,” your mind might recall your favorite meal, whether it was mom’s meatloaf or 6-piece nigiri tasting at Akiko’s in San Francisco.4 As it relates to being present in the moment, savoring is a term psychologists use to focus your senses on the here and now — resisting the temptation to gauge how any part of it measures up to the past or worry about what’s happens next. Research has shown that such behavior can lead to joy and happiness. So, the next time you’re visiting a distant botanical garden, stop and smell the roses (and the gardenias). Resist the urge to take a picture or check your return flight status until you’ve pored over and appreciated every detail in your mind’s eye.5

Capture The Moments (Without Losing Focus)

We just talked about living in the moment, not only sharing how getting caught up capturing photos or video during your best trips can get in the way of making memories, but also that limiting smartphone use can be a tough but liberating experience.

And now here we are suggesting apps for capturing your getaway’s highlight reel. We understand that this may be a bit confusing, hypocritical even. So, before we get into the nitty gritty, let us preface these recommendations with the following caveats: a photo here and there is OK. Sometimes committing our most special travel moment to memory isn’t enough. But as you seek to record them, do so mindfully. For example, maybe you have a designated photographer or videographer each day. Or you can designate specific moments for group shots. Again, the goal is to avoid having the logistics of capturing the moment impact your ability to enjoy it.

Now that we’ve gotten that out of the way, there’s the matter of sharing and preserving these memories. One need not look further than Google Photos for a free, reliable option. While pics are private upon uploading them, you have the option to share them with others. Plus, you can upload an unlimited number photos and videos up to 16 megapixels and 1080p resolution. And if you require more, you can upgrade to a paid tier.6

As for video, don’t overdo it. While you might grab some popcorn for a 3-hour director’s cut of your deep sea fishing trip, it’s not likely to attract much more of an audience. Think quick, snappy videos with music and voiceovers that are ripe for repeat watching. WeVideo is one app to consider here, as the cloud-based video editing platform allows you to easily add music, special effects, and animated text to your video clips. For $4.99/month, you get a solid suite of features and storage capacity. Of course, you can upgrade any time.

Both of these apps work across platforms, so you’re not limited by your device or operating system.7

Here’s one more tip for enjoying all the intangible souvenirs you bring home with you: be at least a little spontaneous. When you’ve already taken a trip in your mind several times before your flight has even departed, living in the moment is a tough feat. We’re not suggesting throwing a dart at a world map and heading wherever it lands. But we are suggesting that even if you’re someone who likes your itineraries totally buttoned up, schedule a few TBD blocks of time.

Buy a train ticket and visit a town you’ve never heard of. Hit a street market and try something you can’t pronounce. Or ask the locals for their suggestions.

The best trips deliver memories that overcome the anticipation. Planning unplanned time with zero expectations is fertile ground for experiencing moments that linger with you well past your arrival home.

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