ANTICIPATION IS HALF THE FUN
It does not take an eight-year-old kid counting the days down until their trip to Disneyland to know how exciting anticipation can be. In fact, even scientific research shows that waiting for an experience boosts your happiness, and most people value this prospect more than the idea of purchasing something material, though I am sure some of those folks in line for the iPhone 6 would disagree with this statement. Looking forward to going away, too, can sometimes be as fun as being away - most of my trips begin way sooner than when I actually get to the airport/train station or final destination. In other words, you could double the duration of your journey (or any experience, for that matter) just by making the most of your pre-departure time. Expectations? Building some is not necessarily bad!
Just watch the video above, does it not make you want to get up and go somewhere right away? Excitement is an amazing driving force, it can get you anywhere. Whether it is a movie, a book, a person or even just your own imagination, finding the right source of inspiration is the first step. And when it comes to traveling, your sources are endless! Back in the day when I was in high school and could not randomly set off to a far-off land, I would spend hours on Google Earth and Panaramio looking at places that I could not even dream of visiting. The islands of South Pacific (my favourite was Kiribati for some strange reason - watch this short documentary for more), South America, it all seemed like getting there would take a lifetime. I am glad I was mistaken! Yet, that fascination is still going strong to this date. It has been quite a few years since, and in today's world of the Internet, you can even become a virtual tourist before (or instead?) becoming a real one: thus, Google proudly states that "with Street View, you can explore the world at street level". Always wanted to visit Istanbul? Couldn't be easier!
One thing that must be an ultimate excitement-booster is writing a bucket list. Bucket lists are absolutely awesome as they can help you a) get off the couch, b) get your priorities straight, c) make your trip a little bit more meaningful. I've seen other travellers criticise said lists for being a "number of activities to enjoy in the world in order to die happy" (as read here), but in my modest opinion, it is simply about being selective. If you need to be encouraged and need something to push you forward, bucket list is the way to go. Yes, it may challenge you character and strength (climbing a mountain), luck (chasing the Northern lights), and - let’s face it - budget (getting to Antarctica). Some of these goals may call you out on being too stuck in comfort zone, other will require to put more effort and go that extra mile. But isn't that the whole point? Unless you write down something that harms others you are good to go. For bucket list ideas click here.
What will make you the most enthusiastic is, of course, very individual. In my case, some things I usually really look forward to include trying local food, especially products that are impossible to find where I live. It can be something utterly exotic, like durian or jackfruit, or something that will always taste better in the place where it originally comes from - be it the ingredients, the spices or just the experience of something new as such. In the Netherlands, where I am based at the moment, Indonesian cuisine is very common and quite easy to find, but it still is not as good as Indonesian dishes I got to eat in Java. Not that I am a picky gourmand, it is just that traveling can make almost anyone an adventurous foodie.
If you are still not convinced, other options are plentiful: from cultural experiences (think dancing tango in Argentina) to outdoor activities (sky diving above the ocean in Hawaii) and everything in between! Researching your destination(s) beforehand will certainly set you in the right mood and help make a trip-specific bucket list. My current one involves testing as many different kinds of biscuits as possible and Camden market. Happy travels! x