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Plan your work and work your plan

A wise world language department chair in Gwinnett County Public Schools told me this one day, and I think she is spot on. You have to have a plan, but you have to be willing to adapt that plan to the unexpected circumstances that occur in the moment. This sums up the past year.

Taking that thought a bit further: I have to get used to the idea of traveling again; in some ways I feel like such a greenhorn. The last time I was outside Georgia was Wednesday, February 26, 2020 (Ash Wednesday), when I woke up in Heusenstamm, Germany and flew home to Atlanta. Since then I haven’t been outside Northwest Georgia – and I used to fly around 75,000 miles each year. My head spins when I think of everything that has happened since February 26, 2020.

As such, this opportunity is helping me dissect what it means to travel, to learn, and to reconnect. I have to relearn so much of what I took for granted. As I joked with many pre-pandemic, I would go into “robot mode” as soon as I got to the Atlanta airport. It was familiar. I didn’t have to think – it was all a behavioral reaction to the situation/location. That has been turned on its ear, like so much during the pandemic. But there is hope.

Last week I found myself dumbfounded about this upcoming road trip. What should I take? Where should I stay? What is my route? There have been so many questions. I feel like the student who has had 3 years of language study and is now getting ready to embark on an adventure in the target language and culture…. only so much time has passed you’re not sure you know what to do and what you know. I honestly opened up my travel toiletry kits and thought, “How did I do this?”

Knowing that many of you are in the same predicament as me, here are some of the things I’ve learned while getting ready to spread my wings for the first time in 15 months. I hope they help you as we all prepare for a post-pandemic world.

Make lists

  • I took a spiral notebook and made pages for each of the major things I needed to think about again: toiletries, clothing, technology. I’ve kept adding things as I think of them, and I cannot believe some of the things I’ve forgotten. Of course, there is also a list for “COVID-19”, since I’m not sure what I’ll encounter on the way.


  • Half the fun of traveling is in the preparation. Therefore, I’ve tried to wallow in it. I find myself going into rabbit holes exploring what to see, do, and eat in some of the places I plan to visit.

Search for places you think you’d like to visit and see what’s open

  • Purchase a hard copy atlas (for me that would be a large scale atlas since I’m middle aged). I like my car GPS as much as the next person, but I also like to see the big picture – and that’s only possible with an atlas

  • Research what’s open – for example, despite multiple recommendations I realized that the only distillery open in Tennessee is Jack Daniel’s – and masks are required.

  • Be ready to expect the unexpected

· Acknowledge things have changed

  • Hotels that offer “free breakfast” may only be offering pre-packaged items due to COVID; this hadn’t dawned on me until a friend mentioned it earlier this week

  • We are going to have to be flexible and adapt

Next post will be about packing tips and considerations, in case you’re interested. Thanks for following me and my journey!



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