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The Waiting Game: How Not to Lose Your Mind Before a Trip

waiting travel

Maybe I am borderline ADD, but for me there is nothing worse than waiting around for something.

Waiting for a ride somewhere; waiting for a friend to show up for a coffee date, waiting for the next Game of Thrones season (10 days woot woot!) or waiting on a trip or big move abroad sometime in the near distant future. Waiting, waiting, waiting. It’s something no one can avoid and something everyone has to deal with, but for me, waiting around almost always SUCKS.

Right now thousands of anxious Americans (and other English speakers) are waiting around to hear from the Spanish Ministry of Education about whether or not they’ve received a spot in Spain next fall as an English teaching assistant. Even if you aren’t moving to Spain in October, these ideas are universal. What is life if not one giant game of waiting around for something, someone, anything!

How do you combat the seemingly endless string of days? How do you keep from losing your mind while you wait for some momentous event in your life?

Here are my 5 tips for staying sane while you wait for a big trip, move or moment in your life:

waiting travel

1. Start planning your trip!

Nothing whiles away the hours like planning for the trip of a lifetime! Start googling wherever you’re going and waste hours on TripAdvisor forums. Go hunt down some travel blogs and bombard them with questions. Why not pick up a guidebook for the country you’re visiting? Do people even still read paper books anymore (besides me)? Half the reason I love Lonely Planet so much is how good the paper smells (god, I can’t believe I just admitted that!) Go pin some photoshopped photos and inspiration travel quotes to remind yourself of your upcoming adventures!

For me, planning a trip is half the fun and the bane of my existence. Who knew the two could live in harmony?

For the longest time I used to just avoid any and all trip planning and just wing it. Like, I wouldn’t even book a hotel in advance and just show up in a new city and find one. Then I stayed in the hostel from hell, Thanksgiving weekend, London, 2007, and my plans changed. Whether I am looking for a hotel in the Costa Brava or a day tour in Turkey, I have learned the hard way that it’s not the end of the world to plan in advance and you can still be spontaneous while traveling.

waiting travel

2. Connect with other travelers or auxiliars

Another good way to keep from losing your mind before a trip is to connect with other travelers or auxiliars. Before I moved to Spain in 2010, I didn’t really know that many people who had done the program; it wasn’t very well known back then. Luckily, I was able to connect with a friend of a friend who would also be in Andalucía in the south like me, so we started to talk about anything and everything before our departure. Once I arrived in Spain, we became fast friends, visiting each other over the course of the year. Without her, I know how much harder that first year would have been.

It’s important to connect with other people and not isolate yourself completely when moving abroad. Some people like to shun other Americans while traveling, looking for the most “authentic, local” experience as possible, and while that may work for some people, I think it’s important to find a healthy balance. I know a handful of ‘mericans who profess how much they hate hanging out with other Americans while traveling (I used to be like that about 5 years ago-shudder) but that kind of thinking pretty backass in my opinion.

Even the most extroverted people get lonely moving abroad – don’t let your desire to acclimate ruin possible friendships and life support. By building relationships with both fellow countrymen and new people wherever you’re going, you’re most likely to have the best time of your life; trust me, I’m speaking from experience.


3. Accept that there is only so much within your control

Everyday I see people’s nerves on edge in the million Facebook groups. “When do you think we’ll get our placements?” “I wonder what my chances are for getting placed in Asturias?” “My number 1825 was just changed to admitida.” “Has anyone flown with RyanAir?” and my all-time personal favorite “do they have tampons in Spain.”

Chill the HELL out guys! Seriously.

Ok, I know I am total hypocrite here considering the fact that I don’t know how to A. chill out about anything B. chill out with anything concerning Spanish bureaucrats or C. WAIT for an answer that is entirely out of my control. 7

Suffice it to say, I hate waiting but if you are going to be an auxilar, you have to learn to accept it.

I like to think of the Spanish government as a petulant child. If you ask for a favor, they say no out of spite. If you try to push them, they run the other way. If you try to point out something they messed up on, they blame someone else. Or they just ignore you. That seems to be the most popular response I’ve gotten from Spain over the years.

You’re not going to get an answer. If you do get an answer, don’t believe what they say because there is a 75% chance it’s completely incorrect.

My best advice is to make sure you have submitted everything correctly, then forget about it because there is absolutely NOTHING you can do until you receive a regional placement. Also, bear in mind there are sarcastic tarts like myself who troll these Facebook groups and repost the dumbest comments on Twitter @GuiriBullshit. So be careful, think twice before posting, and search your question first. Rest easy in the knowledge that you will get an answer, just on their terms and usually when you least expect it.


4. Do extra work to start saving now

If I have learned two things over 6 years of travel it’s that you can never have too much money AND running out of money while traveling is just about the worst thing that can happen.Cue awful Skype call:

“Hi mom! I know I haven’t called in a while, but I need a big favor….”

Ugh, nothing hurts my self ride more that that call. I’m an empowered, strong solo female adventure traveler. I’ve been to almost 30 countries and I can speak 4 languages but I can’t pay my student loan bill. MOOOOOOOOOOOOM!


Luckily, I’ve been getting better and better about my finances (wahoo) and I have higher credit card limits (JK-not really) but if you are traveling long-term, or even short-term, you should always have a little cushion.

Take a part-time second job, babysit on the side, cut out a spending habit, but do something so that at the end of the day when an unexpected expense pops up (because shit happens) you are prepared.

If you are coming to Spain as an auxiliar, you need to be extra prepared since the Spanish government has gotten into the nasty habit of not paying you on time. I have built an entire page of resources for you all to use. Go look at it. Use it. I didn’t spend half a day on it for shits and giggles.


5. Forget about your trip for a minute or two and enjoy the present

In the past, I would get occasionally so inwardly focused on a trip or just on myself really (I am/was inherently a very selfish human being) that I would neglect to live in the moment. Isn’t that the mantra that all travel bloggers profess from here to the moon and back? Live in the now. You only have one life. Do it while you can blah blah yaddity yah. YOLO – You Only Live Once. Ok, while living in the middle of nowhere in northern Spain last year, I missed the whole #YOLO hashtag trend that conquered the known world. Subsequently, in my head I always think YOYO – You’re Only Young Once – doesn’t that sound so much better?

waiting travel

Well here’s a big secret, most traveler writers are total hypocrites and suck at YOYO, YOLO, or even following their own advice, me included. We get so caught up in instagramming our trips, planning future blog posts, contacting people for a trip in 6 months, that we forget to live in the moment. So while you know that you will be in Spain or abroad sometime soon, don’t forget to hang out with your friends and family back home, eat your favorite meals, visit your favorite spots because 6 months from now you might be missing them something fierce. And my last piece of advice: eat a bagel as often as you can. Lots of bagels. You can’t get a decent one anywhere within a 50 miles of the Spanish border.

How do you keep from losing your mind waiting for a trip or an important event? Dish!

waiting travel


40 Responses to The Waiting Game: How Not to Lose Your Mind Before a Trip

  1. Casey-A Cruising Couple March 21, 2013 at 12:26 pm #

    I know I’m definitely guilty of being extremely impatient, which means waiting for an upcoming trip is so so painful! I think the most important thing is to remember to live in the present, like you said. Who knows when you will return to whatever place you are now!

    • Liz March 21, 2013 at 3:56 pm #


  2. Alex @ ifs ands & butts March 21, 2013 at 12:44 pm #

    Is it weird that I always go into trips with minimal expectations so they aren’t hard to exceed? I just hate being let down. But I do always spend time before trips plan plan planning and save save saving and buy buy buying trip items (which does seem to contradict the saving I just said I do).

    • Liz March 21, 2013 at 3:56 pm #

      Sounds like you and I are the same person!

  3. Michael Powell March 21, 2013 at 1:07 pm #

    I’m right at #5 now. Totally enjoying what I have at home and the social aspects as I know, in just over 2 months (yikes), I’ll be a long, long way away and jetting off by myself.

    Still plenty of time to plan and pack 😀

    • Liz March 21, 2013 at 3:56 pm #

      Where you off to? Spill!

      • Michael Powell March 21, 2013 at 5:51 pm #

        Short story: Starting my travels around the end of May. Dubai, Sri Lanka, Singapore and other areas of SE Asia, and ending up staying in Australia for a while.

        Extended story: All being well, all of the above, plus NZ, Fiji, Hawaii and on to your native land (which I’m actually the most excited about!).

  4. Hannah March 21, 2013 at 1:13 pm #

    I know exactly what you mean! I leave for Spain in mid-August for a year teaching with CIEE in Spain, and I feel I have been devoting all my time and energy to planning. I too always seem to profess the YOLO sentiment, yet here I am planning, preparing, living in the future. Your blogs are always so helpful and relatable! Keep them coming!!!

    • Liz March 21, 2013 at 3:55 pm #

      Thanks girly xx

  5. Trevor Huxham March 21, 2013 at 2:04 pm #

    Yes, yes, yes, yes, and yes. Re: accepting that there is lots outside your control—last year while waiting, I had to keep repeating that I had held up my end of the deal (gotten admitida and all), so the ball was in Spain’s court, so to speak.

    • Liz March 21, 2013 at 3:54 pm #

      It’s so hard but it’s true!

  6. Charlie March 21, 2013 at 3:50 pm #

    Yes, with 10 months to go before my rtw trip, I’m totally trying to keep my sainty right now. I find blogging is great for incorporating #1 &#2. Reading blogs for inspiration & writing to get plans order. Trying to focus on #5 right now as I know I’ll miss Montreal when I leave. And it’s so true about patience required for visa/immigration stuff! Great advice!

    • Liz March 21, 2013 at 3:54 pm #

      Thanks Charlie 🙂

  7. Mike March 21, 2013 at 4:46 pm #

    I definitely need to do a better job at number 5. I’m waiting to teach in Spain, and I think I’m spending all my time researching everything there is to know while I should be relaxing and enjoying the now. There are many things that I won’t have, including my family and friends, in Spain next year so I need to enjoy them now. Thanks Liz!

    • Liz March 21, 2013 at 9:49 pm #

      It’s important to not forget where you are right now while getting caught up in trip planning 🙂

  8. Dina March 21, 2013 at 5:40 pm #

    This is a great post. I was wondering who was behind the GuiriBS twitter! 😉 I’m in the waiting period too, living SO much in the future with budgeting, planning, etc. I’ve been planning for almost a year already, so I’m ready to just go already! I have learned through a handy spreadsheet on the 2013-14 Auxiliares group page that I’m pretty much the oldest auxiliar in the group, as I’ll be 30 by the time I get there. I’ll probably be the mother hen to the other auxiliares in my town, if there are any. 🙂

    • Liz March 21, 2013 at 9:49 pm #

      haha I am not behind it but I know who is, and I may or may not occasionally contribute 😛

  9. Mindi March 21, 2013 at 6:32 pm #

    I strongly agree with/ recommend the idea of getting another job! I did and don’t regret it at all! It kept me (and my mind) busy and has made this year in Spain way easier!!

    I’d also suggest making goals for the year- both emotional and physical. I made a list of things I wanted to do, and although I won’t be able to do them all, it’s helped to keep me focused. I also made a list of more personal growth goals. I look back at them sometimes and see how much I’ve changed in one year (not even!)

    • Liz March 21, 2013 at 9:50 pm #

      really good point about the goals! I do the same thing though I always feel guilty when I don’t live up to some of them :/

  10. The Travelogue March 21, 2013 at 8:51 pm #

    Thanks for the eye-opening post. I tend to live from one vacation to the next and get a little depressed (okay, really depressed) if I don’t have something on the books. So jealous you’re headed to Spain!

    • Liz March 21, 2013 at 9:51 pm #

      Hey! I actually just left Spain this was for a lot of my fellow friends who are heading over in the fall 🙂

  11. amelie88 March 22, 2013 at 1:53 pm #

    I’m only leaving a post here solely to comment on bagels. Bagels are my life and I missed them SO much when I was in Spain. My friend and I even made some one night (they take a long time to make) but they were amazing! I now work at an office that provides fresh bagels every Wednesday morning which I forget most of the time. Such a nice surprise to come in every week and see the bagels!

    Oh and I was just as confused by YOLO when I came back. I had to resort to urban dictionary to figure out what it meant haha.

    • Liz March 22, 2013 at 5:47 pm #

      hahah Bagels forever <3

  12. Elle-Rose Williams March 23, 2013 at 7:58 am #

    I’ve been waiting for the second half of my RTW trip for about a week now – just literally counting down the days. We’ve packed up our flat, sorted everything out… now we just have to wait to leave. I’ve never known a week to drag so bad!

  13. Matt@Operation421 March 31, 2013 at 11:17 pm #

    Absolutely brilliant article! Myself, my wife and our two best friends (also married) have the biggest adventure of a lifetime coming up in 9 weeks and time is DRAGGING! It’s hard when you keep thinking “OK, 9 more weeks at my job then I won’t be working again for a long long time”, well I guess maintaining a site is a full time job as you probably know! lol It’s exciting, but darn it if it isn’t like Christmas eve every single night!

    • Liz April 4, 2013 at 1:13 am #

      I am in the exact same boat as you 😀

  14. Sarah P | Travelling Is My Passion April 4, 2013 at 11:07 am #

    Hi Liz, I hate waiting too – for holidays, for exam results, for just about anything!!

    The best year of my life (to date) was when I studied abroad in the UK and I traveled every weekend!! Waiting featured very little that year since I was traveling at such a whirlwind (but still completely enjoyable) pace!

    I barely had time to digest one trip before I was flying off to my next destination – and whilst I was quite tired at times, I wouldn’t have it any other way! It was life being lived to its fullest, every single day and I really hope to recreate that lifestyle in the future again!

    I love your site and I’m pretty hooked – looking forward to reading through some of your older posts too! Thanks for sharing!

  15. Suki April 16, 2013 at 9:35 am #

    Hey Liz! the very first picture on this post… where was it taken?? I neeeed to go there ASAP!

    • Liz April 16, 2013 at 10:41 am #

      Hey Suki, it’s in Cataluña Spain on the Costa Brava in a place called Tossa del Mar, go there! I will be writing about it soon xx

  16. Hannah April 20, 2013 at 5:16 am #

    Hi Liz! I just wanted to say your blog is probably the most amazing thing I’ve read in a long time. I’m 18 and I’ve worked really hard to go to three countries (London, Dublin, Belfast) and I’m leaving to live in Spain with a host family in a month. Not only is your blog completely inspiring (seeing that other people with wanderlust actually exist) but I can’t thank you enough you all of the Spain posts- I’ve even taken notes on some!

    • Liz April 21, 2013 at 7:28 pm #

      Thanks Hannah!

  17. Koh Phi Phi Don Offers July 3, 2013 at 3:48 am #

    It’s the best time to make some plans for the future and it’s time to be happy.
    I have read this put up and if I may I desire to suggest you
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  18. Megan July 22, 2013 at 7:26 pm #

    I really appreciate this post, especially the part about living in the present. It’s so easy to get caught up in the future. Thanks for the reminder!

  19. Israel March 16, 2014 at 10:04 am #

    The first photo, the one that overlooks the roofs and beach, is located where? Love your blog!

  20. Caitie April 17, 2014 at 3:51 pm #

    “And my last piece of advice: eat a bagel as often as you can. Lots of bagels.”

    That bit is so on point! I got back in October from spending 10 months in Spain and still haven’t gotten my fix of bagels… I missed them so much! I even got my (Spanish) boyfriend hooked on them when he came to visit in January. I’m considering bringing a separate checked bag in September just for bagels <3

  21. Mckenna meyers April 29, 2015 at 3:22 am #

    Mine is in less then 24 hours Hahn can’t wai

  22. Cat February 15, 2016 at 7:57 am #

    Ok…so I know that this comment is late and all…but I could use some advice. I went to Ireland last fall, and before I went I couldn’t stop thinking about it and waiting for it and all. Then, by the time I got there, it wasn’t as fun because I had been going crazy over it. I’m going to Scotland in a year…and right now I’m super excited and want to look up everything to do, but I know that I’ll be disappointed if I go there and don’t do the stuff I’m finding online. I want to be surprised on the trip, but can’t stop thinking about it…what do I do?

  23. Samara April 30, 2016 at 2:20 pm #

    Searching back again to my earlier years, I think they molded me into
    the Income Guru.


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