These are my favorite things to mentally pack when headed over the ocean blue:
1. An Open Mind
Australians sometimes don't realise until they travel just how lucky they are to live in such a clean country with universal healthcare. Even if you're headed to another First World country, you should be prepared to see (and smell!) things that may shock or disturb you. Poverty, beggars, thieves, gypsies, garbage, sewerage - you'll need to keep an open mind and realise not everywhere is just like home.
2. A Sense of Adventure
If you're not traveling for work, you're probably traveling to see new things, new places, experience the world - don't forget to bring along your sense of adventure! Being overly cautious can sometimes mean you'll make decisions you regret later. Try the street food! Visit that remote temple. Talk to the locals. You'll get so much more out of the experience.
3. Common Sense
Point 2 should be tempered by point 3. Yes, be adventurous and take advantage of exciting opportunities, but always apply common sense. If that bungy jumping operation doesn't look like it's had any HS&E inspections lately, perhaps don't do it. Likewise give a miss to things like drinking the local water if travel guidelines say it's unsafe. And don't believe the taxi driver when they try to tell you that major tourist attraction is closed! I once nearly missed out on seeing Bangkok's Grand Palace because of a cheeky tuk-tuk driver!
I heard once there's an unofficial second motto of the US Marines: "Semper Gumby". It's a joking way of reminding themselves to be flexible. When you're traveling, circumstances can change at a moment's notice. Connections get missed, weather ruins plans. Scaffolding happens.* Don't let these things ruin your day! Look for alternatives and make the best of any situation of possible.
5. A Backup Plan
When things upset your itinerary or that museum you wanted to visit is closed on the only day you're in the city, it helps to have a backup plan. If you suspect a certain something you'd like to do might be closed/inaccessible/impossible, think of some alternatives. Don't go Clarke Griswald on everyone! Google is your friend, more so now than the large Lonely Planet tome we used to cart about. A good backup plan saves a lot of worry and anxiety!
With these tips in your mental kitbag, you're sure to have smoother travels. I've navigated my way though multiple travel disasters by using them!
This post is an entry in the Virgin Australia Problogger Event competition.
*There's a Murphy's Law that applies to traveling in Europe - your favourite monument or cathedral is probably going to be covered in scaffolding. Old buildings need lots of restoration!