There’s something very bittersweet about the last day of travel. You executed your planned vacation. You’ve been to all the hotspots. You’ve bought your souvenirs. You’ve met people, eaten delicious meals, and had amazing experiences along the way. And tomorrow you leave.
Part of you is probably happy to be going home. Routine, cooking your own meals, seeing friends, sleeping in your own bed, not living out of a suitcase…
But the joy of traveling is coming to a close, the community, the country you’ve been experiencing is soon to be a memory rather than your reality.
So what do you do? How do you spend your last day and night in a place you’ve been journeying as an experiential traveler? Here are my tips for making the most out of your last day.
1) Make it calm. Don’t try to pack in a day’s worth of running around. Instead, try a pleasurable walk, a luxurious lunch, or an afternoon at the beach or park. Be slow and intentional.
2) Listen and smell. By now, the sights, sounds, and smells are no longer new. But make a point of really embracing your five senses to make them a lasting memory.
3) Take time to reflect. Whether it’s writing or sketching or photography or whatever it is that you do, connect with your artistic side to think back on your entire trip. See my post on Debriefing for reflection points.
4) Have a list of last minute souvenirs. I don’t advise spending your entire day shopping, but do take note in the morning before venturing out about any souvenirs you wanted to buy. In my experience, if you feel rushed on your last day you’ll buy too much and things you might not use. Or, you’ll forget something or someone and end up spending an arm and a leg at the airport souvenir store.
5) Get into the weather. Whether it’s sunny or cloudy, rainy or snowy, spend at least a few moments outside. Anywhere – a patio, a park bench, on a walk…somewhere where you can see the beautiful connection been nature and people. Somewhere where you can experience the purity of the outdoors, even away from home.
6) Have a conversation with a local. A shopkeeper. A waiter. A passerby. Doesn’t matter who, but use the language you’ve picked up. Smile a lot. Take pleasure in the wonderful way that humanity connects, superceding cultures, timezones, and languages.
7) Don’t worry about the weightscale. Eat all those meals you won’t be able to for a while. Enjoy life through the culinary culture of your host country.
8) If you’re in a country that uses a different currency from your own, make a plan: Do you have enough for the rest of your payments (i.e. taxi ride to the airport) or do you need more? Is there a certain limit to the amount of local currency you can take out of the country? If yes you have excess, make a plan (i.e. exchanging at a bureau, giving to a local charity, buying more souvenirs). Will you be returning soon? Should you bring some currency with you to make your arrival easier next time to enter this land?
9) Enjoy the last sunset. Make time for it. Whether it’s 4:30 pm in the Canadian winter or 6:30 pm somewhere along the Equator, the sunset represents your last travel day turning into your last travel evening. There’s something so beautiful, humbling, and peaceful about that moment. Embrace it!
And finally, and most annoyingly…
10) Pack! Especially if you have an early flight. Your tired-cranky-it’s too early in the morning for a flight-self will thank you for it!
That last day and night traveling…may you make it memorable so that you have memories to last a lifetime!