Sunday, June 12, 2011

Will I Have Time?

As I am about to pack my bags and head to the airport its no surprise that I’m making my way through the list of things-do-before-you-leave:  pay the bills, pick up the cleaning, send the itinerary to the family.  But these practical steps are only part of preparing for a trip. 

At least six weeks before a trip I set a Google Alerts for my destination – it gives me a compilation of news from a variety of sources.  Tomorrow  I’m headed to Paris so I set an Alert  for France.  This week reading through results  I learned, among other things,  that France risks being assessed millions of euros in fines if it doesn’t improve its efforts to protect the European hamster. (  Will this come up in conversation at a dinner with my French colleagues?  Will I be seen as informed and current on the issues in France?  I’ll let you know.

Thanks to a recent travel article by my friend Ann Beard, the founder of the Protocol & Diplomacy International – Protocol Officers Association ( I was reminded that it import to pack copies of our passport and itinerary.  If you’ve ever had to have a passport replaced while traveling you know it simplifies the process if you can present a copy of the one that has gone missing.  Make copies, scan and email a copy to yourself, send one to someone who can send it to you if all else fails.

But preparation isn’t all about practical to do/not to do lists.  Take some moments and think about what you want to see, experience, investigate.  Even if you know your schedule will only allow 15 minutes for personal time.  For me, heading to Paris, my goal  enjoy some good, fresh French Camembert.  If I’m lucky I’ll have time to head to the cheese shop of Marie Ann Cantin ( at 12 rue de Champs du Mars.  A delightful space, filled with delicious cheese and staffed with kind, helpful people.    Wherever you go decide one thing you’ll do if you have that bit of personal time. Race through an exhibit at a museum?  Visit a famous church?  Tour a historic monument?  Find the best chocolate shop in the city?  Enjoy the adventure, the special moment, the fun of planning.  Who knows if there'll be time but we can hope!

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