The Art of the Arrival [VIDEO]

The actual act of traveling is a beautiful balance between art and science. It’s where preparation and planning meet real-time obstacles and improvisation. Delayed flights, lost baggage and random roadblocks are all part of the fun.

As much as I love having a homebase and being in control of my surroundings, I get a kick out of manouvering through the twists and turns of a particular journey.

I think it’s a great character builder.

So as I set out on my most recent travel adventure to relocate to Solola, Guatemala, I decided to film the entire process of getting from point A to point B. I want to show how I deal with arriving in a new location, because it can very often be the most overwhelming aspect of the entire trip.

Fortunately, for efficiency’s sake I didn’t have to face too much turbulence along the way. Other than an uncomfortable 45-minute wait outside the Guatemala City Bus Terminal and a missed chicken bus transfer in the middle of nowhere, I’d say things went pretty smoothly.

The science of the trip is simple. Write down your flight and contact info at your end location. Drink lots of water and bring an empty water bottle with you to the airport to save money. Only change as much money at the airport as you think you will need to get to your next location, because they give the worst exchange rates. These are the things I remember to do each time.

The art of the arrival is much more important however. It’s how you remain calm and think with a clear head through adversity. It’s making the most out of each situation and having fun along the way.

You must remain calm and leverage your resources. These are the two most important attributes to traveling successfully.

Keeping your composure is the single most important thing to remember. A great way to help you out with this is to give yourself plenty of time in between travel and when you need to be somewhere if you can afford to do so. It’s about planning for the worst and hoping for the best.

When it comes to leveraging your resources, I’m referring to all the people you might along your journey. A passenger on the plane will tell you how to get an official taxi from the airport and the taxi driver can help you get on the right bus at the terminal and the bus driver will tell you where to go when you arrive in town.

Ask lots of questions. If you don’t speak the language, write everything down and do a lot of pointing.

The real trick is to utilize the techniques you’ve learned from travel and apply them to your everyday life. Plan ahead, drink lots of water, keep your composure and ask a lot of questions.

The Art of the Arrival - San Francisco to Solola Guatemala
Calculating my next move.

Travel Tip: If you are really running late for a flight and there’s a long check-in line, try making your way to the VIP/Premium check-in counter that most airlines provide. The line is always shorter and if you can get to one of the kiosks and start checking before someone asks to see verification, they almost never stop you. Only use it in case of emergencies or you’ll ruin it for the rest of us.

My name is Gareth Leonard, a Marketing Director turned World Traveler with a passion for slow, meaningful travel. I have been traveling the world full-time for the past 9+ years and document it all on Instagram and YouTube. Come join me!


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