I’m not a world traveler by any means, but I do love a travel-tip list. I’ll leave a comprehensive curated list to the experts, but as Jeff and I prepare for our next adventure, my top two travel tips are foremost in my mind. The first one is for after the trip and the second one is for during the trip. (You should also buy trip insurance. Just sneaking that one in without the story behind it, but trust me on that one.)

After the trip

My mother once imparted a harsh truth: “Nobody wants to hear about your trip, view photos of your trip or listen to your trip’s travails,” she said, eyebrows arched. Wow, Mom, I thought at the time, that’s pretty harsh! But, as the way it is with motherly advice, I grudgingly came to agree with her, although with a few caveats.

People don’t want to hear about your travel unless they have recently been there or are about to go there. Or unless disaster strikes. And by disaster, I don’t mean a casual case of Covid, or the trains going on strike, or that it rained during your entire time in Scotland. That doesn’t count. But, if you get caught up in coup, a volcano eruption, a tsunami, or an earthquake, do tell! Getting taken hostage by rebel forces or performing the Heimlich maneuver on a princess would work. Running into Willie Nelson at a dive bar in Mexico or Mick Jagger jamming with some blokes in a London pub meets the criteria. You get the idea.

One time, I got fed up with the sales guys in my company droning on about their terrible business travel delays and canceled flights. My mother’s advice came back to me, unbidden (funny how that happens) and I responded thusly: “Unless your plane is hijacked or it crashed and you survived on a frozen mountain ledge where cannibalism was contemplated, nobody wants to hear about how you missed your connection in Atlanta.” Of course, my mother would never be that rude, but, seriously, enough already.

During the trip

The second tip involves less prep than deciding what shoes to pack. It does require a bit of personal transformation, but, come on, isn’t that why we seek a travel adventure in the first place?

You must veer from your itinerary, step away from your tour, close out the Trip Advisor app and be present when moments of awe and small truths are revealed. This is not something the concierge can arrange for you. It’s as simple — and as difficult — as opening your heart and mind. Be on the lookout for the smallest of moments, the oddest of sights, the strangest of sounds and examine how it makes you feel.

You may find, suddenly within your reach, your world view slightly shifted, a cherished belief upended or a new way of thinking about an old thing. You may feel the pull of the first threads of a connected human experience.

Later, you may chew over how you once thought this and now believe that. Perhaps, it’s prompted by a random conversation with a local revealing a point of view you’ve never considered. You may gently rethink your positions on big things such as transportation, politics, health care, poverty, homelessness, refugees or the environment. Or, you may look differently at joy or love or warm beer. It’s possible you may shed biases you didn’t even know you carried or gain insights on issues you didn’t know exist.

Some things will surely remain a mystery . . . or prove resistant to description with mere words.

Can I really explain the moment I impulsively stepped into a non-descript church where the sun burst through ancient stained glass and flooded my heart and soul with exquisite grace? Can I describe the wave of grief I felt from seeing an unnamed infant’s gravestone carved from crumbling marble?

Perhaps, on the darkest of days, your future self will tap into the smell of a field of lavender, the sound of laughter from old men playing dominoes in the park, or the taste of a fried ocean creature you’d never find on a Beaufort menu.

The great thing is you can unpack such moments, hold them up to the light, then return them to the easily accessible carry-on luggage of your heart. And, you can be sure that’s one item that you won’t lose when you miss your connection in Atlanta.

Bon Voyage!