“I’m In … Now What?” Pre-MBA Traveling

Lady-in-Pool-smallAfter you tell your friends that you got into business school, their first question is usually something along the lines of, “So, where are you going to travel before school?” If you are lucky enough to be able to consider traveling before business school, you may have found that answering this question is not as easy as you thought it would be.

The time before business school is one of those rare periods – let’s call them “five-in-a-lifetime” opportunities – to travel unencumbered by the traditional two week constraints of working life. I found that along with this freedom, there also comes a lot of pressure – pressure to do something worthy of the opportunity. You may be thinking, “How do I decide where to go, when to go, for how long, and what to do?” The possibilities are endless, where do you even start? I was thinking the same thing and thought I’d share my thoughts.

Traveler Types

I realize that no one, including myself, fits nicely into a single type of traveler, but we tend to lean one way or the other. Here are four traveling types to consider:

1)  Traveling Yogi: You travel to liberate yourself from the daily grind and find pure relaxation. This could mean a soft-sand beach and a good book, a rejuvenating yoga retreat, or a wine and cheese tasting.

2)  Student of the World: You travel to learn. You want to gain a deeper understanding of the places you visit by immersing yourself in an activity unique to the land’s culture.

3)  Adventure Seeker: You travel to be challenged. Your agenda is jam-packed with adrenaline boosting activities. The souvenirs you collect are scrapes and close calls.

4)  Global Giver: You travel to give back. You feel that the best way to connect to the places you travel is to connect with the people who live there, by giving your time, knowledge, labor, or all of the above.

I consider myself an “Adventure Seeker,” one of my favorite travel memories was rafting in Class V rapids while it was snowing. That said, I like to weave in multiple types of travel into a trip where possible.

Mapping It Out – Time vs. Cost

Even after identifying your traveler type, the number of possibilities is still daunting. Fortunately, there are a couple variables that can help us frame and visualize our options: time and cost.

a)  Time. While the time leading up to business school frees us from traditional vacation constraints, in the end, the time is still limited. In addition to following our wanderlust, the time will be split between visiting family, catching up with friends before moving, and conquering school logistics (e.g. finding an apartment). A month-long trip may not work for everyone’s schedule.

b)  Cost. As an incoming MBA student about to borrow a decent amount of money, the most pressing constraint is probably cost. If you are not working, you can be creative with your calendar to find some extra time. It’s much harder to find extra money in your calendar.

Let’s take a look at what our pre-business school travel map might look like…

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