We have been planning our Beyond Vacation trip since last year. The one day we spent in Lisbon and the few days in Barcelona just felt so good and freeing after a bit of a hard summer. An even harder winter due to the cold and dark has led us (I fear) into hyping this trip up in our minds. The first few days of the trip have thus far been a bit of a struggle.
Travel is an acquired skill and needs practice
I like this headline and I agree with it to an extent, though not fully. I remember when travel itself was exotic and that thrill of the new helped smooth any rough edges. Whee, I am doing something cool, so what if there is a crappy bed and no hot water. However I wonder if we have become just jaded enough for the simple fact of being somewhere else to not be enough to be exciting enough.
Travel does indeed require practice it seems. To remember the planning and preparation to get basics like train tickets and especially food while in a place where you don’t know the area or the language can be a trial. It can lead you to eat at an American Chain restaurant with English menus on the main square. Twice.
And doing too many days in a row in motion when we went out to Vianden Castle. This is not really the kind of travel we were looking for, but we apparently can’t jump right back into “our desired” travel so fast.
Are we indeed just “out of practice”?
Maybe Travel is more like a Drug
We certainly hear people talk about being addicted to travel and getting a high off of doing it. We even talk about “taking a trip.” On Travel you do things you wouldn’t ordinarily do. So maybe it is then more like a drug. If so, maybe we don’t need “practice” so much as just building up our tolerance.
I like beer. I do remember the first few times I drank though. It was exciting and one beer got me tipsy and still made me sick the next day. After a while, I learned how to slow down and enjoy the beer. It didn’t make me sick and I had enough tolerance so a single sip didn’t push me over the edge. Every so often though, I get times when I don’t drink again for a couple of months. When I have my first beer after that time, it feels like I need to relearn it all over again.
Travel is then one of those good drugs (like exercise or caffeine?), but it seems to have some of the same side effects. We have started our trip and are dealing with the aches and pains of movement again. Building up tolerance to things like beds and pillows we aren’t used to and unfamiliar food is uncomfortable. The weather has not really cooperated and our first stop was a bit disappointing. This has made the step back into travel more of a struggle than we expected.
I see it as a bad beer after eight months of nothing. It doesn’t taste so good and kind of gives you a headache even while you are sitting there with it. Even just 2 days in Amsterdam is looking up. Maybe we are learning how to handle our travel better?
Solution : Even Slower
The main point of this trip has been around slower travel. Not being so planned and driven to see sights every day and giving ourselves time to be in a place and explore it. That and still be able to write. (Juno has a good post recently about needing this downtime as a full-time nomad worker.)
We had originally planned to do more in Amsterdam. We went to Keukenhof Gardens yesterday and had thought to head out to markets and other little towns today. It was starting to feel like we were doing something every day and really pushing too hard. That we were still in vacation style speed, but setting up for a long distance run at that speed. It feels exhausting just looking into the future. So we decided to just spend our time enjoying the city before moving on. Today will see us likely in a cafe all day writing and talking instead of pushing to see something else around the bend or over the hill
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We at least went into this trip knowing it could be difficult. When we sat down and talked about what we were experiencing, it seemed perfectly reasonable that we were still pushing too hard to be “traveling”. To do the vacation thing of see everything in a town, sucking it dry before moving on instead of just enjoy the change of scenery.
We still have 6 weeks of travel ahead of us and we really don’t want to burn out. Travel is still our passion and we are still trying to figure out the best way to enjoy it. We do know how we travel the happiest and have plenty of experience doing it well. Just sometimes we forget that experience and get swept up in the tourist hype, even though it feels hollow. Here is to remembering what we actually want out of the trip and life.