Struggling to Get Back Into Traveling

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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

– – –

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.

13 thoughts on “Struggling to Get Back Into Traveling

  1. Pingback: Exercising the Travel Muscle | Ali's Adventures

  2. 6 more weeks of travel? I look forward to seeing where it takes you. I love to travel, but it is work and not always easy. It’s good to see someone writing about it in an honest way, although at the same time, I think we should remember that most of the world’s population don’t even have the luxury of traveling at all. Now that I have to juggle kids and the responsibilities of my home & job life, it’s not easy to travel sometimes, and sometimes I get disappointed. This summer might be one of those times.

    • We are down to a month now. I am totally curious myself where it takes us. Sometimes it is a bit surreal that we are even doing it. There are a lot of little things I never thought of to be dealt with, like mail at home for example.

      The “travel is a luxury” thing gets on my mind sometimes too. I want to balance a respect that we are privileged with a reminder that for a lot of others they don’t travel due to fear. To boldly go with respect.

      I hope your summer is ok.

  3. I think you guys just need to figure out what makes you happiest when traveling. Tim and I have been going through this recently too. We wanted to just get away for the weekend back in February and headed down to Tuscany. We were walking around San Gimignano for about 30 minutes when I turned to him and said “Well, I’m done. How about you?” He felt the same.

    We’ve realized we love – even crave – adventure. We don’t like just walking around cities. We want to be doing something active when we travel. So now we just make sure we have things planned that we really want to do. It makes us much happier when we travel.

    Good luck finding your own style over the next couple of weeks!

  4. Here’s my formula for travel:

    travel = # of travel days + time + money

    Money is something that is set, either by a budget or necessary costs for travel like hotel, flight, train, etc. Some of those costs are flexible. However, the real factor is the # of days you have and time. You want to make the most out of the days and time you have. So on a short trip, downtime isn’t much of an option because you feel like you are getting less value for your travel if you aren’t always doing stuff. For longer trips, downtime is needed and also adds value to the rest of your trip because it gives you more energy for the rest of the days you have.

  5. I appreciate your writing about this part of travel. I think there is alot of “peer” pressure to go, see,do when u are on a trip because when you get home people say, “Did you go see ——-?” And if you didnt because you chose to take a nap or sit in a cafe instead, then “guilt” is heaped on. Kind of like daily life- we have to push to not push so much – rather enjoy. I know easier said than done both in travel and daily life. Looking forward to hearing and learning more with you two!

    • Thanks. I appreciate your comments. It helps to know that people are reading it.
      Yes, the peer pressure can be big. Ali was telling me a story of hearing girls behind her in line talking about “having” to go see a sight and one girl not wanting to. Her friends then trying to convince her with arguments like “you have to do this while in Amsterdam”.

      We just sat yesterday and read. It was awesome. This afternoon we walked through a market and then came back to the Apartment. I’ve been pushing so much lately that I just can’t take it anymore. And oddly that “pushing to not push to much” can be just as stressful. To relax feels like giving up control, but is often the right way.

  6. Maybe you guys are overanalyzing your trip a bit? If you wake up in the morning and feel like going out to little town markets, then just do it, don’t agonize about how the trip was supposed to be slower. Make it what you want it to be right now. Hope things get smoother!

    • That is certainly very possible. I tend to overthink things a lot. Our problem has actually been the reverse. We wake up with a bit of “dread” that we have planned an activity that we don’t really want to do. We are doing things because they are out there and not really because we want to see them necessarily. This afternoon we DID just walk through the market and had a ton of fun over the day before going down the big shopping streets.
      As you say, it needs to be lower pressure. Less pressure on ourselves as well to make the trip anything, one direction or another.

  7. This is reminding me a lot of my own situation, because every time I go traveling it’s like it’s the first time all over again because I seem to forget everything every time. Especially technology, which will change a million times even over the course of the same trip. By the time the trip is over, there’s a better way to use your phone abroad. Etc, etc.

    • Yeah, the technology does seem to shift really quickly. I am happy I don’t really use my phone for much other than reading e-mail and doing Twitter.

  8. Thanks for featuring me Andy! I’m glad to hear that you and Ali are traveling again. 🙂 So excited! Hope to meet you guys on the road sometime.

    • You are welcome. We are in Europe most of the rest of this year with hopes for somewhere warm this coming Winter.

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