There are few things that I enjoy more than travel planning. Some may find it tedious, but I truly love figuring out the details of flights, hotels and activities in new destinations. That’s why when I started planning our big trip to Asia it was a delight. The intricacies of connecting flights and finding well-located hotels made me giddy, until I hit a bump in the road. At the request of my partner, I’ve promised to include a fair amount of leisure time; it is our vacation after all. The problem is, I’m not sure if I can really do that.
When I first started traveling extensively, I never mindfully intended to be active. I do however have a profound sense of curiosity and whenever I visit a new place, I do so with the mentality that I may never return. I also firmly believe that life and travel are all about the experiences. At the end of the day, it’s all we have and profound travel experiences have the power to not just resonate, but to transform. With this weighty, and a bit too philosophical, set of standards, it only makes sense that over time my trips have escalated into feats of tourism endurance.
I personally don’t mind the frenetic pace, although intellectually I recognize that slow travel is ultimately more pleasurable. But as a gainfully employed professional, I just don’t have the time to travel slowly, and so I don’t. But this style is not for everyone, and my partner definitely doesn’t enjoy the crazed schedule we maintain. It’s become a longstanding joke that given the opportunity, I’ll include a line in the schedule for ‘spontaneous fun time.’ Surely a sign of mental disease if I ever saw one.
Understanding that our trip to Asia is a long one (for us) and that it will be our only true time off from work this year, I really want to make sure we have plenty of time to do nothing. I even booked us into a hotel in Laos known for its calming views and relaxing pool area. The problem is, as we approach the travel dates, I’m getting anxious about doing nothing.
Staring at the empty schedule I feel like we’re wasting our time by doing nothing. What if I never return to Laos, how can I visit without seeing the [INSERT FAMOUS SITE HERE] ? And that’s part of the problem. It’s not as if I’ve spent a lifetime pining about a trip to Laos, it just sounds like a nice destination. Rather than go with the flow, my first instinct is to over-research, over-plan and overdo. So this time I promise I won’t.
I’ll ignore that gnawing sense of anxiety forming in the pit of my stomach and resist the urge to reread the Lonely Planet Laos edition for the third time. This time I will just relax and maybe even re-energize those spent batteries. Maybe this will be the first time I’ll return home from a trip without feeling exhausted.
We’ll see, but I’m not so sure. I’m an active traveler, that’s just who I am. I can’t sit on a beach, in a hot tub or in a spa for more than an hour without going out in search of something, anything to do. The world is just too interesting for me to lay back and ignore it.
What do you think? Is it possible for an active traveler to really relax?