I’m not old, not by any stretch of the imagination but I am now firmly entrenched in my late 30s with no where else to go but up. A lot of things in my life have changed over the years, as they do for everyone. Some good, some bad mostly neither but I’ve been most curious and reflective of how the way I travel has changed over the years. Lately I’ve been traveling more than ever which I think has served as the perfect lens through which to examine these changes. I’m happy about almost all of them but am especially curious how my travel style will continue to evolve over the coming years.
Patience – You know those interviews where they ask you to describe yourself in three words? Yeah, well patient has never been an adjective used by me. In most things I’m still fairly impatient; I hate lines, mail order is like Chinese water torture and the microwave just isn’t quick enough. But when it comes to travel, I’ve adopted an almost Zen attitude, well most of the time at least. I think part of it stems from the fact that I now know that in most situations there’s very little I can do to affect change and getting excited about something isn’t a good use of my energy. My plane was late and I missed my connection – nothing I can do about that. The museum is closed when the guidebook said it would be open – nothing I can do about that. This newfound and sometimes random bouts of patience has done a lot for me personally. It’s made me happier while traveling and it’s made the entire experience much more enjoyable. Yes, I’m still anal retentive about schedules and keeping on eye on my passport, but in general I’m a new traveler. By taking things as they come I’ve seen a lot more than I would have ordinarily and I think learned more than I ever thought possible. One potential downside is that when traveling with someone who may not travel often one of two things happens (usually both) 1) you appear drunk, high or both from lack of concern and 2) your friend or significant other seems drunk, high or both from their crazy level of angst. But if that’s the worst thing that happens, I’ll take it.
More Down Time – When I was younger I always felt compelled to do and see as much as possible when I traveled. This meant crazy schedules and annoying anyone who had the misfortune of accompanying me. It also meant that I sped through places way too fast and in turn missed a lot of real life. Sure I saw pretty buildings, but I never noticed the key details that make new places fun and exciting to explore. Part of me wants to return to all of these places and do them again, this time putting down the guidebooks and just letting myself enjoy the act of travel. This has also meant that I spend more time catering to my own well being. In the past I didn’t just need a vacation from my vacation, I needed an extended hospital stay. The trips were grueling! In keeping with my slower style of travel, I now allocate more time to rest, read a book or take a nap. Keeping yourself healthy and fit while traveling, even on a short adventure, is important not just for your own personal well being, but it allows you to enjoy your trip that much more.
No Opportunity Wasted – I stole this line from Phil Keoghan, the Kiwi host of The Amazing Race who has made it his own personal mantra after a near-death experience. It’s also now how I travel the world. Rather than thinking, “Oh I’ll do that next time I’m here,” I always travel with the presupposition that I will never again return. Whether or not this is actually true doesn’t matter, what does matter is the effect this mentality has on the travel experience. I treat each place as a one-time event so I do everything I want to do, budgeting for it in advance of course. I don’t ever want to leave a new city or country regretting not having done something. A lot of tragedy has struck my family in recent years and more than anything else it’s taught me to live life now, not later because later may never come. It’s opened up a new world to me, as many of these experiences are themselves transformative in their nature. From hot air ballooning in Napa to swimming with sharks in South Africa, I can now say I left these places without regret and for that I am incredibly thankful.
These are just a few of the ways my travel style has changed over the years, how has yours evolved?