When it comes down to it, one of the main reasons we all take vacations is to get away from the real world. To say goodbye to grocery lists, electricity bills and annoying bosses, if even for a week or two. We leave home and have fun and can do some pretty crazy things at times. I’ve thought about how we all act when we travel and I have to wonder what is it about leaving home that makes us do things that we wouldn’t ordinarily do.
One of the most recent examples I have is when I was in Durban, South Africa and decided to jump off the top of a soccer stadium. I think some explanations may be in order. For a few years I’ve sort of, kind of, not really wanted to bungee jump off of something. I’d had a couple of opportunities, but chickened out. When I left for South Africa though I was determined to rectify that personal challenge no matter what. The first place I tried didn’t look safe so I left. Then I arrived too late in the day for the second place. The third place I was actually excited about, but as it turns out I showed up on a day when they don’t let people jump. I felt like the fates were not so gently trying to tell me something and yet I remain undeterred. I set a personal challenge in order to confront my fear of heights and I really wanted to see it through. I’ll share the video soon, but I did manage to jump via bungee swing off of that stadium in Durban. It was terrifying, I probably wouldn’t do it again but I am proud and thrilled that I jumped that day. Important for my point, it’s also something that I would never, ever think to do at home. The thought of a nearby bungee spot has honestly never occurred to me.
I’m not alone in this phenomenon of crazy activity on a trip. Theme parks are a testimony to our need and desire to add some fear and adventure into our lives when we leave home. But it’s not just extreme sports that exemplify this inclination; it can also be seen in much subtler ways.
Last year I wrote a fairly personal post about being a traveling misanthrope. Don’t get me wrong, I’m very outgoing and love meeting new people, but not all the time. If I’m in a cafe at home I won’t try to say hi to anyone, I doubt if I’ll even make eye contact except with the barista. But take me to a new city and I transform. I try to strike up conversations with anyone who will listen. I ask about local haunts and places off the beaten path. I become a veritable Chatty Cathy of the travel circuit. But why? Why am I so different when I travel than when I’m at home.
Vacations and travel in general are important to many of us. We spend a long time planning them, a long time saving for them and it’s our one opportunity for the year usually to just leave home and have a great time. That puts a lot of pressure on us for sure. We want to make sure everything is perfect and worry when things go wrong. But something else happens as well. We lose our inhibitions that govern our daily lives. I think we open up, become more accepting and are wiling to take risks all in the name of fun. It’s our pass for the year to let loose, go with the flow and see what happens. What may or may not be in our character at home doesn’t matter when we travel. No one knows us and we can be the people we are sometimes dying to be, but may be afraid. That’s one of the great things about travel in my opinion, it’s ability to liberate us from the shackles of daily life and give us if only for a little while the chance to explore the world in any way we see fit, wide eyed with curiosity and salivating with the promise of memories that will last for a lifetime.
Do you tend to be a little crazier when you travel? What are some examples?