I was sitting on the deck of a massive cruise ship, looking out over the sea as the sun set. It was a great moment, a near perfect one, until Cathy from Winnipeg interrupted it asking for a light as she plunked herself drunkenly down into a nearby chair. The moment may have been near perfect, but I wasn’t happy and I began to think about travel and how I’ve changed as a traveler. The more we get out and see the world, the more we change on a very personal level. It’s not just travel styles that change of course, but our very personalities.
Can’t Go Home Again
I sat down to write my review of the cruise and it was entirely negative. I’ve cruised on mega-ocean liners before and had good experiences, so I chalked it up as the fault of the cruise line. And while I think the cruise line in question does have a lot of faults, I have to wonder if at least some of that negativity was based on who I am now as a traveler. I think that the more I travel independently, the less tolerant I am of other travelers. It’s sad, but true. I wouldn’t have a problem going on another ocean cruise, I generally like them, but I think I would have to be more selective on the ship and cruise line I used. I don’t think I can sail again on a 4,000-person ship, I think my tolerance for long lines and drunken tourists is practically nil. But it wasn’t always that way, so what’s changed? I have of course.
I think that the more I see of the world and understand the wide variety of travel options out there, the more I have fine-tuned exactly what my personal travel preferences are. When my partner and I were just starting out in the working world, we had to be fairly mindful of our budget. So the large cruise ships were a good option, a way for us to get out there and see the world without breaking the bank. Fast forward thirteen years and our situation has changed, allowing us the luxury of different experiences, ones that aren’t as mass market. Ok, I need to stop because that sounded even to me as being way too elitist, and I don’t mean it in that way at all. Many people who can afford a higher end travel experience don’t avail themselves of it because they don’t like it. Sitting on a deck chair with 3,000 people is fine with them. So, I don’t think it’s necessarily a question of budget, but rather the options one has as a result of that budget.
I remember the first time I flew long-haul business class. It was to Thailand and I had cashed out my frequent flier miles for that luxury. At the time I joked saying how hard it would be to ever fly in economy again, but that was truer than I ever realized. At that point my travel style had changed, hostels were a distant memory and now my partner and I splurge when it comes to both hotels and those oh so important upgrades on long flights.
Ok, so at this point I sound like a schmuck, and I’m sorry for that. But the ways in which travel changes us is about much more than just HOW we travel, it’s the reasons for WHY we travel. In 2004, I took my first large ship cruise on Norwegian Cruise Lines. I had a nice time, visited a few interesting spots and had a relatively relaxing trip. I’m not that guy anymore though. I never travel to relax, I wouldn’t even know how to start. Always Type-A, that side of my personality has somehow, almost inconceivably, gotten more acute to the point where every trip needs to have a purpose, a point. I need to be able to get something intellectually tangible from my travel experiences, and bobbing along en route to the Bahamas with Princess Cruise Lines didn’t do it for me.
But how and why I travel isn’t the end all and be all. So many times, slightly obnoxious travel writers and bloggers state their travel decisions as being the only real way to travel. That is pure bull. The reason why I wrote this post wasn’t to posit my travel style and the ways in which I’ve changed as the correct ones. No, I decided to open myself up a little bit as an example; to lay bare my faults (slight elitism and over-organization) to show you that we are all different. If you read this and thought to yourself, “Wow, is he wrong!” Good! That’s my point. We’re all different in the ways we decide to see the world, but that is also always in flux and I think it’s a fact that we need to be cognizant of.
If the idea of a certain trip doesn’t make your heart beat a little fast and put a permanent smile on your face, then you need to step back and wonder why that is. Every travel experience, whether it’s a week sitting on a beach or trekking through the jungles of Borneo should excite you, make you happy on a base level. If it doesn’t, then something is wrong and you need to reevaluate what it is exactly you are trying to get out of traveling.
What do you think of my slightly rambling thoughts and ideas?