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?
7 thoughts on “Travel Is A Personal Evolution: How I’ve Changed Recently”
I totally agree with you on so many levels. Since my first trip (a cruise with a window stateroom), my tastes have evolved and I, too, have matured. I need a balcony stateroom, I avoid boring, crowded places (Bahamas. Been there. Done that.) I travel with a purpose: to have the ultimate experience no matter where where I roam. Sleeping in luxury accommodations; eating delicious, local food; shopping in quaint towns with high-end local storefronts; venturing into natures’s beauty are a few of my favorite things.
I couldn’t agree more about personal preference and I try not (sometimes even successfully) to let my personal bias come through when talking about my experiences.
My idea of a perfect trip is crawling through museums and historic places. The thought of sitting on a beach for a week doing nothing makes my skin crawl, but I completely understand how that’s paradise for other people. Something that you hated on a trip might be the seminal moment of someone else’s trip. Travel and let travel!
I’ve changed so much since traveling a lot as well. I took a cruise once and have no desire to do another, although sometimes the prices are so good that I might consider it. I just hate waiting in line and being in places that are beyond crowded with tourists. I live in NYC and get enough of that at home! That being said, while I’m impressed with bloggers and writers who trek through the jungle for a month and enjoy reading their stories, that’s also not my personal travel style. (More of a hotel room/city gal). To each his own!
I’ve definitely “fine tuned” my travel preferences as well over time! I’ve also noticed my trips depends on where my life is in the present. If I’m super busy and haven’t had a break in awhile, I usually want a relaxed spa-like trip. If I’ve been bored and restless at home, I’m going to crave something a little more adventurous to spice my life up.
My dad would totally agree with you on once you go to business/first class or luxury hotels, you can’t NOT go back (he definitely prefers high-style living too).
Each to their own for sure. Once you become bored or complacent its time to look at yourself. My first travels to Africa were spent on the back of an ex-army truck for over 4 months with a bunch of people I didn’t know until I jumped on at the port in UK. It was like Survivor without all the nonsense. Lets just call it character defining. I wouldn’t trade the experience for anything. My recent trip back to Africa was more 5 star. Both trips got my heart rate going, they ignited a passion for Africa, for travel, and filled me with a sense of wonder. The access to water and quality of towels made the recent trip more comfortable, (clean!) but more important they both gave me a chance to get a fresh perspective on life, took me out of my comfort zone and gave me a chance at times to switch off the constant internal chatter and get out of my own head.Senses were on full alert. Both trips had a healthy dose of surprises – about myself and the destination. I believe there has to be a balance between planned purpose and just letting the world reveal itself to you. Everything changes. Our travel style changes with it.
Fair play to you for your honesty. I think with age and with money we are all entitled to splash out on other options, no matter what others think. We travel as a young(ish) couple, but we are done with partying and have a little more money than we used to. We get to stay in nicer rooms as there are two of us to chip in and we don’t feel bad about that at all, even if a lot of the people we meet on the road look at us as ‘flashpackers’ in the degrogatory sense. We are ‘flashpackers’, we like it, we earnt it.
We are flying in to Vietnam in a few days and into Sydney in a few weeks. Polar opposites in experience and budget but both get the heart fluttering. There are no truer words than ‘do what makes you happy.’
Great reflection Matt! I think everyone’s travel style changes over time, along with the foods you like, clothing you where, financial priorities, etc. The most important thing is that there is someone out there who wants “X” experience even if it is not your idea of a good time. And I’m totally fine with that. Let me blend in with the locals at the market and camp out in a museum. :)
Now what I don’t understand are the 62% of Americans that didn’t travel at all last year….
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