25 March 2009

My philosophy of travel

Lovely spring bulbs peeking out. Not from Mexico, but Boston. Still delicious.

The past few weeks have brought a great deal of disruption to my normal habits and schedule. I am generally apprehensive about travel for this very reason. I piss and moan about planning for upcoming trips, and view travel planning with moderate levels of trepidation. I err on the side of over preparing for trips, which doesn't help associated anxiety previous to travel. 

Regardless, I am moderately well traveled, and have developed certain expectations about trips as a result.

1. Books (mostly trashy historical romances) and knitting (almost exclusively socks) are a must. The romance novels I view as disposable, and leave in hotels, on planes, or wherever when I finish them. I wear the socks as soon as I finish them.

2. Sleep is secondary to adventures, fun, and seeing new things. It is mostly for planes, waiting in airports, and in cars (when there is nothing else to see).

3. I NEVER put important, light, and easily removable things in my backpack. Passport, money, etc always go in a messenger bag that is in my sight at all times, especially in crowded public gatherings. I have never experienced theft on a trip, although I know of several times when I might have been victimized this way if I weren't so aware of my surroundings.  

4. I almost always carry multiple copies of important documents (passport, credit cards, birth certificate, etc) and leave other copies at home. This has prevented huge hassles on several occasions. 

Finally, and perhaps most importantly:
5. I really hate being a tourist. I indulge myself in picture taking when the mood strikes, but more often than not, I prefer to blend into the background and into the culture of my surroundings. If people are walking fast, I hustle too. I eat what everyone else eats, and avoid tourist traps (Hard Rock Cafe and other American atrocities) like the plague if at all possible. I don't try too hard to see all of the "must see" places in the places I go, because I have had so many profound experiences going with the flow and just trying to experience life the way someone living in an area might. No time is really wasted while traveling. I don't begrudge an extra taxi ride, because I find taxi drivers, from Mexico City to Sydney, Australia, to be an incredible source of information. 

I have slowly learned to let go of much of the stress associated with culture, language, schedules, and airlines (although I'm not above sending a letter to a certain airline for a ridiculously frustrating experience we had last night in Dallas). I've experienced missing flights, delays, trouble with customs, missing luggage, sickness, and just about every other type of problem imaginable, and I've survived. I've discovered the zen of travel. Even after Bill and I have spent the last few week apart due to conflicting travel plans, we're already planning summer trips to see our families and perhaps collect some plants together. Work schedules, finances, cat care, and so many other details are coming back to the discussion table as we deliberate about when and where to go, and I really look forward to new adventures. I get super antsy if I don't have a trip planned in the future. Travel plans for the next year or so include Idaho in June (conference for work), southern Missouri (to see Bill's family), central Indiana (my dad and fam), southern Indiana (my mom), California/Reno (my sis and bro, if I can use my credit card points for airline discounts), South Carolina/southeast US (plant collection for a side project of my dissertation research that I've been obsessing about for years), and possibly a final long trip to Mexico in July (dissertation research).  

Still though, it feels damn good to be home. 

1 comment:

Katy F-H said...

we are so glad that you are home. Can't wait to see you