The image is so vivid in my mind that I was certain we had a photo of it. The photo, however, doesn’t exist. It looked like this… We were standing in Suvarnabhumi Airport departure gate, on an early February morning, sheltered from the scorching 40-degree heat under air-conditioned glass archways. My head in my hands, elbows on the railing, I stare out through the thick air. I’m just crushed to be leaving. Reflecting on the long hours spent playing in the water, the massages before hitting the sack, and digging into meals of the freshest seafood alongside flavorful, exotic vegetables… I am filled with emotion. My family mimics my tearful “If only we had just a few more days!”. I say it every time.
Almost as soon as we came home from the 17 day trip to Thailand, I started planning our next big trip. It’s my way of avoiding getting bummed-out over the drastic change from a connected life of leisure to one of an arduous, repetitive routine. Don’t get me wrong, I am happy with my regular life but I really am “in demand” for most of my waking hours. This leaves just a little time for the things I am deeply compelled to do. It’s all worthwhile for many reasons but longish holidays, are a key motivator for me. They check off some really important boxes:
Simplify daily life allowing more time to do as I please.
Presents new perspectives, ideas to incorporate into my life.
Shifts focus from acquisition to what is really important to me.
he minimalist ideal of freedom from “stuff” is very appealing. Owning a lot of things ties a person to those things and those things call for time. More stuff = More to take care of, making for a busy life. Travelling, liberates by forcing all that “stuff” to be left behind. Being without a home and only my bag of essentials in tow smells like freedom.
The gift of time to think, to process and absorb makes me more aware. It’s cliché, but not many of us live our lives in-the-moment (including me!). When on a longish holiday being present comes easily and naturally. Unless the days are filled with tours (which is really not my travel-style) my mind is allowed to catch up to itself.
Reliving the same day over and over makes it easy to coast through life on auto-pilot. It’s what a lot of us do in our regular lives. But witnessing people in another part of the world and imagining what it is like for them can be tremendously eye-opening. I love to do this when people watching! It’s both exciting and inspiring to see how a day unfolds for people living in another culture.
This always leads me to dream about the many possibilities of what it would be like to live somewhere else and have a completely different way of living. What fun to fantasize this way!
It’s too easy in everyday life to get hung up on acquiring things or trying to outdo the people around us. Getting away for an extended period of time can really shift one’s perspective from the soul-squashing expectations of a materialistic and every-individual-for-themselves society that we’ve built.
I have never been on a trip where I felt ready to come home. I say I could travel forever, but, should it be feasible … could I, really? If all my time is leisure time then how is it special/fulfilling? It’s only logical that having work as well as free time results in good life balance. If all my time was spent sun-tanning and shopping I would most certainly not be contented. Having to work for these big trips gives another purpose to the work and makes the time-off feel so indulgent.
One trick that works for me is that I like to plan these trips far in advance. Not everything, but rather, accommodations and options for mode of transport. It builds excitement leading up to the trip extends the experience. I learn a lot about a place when doing this research, and the route evolves as I learn.
Once I am actually in the other country the real experience is always surprising. While planning I have this mini-vision of what it might be like but it is never the exact way I pictured. How could I have known the smells, the view, and what is just down the street? How could I have known the people who keep the place running? So the adventure started when I began planning and continues until we get back home.
Life can sometimes get monotonous but going on a +- 4 week trip, I come back inspired, clear-headed and motivated to work hard each day. I apply what I’ve learned in my daily life and I start saving and planning that next big trip! Up next for us? My motherland …… Croatia in 2019!
Where will your next long trip take you? What length of a holiday is best for you?