Tuesday, May 24, 2011

Back to Life, Back to Reality

Well, I'm back from vacation! Well, I was actually back yesterday but considering yesterday was a holiday in Canada and we had been driving since the previous morning, I was pretty zonked yesterday and not up for doing much of anything productive. Today is the 1st official day back to "real-life"...

I had a lovely vacation though! It was just so nice to get away, have a change of scenery and make our own schedule for a few days. This trip was an interesting one in many ways* - of course, the sights, sounds, tastes and smells of the places we visited were all interesting - but it was also a milestone of sorts because it was the first extended trip that the boy and I took together.

I always say that if you really want to get to know someone and learn whether or not you are truly compatible with each other, you should take a trip with them. When traveling, you can see sides of a person that you might never see interacting with them on a day-to-day basis. You could know someone for decades, talk to them on the phone or see them every single day, and exchange many deep, dark secrets and still be surprised at how they act and how you get along when you travel together.

Generally when you travel, the full gambit of emotions tends to come out at one time or another. Travel is tiring and it dehydrates you, plus you are eating, getting up, going to sleep and doing other things at different times (and sometimes in different ways or in a different order) than you normally would, meeting new people, being thrust into completely new situations and generally experiencing unfamiliarity wherever you turn.

This, of course, is one of the great things about travel (and one of my favourite things about it) but it can also wreak havoc on your disposition. Regardless of where you are going and when, the actual "traveling" part of the travel is not the most enjoyable - it's normally very tiring and tedious (being squeezed into a tiny airplane seat or standing in endless line-ups when flying? Sitting in traffic and staring down seemingly endless stretches of highway, dealing with reckless morons and countless detours when driving? Anyone?). I personally hate the actual "traveling" part, and just can't wait to GET to where I'm going. It depends of course, but generally I wish I could just teleport myself to wherever I want to go and skip all the bull.

Given the fact the traveling can often be tiring and tedious, it often means that either you, your traveling companion or both end up cranky, irritable, moody, stressed and frustrated at some point or another and this means that one or both of you gets to see the other in a light that is not necessarily the most flattering.

Aside from the conditions of traveling, different people have different traveling "styles", meaning that they like to structure their trip in different ways. Some people prefer to be uber-organized and have every hour of every day planned ahead of time, and like to cram in as many sights as possible during their time in that place. Some people prefer to be laid-back and not plan anything, just go out and wander and see where the day takes them. Some people like to visit every museum and read every plaque, while some people are content with a quick look at one or two things, or prefer to skip the tourist attractions altogether in favour of exploring back alleys.

I would say I am somewhere in the middle of these two extremes. I DO like to make the most of my time somewhere, so I try to figure out what main things I want to see before I go and at least come up with a basic plan for what to do and when. I also like to try and get up as early as I can so that half the day is not wasted. However, I DO NOT like to schedule my day so tightly that I have no wiggle room and I am exhausted after only a few hours. I like to keep my schedule flexible and I always like to take time to just wander and explore and visit some lesser known sights.

Given my middle-of-the-road traveling style, chances are I would go nuts traveling with someone whose style is closer to either extreme end (hyper-organized or super-laid-back) or has completely different interests. For example, my mom and I travel great together because we tend to want to visit the same sort of attractions (we both love anything arts-related, interesting museums, historical places, shopping/markets, etc) and we have a similar attitude to travel. On the other end of things, when I visited Amsterdam a few years ago with a group of girls from a University in the US (we were all living in London at the time taking a course at Regent's College), one of the gals and I ended up breaking off on the second day because all the other 3 wanted to do was sit in "koffee houses" (for those of you that are not familiar with Amsterdam's well-known attractions, it should be noted that these places do not actually serve coffee) all day long. BOR-ING. And lets be honest, if I really wanted to smoke weed all day long I could do that at home.

Luckily, I have discovered that the boy and I have similar travel styles as well because we traveled quite well together this vacation. I would definitely say I am more of a "planner" than he is, but generally we wanted to visit the same things and were open to suggestion from the other person.**

Which brings me to another point about traveling companions - you also need to remember that it is your COMPANION's trip too. You should try and compromise and do your best to ensure that you BOTH get the most of the trip. Don't throw a tantrum because you do not get to do exactly what you want when you want. Guess what, kid?! That's life. I'm not saying you should compromise all the time as you are guaranteed to not have any fun and I do not think you should miss things you really want to take in just because your companion doesn't want to, but you should be flexible, considerate and open-minded. If you can't manage to do that, you should probably travel alone. Or if you and your companion really cannot agree on a compromise, than go your separate ways for a few hours! Hello, you are not attached at the hip! And trust me, you will regret it forever if you come home having followed someone else around the entire week when you really didn't want to.

Anyway, my point is you may not be a good traveling companion for everyone in your life, even for people that you see on a daily basis and love very much, and not everyone in your life will necessarily be a good traveling companion for you. And that's ok! But if you can find someone that you can travel with, it is certainly a nice thing and I think it's a tougher thing to find than a lot of people realize. I am happy that the boy and I made it through this trip without murdering each other (as you can see, I am clearly still here and I can assure you he is, too - you will just have to trust me on this one, unfortunately). I see many more trips in our future and that makes me really happy. Traveling is something I really enjoy and will always really enjoy, and it is so nice to have someone in my life that shares my passion. We are already planning our NEXT road trip!

Who do you like to travel with and why? What is YOUR traveling style?

*this trip was also awesome because it means I get to cross another item off my 30 B4 30 list!! (see left sidebar) That would be #20: Take a Road Trip - DONE! Bazinga!
**of course, it helps that my boy is very laid-back and easy to please - I have to admit I would not necessarily say I am "laid-back" (I tend to be high-strung and a "worrier") but he is helping me do this more and I am becoming more so over time when it comes to travel


Lenore* said...

I'm glad you had a lovely time Kim!
I don't mind traveling alone these days...I need the 'me time'!

Kim Humes said...

The only trip I have taken alone was to Paris for 2 days a few yrs ago. It was cool to travel alone but I wouldn't want to do it all the time! it has its advantages but I like to have another person to relate my memories with and another head to bounce ideas off. I agree that doing things alone on a regular basis is definitely good though!

Alexis of NorthOnHarper said...

Glad this trip was a relational strengthener and not a destroyer!!!

Good advice about it being your companion's trip too.  So easy to lose sight of that!

Kim Humes said...

Thanks! I am definitely glad too lol. And rightfully so - travel should be fun and rewarding, not stressful but generally it will only be stressful if you let it be that way

Sixlittleletters said...

I only travel alone, I have since I was 18.  I love it and I think it would be really hard for me to change.  On my journies I meet other people in hostels and we may hang out for a night or a few days, but then we go our separate ways.  Doing this has made me a stronger person in my day to day life and I have made friends all around the world.  I am currently writing my blog about my trip in Italy, actually.

I also am not much of a planner. There is always things I want to see, but sometimes there is a reason you can't and I am okay with that.  I always take a few moments each day just to take it in, life's about the journey not the destination and so is vacation in my mind.

Kim Humes said...

I'm jealous that you are so comfortable travelling alone - it's just not something I like doing. I'm a bit shy so not good at talking up strangers unless they approach me first. It's something I am always working on but it's easier said that done when your natural personality isn't super outgoing. I have done it though so I know from experience it can be a great way to learn and get to know yourself!

KG said...

I like to travel with a lot of different people. I'm not really a planner, but I like some semblance of an idea of what's going on. I like traveling with people who will take charge of a situation but is open to different options! I tend to mother some of my friends when they get ridiculous on vacation, which is the good and bad thing about traveling in large groups (because you can pass this responsibility off to another person and go off with another group if need be). I've traveled with 1-12 people at a time and I've had a blast overall on all of these vacations. I can't travel with my parents though. Learned that at a VERY early age.

Kim Humes said...

12 people!? Wow that's a big group. I'm not sure I could handle a group that big, but the good thing is you'd have lots of options for people to to stuff with, you can all break off however you like. Mothering people can definitely take the fun out of vacation - it seems like there is always someone who gets dramatic - I've been there! At least you have a good story to tell though lol

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