In the checklist of ‘Things I Like’, I always instinctively check off ‘travel’. Most people enjoy visiting new places, exploring different cultures and getting away from the humdrum of regular life for a while. I see the term ‘wanderlust’ coming up often these days, in the form of people posting photos of beautiful locations on Facebook, or waxing poetic about where they’d go and what they’d do if they had all the time and money in the world, and I feel like yes, I fall in that category as well.
Sujata wrote a post recently, however, about how she thinks she maybe likes the idea of wanderlust more than its practical aspects, and as I was reading it, I realised I feel the same way. I like the idea of travel, of a long vacation filled with exciting sights and exciting people, but I’m far too cynical to be able to completely give in to the idea. I want the large map of the world in my living room, with little pins depicting all the countries and cities I’ve been to, more than I actually want to go to all those different places.
Rather, I want to go to those places, but I want a guarantee that they will all be smooth, uniformly exciting and adventurous trips. When I was younger, this was a given – there was no going on a holiday and not enjoying yourself. The idea of a bad vacation didn’t exist, probably because I was shielded from the non-fun parts. As an adult, I’m far more aware of the many things that can (and do) make vacations less than ideal – unexpected expenses, bad weather, subpar service and places that simply don’t seem worth the hype – and that stops me from being overly optimistic about them.
Sometimes, I feel like I enjoy the period before a vacation more than I do the actual vacation. The planning, the researching the booking – it can be exciting and exhilarating, but only when you have the time and energy to focus on it. I remember once trying to plan a vacation around a very busy work period, and it was overwhelming. I just wanted to throw planning out the window and take off. It’s why the idea of group tours doesn’t seem as terrible to me as it does to some other people – somebody else does the hard work, and you don’t have to worry about unexpected stuff cropping up and ruining a carefully planned itinerary – but I also understand why it just doesn’t cut it sometimes. Nothing beats sitting with your travel partner and mapping out all the stuff you want to do.
I’m not a picky traveller, the kind who has a specific list of things to do, places to eat, etc., so I rarely have trouble being on the same wavelength as a travel partner. Besides, I can’t do solo vacations – a travel partner can salvage the bad parts of a trip, simply by being there to share in the misery. I need people to share in my experiences (good and bad), and it seems to me a pointless exercise to go somewhere and see something new if I don’t have someone to talk about it with. Admittedly, it makes vacationing difficult – as you grow older, it gets increasingly more complicated to try and match schedules – but I don’t think I’d do it any other way.
I’m trying to make it a point to do at least one trip a year, not just because I want to, but because it’s a good exercise in stepping out of my comfort zone and being forced to deal with different kinds of situations. No matter the quality of the trip, there’s always something to learn from it – experience is, after all, the best teacher. This time, I’m combining a personal vacation to Australia with a short work stint, so I’m interested to see what new things that will bring to the table. I’m trying to dispel of my cynical side and learn to enjoy the undoubtedly positive things about vacations – time away from work, a chance to see something different, to discover a different way of life, and marvel about the sheer size and diversity of our little planet.
P.S.: If any of you good people have tips for vacationing in Australia (mostly around Sydney and Melbourne), please do let me know in the comments! Any input is always appreciated. 🙂