As I learn to live again, I’m trying to figure out how travel will best work for us in this season. Travel is pretty core to my wellbeing. If I can travel, I can thrive and not just survive. The way I see it there are three basic factors that determine your travel type: speed, finances, and organization. I’m trying to determine what is best for Zoya and I in this season, so we can truly optimize our opportunities to have travel adventures.
When you go on vacation is your goal to get there and get the fun started as quickly as possible because nothing is better than vacation, or is it to move as slow as you want to move because vacation is all about not having to do anything? I guess since I had the car packed by 6:00 am yesterday before my alarm even went off, I’m a clearly pack-it-all-in vacationer. My husband was not.
On one of our last trips to the beach before my husband died, I was trying so hard to stay relaxed with our slow start and late arrival. We finally arrived at the hotel and as I was rushing to get my out stuff together for the beach, he snuggled in for a nap. I may have snapped. I learned a lot from his relaxed attitude. I learned that he lived life while I missed life racing to fit as much in as possible. But that lesson learned, it still did not stop me from pulling over into one of the first beach parking lots last night and getting our beach time started before we even made it to our hotel. I also stalked the hourly weather report the entire time we were at the beach to maximize our time outdoors.
I was always a bit of a tight wad. Shah didn’t spend as much money on a regular basis, but when he did spend money he was happy to spend it on nicer things.
This category isn’t so much about how much money you actually spend as about your attitude. Do you go as cheap as possible, packing a cooler, skipping restaurants, and discount rooms; or do you splurge all the way because it’s vacation?
I’ve adopted Shah’s finance approach a little more in the last few years but I’m feeling a pull to go back to thrifty. I need to fit more travel into my budget. With travel, right now, I’m tempted to go for quantity over quality. Especially because spending more usually doesn’t make a better trip, just an easier trip. My first trip as a widowed mom was one of my first pay for everything trips. I was traveling with a one year old while I was deep in the fog of grief. I needed to go to a place that had everything I needed and could bring our food to the poolside and bedroom. Now that I have an almost four year old, it is possible to pull her out of the pool to go to a restaurant to get food. It isn’t easy. Two adult travel is always easier. I’d love to have someone watch her while I got some food, or vise versa. I’d really love to have someone carry chairs so I don’t spend a ridiculous amount to use the hotel chairs. This is feeling like my last new widow just-pay-for-it vacation. It’s time for the child to turn four and start helping.
Travel feeds my soul in a truly essential way. It helps me see the greatness of this world. I’m having considerable trouble turning off my work brain when the work day is done. Gardening can turn it off for a few hours at a time. Travel takes my mind off work for days at a time. If I’m going to incorporate travel into more of my regular lifestyle, like Shah and I did, I’m going to have to get better at discount traveling again.
Do you plan every minute of a vacation or fly by the seat of your pants? You might think since I am so anxious to maximize every moment of vacation that I am a planner, but I’m not. I love searching and reading reviews for lodging, but after that I tend to just show up and see what happens. For a major overseas trip I might have some ideas of things I want to do before I leave, but normally, once I arrive at a place I am completely flexible. TripAdvisor.com has always been my best travel companion. Usually, after I arrive I check the nearby things to do, and find out if there is anything I don’t want to miss. I’m even less likely to plan something while traveling with a moody 3.5 year old. She has travelled just enough to think she knows everything, but apparently not quite enough to know everywhere is different. She was certain if we went to a beach, no matter where in the world, we would have a living room closet with a boogie board. But her moods aren’t always bad, they are just big. She was more than happy to stay in the hotel room almost all day, while it rained outside. She was perfectly contented and not at all interested in any of the proposed indoor activities in the area. So we stayed in and I practiced the discipline of not distracting myself and allowing a touch of boredom in my life. I think the brain needs more frequent downtime. However, I think if I’m going absorb all of the benefits of travel, I need to plan and dream a little more and not get stuck at a too expensive hotel on a stormy beach that charges too much for every little thing.
I’ve been thinking about these rather mundane things because I’m trying to figure out how to live my life again. What is the right balance for a recovering widow raising a three year old, who both truly love to travel?
I’m still wanting to maximize the vacation hours. That is core to my personality. I’m definitely ready to focus on discount travel. I may even have the brain power to pack some food. Certainly, I will be a better mother if I stop catering to her large emotions and make her help. I may start planning my trips a little ahead of time. It will maximize the travel boost if I have more to anticipate. But I will ever let a lack time to plan deter us from travel. The last three months have been insanely packed with work. We choose this trip because it sounded easy and I needed easy. Next time, we will go for a bigger adventure.