I read a lot of travel blogs, from full time travels who has seen more of the world that I probably ever will. But for those of us with regular jobs and homes and responsibilities and limited financial resources, the full time travel life is not a reality. Instead travel infuses the in betweens. The moments in between work and life where for a few moments, one can suspend reality and live in the moment. This is not a bad thing. I love my job and wouldn’t be willing to give it up, even for full time travel (except for the perfect and ideal “Breaker High” scenario). There is something about travel that allows you to live in the moment (or at least allows me to live in the moment) more than any other time or place in my life. The heightened awareness, observation, experience and desire to savour every experience makes you feel fully alive. It’s a rush. It feeds the soul. Or at least, it feeds my soul.
And as I have reflected back on my life change over the past decade, I realized that I have gone through many seasons of life, and in turn, many seasons of travel. Time, finances and opportunity have all fed different types of travel I have engaged in. And in turn, the motivation behind each trip is a little bit different.
There has been the season of the exploration. In 2010 and 2011 we took giant road trips across the USA, covering 30 states and much of the country side. In 2012 we saw more of BC as we went as west as we could go towards Tofino. This season has been about adventure, exploration and nature. Sleeping under the stars, photographing national parks, watching the colour of the dirt change, and the trees shift makes me feel connected to the world. It reminds me of how diverse and beautiful our planet is. It feels simple and pure and I love everything about it from grilled cheese and pancakes over a propane stove to the fireflies and smell of campfires. There isn’t a week that passes that I don’t think of getting in my car and hitting the open road.
There has been the season of relationship. We have travelled with friends and family in ways that have been motivated by building relationship. We went to Disneyland with my family in 2005 and with them to the Bahamas in 2010, to Mexico with Ray’s family in 2009, and to Holland with my parents and grandparents in 2008. In 2012 we went to Hawaii with our best friends. We flew to Calgary in early 2008 to visit Ray’s brother and his wife. I have been on 4 trips to New York from 2009 – 2012, sharing the city with my husband, sister-in-law and brother-in-law, friends Charlie, Meenu and Vici, my mom, and my friend Luke (along with some students). Sometimes traveling about the people. Shared experience is so powerful and each one of these trips has had an impact on these relationships. Sometimes the question isn’t “where” but “with who.” Who I am with is always more important than where I go. When I start thinking about my next travel adventure, I always wonder with whom I will share my journey. Of course my favourite of all traveling companions is Ray. There is no one I would rather adventure with more.
There has been the season of culture. Our recent travels have brought us to explore new countries, languages, foods and histories. Holland, Belgium, France, Germany, Austria, Luxembourg and Poland. This year has been tremendous in our ability to see new places and ways of life. I am excited to be adding England to my list of countries visited in just a few months as well. There are an infinite number of quotes that eloquently state the ability of travel to make us richer. To open our eyes, increase our compassion, appreciate what we have, better care for the earth and all and all increase our capacity for love. My life is better for all the places I have seen. And I want to see so many more. Judith Thurman said, ““Every dreamer knows that it is entirely possible to be homesick for a place you’ve never been to.” I look at pictures and ache for the places I want to see, and have to remind myself, all in good time.
There should be a season for relaxation. I have to admit – I’m terrible at this one. I can’t list one trip I have taken where sitting still has been on the agenda. The call to explore, adventure, survey nature and people – they are all much greater than the call to sit still. But there are moments on these trips where relaxation is in order. In Hawaii my favourite day of the trip involved floating slowly through tide pools with my flippers, fish and turtles. In Osoyoos one year I dedicated an entire week to solely reading books. And in Holland this summer, we spent a day leisurely biking to town for lunch, purchasing some candy, and coming home to read a book in the back yard. While 7 consecutive days of lying on the beach may not be my first choice, sometimes it is the necessary one. Regardless the destination, I need to resist the “need” to see everything and savour the slow sometimes. It’s necessary to refresh the soul.
And of course there is a season for play. I just came home from a 4 day trip to Disneyland with my best friend. Until this weekend, I had forgotten how important it is to just live in the moment, suspend disbelief and be a dreamer. To let my imagination run wild, to smile, and let everything just be fun. This trip was perfect in all respects. It filled my soul in a way I didn’t know was needed. I was able to put aside responsibility and adulthood and to do lists and laundry and work and email and everything else we can let weigh us down and just have FUN. Sometimes I forget fun. I am great at awe, and experience, and reflection on culture, and I forget fun. And I need more fun in my life. Walt Disney said that, “Laughter is timeless, imagination has no age, and dreams are forever.”
There is no right or wrong way to travel or, for that matter, no right or wrong reason. So whatever the season you are in, embrace it. Enjoy it. Savour it.