Reflections on Travel After Seven Weeks Away

Yes so I guess, about to go back to work and slowly adjusting back to my native time zone, it’s time to start to think about the trip I’ve just been on, consider the good, the bad, what went well, what didn’t, places I would go back to, which ones I probably wouldn’t. Experiences from this trip will influence the kinds of trips I take in the next few years, and they way I will approach them.

So I think Point One is simply this.

  1. I will not travel at the pace I did in the last seven weeks.

I mean really, when I look back at it, or actually as I experienced it, this was as much as I have ever crammed into seven weeks of travel. I visited (some very very briefly) 10 countries. I visited South East Asia, Central Asia, the Middle East and Europe. I visited six NEW countries. I took 12 individual flights on eight different airlines. I’ve never done things by halves, but consider this was in a 7 week period, suddenly seven weeks doesn’t sound like a long time. I have thought this before about my travel, but now I am sure I need to slow the heck down. I have to curb my impulses to cram as much in to my travels as this.

This is not simply a matter of the overall picture, but when I look at how I divided my days up, I was cramming in a lot per day. And this is a change from past experiences, I seem to have upped the number of things I see each day, I seem to have a fair bit of FOMO going on. I used to write in my diary ‘Today was a nothing day’. I had days where I would retreat and chill all day, maybe stay most of the day in my room, watch TV, write – not blogs or diary, I would have time to write scripts and stories when travelling. I did not have a second to do that this time. A day here and there, maybe one every week or two, was an important coping strategy I may not have realised I needed until this trip. I had one day, sick in Khojund, where I stayed at the hotel for a good portion of the day. Otherwise it was just go go go!

  1. I have started travelling to blog

So yeah, this is a big realisation. It goes into what I wrote in my first point here. When I say I’m ‘travelling to blog’, I don’t refer to blogging whilst travelling, rather I refer to collecting enough information, experiences and photos to give me the material for the blog ongoing. This makes me less likely to say ‘I’ve had enough today, I’m just going to chill’, and more likely to fill my day hunting tourist spots. It’s really all right to go somewhere and just do a couple of things. One day in Porto I took us to four churches, a tower, a palace and a couple of museums. I mean really – FOUR CHURCHES??? I mean, sure now I can write up a post about the churches it’s worth going to see and not in Porto, but hey, the experiences aren’t that varied.

On top of that, it’s a crummy reason to travel to say the least. It’s not one that encourages me to be calm, to relax, to enjoy what I’m doing. I then end up taking 250 plus photos in a day (I used to take 250 in over a month of travel!) which I then back up on USB and online. And I won’t sleep until I know the backup to Dropbox is basically done, and in some places that is a hell of a long time. You know, I supposedly do this blog for fun as a hobby. It makes little sense.

 

  1. Tourists really get to me

Yes – I’m a tourist. I have no qualms about saying that and that I do a bunch of things that tourists do that annoys the crap out of me. But to be fair, what really gets me is huge swathes of tourists. I think the ONE thing that really gets to me is that tourists, principally in groups, often seem to be in their own world within the place they’re in. They don’t notice where they are, what they are doing, and they don’t notice the other people and how they affect them. Tourists flock to places, but not to others. For example Lisbon or Porto, if the place was on the list like the Belem Tower, you find it flooded with visitors, not so far away and up the hill was the amazing Ajuda Palace, barely a soul visiting it. But hey, I really wanted to see the Belem Tower before I went. I knew nothing about Ajuda before visiting it. I emphasise greatly with the locals, or at least would like to. Tourists come to places, take their pictures, go. They are oblivious to their surrounds or the people that live there. I don’t claim to be different.

And ironically I get annoyed at people wanting to go where I want to go, for example the Sagrada Familia. It was soooo nice to be in the first group let into the amazing Gaudi Cathedral. But an hour later it was full of visitors snapping away (as I was) and all I felt was that the experience was, in some way, ruined.

Throngs of tourists in Porto’s Lavaria Lello
  1. I need a beach holiday

I used to think there was nothing more boring than a beach holiday. But usually on my longer trips – trips measured in months rather than weeks or days, I would sneak in a few days somewhere seaside. I didn’t this time, and so 2020 must take me too a beach where I can swim, snorkel and with a bit of luck, write and read. I used to read books when I travelled. I had one this time in my backpack, never opened the thing! I am hoping next year to have a short getaway to Malaysia or the Philippines. We will see. A place without tourist ‘sites’.

 

  1. Travel will never be like it was

There are a lot of reasons for this, and what I am saying here is that travel for me will never recapture the feeling, the freedom, the spirit of adventure, or the excitement and enjoyment that it used to for me. I don’t mean that it won’t have all those things, but it’s comparative and I’m at a different stage of my life, and they way I view and experience things is forever coloured by experiences both abroad but especially here (I’ve been through a bit the last few years) which has effected me, and thus affected the way I feel and experience everything in life and that includes travel. I’m also older and far grumpier than I was at 24 heading out for my first round the world adventure! I need to learn to be okay with that. And unless I get fit, it’s going to be noticeably harder as well!

 

Well, there are some vague thoughts for you after this trip about travel for me. Do any of these thoughts spur thoughts in you? Please do comment. It’s all about the journey – and May the Journey Never End!

7 thoughts on “Reflections on Travel After Seven Weeks Away

  1. BBQboy

    Great post Andy. I’ve got a lot of your posts unopened in my inbox, you’ve been busy! (and I’ve been busy doing different thing so just haven’t gotten to them yet).
    You’ve hit on a few things that I’ve either thought or written about over the past year. Tourists – too many and all going to the same places. Takes all the joy out of travelling and more likely to leave you feeling upset than awed. I think going forward to goal is to go to less visited places (and funny how we had some of the same experiences in Portugal. The number of tourists in Lisbon exhausted me). The “romance”of travel. Hard to find that anymore, partly because of all the tourists, but also because the more we travel the harder it is to be impressed. And partly because we get old and grumpy 🙂

    1. Old and grumpy rules! Doesnt it? Maybe not… thanks for commenting and Ive enjoyed reading your posts on these kinds of subjects and you’ve certainly hit on a few things I have been thinking too.

  2. Interesting post. I also recently wrote on why ‘we’ travel. I agree with that need to see those amazing locations, although nowadays it always seems to be at the cost of doing so with so many other tourists. But in this era of easy travel, internet and mobile phones it is so easy to travel and get to places that once seemed remote. There are people around us all the time and it is only sometimes that we are uncomfortable. Maybe it is about expectation and the memory that once when we travelled we could be alone?

    1. does the memory cheat there? I dont know. I think for me also im now into my 40s and i get grumpier and sick of things a LOT quicker than I used to. Maybe traveling is a young person’s game…

  3. I’m really glad about the sincerity of this nice article. But most of all. I think you’re right on how many tourists visit destinations without even experiencing such places. Any how, travelling for blogging. Whew! That’s a lot of dedication for you and I’m really impressed.
    I also think it’s good if your next Beach vacation is somewhere in the Caribbean like Jamaica. They’ve got a lot of fun stuff plus cultural heritage.
    Plus, people also love when you write about beaches.

    1. i wish i could get to Jamaica this year but its just too far from here! It’s literally the furthest place you could choose to go from Australia I think! I might be doing a post on that actually… thanks for commenting

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