Buckle in for a bit of a personal post…
Travel has become such a common thing in my life that I recently decided to take a step back from it.
Things that used to bring me joy—flying, opening the door to a new hotel room, eating at local hot spots—were starting to feel like the norm. I started to expect the things that used to impress me, and those things that I used to tap as local quirks were starting to annoy me. I returned home from a trip a couple months ago and could feel that my sense of wanderlust was starting to suffer from a tinge of travel fatigue, and I decided I needed a break from my frequent movement. I stepped back from a lot of my travel writing assignments and took on some corporate writing clients. I said no to a lot of trips. I stayed home, and I enjoyed it.
And then a few weeks ago, an email dropped into my inbox. The subject line read: “Galapagos?” It was from one of my editors, who asked if I’d like to go on assignment to the Galapagos Islands. My response to her was simple: “Yes.”
It’s been a long time since I was so excited for a trip. I can’t remember the last time I spent time reading up on all the details of an itinerary or did independent research to supplement my understanding of a place before I arrived.
Upon receiving my flight confirmation, I rushed to the library and checked out DVDs to watch and books to read prior to my departure. I debated between two long books related to the Galapagos Islands to take with me on the trip to read on my flight and in my cabin at night. I packed a fresh journal, with hundreds of blank, beautiful pages waiting to be filled with thoughts and observations as I walked around this intriguing destination.
Once again, I felt that awesome yet nervous anticipation of going somewhere new.
It is very common that people tell me I have the most amazing job in the world, and I don’t deny what they say. A lot of travel writers and bloggers spend an awful lot of time talking about how many hours they have to work, that travel is work and they can’t enjoy the beaches because they’re busy typing away on their keyboards in a hotel room instead. I have never had that problem. Ever since I started working for myself, I’ve worked fewer hours and I’ve traveled to some truly amazing places around the world. I haven’t taken a laptop on a trip for several months. I just don’t feel the need to do so. Instead, I toss an out-of-office message on my email and deal with issues when I return home because the world is not going to end if I check out for a few days and truly immerse myself in the experiences I’ve been given. I refuse to be a person who laments my good fortune.
But I did recognize when I was starting to become a bit jaded, and so I stepped back. If I can’t fully enjoy the joys of traveling, then I’d prefer not to travel. Travel is a gift, and when I can’t see it for what it is, then I don’t deserve it.
On this trip, I met people who had booked their trip months in advance; some have been anticipating this trip since 2012. They were so incredibly excited to walk the halls of our ship and fall into the chilly waters of the Galapagos Islands for an afternoon of snorkeling. Their faces lit up when our crew held a ceremony as we crossed the equator, and they saw themselves on the documentary made by our on-board videographer. They lingered by land iguanas and sea lions asleep on the beach. They yearned for more photography tips and they went to every educational opportunity offered by our crew. They exchanged phone numbers with new friends and promised to keep in touch. They did all these things … and I did them too. It’s been a long time since I slipped into the skin of a wide-eyed traveler, and it felt so good to be immersed in the experience.
I can’t escape the fact that much of the travel I do is related to my job. Work will always linger on the periphery as I board my planes, check into my hotel rooms and go about my daily travel activities, but this trip was a wake-up call that the traveler I used to be—the one I loved and the one I don’t want to lose—is still built into my being. It’s a welcome discovery, one that I hope I can continue to foster when I begin to lose sight of one of the most important things that propels me through life.