Generally speaking, travel can be exciting, adventurous, and fun, but sometimes it’s mind numbingly boring. And I’m not just talking about 27-hour bus rides and multiple days of air travel.
I’m usually one of those in the “only boring people get bored” camp, but lately . . .
I think it’s easier when you’re doing holiday travel. When you only have 2 or so weeks to explore a place, I think it’s really hard to be bored. There is so much to do, see, and experience.
But when travel is your life. . .
I am not complaining about my life at all. In fact, I’m giving myself permission to say the possibly unpopular and unspoken: Sometimes I am freaking bored out of my mind when traveling.
As I experience more and more of the world, I see that more and more of the world is really same same, but different. Cultures change, food changes, the names of currency differ, as does the exchange rate, but really we are so amazingly similar to each other that I understand racism and ethnic discrimination even less.
Even that isn’t the boring part, though.
When your life is travel, you can easily get stuck in patterns and ruts. Just like when you’re back home. We’re currently in the medium-sized city (although it seems very small to me) of Dalat in Vietnam. We absolutely love it here, but our day is pretty much the same as it was in Hanoi, Bangkok, Ayutthaya, or even Paris for that matter.
We wake up and enjoy a very leisurely morning. At some point I’ll roll out of bed and make my new favorite—Vietnamese coffee. If we’ve made it to the bakery and stocked up, I enjoy a nice pastry or bread with it. I take care of business and personal emails, check what my friends have been doing on the other side of the world while we slept, and we leave to explore.
We aren’t fans of tourist attractions or tours, so it usually means we go for a nice, long walk watching out for interesting looking places, streets we haven’t gone down before, and so on. We usually eat lunch during these excursions before returning home.
Once home, I check back into my email and social media, maybe do a little recreational Internet surfing, and do some writing. Meanwhile Tigger chats and plays Minecraft with his best friend who is now in Hawaii. If we have a kitchen, like we do now, I cook dinner before we return to watching movies, playing games, reading, etc.
Yes, it’s truly fabulous to only have to “work” a few hours a week, and I love that we have so much time to go exploring and to just be together. We get to see daily [insert country] life in a way many people don’t, and I absolutely love that. However, I am not a creature of habit. I need more variety.
I’m ready to admit that my day is often boring. Well, I guess I won’t say that. My day doesn’t provide a lot of mental challenge, and I really need that. Playing Words with Friends isn’t quite what I mean, either. Sure, writing gives me a brain workout, but it’s same same really.
What the slow life in Dalat has helped me realize is that I need to have some more activity in my life. I need to be working, volunteering, doing something different. Day after day of wake up, eat, explore, eat, work, eat, recreate, sleep just doesn’t work for me.
But I also know that I can overdo it. I’ve had those times during our journey where I was putting in major hours every single day. Even though I was doing something I’m passionate about, I wasn’t getting the time I want with my child. If that’s how my life will be, then why in the hell did we leave the States?
I’ve moved too far to the other side, though. Now I need to move back to the middle. We already acknowledged that we need to slow our travel down. We just enjoy it so much more. Part of aiding that, though, will be to start doing some local work or volunteering. Something that gets us out into the community in a way that isn’t strictly exploration and tourism. I need to engage my brain with something different. I need some variety.
I also believe my search for more variety will lead to even richer experiences for both of us as we meet more people and get more immersed into a community, similar to like we were in Utila.
Since our New Zealand housesit didn’t work out, we’re planning on doing some HelpX exchanges. I’m actually really looking forward to that added variety in our daily life.
I guess in reality it isn’t travel that’s boring. You just have to be honest with yourself and realize what your needs are and seek to have them met. Yes, you can have the best of all worlds.
I just love how travel continually makes me reassess things.
The more time I spend traveling, the more I discover about the many facets that make me, well, me. Travel really is transformational. What has your experience been with long-term or slow travel?