It feels like the right time to write this post. It’s 4 months until we jet off (still nothing is booked) and the more we plan the more overwhelmed I feel. Our travel list for India (country number 1) was jam packed, with domestic flights long haul train journeys and more in the mix I had visions of seeing a lot more of airports and bus shelters than I could bear. So we have decided to completely strip down the ‘list’ so to speak.
What started as an attempt to do as many places in India as possible in 6 weeks, has now been reduced to 2 main regions. Kerala and the backwaters (Ben’s choice, lots of creatures) and New Delhi and the golden triangle for 3 weeks each.
So why have we so drastically reduced our plan of action? Because we want to enjoy it. Because we want to live while we travel and not spend 7 months solely as tourists.
Travelling is Hard
Travel is one of the most tiring things you can do. You’ll experience jet lag, sickness, intense heat, culture shock, mosquito bites not to mention stress.
The problem is nowadays so many people are hell bent on doing everything (and I’ve fallen victim to this myself). We’re obsessed listing places we have to visit and getting through it all that we find we have to rush through it, and unavoidably we miss things. In our desperation to see everything we will miss some of the most memorable things.
Watching the world go by
My favourites moments of travel are the ones where I’m not in tourist mode, when I’m sat on a step of a museum watching locals, or having a coffee and a local delicacy at a café watching the world pass by. They’re the ones where I find a small routine in the location I’m in. I end up wandering down side streets and strolling through quiet parks or sitting on pretty beaches watching people fish. I don’t have to see everything, because even the locals may never see everything. It doesn’t matter if I don’t make myself go into every museum and church and rush because the more of them I see the more they will all just blend into one.
You can’t do it all
It’s very easy to get carried away when you’re travel planning when guide books seduce you into adding an impossible amount of destinations on to your ‘where I want to go’ lists. You’ve just got to come to terms eventually with the fact that you can never do everything.
It’s unlikely that you’ll be able to visit every country and even if you did, to do so would mean you wouldn’t actually see what that country was like. You wouldn’t be able to experience it or take it in how you’d like to be able to.
Stop and soak it in
I’ve had first hand experience with trying to fit in too many places at once. Interrailing alone across Europe for a month I had a huge list of cities, I spent 1-4 nights in each city but by the 3rd week I was ill and exhausted. I arrived in Budapest tired and underwhelmed. I was so drained I couldn’t get the feel of the city. So I decided I had to take the plunge, take somewhere else of the list and just relax. And after a couple of days, I could feel the vibe of the city, I wasn’t just rushing around the tourist hot spots for all the photo-opps, I made friends and spent quality time with them wandering around the city, getting lost at night, visiting bars, just enjoying myself without any pressure.
Travel, like everything, can easily get competitive, whether it’s with yourself or with friends or acquaintances. There will always be the temptation to try to travel to more places, more obscure places, for longer, in more adventurous ways or whatever. But travel is about your own experience. It’s not about making other jealous or trying to impress people when you spout of the list of places you’ve been. For me it’s about opening up your mind to new experiences and cultures and developing yourself as a person and soaking the atmosphere. I like to wander, not rush.
Let me know what you think in the comments!