Over a year ago I wrote a post titled ‘A Time to Travel’ (Read here) which was basically a manifesto of what I wanted to achieve when travelling South East Asia later that year. I compared our travelling experiences so far to a type of window shopping where we would stick to easy to reach destinations where our 3 or 4 star accommodation was the glass that protected us from the parts of a country we were too afraid to see.
Since then we have really focused on breaking down that barrier with our trip last year and our holiday to Malaysia, and Bintan this year but I have slowly come to realise that I don’t actually enjoy that type of travel. The country hopping, staying no more than 4 nights in one destination before flying on to the next stop to fit in as much as we can. I don’t regret (not for one second) the past two trips we have done around Asia but both times, we were exhausted and the constant travelling took its toll. Maybe we missed our window for this type of travel, left it too late. Maybe that’s the reason why most travel influencers on social media are in their 20s because that’s when you have the energy and drive to continuously be on the move for 12 months at a time. Do they have the tolerance for hostel life and the strength not to worry about the potential dangers that I don’t have anymore? Or is it just personal?
I’m starting to realise that travel is personal just like one’s faith or how we see art. It is what ever you need it to be at that moment because travel or ‘holidaying’ is your free time and you have the right to spend that time doing whatever you choose. Social media has a way of making us want something that we don’t actually want or making us feel that all our holidays should live up to the standard of others when in reality, a lot of it is fiction.
After spending a year, watching others make travel blogging their profession and going on holidays vicariously through my friend’s Facebook pages, I started to feel ashamed of my travel experiences. I thought I wanted something more and that’s where ‘A Time to Travel’ came from but now I’ve tried it, it is not for me. I am the ‘simple’ no frills traveller. I like staying in mid-range hotels where I have my own room and I don’t mind carrying my own luggage. I like museums and historical sights but I also like spending days by the beach never leaving a resort if I don’t want to. Maybe I’m missing out by not hiring a moped to tour an island or taking a 2 hour bus journey into the outback but I am starting to know what I like which (it turns out) is somewhere easy to navigate and has access to a toilet.
It is so easy to compare yourself to others but we shouldn’t. Rob and I are lucky enough to have been on various travel experiences over the past 12 years. We have done a homestay, a cruise in Europe, fly drives in the US and New Zealand, multi-destination trips around Asia, city getaways and a number of beach holidays. Some we have loved and some we’re glad we did but won’t be in a rush to do again. If I really look back on my holidays I rarely remember the ‘things’ like the hotels we stayed in or the restaurants we ate at. I remember how I felt. I remember the feeling of calm, drinking coffee outside our Airbnb in Auckland, the feeling of pure excitement when we saw the first sunset in Fiji and the feeling of awe when I first saw Fuji-san from Kawaguchiko. But I also remember the feeling of anxiety before the 4 hour (no toilet) bus ride to Ha Long Bay, the feeling of regret as we were throwing up on our whale watching cruise in New Zealand and the feeling of complete vulnerability in Bangkok. My emotional memories are what travelling is all about for me and the photographs I take are just an enhancement of them.
We have a few trips planned over the next twelve months and they will be what we want them to be, not the flashy adventure I once thought I needed. They will be comfortable, they will be planned with ease in mind not money and if it includes a McDonalds… so what! We have grown to realise that we like a good road trip holiday and hopefully this is something we will explore further in the future- we have the confidence now to do what we want.
I have enjoyed writing this post and looking through old photos to fill in the gaps from our archives. Our travelling goes back so far that we have no online photos of our very first ‘international’ trip together to Florida. We used disposables!
I hope that this post comes across more like a personal realisation than a rant, that is not my intention. If anything, I hope you will get a good laugh from some of our old photos. Enjoy!