This past week I had two separate conversations about life, contentment, and travel. And I was reminded of the internal struggle of enjoying where we are. So much of travel is about newness: about having new experiences, meeting new people, eating new foods. And our lives need this. Escaping our routines help us rest from the overwhelming that reality can be and helps us appreciate what we have on the regular. So we look for those surreal moments, when time stops and you think you might in fact still be an unemployed 15 year old, totally free to let time pass and seize the moments. I call this ‘super vacation mode,’ that feeling when I forget what day it is, what time it is, and how far I am from reality. I love this about vacation because that means I’m really there, experiencing the moments as they are, for what they are.
On the flip-side- when I’m not traveling (and sometimes even when I am) I often suffer from the millennial disease called FOMO (fear of missing out).
It’s easy to feel the opportunities available as an independent, employed millennial. It seems like the more I travel the more places I add to my list of places to go. The information age, a steady income, and the power to make my own choices in life can create a vacuum, pulling me in a million directions. My friend last week went so far as to say that it’s impossible for us to be content because we travel and we know what we’re missing out on, so we’ll always have a new places to go and new adventures calling to us.
But is that true? How do we turn our fear of missing out, our desire to escape, and our longings for adventure into the sweet joy that is ‘super vacation mode?’
Gratefulness and perspective I think.
Now, I’ve heard about gratefulness in relation to regular life- like a home and food and everything we list on Thanksgiving. But I think that sometimes we forget that in travel, things do not always go well. In fact, they can go very badly. Rain, lost luggage, and missed trains. Vomiting out of bus windows. Collapsing into bed at night. Turning in early to avoid protests in town. Not everything about travel is glamour and excitement and what we imagined in our FOMO that we were in fact missing out on. And what do we do then?
But that’s how travel and life overlap. Because, while we escape our routines when we travel, we can never escape ourselves. The humanity that we are, controlling or grouchy or weak, we take it with us.
For me, it always helps when I’m traveling to remember that the rest of the world is at work today. Being grateful for the overarching gift of new experiences as well as the minutia that bring together a trip make my lamest travel days worth it. And not just worth it in comparison. But actually worth the sacrifice of money and routine and regular human connection. For me I think it’s acknowledging the details that bring together a day – like taxis and airbnb hosts and bathrooms right when you need them. Those things astound me. Because my life is so full of routine. I know how to get where I’m going and what to do there and how to meet my basic needs. But for all that information to fall into place on the other side of the world. Amazing! Just incredible in fact.
Have you noticed? What makes the worst day of travel worth it for you? Have you ever struggled with the balance between FOMO and Super Vacation Mode? How do you manage it? Comment and let me know!