How Planning for Long Term Travel Has Changed Us!
When we read other travel blogs, we often come across posts about how long-term travel changed a person. There are the “6 months …” and “1 year after” posts, and sometimes, we even come across “2, 3 and 4 year after” posts. What we never seem to find is commentary about how the act of planning for long-term travel changes a person. But the thing is, it does.
We have been making plans ever since we first decided we would sail around the Mediterranean. We have been dreaming about where we could go and what we could do once there. We have focused on how much money we will need and how to amass it. We have made lists, set budgets and oriented every moment of our lives towards making this trip happen. It is, Dear Reader, a sort of beautifully packaged form of insanity.
A little bit ago, we hit a wall. We had a collective, sudden and heart stopping freak out. The bipeds no longer knew what to do with all the plans, targets and goals, nor how to fulfil them or – worse – let them go if needed. I watched my normally confident and poised bipeds fall apart. It made me sad. I didn’t know what to do! Their determination wavered; their fear and confusion and even a dose of unhappiness permeated the air. I curled up on the couch and watched with sad eyes.
Then I had an idea: what if the bipeds could live in the moment like we canines do? We don’t regret the past or worry about the future. We focus on what’s happening in the here and now, even when it’s just a small thing such as getting a belly rub. I thought about that and the bipeds, then made a suggestion to them:
Slow down. Be kind to yourselves. Give yourselves space. Embark on a period of self-imposed isolation. Leave the computer be. The blog can wait. Ignore emails and don’t accept any invitations to events. Cocoon. Hibernate. Sleep, eat, rest and relax. Inhale and exhale. Read a book all the way to the end. Walk with me in the cold winter air and breathe deeply and slowly as you do. Embrace dolce far niente (the joy of doing nothing).
The bipeds listened and I am so glad they did. A few weeks later, the bipeds were back, with their smiles, cheeriness, excitement … and something more.
Slowly (and I do mean at a snail’s pace), the bipeds are understanding something I have always known. It is good to have goals and to give your all to achieving them, but there is also grace in knowing when to put down the maps and the travel guides and just go with the flow. There’s merit in letting the universe align things for you. Your job is not so much to try hard to make a certain thing happen but to remain alert for opportunities to make your dream possible and grab those opportunities when they show up. Allow yourself to get lost in the unknown and watch for the unexpected. No matter how much the bipeds and I plan for this, the truth is that our Big Trip is in the future and, thus, much of it remains – and can only be – unknown.
The fundamental essence behind the oft used and little understood saying, “It’s the journey, not the destination,” is an utterly delicious concept. Understanding and accepting that concept is the primary change that has occurred in my bipeds, maybe even a little in myself. It’s been a hard fought change. You see, these two humans I share my life with are hard-core dreamers, planners and, best of all, doers. So the idea of just “going with the flow” does not come easily to them.
And there is something more.
This blog that I/we write is a travel blog. Certainly there is the canine component but at its core, the blog is about travelling. However, since we announced the Big Trip and launched that separate series of posts, the line between travel blog and personal diary has blurred a bit. These posts in the “Mediterranean Section” often focus on the philosophical in life: thoughts, feelings, personal mottoes … . We’re not sure that these posts are purely about travel after all.
I admit, I was worried about the change in tone in our posts. What if our readers left us because we are no longer single-mindedly focused on travel? Do our readers care about “the soft stuff”? Our thoughts, feelings and insights might be fascinating to us as we chat around the dinner table or on our long hikes, but do our readers feel the same way?
Well, apparently you do! And the irony is that your reactions and comments in response to our posts are, in fact, stronger and more intense than before. We wondered why and learned yet another thing during this planning phase.
Travel isn’t always physical. Sometimes the travel is a venture on the path that makes your own life. After all, it seems that while some of us will travel in a physical way, all of us are on a journey. We realize now that we are maintaining a Journey Blog and not a Travel Blog as we first thought. And like all good journeys, we really don’t know where this will take us or what might be our destination, and that, Dear Reader, is okay because the journey is the point!
The bipeds have been transformed by planning. They no longer allow their travel goals, targets, budgets and planning blind them from the joys and challenges of the journey they are already on. They’ve accepted my canine principle of paying attention to the moment. The Right Now. We really don’t know what surprises, events and outcomes lie ahead. And that is okay.
The journey continues. The destination? Well, we will get there. In time. If there is one. For I suspect that anything we perceive as a destination will prove to be, instead, a beginning to a new part of our journey.